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.
Learning how and when to use different settings and options for image capture is one of the most important parts of becoming a stronger photographer. There’s no setting or camera function that’s going to be perfect for all situations, while is exactly why there are so many options. For example, every DSLR offers a couple variations on Autofocus for either a Single-shot or Continuously tracking autofocus.
Each has it strengths and purposes, and even with that, there’s still times when switching the lens to manual focus is the best way to ensure that your chosen subject and focal point is sharp in the image. In this piece, we’re going to look at three photos of seagulls to briefly explore and explain the reasons why to choose one type of AF or manual focus over the others.
Fall is my favorite time of year to take photographs, and I always push myself to get out and make the most of the brief window of brilliant color. I have spent the last week chasing fall foliage in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. This year, after taking the obvious shots of deep oranges and reds, I used my Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens to capture the forest from a different perspective.
Exploring the world through the Sigma 18-35mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art lens on the hunt for varying colors and textures, and levels sharpness and blur can create images that are at once new, and yet instantly recognizable. Close-up focusing on a pumpkin, for example, gives a shallow slice of sharpness, and lovely focus fall-off in a composition that’s pure seasonal color. And a single turning leaf backlit by the sun tells the story of autumn in a very different way than a sweeping vista of an entire hillside.
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.
It was just about a year ago that the Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art lens was announced at Photokina 2012 as part of the Sigma Global Vision. And what a year it has been for this amazing wide, fast prime! This lens quickly won the hearts of both technical reviewers and creative photographers around the world for its amazing optical performance even wide open at F1.4, its design and build, and of course, its incredibly competitive street price.
Iceland has long been on my list of photography destinations so I was very excited to finally get a chance to explore the country as well as try out the Sigma 12-24mm. The landscapes were just breathtaking and I got an opportunity to photograph the many waterfalls of the country. The lens quickly proved itself as I was able to compose and recompose quickly given that I was often very close to the falls! One of my favorites is a triple waterfall near Mt. Kirkjufell (shown above). While I normally use split neutral density filters to balance a scene, I decided instead to blend two exposures (one for the sky and one for the foreground) because of the mountain protruding on the right hand side. A split ND filter would have unnaturally darkened Mt. Kirkjufell so an exposure blend was the best option in this case.
In spring, as life slowly fills the dormant West Virginia landscape, color bursts forth everywhere. It seems that wherever you point your camera, you get good images. While leading photography field sessions at the New River Birding and Nature Festival this May, I was stirred by the hues sweeping across the mountains in West Virginia. Each day, festival leaders take participants to a variety of locations, and, while much of the week focuses on bird watching and photography, many trips include beautiful landscapes.