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Posts Tagged ‘gentec international’

Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens-McLachlan

For the folks that have been following along here at the blog you may recall I spent a great deal of time last summer using a Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fisheye Lens, which was loaned to me by Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses. Today I am pleased and honored to have been featured in a recently designed promotional piece for this lens. Each of the images featured on the promo card were created as I traveled throughout my home province of Ontario, Canada. To view more of my photos created with this lens please follow this link to the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens and scroll through the various thumbnail images, clicking on each to view the larger, sharper version. This lens was an indispensable tool for my frog-scapes, landscapes, and everything in between…not too mention highly addictive and a ton of fun too :)

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Sunrise on Cayman Brac (Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm leans, & Manfrotto BeFree Tripod

Cayman Brac Sunrise (Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens)

During my recent trip to the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands, Gentect International the Canadian distributor for Manfrotto tripods was kind enough to loan me the Manfrotto BeFree, which is a small lightweight tripod designed for travel. When the tripod arrived at my home just prior to my departing I knew instantly that this lovely little tripod would be perfect for my travels, and throughout my trip I was constantly reminded why having a small light weight tripod is so beneficial for travel.  Whether I was using my wide angle zoom or my large and heavy Nikon 80-400 mm VR lens the tripod met my expectations of what should be expected in a travel tripod – lightweight yet sturdy.

Great Egrets in Cayman Brac Wetland (Nikon D800 & Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens

Great Egrets in Cayman Brac Wetland (Nikon D800 & Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens)

First and foremost the Befree Tripod comes with an attractive and very useful carrying bag. I would often hang the tripod from the handlebars of a bicycle to ride down the road to nearby photo destinations.

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod Bag

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod Bag

The Manfrotto Befree Tripod weighs in at only 3lbs and is 15.75 inches in length when fully closed and boasts a maximum payload of 8.8 lbs. As is the case with most tripods designed for travel it is not overly tall when fully extended. With the center column extended the tripod will reach a height of 56.7 inches and 48.4 inches tall when the center column is not extended. Since I am 6 foot 1 inch I did find this a tad short, but I also much prefer to photograph my landscapes from a lower perspective, so this was not really too big of a concern to me. Also, it should be noted that when any tripod’s center column is extended the stability of said tripod becomes immediately less stable. As a result I was not extending the center column during use, and I would advise strongly that folks avoid extending the center column of any tripod unless they absolutely need to do so.

The Manfrotto Befree Tripod comes with its very own mini ballhead incorporating Manfrotto’s quick release system that has been in use for a number of years. I have found this to be a very functional system that provides the convenience and stability a photographer would need. The quick release plates easily screw into the tripod threads on your camera by means of a collapsible-type of thumb screw and once tightened to the camera you can then tighten a small set-screw to prevent the quick release plate from twisting during use.

Three features I particularly liked about this tripod were; one of the legs has a rubber section incorporated into it which I found greatly improved the carrying comfort and which would be very handy for use in cold climates. Secondly, each leg has a silver adjustment tab that allows each leg to adjust independantly for use on uneven terrain or to fold it down for storage inside the carrying bag. Lastly, the legs of the Befree are four section legs that are controlled by three lever-type cam-locks. I found closing and locking the levers to be a very simple process, I would loosen each leg-lock, close the legs, and then with one simple motion use the palm of my hand in a rolling motion to close all three of the locks.

The leg-locking levers and mini ballhead are protected by misuse from airport baggage handlers due to the manner in which the Befree folds down for travel. The leg-locking levers and ballhead are protected by being positioned inside the sturdy aluminum tripod legs.

Below you will see a series of images that better illustrate the fantastic features mentioned above. Please click on each image to see the larger, sharper versions. If you are looking for a small, light weight tripod for your next travel adventure do consider the Manfrotto BeFree. I found it to be an amazingly light, yet sturdy tripod that ensured I was able to create the tack sharp images I demand from my work. This tripod will become my brand new companion for all of my travel photography needs.

