Sigma Shares

Richard Bagdonas: May’s Sigma SuperFan

We are pleased to announce Richard Bagdonas, of Jacksonville, Florida as our May #SigmaSuperFan.  Here is an excerpt from his entry that we really liked!

“Coming recently back into the photography field after a long hiatus, I started myself off with a camera class to introduce me back and also learn more about DSLRs. Working with my kit lenses, I immediately knew that I was quickly going to outgrow them, so I started researching.

One of my instructors lent me her lens during one outing and I quickly found my first Sigma lens, my 18-250mm. This lens proved to be a great addition to my camera bag, and stayed on the camera almost always. As I practiced more, shot more, and started focusing to the type of photography that I primarily enjoy (landscapes, cityscapes, and nature) I went back to the researching and happily chose the next member of the family to join us, my 17-70 2.8-4. I cannot begin to express just how much I love this lens. I have shot from sunrise to deep sky with it and have yet to find a time I wasn’t happy with the shots it took. It is my primary walking lens now.

Now that my son has joined in and adopted the 18-250, I know that I will have to start looking for another lens to pair with my 17-70! I have been very happy with Sigma and they will always be a contender for my lens choices. I enjoy finding a company that I can trust in their quality, service and product & stay a life long advocate of them. Thank you Sigma for bringing me into the family!”

Richard Bagdonas of Jacksonville, Florida, is our May Sigma SuperFan! This photo was made by his son, Daniel.
Richard Bagdonas of Jacksonville, Florida, is our May Sigma SuperFan! This photo was made by his son, Daniel.

 

Richard is a passionate hobbyist, who first got into photography with a 35mm film camera many years ago. After a long break, he got back into digital photography about three years ago when his son, Daniel, purchased him a DSLR kit as a father’s day gift. He’s got the 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 DC OS HSM Macro and 17-70mm F2.8-4.0 DC OS HSM | Contemporary lenses in his bag, while his son has just picked up the 150-500mm F5-6.3 as well! We had a great conversation with Richard about his photography.

Tells us a little about your background

I was born in Brunswick, Georgia, and with my father, Edward, being in the military we moved up and down the coast, finally settling in Jacksonville, Florida in 1974. I’ve been here ever since. My photography interest originally started with my father’s work. He’d share slides from his trips overseas, to Italy, for example, and my desire to make great photos like that started at the tail end of high school. After a few years, as I started a job, and a family, I sort of fell out of it as I focused my attention elsewhere. I’d been away from photography for a long time; one day a few years back, I mentioned to my son Daniel, now 22, how I wanted to get back into it; and he bought me my first DSLR for father’s day nearly 3 years ago.

This shot is on the riverwalk in Jacksovnille, Florida. I was playing with nighttime and long exposure to put the lens through its paces. Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 17-70 at 28mm F/22 75secs ISO 100
This shot is on the riverwalk in Jacksonville, Florida. I was playing
with nighttime and long exposure to put the lens through its paces. Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 17-70 at 28mm F/22 75secs ISO 100

It was a brand new experience with digital. I had to relearn everything, do a lot of research, and reading to catch up. I read everything about a hundred times before getting out there, and testing and trying. I read the manual cover to cover, front to back, and then joined a photo meetup group and signed up for a class, to really start learning what I can do now, which brings us to where I am today.

And now, as I grew with it, my son got involved as well, and we’re doing photo trips and photo shoots together. He’s very interested in portraiture, and I’m most interested in landscapes.

Egret at at Blue Springs State Park, Florida. Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 18-250mm at 250mm F/9 1/400 ISO 200
Egret at Blue Springs State Park, Florida. Shot info Nikon
D7100 Sigma 18-250mm at 250mm F/9 1/400 ISO 200

It is a new, passionate hobby for me. I am very encouraged by what I have learned. But then I read magazines and websites, and I still feel I have so much to learn.  I wish I’d gotten involved with it 10-15 years ago. There’s still so much to learn!

I am open to try anything, I really enjoy landscapes. And I’m dabbling with flowers! I am fascinated by flowers and want to get more into close up and macros.

This shot is in the gardens at the Biltmore Estates Asheville NC. Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 17-70 at 40mm F/6.3 1/160 ISO 200
This shot is in the gardens at the Biltmore Estates Asheville NC.
Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 17-70 at 40mm F/6.3 1/160 ISO 200

I really enjoy landscapes, cityscapes, and night time long exposures. I am really excited to witness and capture the beauty of the land. I’m not really too much into portraits or people right now.

