Sigma Lenses Help Keep Santa’s Magic Alive

The look in the wide, excited eyes of a child, staring up at the old man with the full white beard, tells the story completely. There is magic in that man with the round belly and red suit. With his soft smile and gentle voice, the children are mesmerized by him and the dream of what’s to come on Christmas day.

Santa photographed in studio with the Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art lens at 1/60 sec, f9 at ISO 250. © Steve Chelser | 2017

At our photography studio in Canandaigua, NY, we’ve been working with the same Santa for the last 17 years for our annual Santa shoot. For many of our clients, he is the only Santa they’ve ever known. For them, he is the “real” Santa. Having used the same gentleman year after year, we have built a rapport with sayings, antics and timing to be able to capture some incredible, if not truly magical images for our clients.

“See if Santa’s beard is real,” I encourage the kids. “Go ahead, pull on it,” he says. With a little tug and a great surprised expression from Santa, the families Christmas card photo is immortalized.

With a great relationship between the photographer and Santa, creating perfectly timed images is effortless. Shot with the Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art lens at 1/125 sec, f7.1 at ISO 500 with studio strobes. © Steve Chelser | 2017

We first met Skip Thomas (A.K.A., Santa) by replying to an ad in the Penny Saver for Santa. Our first four or five years with him were at a barn that doubled as a flower shop in the small town of Bloomfield, NY. It didn’t take long to gain a sell-out following year after year. Due to changes at the floral shop, we moved our holiday shoot to our studio in Canandaigua for about 10 years, allowing for more sets and greater control of the light. With this year’s photos, we ventured back out of the studio, going full circle back to a rustic barn setting. We do our photos in 15 minute sessions, allowing us time to get creative with multiple angles, different settings and a variety of Sigma lenses.

6-year-old Brock Years of Canandaigua, NY, excitedly shows Santa his Christmas wishlist in a rustic barn setting. For Brock, this is the only Santa he has ever known. Shot with the Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art lens at 1/60 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1600 to balance the strobe with the ambient barn lighting. © Steve Chelser | 2017
Emma Haers of Phelps, NY watches a video with Santa during Chesler Photography’s Sessions with Santa in a rustic barn. Shot with the Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art lens at 1/60 sec, f6.3 at ISO 1600 to balance the strobes with the ambient barn light. © Steve Chelser | 2017

Through out the years, our sessions with Santa kept creeping earlier and earlier in the season to allow for editing and lab production times to ensure holiday delivery. As the date crept closer and closer to Halloween, our chances of a snow-blanketed Santa shoot began to disappear. In the earlier years, we had days in the barn with temperatures hovering a few degrees above zero.

When I came on board as one of the Sigma Pros three years ago, every time a Sigma box would show up at my door, it was like Christmas any day of the year. I would open each box with the same wide eyed excitement of a child on Christmas morning. As one gets older, the belief in Santa may fade, however, the wonderful, exciting world of photography brings with it a magic of it’s own.

I relished the opportunities in between clients to create some of my own magic with Santa with some of my new Sigma lenses. With the sculpted studio lighting and my go to Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art lens, I was able to capture some amazing character portraits of Santa, then enhanced them in Photoshop for the final look. This year, I used the 24-105mm with studio strobes in the barn, but took the opportunity to play with my newly acquired Sigma 135mm f1.8 Art lens with some window light filtering in to a small corner of the barn. The shallow depth of field softened the Christmas lights hanging in the background, while the incredible sharpness of the 135mm picked up each strand of Santa’s magnificent beard. I then brought Santa out to a stand of pine trees near the barn to capture him with his Victorian Santa suit, also taken with the 135mm for it’s compression and beautiful Bokeh. If only we had a fresh layer of snow.

Creating magical Santa photos in the studio between clients is the highlight of my Sessions with Santa. This image was created with the Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art lens at 1/60 sec, f9 at ISO 250 and then finished in Photoshop. © Steve Chelser | 2017
Using the available light in the barn setting I was able to capture this portrait of Santa with the Sigma 135mm f1.8 Art lens at 1/60 sec, f1.8 at ISO 200.
© Steve Chelser | 2017
The Sigma 135mm f1.8 Art lens was the perfect choice for this shallow depth of field photo of Santa in a stand of pine trees. Shot at 1/80 sec, f2 at ISO 200. © Steve Chelser | 2017

I love keeping the magic of Santa alive for a child. It makes my job extremely satisfying, even if it’s for just one more year for a child on the cusp of doubt. Between you and I, I think Skip really is Santa. Hopefully he’ll leave a Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 Art lens under my tree.