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod

Manfrotto BeFree Tripod

Manfrotto Quick Release Ballhead

Manfrotto Quick Release Ballhead (note base is notched for storage too)

Manfrotto Quick release Plates

Manfrotto Quick release Plates

Rubber Carrying Handle Incorporated Onto Tripod Leg

Rubber Carrying Handle Incorporated Onto Tripod Leg

Three Position Leg Adjustment Tab

Three Position Leg Adjustment Tab

One Hand Technique For Closing Leg Locks

One Hand Technique For Closing Leg Locks

Folded Position For Travel (Leg Locks and Ballhead Protected)

Folded Position For Travel (Leg Locks and Ballhead Protected)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sunrise on the Caribbean Island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands

Sunrise on the Caribbean Island of Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands

It has been a most hectic week for me since my return from paradise on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac within the Cayman Islands. I have been busy sending submissions to clients and preparing my entries for the BBC / Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition, which closes on February 27th. I held off on entering any images until my return from Cayman Brac as I felt the island held many great possibilities for imagery that would be worthy of entering into this year’s competition – I entered 6 images from my recent trip into the contest.

Each and every morning I would set the alarm to wake me about forty-five minutes before sunrise. I would then walk down to the beach and commence capturing numerous sunrise images. When photographing sunrise scenes it is always a best practice to get into the habit of looking behind you to see what is going on in the western skies, as I did on the morning I created the above photograph. To accurately record the lovely pinkish tones I use my Singh-Ray 3-stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter and because I was photographing at daybreak just before sun-up my exposure was long enough to pleasingly blur the ocean waves.

During my trip to Cayman Brac I really wanted to travel as lightly as possible, which was made possible by Gentec International the Canadian distributor of Manfrotto Tripods. Gentec was kind enough to loan me the new Manfrotto BeFree Tripod for my trip to Cayman Brac. Please keep an eye open next week for my full review of this wonderful tripod that makes traveling a breeze.

Do remember to click on the image above to see the larger, sharper version.

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Sunrise on the Agawa River in Ontario's Lake Superior Provincial Park

Sunrise on the Agawa River in Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park

This year I decided to come up with a ‘baker’s dozen’ of favorite photographs that I created over the past twelve months. It was difficult to narrow it down to just 13 images, but here they are. Please do click on the images to see the larger, sharper version.

This past year I re-visited my most favorite location within Ontario – Lake Superior Provincial Park, and was blessed with one of the most beautiful sunrises I have witnessed. In February I traveled to the Port Antonio region of Jamaica where I photographed one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Caribbean and my favorite image of my daughter Ava while she was having fun in a swing at Boston Bay. I was invited to co-write the Fractasic eGuide with good friend, colleague, and mentor Denise Ippolito, and to do ‘The Three Frosties‘ guest blog post for one of the world’s premier bird photographers Arthur Morris.

A scouting trip for planning what will become the launch of my first workshop to the tip of Lake Erie’s Long Point Peninsula (a UNESCO World Biosphere) was a success. Folks wishing to be added to the interested list for this workshop, which will likely run in late spring, should shoot me an email here.

Also Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses was kind enough to loan me the Sigma f2.8 15mm EX DG Fisheye Lens, which opened up a whole new world to me for creativity and fun times photographing the natural world.

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I did creating them.

May you all have a safe and prosperous 2014.

Cheers!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Ava on swing at Boston Bay, Jamaica

Ava on swing at Boston Bay, Jamaica

Reich Falls on the Drivers River, Jamaica

Reich Falls on the Drivers River, Jamaica

Johnstone's Whistling Frog chorusing, Jamaica

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog chorusing, Jamaica

Lone tree after ice storm near Thornton, Ontario

Lone tree after ice storm near Thornton, Ontario

Storm clouds over winter wheat crop near Bradford, Ontario

Storm clouds over winter wheat crop Bradford, Ontario (Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens)

Bullfrog-scape with the Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens

Bullfrog-scape on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario (Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens)

Rusty Old Wreck in fog, Milton, Ontario

Rusty Old Wreck in fog, Milton, Ontario

The tip of the Long Point Peninsula at sunrise, Lake Erie, Ontario

The tip of the Long Point Peninsula at sunrise, Lake Erie, Ontario

Bullfrog (Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens)

