The Blog: See what
Sigma is saying.

07.12.2018

What is SteamPunk portraiture? According to Wikipedia “SteamPunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery.” It also refers to any of the artistic styles, clothing fashions or Victorian-era fiction and films from the mid-20th century. That, being said, there are apparently no boundaries as far as how to portray a SteamPunk person or fashion: it is a wildly creative form of CosPlay that lends itself perfectly to photo portraiture!

©Judy Host 2018 Sigma 105mm F1.4 DG HSM Art | F/1.4, 1/800 sec, ISO 160 | Manual mode. Natural light. Hand held.

Photographically speaking, how fun to have that kind of freedom—and with that in mind, I have pretty much gone crazy with my styling of SteamPunk design imagery!

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05.24.2018

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.

©Judy Host 2018 | Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM Art | F/5.6 | 1/500 sec | ISO 1000 | Focal length 24mm. Manual mode. Natural light. The beautiful Emi Arata brilliantly demonstrating the art of the dance on a small balcony at the Signature Hotel. This image would not have been possible without the wide- angle perspective of Sigma’s 24-35mm F2 DG HSM.

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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01.26.2018

©Judy Host 2017 Carter Center, Atlanta, GA. This image was created with Sigma’s sd Quattro H mirror less camera and a Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art Lens. This camera has a cropped sensor, so the actual focal length of the lens is about 66mm. Settings for this image are F. 7.1 s 1/100 ISO 200. Tiffen filter #87. Processed in Photoshop and enhanced with NIK filters.

Until recently in order to get an infrared effect from your digital camera you would either need to have your digital camera converted to infrared or process your image in Photoshop or some kind of software to convert your file to give it an Infrared look.

With Sigma’s sd Quattro H mirrorless camera you can easily remove the IR cut filter inside the camera located behind the lenses, set the camera to monochrome mode and photograph with a Sigma lens and use an infrared filter to block the visible light. The beauty of this process is when you’re done creating the infrared images, you can easily snap the IR cut filter back into the camera, change the mode back to color and start creating color images again.

It’s been many years since I’ve created an infrared image and my memories of it were how difficult it was to see anything through the lens. Being able to see the image and its exposure in the Sigma camera makes this process so much easier. Bracketing is always recommended, but nothing is better than being able to see your image while you are creating it and making the necessary corrections for the near perfect exposure.

I suggest setting your camera to RAW when creating these IR images, as you will need to do some processing in Photoshop/Lightroom to get the desired effect. The RAW files will give you more latitude.

Sigma sd Quattro H mirror less camera with the IR cut filter removed

Below are some suggestions on how to create infrared Images

What to look for:

When searching for the kind of scenery best suited for an infrared look it’s important to understand that anything that is alive such as leaves, grass, foliage reflect the most amount of infrared light. They will appear almost white in your image.   Other elements like concrete, water and the sky absorb the infrared light and will look darker. If you are fortunate enough to photograph a sky with white puffy clouds, you will notice the sky appears almost black. This effect will create a beautiful contrast in your image. As you can see in this image, the leaves on the trees appear white while the bark of the trees remains the same and the sky has gone black.

©Judy Host 2017, Atlanta, GA. This image was created with Sigma’s sd Quattro H mirror less camera and a Sigma 50mm 1.4Art Lens. This camera has a cropped sensor, so the actual focal of the lens is about 66mm. F. 3.5 s 1/250 ISO 200. Tiffen filter #87. Processed in Photoshop and enhanced with NIK filters.

What settings to use:

In most cases the best settings to use for creating an infrared effect are low ISO for less grain, very slow shutter to compensate for the very high aperture. A tripod is recommended and I always bracket to get the best exposure. Bright sunny days are also the best. The lower the ISO the better quality image over all. Also if possible try to photograph with the light coming through the leaves or trees. It helps to create a much more dramatic look.

©Judy Host 2017, Atlanta, GA. This image was created with Sigma’s sd Quattro H mirror less camera and a Sigma 50mm 1. Art Lens. This camera has a cropped sensor, so the actual focal of the lens is about 66mm. F. 11.0 s 1/4 ISO 100 Tiffen filter #87. Processed in Photoshop and enhanced with NIK filters.

What elements make for a great infrared image?

To create a more compelling image, try to include a lot of contrast in your image. Look for elements of light and dark against each other. This image of the water and the water lilies is an example of that. The lily and the leaves have turned white while the water has gone almost completely black with just enough light to see the reflection of the trees in the water.

