Featured, Gear, Photography

A day out with the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 HSM Art Lens

January 7, 2017
Sigma 12-24mm f/4 HSM Art

I got my hands on the Sigma 12-24mm f/4 HSM Art, and what better way to bring it out in the real world and just shoot with it. Just for your info, this is the first time I’m using a Sigma lens on my Nikon body so I have no opinions what so ever prior to using this lens. One thing for sure is that I’ve heard many raving reviews regarding the Art lens from Sigma. Also, I would like to add a disclaimer that this post is not a lens vs lens nor is it a review, but rather, my honest thoughts of using this lens and shooting with it.

First impression

First thing I saw when I picked it up at the store was how slick the lens bag was. I’m always appreciative when care has been taken to package and store any lens properly. Inside, there’s foam where the lens seats nicely and a zipper cover. The lens though was something else, when I lifted it up it was heavy. One thing comes to mind when it’s this heavy is – it must have lot’s of glass or it must be really good as with most top of the line lenses. The built quality was really good, I mean visually looking at it, touching and feeling it in my hands felt good. The next surprise came when I opened the lens cover; the most bulbous front element I’ve ever seen. This thing was like one fine piece of beautiful glass staring at me and mine you, the Nikon 14-24mm is wide and I can’t wait to see how wide 12mm would be.

A little research

Prior to me trying out this lens, my knowledge was practically zero. So knowing me, I googled to find out more about what makes this lens pretty amazing. This is what I found out and these interests me – minimal distortion in its wide angle imagery, largest aspherical element which controls distortion, ghosting and flaring, an emphasis on edge to edge performance to bring out sharp and contrasty image and also, hyper sonic motor, FLD glass with performance equal to fluorite, blah blah blah.

Time to bring it out for a spin

Here are some photos taken with the Sigma. All was captured in raw. Everything was post-processed. The only thing I left out was sharpening. Trust me when I say, you don’t need the additional sharpening.

SIGMA 12-24MM F/4 HSM ART

I left home early to get this sunrise. Info: 12mm f/8 3.0s

 

Singapore skyline at sunset. Info: 16mm f/22 1/40s

 

This is where the 12-24mm would excel, getting this whole shot in a single frame. Info: 12mm, f/8 2.0s, multiple image blending for light trails

 

12mm is power at your disposal when you need it. I got down low to get this single shot of the Marina Bay Sands in between this huge canopy. Info: 12mm f/9 1/640s

Final verdict

The Sigma 12-24mm f/4 HSM Art Lens is an impressive lens. Twelve mm is an extremely large wide focal length. Image wise, all came out with good contrast and sharpness from edge to edge. Where this lens would excel, is to use it as a landscape lens more than anything else. One downside is that it is a heavy lens. It would be good to add this lens as part of your workout regime. With that said, it would always be used with a tripod anyway. One advantage compared to the AF-S NIKKOR 14– 24mm f/2.8G ED or the Canon EF 11-24mm f/4L USM is the price. This lens is a bargain for its price point.

Thank you TKFoto for this lens. If you’re in Singapore, head over there to find a variety of camera products and photography equipment.

Gear

Nisi Filter System

October 24, 2015

Introducing to you my current gear setup for long exposure photography.

NiSi V3 holder (CPL included)
100mm x 100mm glass filters :-
NiSi IRND 10 stops filter
NiSi IRND 6 stops filter
NiSi IRGND 3 stops filter

In my experience, this configuration is sufficient for all kinds of long exposure photography. The CPL is indeed an added advantage to this setup. My initial tests provided outstanding results and I can’t wait to show you more of how good these IRND filters are.

Thanks to T K FOTO TECHNIC Singapore for the gear sponsor.

Behind The Scenes

Behind-the-scenes shots from Frozen Grace

May 30, 2015

After I posted my Frozen Grace series all over social media from my 500px, Flickr, Facebook and Google+, I had some interesting questions regarding how I did this shoot. The idea came about when I had wanted to freeze either a dancer or ballerina into my long exposure images. But first, some of the final images.

Frozen Grace

Frozen Grace

Frozen Grace

Planning stage
I got to know this location 2 years ago. After I found my ballerina, I shared my concept and was ecstatic when the idea seemed interesting and good enough for me to work with her. Gear wise, I wanted to pack light because I knew I would be moving  – I brought 2 x DLSR body, 50mm f1.4, 16-35mm f4, a tripod, 1 x light stand, 2 x speed light (used only one), 1 x beauty dish (for closeup portrait, which in the end, I didn’t have time to shoot), and a 10 and 16 stops neutral density filter.