Bullfrog (Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens)

Aspen Trees Multiple Exposure inspired by Denise Ippolito

Aspen Trees Multiple Exposure inspired by Denise Ippolito

Window Frost Pattern

Window Frost Pattern

Fractalius of Woodland Interior, Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

Fractalius of Woodland Interior, Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario

Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario

The Lake Superior shoreline is often characterized by rugged, rocky outcrops. One of my preferred locations within Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park can be found near the mouth of the Coldwater River, along the Coastal Hiking Trail. At this spot there is a large ‘whale-back’ rock right next to the rugged coast that has been smoothed perfectly through the ages by the action of waves washing over it in the height of severe storm activity. On my most recent trip to Lake Superior in September I was determined to create an image to illustrate this massive rock. On this trip I added a Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fish-eye Lens to my tool-kit. This lens was on loan from Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses in Canada. Fisheye lenses will open up a whole new world of creativity to the photographer who has yet to give them a try. Noted for their extreme distortion qualities, fish-eye lenses when used effectively will produce pleasing results. The resulting effect I like best is that which is achieved by pointing the lens downward to create a rounded horizon. I often find this effect to be most pleasing when looking out over a large body of water. Perhaps this is because 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered in water and the distorted effect mimics that of the globe. To create the above composition I chose to handhold the camera, utilize the virtual horizon feature to maintain a level perspective, and carefully composed the scene so that the massive rock would not merge with the trees on the distant shore.

Please remember to click on the image to see the larger, sharper version :)

 

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Agawa Rock_2307Agawa Rock in Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park

On my recent trip to Lake Superior Provincial Park, which is located north of Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses, kindly loaned my the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fish-Eye Lens. Having visited this park on four separate occasions, I knew exactly how and where I would put the lens through its paces. In the image above that was captured at Agawa Rock, I waited for the late day sun to cast shadows of the evergreens upon the massive, pink granite cliff for an interesting perspective, knowing that the distortion qualities of the lens would curve the evergreens in towards the cliff.

Katherine Cove_2004Sunburst at Sunset at Katherine Cove, Lake Superior Provincial Park, Ontario

In my previous post I shared a similar image of this sunset at Katherine Cove. Above you will see the fish-eye version of the same scene. The Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fish-Eye lens captured the sunburst much better than my Nikon 18-35mm lens did. At first I was unsure about the distorted horizon in this capture, but the more I look at it, the more I really like the distorted qualities of the image, and the nice thing with fish-eye lenses is the creative opportunities they provide photographers due to their ability to distort the landscape.

White Pine Roots and Granite_1926White Pine Root-scape on Granite Outcrop

After I had finished photographing various compositions at Chippewa Falls, which was also featured in the previous post, I turned to see this interesting root-scape spreading out across the granite outcrop. With the rounded look of the granite outcrop I immediately reached for the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fish-Eye to accentuate the effect.

I found this amazing lens to be most useful along woodland trails and the rugged Lake Superior shoreline where the terrain did not allow much room for a photographer to roam, without ending up in the lake :) If you love photographing creative landscape imagery be sure to add a fish-eye lens such as the Sigma 15mm to your tool kit. The possibilities are endless when it comes to fish-eye lenses and the Sigma 15mm version is capable of photographing almost twice as close as the Nikon 16mm version!!!

Be sure to click HERE to read my review of the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Diagonal Fish-Eye in Denise Ippolito’s Creative Photography eMiniMagazine – an amazing, free, on-line resource for photographers wishing to explore their creative side. Be sure to sign-up for the mini-mag…it’s free!

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Woodland Interior_9943Woodland Interior at Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

I often found while photographing with the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens that I was creating images of subjects that I would normally walk by and not give any passing consideration to their photographic possibilities.  The Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens was on loan to me for  a week by Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses. With the fisheye lens mounted on my Nikon D800 it was like a whole new world of photogenic subjects materialized before me. One such scene is the image above of a large boulder that was most likely deposited here by receeding glacial action long ago. The boulder sits beside the footpath that is the Twin Points Trail in Ontario’s Killbear Provincial Park. In fact each of the images in this post are from this lovely and scenic trail leading out to the Georgian Bay shore. As you proceed along the trail, closer to Georgian Bay, the pink granite typical of the area becomes more prominent among the numerous rocky outcrops within the woodlands and along the shoreline, which can be seen in the two photos below.