Your composition should lead the viewer into the image. Leading lines and s curves are used in this image to draw your attention to the flower. As light as the leaves are, the flower still captures your eye that is where the story is. The reflective aspect of the water compliments the contrast between the two making for a dramatic effect.

I thought it might be helpful to see what the different effects actually look like. Comparing these three images should give you a good idea of the differences between infrared black & white, regular black & white with a color image to represent what the actual scene looked like.

The first image is infrared using the sd Quattro H mirror less camera set to monochrome, removing the IR filter and photographing with the 50mm 1.4 Art lens with a tiffen filter #87. Without moving the camera or changing the settings, I snapped the IR cut filter back inside the camera, and left the mode on monochrome. This created a straight black and white image with a completely different look. Next, I changed the mode to color and again without changing the camera position and using the same settings I created the same image only in color.

09.20.2017

©Judy Host Photography 135mm F1.8 DG HSM A Created at F11 s 1/125 ISO 160 Manual mode.

Sigma’s new 135mm 1.8 Art lens is one of the fastest and sharpest telephoto prime lenses I’ve ever used.  It auto focuses extremely fast thanks to the Hyper Sonic Motor and it locks onto the subject without having to hunt while focusing.

My usual go to lens for portraits is Sigma’s 70-200mm 2.8 lens.  It’s been a workhorse lens for me for over 6 years.  Long lenses are typically used by portrait photographers because of how the lens can compress facial features when shooting further from the subject.  The result is the facial features, like a nose will stick out less.  Overall it flatters the face.  With the introduction of this new Sigma 135mm 1.8 Art prime lens, I may have to replace my Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 lens.

©Judy Host Photography 135mm F1.8 DG HSM A Created at F11 s 1/125 ISO 160 Manual mode.

 

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08.15.2017

 

©JudyHost 2017 Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 DG OS HSM A F. 16.0 s 1/8 ISO 100 Focal Length: 24mm Location: Centennial Park, Atlanta, GA.

The new Sigma 24-70 f 2.8 ART lens has incredible versatility for a professional photographer.  It combines outstanding optical performance with a 24 to 70mm range that is the “ sweet spot “ for a commercial photographer.  It also features optical stabilization as well to help you get steadier hand held images,  and explore your creative possibilities as well.

As a portrait photographer, I find it fast, sharp and lightweight and it’s F. 2.8 through out the zoom.  For me, that’s a big plus.  The optical stabilizer functionality seals the deal, a new workhorse.

I recently used this lens on a session with my favorite dancer, Alexis.  At 7:30am on a Saturday morning, we searched out an area in Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta where the water fountains would hopefully cooperate with us for timing.  We were very fortunate there were no other kids playing in the water besides us.  Setting up my camera on a tripod, and using only one speed light aimed to her side, I turned my settings to F. 16 s 1/8 and ISO 100, with optical stabilization turned on.  The purpose of the slow shutter speed was to capture the movement of the water, while at the same time using the speed light to keep my moving subject in focus.  As you can see, I was able to accomplish all that and the image is sharp from corner to corner.

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05.16.2017

©JudyHost 2017 sd Quattro H Mirrorless Camera | Sigma 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art 012 at f 6.3 s 1/125 ISO 100 Hand Held, Manual Mode.

Sigma’s New mirrorless sd Quattro H Camera is a dream, especially now that you can process these large files directly in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop’s Adobe Camera Raw Processor.  The file size is roughly 140MB when opened, with a level of detail and color comparable to a 51MP Bayer pattern sensor image.  These DNG files help to speed up my workflow now that I can download and process them in RAW converters beyond Sigma Photo Pro.

The sd Quattro H gives you the option of shooting in the Sigma X3F raw file format or in the more accessible Adobe DNG raw format; and in fact, the entire Quattro line now offers DNG capture format via firmware updates!

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03.10.2017

I thought it might be fun to gather some of my favorite images created with Sigma’s 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A lens I created in 2016.  This wide-angle perspective is a fun look for me when shooting portraits. There are so many elements that make for a great image and perspective is one of them.  As a portrait artist I’m always experimenting and trying to create a “unique look,” something that will separate me from my peers.  Using a different lens forces me to see differently. The added value of using a lens like this is being able to photograph in small spaces and still capture the whole scene. I have found no distortion in this lens at any aperture, which is extremely important to me given that I like to shoot wide open.  This is one of Sigma’s “Art” lenses and is f 2.0 at all focal lengths.

