Somewhat Secret Superpowers of Camera lenses

The greatest thing about interchangeable camera lenses is the variety of optical designs, from ultrawide to supertelephoto and everything in between, that offer an incredible amount of variety for visual expression, creativity, and optical performance optimized for different photographic situations.  And while it may be sometimes completely and totally obvious what types of photography a certain lens excels at—for example, everyone knows that Macros are designed to capture close-up details; telephoto lenses are great for long-reach wildlife and sports from the sidelines—many styles of camera lenses have lesser-known secret superpowers that can be called upon to make a photo. Let’s take a look!

Supertelephoto Lenses

Long lenses, like the Sigma 150-500mm F5.6.3, or 300-800 F5.6 to name two, are known to be great for making sports and wildlife images. Wide open, these lenses can isolate the subject from the background to really make the images pop. And of course, the wide apertures which give very shallow depth of field feel also yield the fastest shutter speeds, which are necessary to freeze a bird in flight, or an athlete on the move.

Everyone knows supertelephoto zoom lenses are great for long-reach photography at widest, like wild birds. Here, the Sigma 150-500mm is trained on an American Anhinga, at 500mm, wide open at F6.3.
Everyone knows supertelephoto zoom lenses are great for long-reach photography at widest apertures for freezing active subjects, like wild birds, with fast shutter speeds. Here, the Sigma 150-500mm is trained on an American Anhinga, at 500mm, wide open at F6.3.

And Landscape, or should we say sky-scape, photographers also know that longer focal lengths also can make for huge suns and moons, the effect of which is amplified when the celestial orb is near earthbound features in the frame. Continue reading Somewhat Secret Superpowers of Camera lenses

Prime Time: Focus on Fixed Focal Length Lenses

Prime lenses are designed for exceptional imaging at a single focal length. Unlike zoom lenses that easily span a given focal range and variable field of view with a twist of the zoom ring, the field of view and focal length remains constant. If you want to take in less of the surroundings with a given prime lens, you’ve got to physically move closer, and to take in more of the scene, you’ve got to back up. But of course, as you move, the angle of view remains the same all the while.

It is true that switching to a prime for the first time may take a serious degree of adjustment for many photographers who’ve only worked with zooms, and the flick-of-the-wrist compositional versatility they offer. It is true the overall quality of zoom lenses has increased significantly over the past three decades. But there is still something, a certain charm, or a certain shift in the photographer’s eye, when the optic of choice is a single focal length lens. Continue reading Prime Time: Focus on Fixed Focal Length Lenses

Fall Foliage with Sigma’s 15mm F2.8 Diagonal Fisheye Lens

Fall is my favorite time of year to take photographs, and I always push myself to get out and make the most of the brief window of brilliant color. I have spent the last week chasing fall foliage in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania. This year, after taking the obvious shots of deep oranges and reds, I used my Sigma 15mm F2.8 Diagonal Fisheye lens to capture the forest from a different perspective.

I find that the most compelling fisheye images include a strong foreground element that is positioned less than 12 inches from the front of the lens. For fall foliage, I decided to find colorful leaves to use as foreground elements to frame the forest in the background.

© 2013 Gabby Salazar | I took this image in the late afternoon, positioning myself underneath the leaves so that they would be backlit by the sun. I included the sun in the frame and like how the fisheye created a small sunburst. The rich blues in the sky were achieved without the use of a polarizing filter.
Sigma 15mm f2.8 Fisheye, 1/1250 sec at f/7.1, ISO 250.

Continue reading Fall Foliage with Sigma’s 15mm F2.8 Diagonal Fisheye Lens

Fireworks and Bright Lights in the Night For the Fourth of July and Beyond by Jack Howard

The fourth of July means many things, and for photographers, one of the most exciting and challenging aspects of this holiday is capturing amazing photos of fireworks. The bright lights in the night paint the sky with multi-colored flames in a way that can be spectacular to witness and capture with your camera. And while it may seem that fireworks–and articles about how to capture fireworks with your DSLR–only appear for a few nights in early July, there are actually tons of nights from coast to coast all summer long when the skies are illuminated with fireworks.

We’re going to explore the ways to ensure sharp shots of these colorful subjects, along with some other ideas for nocturnal bright-light photography, and we’ll also offer up some pointers for tracking down upcoming fireworks displays, for the Fourth, and all summer long!

Photo Caption: Post-game fireworks light up the night over TD Bank Stadium following a Somerset Patriots baseball game as a trailer hauling a small racecar stops to admire the display. Canon EOS 5D with Sigma 15mm F2.8 EX DG Fisheye, cropped to remove some dead space in the sky. BULB exposure mode, 3 seconds, F10, ISO 100. Tuned in Adobe Camera Raw 7.1

Continue reading Fireworks and Bright Lights in the Night For the Fourth of July and Beyond by Jack Howard


Spots where sand, sea, and sky come together offer certain challenges to photographers, but the results can be so amazingly rewarding. Conditions can change quickly as the sun hides behind a cloud, and conditions most certainly change slowly as the tides sink and rise and the sun and moon dance across the sky. The same patch of sea may be mirror calm and reflecting golden light, or it may be a churn of furious waves. Fogs, mists, and wind-whipped sand can make for gorgeous images even as they fool camera meters.  There’s a world of possibilities waiting to be captured along these edges, whenever you visit, and with whatever Sigma lens you’ve got in your bag.

Where sand, sea, and sky meet can make for amazing photos, in any conditions. A pair of Eastern Willets hunt at the water’s edge on a very foggy morning at Sandy Hook, NJ. There’s a very simple geometric division of space here into three main blocks of sand, sea, and foggy sky. Sigma SD1, Sigma 50-500mm @ 112mm, 1/640 F5.6 ISO 100.

Beachscapes can be blocks of simple Euclidian geometry, with squares and triangles defining the divisions between sky, sea and sand, and beachscapes can also be amazingly complex explorations of fractal geometry. Depending on the time, and tide, and weather, and season, you may have a beach to yourself, or you may be one of the multitudes of people, or birds, at the edge of the sea. Empty or packed, blazing or misty, there’s amazing photos to be made. And from Fisheye to supertelephoto, any and every lens has great potential for the beach. Let’s go exploring! Continue reading Beachscapes

Exit mobile version