Killbear Provincial Park_29Granite Outcrop at Dusk, Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

Pink Granite and Woodland Interior_9953Pink Granite Woodland Outcrop at Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario.

Stay tuned for more fisheye fun and do remember to click on the photos to see the larger, sharper versions.

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Winter Wheat_487Winter Wheat Field near Thornton, Ontario

As mentioned in my previous post I recently spent a week photographing with the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens that was on loan to me from Gentec International, the Canadian distributor of Sigma Lenses. I had a ton of fun using this lens and the creative possibilities that it offered me were virtually endless. I enjoyed using the lens to capture bullfrogs, landscapes, water lilies, rusty old wrecks, and waterfalls too. In fact, I photographed roughly 1,500 images with this lens during the week in which I used it. The main subject I sought to photograph with the lens was the bullfrogs on Horseshoe Lake, in the Parry Sound region of Ontario. I will share many more of these with you in future posts.

The Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens is a diagonal fisheye lens in that the scene is shown full frame within the field of view. Circular fisheye lenses are shown as a circular image within the field of view. Fisheye lenses are noted for their extreme wide angles with significant visual distortion. Yes, distortion can be your friend when used creatively. When a fisheye lens is pointed downwards the field of view will have a convex appearance and when pointed upwards a concave look. This aspect of the fisheye lens creates unique perspectives and intriguing effects on a wide variety of subjects. I personally love the rounded look that can be achieved as it resembles our planet, which is round.

Bullfrog_8922Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

This lens was an outstanding performer for the bullfrogs that I sought as it has a close focusing distance of 5.9 inches. Nikon’s version will only focus down to a tad over 10 inches, while the Canon equivalent will focus to slightly more than 8 inches. That’s a huge variance when you are photographing smaller subjects.The lens was used on my Nikon D800 where I was able to play around with the sensor crop features of the camera to capture both full frame and 1.5 sensor crop images. The latter was useful for images such as the one above, while the former captured the bigger picture seen below.

Bullfrog_9257Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

And with the Fragrant White Water Lilies in full bloom I could not pass up the opportunity to capture such beautiful blossoms with the fisheye perspective.

White Water Lily_227Fragrant White Water Lily Blossom

One evening after supper I decided to give the lens a work out with some low light conditions over at Lower Rosseau Falls. I created numerous compositions at this location with the camera firmly mounted to my tripod to capture the flowing motion of the river. Due to the extreme wide angle it is often tricky to compose images with a downward pointed fisheye lens as the tripod’s legs will be poking into the frame however, with a little practice and patience you will get the hang of it. For the B&W image of Lower Rosseau Falls I could not compose the scene without one leg in the frame, so back home in photoshop I cloned out the leg, which was in the lower right area of the frame.

Rosseau River_8530Rosseau River in Ontario’s Muskoka Region

Rosseau River_8568-B&WRosseau River in Black & White

My next excursion with the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens was on the shores of Georgian Bay in Ontario’s Killbear Provincial Park. The rugged shoreline here is note for its wind swept pines and beautiful pink granite. I really enjoyed the creative possibilities that the lens offered me here. The significant distortion qualities of the lens were used for artistic purposes which can be seen in the Killbear Provincial Park images below.

Killbear Provincial Park_9839Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

Killbear Provincial Park_9720Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

Towards the end of my photography trip, a family function led me to the Peterborough area of Ontario. I decided at the last minute to take along the fisheye lens one last time before returning it to Gentec International. I was glad I did as I was staying near Millennium Park and the design of the park lends itself well to the distortion qualities of fisheye lenses. Due to the over-cast, white sky conditions I chose to convert the image to black and white.

