Every time I take a photo on the Sigma Quattro system it blows my mind. I download the image to my computer, open it in Lightroom, full screen that bad boy and just zoom in with the largest child-like grin on my face. If you are a photographer, you will know that feeling I’m talking about. You kind of feel like you just leveled up – or discovered a whole new realm of possibilities. Sometimes it even feels like you are cheating – like is it really this easy?
About ten years ago I upgraded from a point and shoot to a DSLR. I remember reviewing every photo at 100% on the computer just so I could bask in my newly discovered 12 megapixels of solid sharp imagery. Fast forward 10 years, I haven’t really done that in a while. Everything I shoot has been pretty similar in quality regardless of camera – until recently.
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There’s an unshakeable feeling that rises at certain times—that it’s been just a little bit too long since your last photo outing. It could be a week, or month—or horribly, even longer—but once that feeling gains a foothold, there’s only one thing that you can do: check your calendar, block out some time and head out to a favorite photo spot to spend a few hours outside with eyes through the viewfinder.
It is birds—shorebirds in particular—that call to me. I grew up on a thumb of land between two tidal ponds that fed into the Manasquan River along the Jersey Shore. Gulls, ducks, pipers and all of the stilt-legged pointy-beaked things are lifelong friends. Any chance I can get to spend a few minutes to a couple of hours alone among these winged sea-loving birds is always time well spent for me. Salt water course through my veins. When the call rises, I usually head for Sandy Hook, a spit of land jutting into the Raritan Bay, across from New York City, the northernmost point of the Jersey Shore, the nearest shore bird hotspot to my home base.
Walking gingerly into the saltmarsh, feeling with each step for where the raft of cattail straws strewn along the intertidal zone goes from sandy to boggy to a surprise tidepool while the laughing gulls cackle, terns trill, oyster catchers give a shrill whistle while on wing, a hint of sedge and dune grass on the salted breeze, the muffled roar of distant ocean waves and the more delicate and precise lap of bayside wavelets, the cool air and goosebumps of a foggy patch giving way to a warm kiss as the midmorning sun finally claims victory over the morning fog, the declarations and protestations of Red Wing Black birds perched atop poison ivy branches, the squeaking wings of a mourning dove alighting, and the impenetrable silence of a snowy egret on the hunt fill my senses.
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Just a few weeks ago Sigma made a huge announcement. They would be making lenses natively compatible with Sony FE-mount in the very near future. At first it will be the Art prime line and later all the zoom Art and Sport lenses will be available too. This raised a lot of eyebrows, mine included.
It’s no secret that mirrorless cameras are growing in popularity and performance! Companies like Sony, Olympus and Panasonic have been putting out highly refined mirrorless cameras for some time now and Sigma has been offering prime DN lenses for either the APS-C or micro-four thirds image circle for several years now. But the introduction of the full-frame Sony E-mount system has been a major game-changer.
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If you like the wild west and country music then you have to visit The Stockyards in Fort Worth, TX. There are beautiful photography opportunities around every corner, and the smell of smoked meat fills the air. I took three Sigma lenses to accompany me on this trip: the brand new 14-24mm F2.8 DG HSM | Art, 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Art, and 100-400mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Contemporary lenses.
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The Sigma 70mm F2.8 DG Macro | Art is the first 1:1 magnification prime lens in the Art line. And it is the successor to the world-renowned 70mm F2.8 EX DG Macro lens. Just hearing the combination of this focal length, “macro” and “Art” all put together should get close-up photographers excited, and rightfully so! Cutting right to the point, this lens has huge expectations as both the first Art lens to be introduced in the Macro category, and as the follow-up to one of the sharpest macros ever produced—and it totally delivers!
In the hands, the lens is compact. The barrel extends to achieve greater magnification; but even fully racked to true life-sized 1:1 magnification, the barrel stays protected inside the lens hood. There’s a new optical design with 13 elements in 10 groups, a new motor that’s much more quiet than the previous version. While not totally silent, it is unobtrusive in all but the most sterile sound environments.