Tell us about your first Sigma lens

My first Sigma lens was the 18-250mm, which I borrowed from a class instructor. I liked the ability to have such a wide range without having to change lenses, without ever having to think about swapping lenses. I really like the time and effort put into the design of this lens. It even has close-up and macro capabilities, which is really incredibly versatile for a single lens!

When did you realize Sigma lenses were special?

My second Sigma lens, the 17-70mm F2.8-4.0 Contemporary really made me realize just how amazing Sigma lenses are. Unboxing it, and unwrapping it, and hooking it to the camera, it just felt so right. I knew it was built with quality and pride. That’s the lens that is on my camera more than 90% of the time.  I’ve done walks around Jacksonville at nighttime, and my first astrophotography shots have been with that lens, too. And again, this lens is also great at close-up photography.

This shot is at Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach, FL. Love the closeup and macro ability with the lens (still wanting a dedicated macro to add to the family) Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 17-70 at 24mm F/3.5 1/125 ISO 200
This shot is at Fort Clinch State Park in Fernandina Beach, FL.
Love the closeup and macro ability with the lens (still wanting a dedicated macro to add to the family) Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma
17-70 at 24mm F/3.5 1/125 ISO 200

When did you realize Sigma was a different kind of company?

The attention to detail, taking the time to say, we’re doing an all-in-one zoom, and making it with close-up and macro, and making it in Japan, and the way the lenses feel, they just feel good in the hands. That 17-70mm, for example, just feels so solid and well built. The pride and dedication in making the equipment really shows!  We are making products people are happy to own. The fanbase is so enthusiastic about their Sigma gear!  This past weekend I rented a 50-500mm, that is a beast of a lens! One of my favorite shots of the year was made with that lens!

What’s your most memorable day as a photographer?

I have two.  One was a recent trip with my son to the Blue Ridge Mountains. He was using my 18-250 and I was using the 17-70mm, chasing waterfalls. Great father-son days! And in fact, he’s just bought the 150-500mm, so he’s also a Sigma fan now!

This is from along the Blue Ridge Parkway heading to Tennessee. Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 18-250mm at 150mm F/7.1 1/250s ISO 160
This is from along the Blue Ridge Parkway heading to Tennessee. Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 18-250mm at 150mm F/7.1 1/250s ISO 160

The other was just a few weeks after starting my photo class, and going out with the class at nighttime to take fireworks photography. I got about twelve photos I am really happy about of out of the set. It was the first real time I applied my knowledge and really opening the box and expanding the boundaries as a photographer! The way everything came together that day, from my photos, to the equipment, just really worked that day.

Tell us about your dream gear and shoot

I’d love to move into full-frame: upgrade to a fullframe FX body, and add the 12-24mm ultrawide zoom to my bag! And probably pick up the new 24mm F1.4 Art for landscapes and night sky photography, and then add the 70-200mm F2.8. And my son really wants to buy the 200-500mm green monster!

What is one atypical thing in your camera bag?

I carry two pen LED flashlights, and a red light flashlight to not interfere and interrupt night vision, so when I’m out doing nighttime work, I use the red light. And I’m in Florida, so I carry bug spray all the time. The sandflies will eat you alive if you leave it in your car!

Tell us about your photo inspirations

My dad, Edward, was my first photographic inspiration. He made amazing shots right off the deck of his aircraft carrier when he was in the Navy. And as I like landscapes, you’ve got to mention Ansel Adams, but really, it’s all the contemporary photographers out there sharing amazing work on the internet and complimenting them on their work, and having that community interaction. There are so many photographers right now creating inspiring work that it always drives me to try harder and learn more.

At the Butterfly Gardens in Gainesville, FL. Shot info Nikon D7100 Sigma 17-70 at 52mm F/8 1/1250 ISO 400
At the Butterfly Gardens in Gainesville, FL. Shot
info Nikon D7100 Sigma 17-70 at 52mm F/8 1/1250 ISO 400

What else, outside photography, inspires you?
I love astronomy, reading, and I am really into theatre and music.  I am really big into my family. Family motivates me to do everything. My son, he surprised me by buying me my first DLSR for Father Day! He pushes me to go out and shoot, and to try new things. I’ve got the State Parks pass, and I’m going to get the National Parks one next. I love wildlife, and I am really liking waterfalls right now, which, being in northern Florida, isn’t a local subject at all. We’ve taken some trips on the southern sections of the Appalachian trail, and the waterfalls just really appeal to me.

What do you know for sure about Sigma?

Sigma is a company that takes pride in what you’re doing. There’s a focus and direction in where the company is going.

Which do you choose as your prize lens?

The 18-300mm is a great update of the 18-250mm all-in-one, so that’s what I’m looking to upgrade!

 

Do you want to be the next #SigmaSuperFan? Learn how to enter here!

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