Winter is my favorite time of the year to visit Japan and it’s unique wildlife surrounded by unreal snow-covered landscapes. During my annual Japan wildlife tour we always spend a couple of days with the world famous snow monkeys at the volcanic hot springs in the Nagano area.
I finally got a chance to get my hands on the Sigma 150-600mm f/5 – 6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary while I was down in Ft. Myers for the Florida Camera Club Councils annual conference. I had a ½ day free before and after the conference and I was eager to get out and put the lens through its paces and compare its performance against the Sigma 150-600mm f/5 – 6.3 DG OS HSM | Sport version.
I had the opportunity to return to Bosque del Apache NWR a few weeks ago to lead a workshop that was sponsored by Sigma Photo, the Friends of Bosque, and Hunt’s Photo and Video. This was going to be an intensive hands-on flight photography workshop and I was bringing with me the new Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport as well as the Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport. Why those lenses and not my beloved Sigmonster? Don’t worry, I don’t leave home without that lens but I was especially excited about testing the two shorter telephoto lenses with the brand new Sigma 1.4 and 2x teleconverters (TC).
Photography in winter can be a challenge. And when I say “winter”, I’m not talking of winter in the sense of majestic snowcapped peaks framed by freshly powdered pines with perfect golden light and firetone brushstroke clouds, I’m talking more of the winter of dirty refrozen slushpiles downtown three frigid days after a mid-January sleetstorm around 11:17 on a grey Tuesday morning when it seems there’s nothing magical left in the world worth getting out of warm car with a camera for.
Winter has its challenges, for sure, especially in the deciduous zones, where skeleton trees thrust bony fingers at the sky, and vistas and sweeping wild scenes are brushed widely with swaths of stingy browns and grays, instead of the festive pastels of spring, the lush greens of summer and the fall fireworks palette. But winter has it own charms and own rewards, and for photographers looking to challenge themselves and experiment, it can be a great time to get out and explore with a long lens, like the new 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG HSM OS | Sports lens.
I was fortunate enough to get a chance to test out the new Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens at the Festival of Cranes out in New Mexico. The images above and below are some of the first I captured with it early one morning at the Bosque del Apache NWR. What is unusual about the images is that I normally use a Canon 1D Mark 3 body, but as fate would have it, the Canon mount Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens got lost on its way to the festival. What to do? Sigma tech rep and photographer Brett Wells came to my rescue and offered me his Nikon version of the Sigma 150-600mm f5-6.3 Sport lens along with his Nikon D600 body. So while it was a bit uncomfortable for me working with a camera body that I wasn’t familiar with, I had no problem putting the lens through its paces. After all, Sigma makes most of their lenses in Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax, and Sigma mounts. As I returned to the festival tent I had a surprise awaiting me as the case with the Canon mount Sigma 150-600mm Sport had just came in and was at our booth. I could now use that lens for the next few days in combination with my Canon 1D Mark 3 body.
The Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports has been generating a ton of buzz since its announcement at photokina in September 2014. This Sports update of the 150-500mm supertelephoto zoom lens is one of two 150-600mm zoom lenses announced at the show, along with the 150-600mm DG OS HSM | Contemporary.
My annual trip to Alaska in late July to early August usually means big skies and great light, schools of salmon in the rivers and creeks and coastal brown bears, lots of cubs, and almost unlimited photo opportunities. This year we were treated to two full weeks of sun and clouds without a single rain shower. These are some of my favorite moments of the trip with some technical notes and stories behind the images.