In this image of Lauren, I was shooting in an old elevator shaft.  My lights were set up behind me and I was standing about 6-7 feet away from the back wall and my subject.  The window above her gave me the additional light I needed to back light her hair.  What I love about photographing this way is I am able to capture the inside of the walls, creating a tunnel like effect which adds to the overall look that I wanted given her expression.  Had I backed up any farther, I would have been standing on the edge of the Hallway.   I specifically chose this location to showcase what this amazing lens can do.  Not too mention to create a very fun image.

©JudyHost 2016 | Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A f 2.0 s 1/80 ISO 2000 Focal length 35mm. Hand Held, manual mode.

©JudyHost 2016 | Sigma 24-35mm F2 DG HSM | A f 2.0 s 1/80 ISO 2000 Focal length 35mm. Hand Held, manual mode.

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10.20.2016
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©JudyHost 2016 | Sigma 85mm F1.4 DG HSM Art – The Ultimate Portrait Lens f 11.0 s 1/125 ISO 125 Hand Held, Manual Mode.

I had the opportunity to photograph with Sigma’s brand new 85mm 1.4 DG HSM Art lens a few days ago and I must say OMG!!!! What an amazing lens. I started my session inside my studio with strobes and styled my image for high key, (all white) to see how the lens would respond to the level of detail I was looking for. As you can see from this image, it totally blew me out of the water with a quality of sharpness that was almost unbelievable. The separation and detail in the whites in the pants, the top and the background were perfection.

I downloaded this image into Photoshop and magnified it to 600% and could not believe the detail in the eyes, in the highlights and in the overall sharpness throughout my image. My aperture was set at f 11.0 s 1/125 and ISO at 125 as well. Hand holding my camera, a 5D Mark III, I was able to move around and allow Ashley, my subject to dance and feel free to be herself. My focal point was on her eyes and I was about 10-12 feet from her.

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09.06.2016
©JudyHost 2016 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye f 4.0 s 1/640 ISO 320.  Manual mode Hand Held. 

©JudyHost 2016 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye f 4.0 s 1/640 ISO 320.  Manual mode Hand Held.

I discovered the Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye lens a few years ago when I was teaching a class in California.  I had challenged myself to try something new and I was always curious about Sigma’s Fisheye lens and its effects.  I wasn’t quite sure how I could incorporate it into a portrait session, and was pleasantly surprised when I actually photographed with it and loved the illusion of extreme depth.  This amazing lens creates a strong visual distortion and a wide panoramic or hemispherical effect. The trick here is understanding straight lines anywhere but dead center in the image appear to be curved. The farther they are from the center, the greater the curved distortion. This first image of Charlie was photographed in the middle of the day in open shade. I asked her to run past me while holding the balloons up in the air.  When she reached the lens perspective that I wanted, which put her in the middle of my frame, I could see the building was distorted, but she was not. This was the exact effect I wanted to accomplish.  If you look closely at the image, Charlie has no distortion. I set my shutter speed to 1/640 to stop the action and create a sharp image while still capturing the movement in her hair. The building became curved as it was further from the center of my lens.

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08.18.2016
©Judy Host 2016 Sigma’s 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Aperture F.6.3 Shutter Speed 250 and ISO 160. Manual Mode and Hand Held.

©Judy Host 2016 Sigma’s 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Aperture F.6.3 Shutter Speed 250 and ISO 160. Manual Mode and Hand Held.

As a portrait photographer with clients all over the country, when I’m packing my bags to travel one of the first things I do is pre-visualize what I’ll be photographing and which lenses I need to pack.  My first inclination is to have a telephoto or long lens, a wide-angle lens and a prime lens.  This usually covers anything that may come up in regards to having the right equipment to do my work.  For me, it’s not about one versus the other, but rather which lens will give me the perspective I need for my client along with the look I want to create.

Recently, I had an opportunity to travel south to one of the beaches of Georgia, Jekyll Island.  The beaches here are outlined with gorgeous trees and filled with seashells and driftwood everywhere making it a perfect place for creating portraits.  During the summer months it’s also about 96 degrees in the shade, extremely humid and very buggy.

For this particular session, I decided on using my 5Dm3 camera and my favorite prime lens, Sigma’s 50mm F1.4 DG HSM | Art and my 70D camera with Sigma’s new 50-100mm F1.8 DC HSM | Art lens.

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