In my last post, I left you with an image of a flower from my own garden that I was desperately trying to photograph against the beautiful spring sky. I was lying on the ground trying for a good angle when Darrell Gulin’s lesson came to mind. Why struggle out in the field? He often photographs butterflies in his own kitchen and uses printed natural looking backgrounds behind his subjects. Why was I crawling in the grass, struggling to get a good angle? It was my flower so I simply clipped it and brought it inside. I went back outside and took a picture of the beautiful sky. Back inside, I printed it on some cheap 13×19 matte paper, mounted it on some stiff backboard, placed it behind the bloom, and voila! The image at top is very similar as I used a printed natural green background, but done outdoors. My question to you is; could you tell that it was a printed background? It was an actual “real sky” (in the last post) and some “real” foliage, in this image. Does it really matter? How is that different than the manipulation in the field with the bark or the snow? That is a choice for you to ultimately make but now, I could easily have any background I wanted behind the subject and the sky literally was the limit! Below is my low-tech indoor setup that I can use, any day of the year, and have any background I want even if there is a foot of snow outside! Just remember to close the window too.
With the lights this close to the bottle the focal length of the lens is critical to the success of the image. Normal or slightly wide lenses place the camera so close to the subject that controlling the reflection of the camera and studio stand in the bottle becomes an issue. For this set up I used the 150mm f/2.8 APO EX DG OS HSM macro lens made by Sigma. This focal length is perfect. The camera is well back from the set allowing room for working around the set both for adjusting the lighting and for adding to the scene. This lens is incredibly sharp and lens elements are multi-coated- it helps reduce flare from the lights and their reflections in the bottle.
Ok. I admit to being somewhat of a snob when it comes to the speed of the lenses I use. The list of my f/2.8’s includes the 120-300mm, 70-200mm, 24-70mm, 150mm Macro & 105mm Macro and a 15mm fisheye. For f/1.4 the list is all primes with the 85mm, the 50mm and the new 35mm Art lens. All of these speed demons are from Sigma of course.
So along comes the latest member of their new Global Vision lenses; the 24-105mm at what I thought was a not-so-speedy f/4.0…
In 2011 I released my first children’s picture book, CURIOUS CRITTERS, which featured close-up photographs of twenty-one animals. All the shots were taken with Sigma gear. The book really took off with children and families across North America. Within four months we sold out. To-date, we’ve sold over 100,000 copies.
For this year’s gift guide, we asked our Sigma Pros to recommend some of their favorite gear. This crew of amazingly talented and hard-working photographers each focuses on a different specialty and has their own individual style, and they’ve all got their favorite Sigma gear. Check out these great reasons why our pros choose to use Sigma lenses and cameras.
A year ago I purchased a 24 megapixel Sony NEX-7 to use as a backup camera during a trip to Belgium, Germany and France. I carried Sigma’s 19mm and 30mm f/2.8 prime lenses. The quality of the photographs amazed me every evening when I downloaded the day’s take. Those results made me carry my “big boy” Canon 5D Mark 2 less than I’d originally planned. The professional quality coupled with it’s touristy—amateur look, I was never questioned in museums, cathedrals, gardens or when I was doing street shooting.
More and more I find my self shooting one of three Sigma prime focal length lenses in the studio… the 50mm f/1.4, the 85mm f/1.4 and the 150mm f/2.8 OS macro. I noticed that zooms were making me a bit lazy. Hey! It’s a lot easier to twist a zoom ring that it is to move a 300 pound studio stand even if it is on wheels. So why do I do it? A couple of reasons. Perspective, perspective, perspective. I shoot full frame Canon cameras. Their normal focal length is almost 50mm. That’s about the same angle of view as we see with our eyes. I use the 50 mainly for full length photographs.
Macro lenses are for making pictures of bugs, watch parts, coins, jewelry and other tiny stuff. Right? Well not necessarily. Recently one of my model buddies wanted some beauty photographs that mimic Cover Girl makeup ads. We gathered one Friday morning at my studio and went to work. I set up an evenly lit white background using V-Flats while Hope had her makeup done by Kristen White.
The Sigma Dp3 Merrill is the newest member of the DP family, and the fourth camera in the Sigma line built around the amazing Merill Generation Foveon Direct Image Sensor. The Dp3 Merrill is fitted with a 50mm F2.8 DP prime lens that equates to 75mm on the APS-C stacked image sensor. And, in a first for the DP lineup, it offers 1:3 macro magnification.