Late every summer, nature photographers flock to the Pacific Northwest with the hope of capturing the majestic beauty of Mount Rainier and its gorgeous subalpine meadows. After much obsessive planning and conversations with photographers around Washington State, I was able to make my first trip to the region this year. My biggest concern was whether I would arrive on time to catch the peak wildflower bloom. The area experienced a warm spring and summer, and thus the wildflowers emerged earlier than expected. But, as luck would have it, that shouldn’t have been my primary worry.
As photographers, we often strive for that “perfect” image. Those who are most proficient in their art, in one way or another, pre-visualize the final photograph and strive to exercise the most possible control over all the variables involved in achieving the desired end result. The reality is that outside of the studio and particularly true in nature photography, all bets are off. The extensive planning and meticulous research performed prior to photographing a never before visited location may prove useful or lead to a near-fruitless and frustrating trip. The landscape artist cannot control light and precipitation and is always at the mercy of Mother Nature. Sometimes you have to come to terms with the fact that the iconic shot you saw in someone else’s portfolio will probably not be in yours. This is where you have the chance to prove your worth as a photographer by using your imagination and compositional skills to improvise and make the most out of the presented opportunities.
When Sigma offered me the chance to shoot with the flagship SD1 Merrill DSLR, I jumped on the opportunity to extensively explore the abilities of the Foveon X3 censor at the heart of the camera. Knowing that my plans involved photographing the natural beauty of the mountainous American West allowed for the selection of several lenses from Sigma’s fine catalog most suited for that purpose – the 8-16mm F4.5-5.6 DC HSM wide angle, the 24-70mm F2.8 IF EX DG HSM mid range zoom and the 120-300mm F2.8 EX DG OS APO HSM telephoto.