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My ongoing journey towards perfecting my skill is fueled by the passion of dance. Capturing these exquisite bodies in motion while expressing their art becomes an exchange of energy where an instant of beauty is held in time. The opportunity to capture these images with the latest array of amazing Sigma lenses makes this all possible. Many of the images you will see here are just a small part of a body of work that I have created over the last few years while using a variety of Sigma lenses.
In 2017, the Director of the Interior Design Center for MGM Resorts Int’l searched the internet for ballet images created specifically outside using architecture as an element. She found a group of images I had created and liked what she saw. I was contacted by her office and asked to submit about 30 more images. Several months went by and I continued to submit more images and then started to create images to their specifications. After months of customizing a selection of 20 images, we finally narrowed them down to nine. The entire process took about 6 months.
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By Walter Arnold
For the last nine years, I have spent much of my time poking around the darkened nooks and crannies of abandoned buildings. Not because I like the smell of mold and mildew or enjoy using my face as a spider web clearing tool, but because I LOVE searching for beauty in unexpected places. Since 2009 I have been creating a fine art photographic series called The Art of Abandonment. My travels take me all over, searching out historic and endangered locations, and creating scenes that tell a story.
Since day one, Sigma lenses have always been in my bag alongside a few pro-level Nikon lenses as well. In fact, my first ultrawide lens was the Sigma 10-20mm which I used for years on a Nikon D300. When I upgraded to the full-frame Nikon D800 however, I went with a different ultrawide bread and butter lens for the last five years with the same focal range and aperture. So, when Sigma contacted me and told me they had a 14-24mm F2.8 ART lens that was potentially “breadier and butterier” than the killer one in my bag, I HAD to try it out on one of my abandonment shoots.
When the lens came in the mail, I opened it like a long-awaited Christmas present. Pulling it out of the padded case, I could tell that the lens had a solid build. The focus and zoom rings are smooth with the right amount of resistance. Bear in mind the zoom ring is reversed from the house brand, so it took a little brain training for me to remember that zooming out is now a RIGHT turn instead of left! The lens cap has a padded ring which is very nice for sliding over the lens petals without scuffing or scratching them. All this is to say, I liked the lens even before I put it on my camera.
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By Avery Howard
This is a special guest blog post written and photographed by Avery Howard, 2nd grade daughter of Sigma’s chief blogger/tech editor, Jack Howard, for “National Take Your Child to Work Day”
The first concept we got to explore for Take Your Child to Work Day was to take photos of flowers and especially red tulips, yellow daffodils, dandelions, yellow tulips, and bicolored daffodils.
The second concept was to take other nature photos, including a leaning tree, riverbank, three pine cones & two big sticks. My dad and I identified great photos and the angles to shoot with the two lenses. I also learned how to take photos of landscapes and great shots of people today! (And by “people” I really mean Pato the duck!).
After we got back to my dad’s home office we picked out our favorite photos and prepared them for the website using Photoshop. Some of the photos were better than others and these were the ones we picked. We looked at the framing, if it was blurry or sharp, and the colors, to decide which we liked best.
Then we wrote the blog in Google Docs (and I showed my dad how to use Google Voice typing, too!) and uploaded it into a program called WordPress and then we published it. You are reading it now. I hope you enjoyed it!
Photographing the aurora can be one of the most exciting opportunities a landscape photographer can come across. People most commonly travel to Northern locations from all over for a chance to see them in what can often be a once in a life time experience. Even if you’ve traveled to the far North, it’s never a guarantee you’ll see them. That just makes it all the more important that you’re ready to shoot them when you do. It’s worth noting that if you’re planning a trip in the Southern Hemisphere, all of these tips below will also be applicable if you’re fortunate enough to see the Southern Lights, the “Aurora Australis.”
I’ve been fortunate enough to photograph the Northern lights a good number of times and recently contributed an entire section of a book focused on shooting them. I wanted to share some of my favorite tips here today.
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