Archive for July, 2013

Sampson - P117

Today’s post is for a dear old friend who left this world 10 years ago today. Sampson was my faithful photography companion for 6 years. He was my shadow and would follow me everywhere I went. He became our dog when he was 7 years old and lived to be 13 years of age. He was a large 105lb. German Shepherd mix. Due to neglect Sampson spent the first 7 years of life learning how to fend for himself and he became a skilled hunter in doing so. Often I would find him in the field behind my home hunting for meadow voles. When we moved into our home Sampson came by for a visit and never left, eventually his owners said keep him we don’t want him, and so we did. His favorite past time was playing ball with orange road hockey balls, but you would need to have 3 or 4 balls to actually play fetch with him. He would often stuff two or three of them in his mouth and would not drop them unless you had another one to throw. He also loved to play fetch, in the lake, at the cottage where you could not keep him out of the water. When he was done playing fetch he would chew on these balls as if they were bubblegum. We would often go for very long walks together through the woodlands near the family cottage or down the rural roads where I live. One day he just did not seem to be himself and he had lost his appetite. A trip to the vet would reveal a large tumor in his abdomen. The vet prescribe some medication to help Sampson through the next couple of months. When we arrived home from the vet I asked Sampson if he wanted to go for a walk, which he did. As we set out for our walk, about 20 or 30 feet down the road he stopped, looked up at me, and turned to go back to the house. We had just completed what would be our last walk together. The next morning Sampson died in his sleep. Sampson was cremated and his ashes scattered in the lake at the cottage.

Sampson P19

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One of my main reasons for wanting to try the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, which was on loan from Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses, was for photographing Bullfrogs in the wetland on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. When my parents bought our family’s cottage over 30 years ago there were great numbers of Bullfrogs to be found and their signature jug-o-rum chorusing would echo through the night air. Today all but a few individuals can be heard singing at night and locating them can be a chore some days. Fortunately, there is one very reliable fella that always hangs out in the vicinity of a very tiny island, covered with sedges and shrubs, within the wetland. I have had the pleasure of photographing this individual for over and over. For exactly how long I am unsure, but I would guess at least three years. I can often place my hand underneath him and he will crawl aboard and allow me to pose him. Do note that amphibians should NEVER be handled if you have insect repellent or sunscreen on your hands – it is deadly to them.

Each of these frog-scapes were photographed handheld, selecting the Live View function on my Nikon D800, auto-focus and a double bubble level in the hot shoe to make sure the froggies were sitting square with the world in the photos. This is the easiest way I know of to capture such images from the dry comfort of a canoe. Often my hands are submerged in order to hold the camera just millimeters above the water’s surface. I found over-cast conditions to be more favorable as with the extreme wide angle view of this lens it was easy to accidentally see my shadow or that of the camera and lens within the frame under sunny conditions. Also if the camera and lens is held above and over the frogs it is easy to get the camera and lens reflecting in the water in front of the subject, but by hand-holding the rig just above the water this problem is eliminated. A slight downward pointed fisheye lens will create the rounded prespective that works beautifully to show the frog’s within their world. And since the world is round, this is a pleasing perspective 🙂

Below are some of my favorite frog-scapes photographed while using the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye lens.

Please remember to click on the photos to see the larger, sharper versions and let us know which is your favorite and why.








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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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Storm clouds over farm and winter wheat crop_565Storm Clouds Over Winter Wheat Crop, Bradford, Ontario

Sorry for lack of posts lately folks, I have been away on a photography trip through Ontario’s Parry Sound region. During this trip Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma Lenses in Canada was kind enough to loan me a Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens. I will be doing a full review of this lens in an upcoming post soon, but I can quickly sum it up with one word – WOW! I had a ton of fun using this lens for everything from bullfrogs, rusted old wrecks, urban scenes, landscapes, forest interiors, water lilies, and agricultural scenes (as you can see above).

The image accompanying this post was captured yesterday using the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens on a Nikon D800 handheld as the wild and wicked storm clouds were swiftly moving across the sky, above a golden field of winter wheat. Yesterday southern Ontario, particularly the Toronto area, was hit with a massive amount of rain which caused significant flooding. The rainfall amount came close to beating the record set when Hurricane Hazel rolled through the area in 1954. Fortunately I live north of the hardest hit areas and only received a small amount of rainfall at home however, as I was driving down a rural road near my home I noticed these ominous clouds and just had to pull off to the side of the road and grab a few images.

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

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