“Twas the night before Christmas and all through the land photographers had dreams of Sigma lenses in hand.”


Sigma Lenses for Wedding Storytelling

As a wedding photographer, it is my responsibility to deliver exceptional photos, every event, without fail. Every wedding is a ballet, telling a love story through emotion and the subtleties of light.  Carrying a case full of Sigma lenses, such as the extremely versatile 24-105mm f4 Art, along with a few primes like the tack sharp 85mm f1.4 Art and the indispensable 12-24mm f4 Art wide angle lens, I can capture that love story, creating something magical. I recently had the opportunity to document the wedding of the Grammy Award winning couple Kate and Forrest O’Connor, and build a video slideshow featuring their own music.

© Steve Chesler | 2017 Armed with a collection of Sigma lenses, such as the 24-105mm f4 Art lens, I have the tools necessary to create spectacular images at every wedding. Exposure 1/200th second at f18 iso 500. Focal length 24mm

The wedding took place at the magnificent Belhurst Castle, perched high above the shore of Seneca Lake in the Finger Lakes Region of New York.  Weddings by nature involve constantly changing conditions with both lighting and setting. My lens of choice to capture a large portion of the wedding due to it’s versatility and sharpness is the Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art lens. That being said, I have several lenses in my arsenal that I use for specific purposes throughout the day.

© Steve Chesler | 2017 The Sigma 24-105mm f4 Art lens is my primary lens at every wedding for it’s versatility as a wide angle, telephoto and light gathering ability with a constant f4 aperture. Exposure 1/200th second at f16 iso 500. Focal length 24mm.

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Big Field, Big Lens – Shooting Professional Baseball with the Sigma 150-600mm Sport Lens

As a member of the Sigma Pro Team, it’s always Christmas with new lenses arriving for me to play with. When the Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens showed up at the door like a baby being delivered by a stork, I couldn’t get it on my camera fast enough. My son had a little league game later in the afternoon, so I was very eager to give the lens a work out of it’s own.  As with many things in life, like ice cream, you can have too much of a good thing. With such a small field, I was right on top of the action which was too much for such a strong lens. Instead of switching to a shorter lens, I decided to switch to a bigger field, so I contacted the Rochester Red Wings, the Triple A farm team of the Minnesota Twins.

© 2015 Steve Chesler | Rochester Red Wings pitcher Lester Oliveros tosses a pitch to the plate against the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders. With the exceptional pulling power of the Sigma 150-600mm Sport lens, none of the action was out of reach.
© 2015 Steve Chesler

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Shooting Outlaws with a Trio of Sigma Lenses

The World of Outlaw Late Model Series came to Weedsport Speedway in Upstate New York on June 23rd. A few weeks earlier I photographed the wedding of one of the series’ top drivers, Tim McCreadie, so this was a perfect opportunity to spend an evening with him at the track to get some behind the scenes footage with some new Sigma lenses.

© 2015 Steve Chesler | Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports
© 2015 Steve Chesler | Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 DG OS HSM | Sports

My main focus was to put Sigma’s 150-600mm F5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sport to the test on the track, along with using the versatility of the Sigma 17-70 F2.8-4 Contemporary lens for some of the pit action. Once the sun went down, I switched over to the Sigma 120-300 F2.8 DG OS HSM Sport lens for the feature race.

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The Perfect Air Show Lens: Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 | Sport

© 2015 Steve Chesler |

I was about 13 years old when I saw the USAF Thunderbirds air demonstration team for the first time. I knew at that moment that I wanted to be a fighter pilot, but alas, it was not meant to be. My eye sight wasn’t 20/20, which back in the 80’s meant that I was ineligible. Nevertheless, my passion for flight never dwindled and I make it a point to see every air show that I can. At this years Rochester International Air Show, I had the opportunity to photograph the Navy’s Blue Angels with Sigma’s 150-600mm Sport lens. Could this lens possibly be the best lens ever to photograph an air show? Continue reading The Perfect Air Show Lens: Sigma 150-600mm F5-6.3 | Sport

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