The other day I was contacted by an outdoor magazine to shoot a cover. The only info I received on what they wanted was that this was for the “Mountain” issue and to get creative. Going on that small amount of intel I decided to get a shot that I have been thinking about for the last few summers. But it was only with the addition of the Sigma 150-600 Sports lens to my kit that this shot was even possible..why? Supertelephoto compression! To get the shot I envisioned I needed some serious telephoto compression, a visual effect which can create big-impact imagery.
Here is the setup: every summer as I return from fishing some high alpine lakes I notice this hilltop to the side of the trail with two Massive fourteeners (Grays Peak 14,270ft and Torreys 14,267) some 21 miles in background!
My 70-200 just does not have enough focal length to pull those distant peaks in. Armed this year with the 150-600 I went back up the trail to this point and set up the scene. My friend Jeff Ferragi helped me out as my hiker and tent “seteruperer.” As he was nearly 1/4 mile away we used radios to communicate where he should be hiking and where the tent should be set up in order to perfectly align with the mountains in the distance. To reiterate…I was 1/4mile away from Jeff and the peaks were another 21 miles distant!
Having the ability to zoom in and out of the scene was extremely valuable as moving back and forth with long prime lenses would have been nearly impossible from my location. I shot the scene at various focal lengths, using the “lock” switch to keep me at 400, 500 and 600mm lengths. I found the 600mm setting almost too tight as I wanted to show some of the storm clouds lighting up and 150mm too loose as I lost Jeff in the background at times. 400-500 seemed to be the magic focal length.
Using these long focal lengths allowed me to “pull in” Greys and Torreys and compress the scene making it look as though Jeff was camped right underneath the peaks. It was a beautiful evening and we had great time shooting until the light completely faded. And as it turns out, one of these shots made the cover of Elevation Outdoors for August!