Millenium Park_Peterborough_Ontario_358-B&WPeterborough Ontario’s Millennium Park

The fisheye perspective is my new favorite way to create imagery. When the distortion qualities are used to accentuate curves in the landscape they can often have a very pleasing effect. The majority of the photos I captured using the lens were done so handheld. All of the bullfrog-scapes were done using the Live View function of the D800 with the camera held millimeters above the surface of the lake. To maximize my depth-of-field I tended to stay in the f11 – f16 range of the lens. Each and every frame I captured the auto-focus was accurate, any blurred images were a result of errors on my part or by pushing the hand-holding limits too far and shooting at shutter speed that were just too slow. If you don’t push these limits you will not know what you can accomplish in given situations. While reviewing the images on the computer at home I did notice some chromatic abberation in the extreme corners but for me this is no biggie as it can easily be corrected in photoshop.

I do not test or review lenses by photographing charts and such to examine their sharpness from corner to corner. I much prefer to take the gear into the field and see how it will perform with my style of shooting, with the subjects I love to photograph, and to genuinely find out will it get the shot I want. I can honestly say that I loved using the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens and will certainly be adding it to my tool kit in the near future. It far exceeded my expectations and the lens literally spent the better part of my travels attached to the Nikon D800. I would highly recommend this lens to anyone wishing to explore the wonderful world of the fisheye and unleash their creativity.

Do remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions and let us know which is your favorite and why.

Throughout my travels I did come across a new rusty old wreck, with bullet holes nonetheless, and another wreck near my home, which I decided to give a quasi-grunge look. See these images below.

Old Rusty Mercury_8604Rusty Mercury Truck with Bullet Holes

Rusty Old Chevy_420-alternateOld Cheverolet Truck with Quasi-Grunge Treatment

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Rosseau River_816

Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario

The April 30, 2013 deadline to enter the Sigma Canada Scholarship Contest is fast approaching. If you are a student enrolled in an accredited Canadian University or College photography program and photograph with Sigma lenses you still have one day left to enter for your chance to win the grand prize of $3000 towards your tuition or a $1000 gear package from Gentec International, the distributor for Sigma lenses in Canada, for the second prize finalists. To find out more about the contest and how to enter please click here.

Sigma lenses are extremely well made and produce stunning results. The images accompanying this post were photographed with the Sigma 8-16mm f4.5-5.6 DC HSM an ultra wide-angle lens that produces very sharp images with well controlled distortion. Please click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper versions and check out the results.

Best of luck to all who enter the contest :)

Rosseau River_833

Rosseau River, Muskoka, Ontario

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Tniy Marsh_7197-B&W

Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area

Last weekend I made the trek to Tiny Marsh so that I could see how things were shaping up for this season. Tiny Marsh is located near Elmvale, Ontario. This is just one of many great landscape photography locations featured in my eBook ‘The Photographer’s Guide to the Ontario Landscape.’  The day I chose to visit Tiny Marsh was rather dreary as storm skies threatened above a landscape that has yet to show any signs of greening-up due to cold spring weather.  While being presented with these elements my thoughts immediately turned to Black & White photography and scene above represents the only scene photographed on this day. After carefully composing this image, placing the horizon line in the center for the mirror image-like effect, and creating a few frames, the rain began to fall heavily. By the time I had made my way back to the car I was thoroughly soaked. but I think the resulting image was well worth the effort. I did make note of the vast number of Leopard Frogs that were already chorusing during my visit. I will be planning a trip back to Tiny Marsh at night to explore the wetlands for night-time frog photography soon and am considering to offer this as a private one-on-one workshop. More details will follow soon.

The above image was converted to B&W using Nik/Google’s Silver Efex Pro 2 software. Please do remember to click on the photo to see the larger, sharper version. Hope you like it :)

Sigma Scholarship Contest Update:

The deadline for the Sigma Scholarship Contest is fast approaching. The contest closes on April 30, 2013. If you are a full-time photography student enrolled in an accredited Canadian College or University and photograph with Sigma lenses you are eligible to enter. To find out more on how to enter and to learn about the killer prizes available click on the Sigma Scholarship Contest logo in the sidebar of the blog or click here. Gentec International is the distributor of Sigma lenses in Canada. Best of luck to all who enter the contest.

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