I was after more of freezing the action and with the final image blending it with the long exposure that I would take last. If I had taken the long exposure while the ballerina was doing her moves, then the outcome would be a blurry shot and more artistic. From the beginning, this was not what I’m after.

On location
I had wanted to shoot at the pier the first. What I didn’t know was, during that time, some schools were having kayak practice and it was impossible to access the pier and do a long exposure over there. So while waiting, we shot on the other side.

Sanna Kaappola

Above: The sun was behind her and it was blazing. My speed light was on full power to my left when I took this shot.

Sanna Kaappola

Above: I went down a slope and got this shot from below. No speed light and the shot fell into a silhouette. 

Behind The Scenes Shots

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: Me, trying to impress her with my pull-ups while holding a DSLR and using one finger on my right hand.

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: I then tried to show her that I know a little ballet myself with this pose. All this while, she just looked at me and continued with her stretching.

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: There’s no impressing this girl – after which I told her I wanted to shoot her in the water below. That definitely got her standing on her toes.

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: Me, reviewing my shot before showing it to her. Before that, her right leg was pointing up to the sky.

We finally made it to the pier after shooting at this particular location. It was nearing darkness. But before that we had the chance to experience the most beautiful of sunsets. I made this shot and told her to stand right near the edge of the pier.

Frozen Grace

Above: The only colour shot I shared.

Shot Sequence
So my strategy was to find a composition – fixed on my tripod. Then shoot the ballerina doing a series of poses. Some movements were really dynamic and with the fading light challenging to freeze without some blurriness. After 5-10 shots, I then told her to take a rest while I fix my ND filter and took long exposures of 2-4 minutes. I would then composite her in post which was easy to do because my tripod stayed fixed and nothing else moved when I took long exposures.

Behind The Scenes Shot

Frozen Grace BTS

Above: The light was fading fast while the sun was setting further. I used my bare speed light and placed it slightly to the right. She’s not only limber but strong while showing me this – which is probably a yoga move. I said about a hundred “wow’s” while I continued clicking.

Thanks for letting me share this with you. This is my first BTS with actual photos – courtesy of my wife. I got most of them from screenshots from the video she took with her iPhone. I hope I’ve answered some of your questions.

Have a good weekend.

Outdoor, Photography

Frozen Grace – New series featuring a ballerina and long exposure photography

May 19, 2015
Frozen Grace

Frozen Grace

Frozen Grace

I found photos on my phone which I took in 2013 of this location. Pre-visualization came instantly like a flash – I wanted to added a human element within my long exposure photography. I figured what better way to portray a ballerina and then encapsulate all her gracefulness and motion in a long exposure – forever sealed in a moment where time stood still for that brief period. Through my tries and failures to get a suitable candidate, it took me another two years to finally achieve what I wanted.

Success takes time and not an overnight endeavour. To share your ideas and have somebody agree with your ideas is the beginning. To make a connection and then immortalize it in a photograph is priceless. I’m grateful for the opportunity and it was truly a pleasure to work with Sanna.

If you wish to see my series on ballerina Sanna Kaapola, head over here.

Design Stack recently did a short write-up and showcased some of my works soon after I finished this series. Thank you for the feature.

 

Outdoor, Photography

I AM – Ballerina Sanna Kaappola

May 19, 2015
Sanna Kaappola

“Dancing is creating a sculpture that is visible only for a moment.”
― Erol Ozan

Sanna Kaappola

Sanna Kaappola

Sanna Kaappola

Sanna Kaappola

Sanna Kaappola

I am a fan of many art discipline. It has always been in me – my fascination with the creative world; be it in design, photography, dance, visual arts, etc. My fascination would be bring me to countless hours of in depth research – searching for information and history of the art form. This “habit” of mine would lead to this post and my latest photography project with ballerina Sanna Kaappola.

It all began in early 2013 when I visited this location for a casual stroll, which in turn, lead to me to create my long exposure “Life of Pier” series in 2014. Back then, I realised the potential of adding a human element to my long exposure photography. The question though was who would make a great subject. It took another two years for the idea to become reality.

As a professional ballerina, Sanna has graced some of the finest stages in the world. It was by chance that I stumbled upon her Facebook and found that she was currently based in Singapore. I jumped at the opportunity by sharing with her my concept and was delighted when she said she was interested in working with me. This is an introduction to ballerina Sanna Kaapola and her dedication to her art. My series titled “Frozen Grace” will be my next post. Keep you posted.

Thank you for reading 🙂