25 April, 2018

Sigma Art Lenses for the FE Mount

"Open 7 Days" - Winton, Queensland - Sigma 24-105mm Art

Sigma's announcement of adding the FE (full-frame Sony) mount to many of their Art Series lenses has an added element: Sigma Mount Conversion.

If you've been reading my posts, I'm a Sigma Art user via Sigma's MC-11 Mount Converter. Native glass would have been my first choice, but Sigma Arts with the converter have been a reasonable balance between cost, needs and quality. I've been happy with that, as the Sigma lenses are on an optical par with Sony glass – not as fast-focusing, but at half the Sony prices here in Australia.

I've read some complaints about adapting DSLR lenses to Mirrorless. Sigma seems to be planning some short flange lenses for Sony (and probably the upcoming Canon and Nikon mirrorless bodies). And, this is likely to save size and weight. But I think that it will take a while and I've found my Sigma primes (24, 35, 85 and 135mm) to be outstanding. Big and heavy, but outstanding.

I've been advised by Australia's Sigma distributor that mount conversion kits will follow on from the availability of each particular FE Art lens.

It crossed my mind to wait and see what Canon will be providing in a mirrorless, full-frame body. But, alas, waiting on Canon seems like a fools errand. I can't even be sure the new Canon body will be in the EF mount.

So, when the kits are available I'll be converting my Sigma Art primes to the FE Mount. Interestingly, the 24-105mm zoom doesn't appear on Sigma's conversion list.

08 March, 2018

International Women's Day 2018

AIATSIS International Women's Day Poster 2018

Happy International Women's Day. But also, I really like the portrait of the young woman, above.

The Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) describes this wonderful portrait this way:
The woman featured in this image remains unknown, but AIATSIS exists to help keep Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander history and culture strong. The woman is not forgotten and on this International Women’s Day we wanted to pay our respects to women like her. Her image is now spread around the country in a statement about the power of women – Because of Her, we can!

03 March, 2018

Speed Bump

School bell at the Winton State School in the Queensland Outback
Sigma 24-105mm, f/4.0 with MC-11 Mount Converter.

My Bride grew up in the outback and did the Radio School of the Air
for her early years, but then attended the Winton State School
while boarding at the Country Women's Association Hostel.

I didn't post in February. My apologies. I have a medical speed bump that will put me on the sidelines for about three months.

I'll try for an occasional post during the time, but I can't make any promises.

See you soon.

26 January, 2018

Model Releases and "Easy Release"

Leis in the Mt Coot-tha Forest - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art 

A few words about "Easy Release," a smartphone app for both Androids and iPhones by ApplicationGap. It automates the process by letting you use the provided Getty release, or using a release of your own devising. (Getty has approved the app for submissions to the Getty stock site.)

Just the highlights: It lets you fill in the data, embeds a documenting photo of the model, take signatures on the screen, allows addenda, and then emails PDFs to both the photographer and the model. 

I admit, I worry. So I do take paper releases with me just in case; but I haven't had to use a paper release yet.

I do use releases of my own devising, so I have a tactic for getting them into "Easy Release." I write my text as a document in Google Drive on my desktop machine. Then, I open that doc from Drive on my phone, copy the text, and paste it into "Easy Release."

In my opinion, "Easy Release" is a must have. (I noticed that a comment of mine is shown on the "Easy Release" page on Google's PlayStore. I have no relationship with "Easy Release.")

09 January, 2018

Bags: Mix-and-match

Airlie Beach, Queensland - Stitched panorama - Zeiss 50mm, f/2 Loxia

I haven't changed bags so much as changed the way that I use them.

I have a Lowepro roller for bodies and lenses. I usually put that in the car and then, at the location, I move the lenses I expect to use in the short term into a Domke F2. Usually that's not more than 2 or 3 lenses. The Domke has plenty of room for 2 or 3 lenses, a blower and for switching lens caps and hoods on the go.

By keeping the weight down, it's an easy carry; so there's no temptation to leave the bag where it might attract unwelcome attention. Of course, if it's indoors and the roller won't be in the way, I just bring the whole kit.

I keep 2 strobes, a trigger, batteries, and 3 LEDs in a Domke F-5XB. That also usually stays in the car where lights are attached to stands and soft boxes as necessary.

The mix-and-match varies depending on the situation and the distances.

02 January, 2018

Lighting as remedy

Singapore Night Festival - Sigma 24-105mm, f/4 Art

In a studio you can "build" the light. You can start from black and bring in your elements until the light is exactly what you want. I don't have a studio.

I start with the ambient. I try to adjust the elements of the location (the location of the subject relative to the light and other elements) trying to avoid problems while retaining the essential elements, and only then adding what I think is needed for a well-lit shot.

It's said that lighting is everything — no light, no shot. And that's true; but like so many principles in isolation, it ignores something obvious — no subject, no use for good lighting.

In environmental portraits, it seems to me that lighting is largely remedy — I  want to start with the subject in an appropriate location, and then make the shot more than it would have been with the ambient light alone.

The modern version of the Hippocratic Oath has the injunction, "First, do no harm." Great advice for lighting. So what I can't improve, I leave alone.

At the low end of lighting is adding catchlights for the eyes. At the other (strong) end is changing the lighting significantly. For me this usually means LED lighting for minor adjustments and strobes for major.

My simplistic equation about LEDs vs Strobes, however, will probably have to change, as the strength of LEDs have increased significantly. Unfortunately, I haven't had a chance to try the new, higher-power, strobing LEDs. Something for 2018, I suppose.