As well as a beautiful photograph with a broad tonal range, good sharpness and elegant composition, it has a message. At the bottom level, humans worry about death, shown by the graveyard. Death is dwarfed by the enormity of the mountains which are small compared to the clouds. Above the clouds, the stars; and above that, against which this little slice of existence is nothing, is total blackness. It is an expression of the Sublime and man’s tiny part in the universe.How?
We value scarcity, and things seem more valuable when they are lost or about to be. There’s a great story about how this photo was made; Ansel Adams saw the photo opportunity while driving in New Mexico at sunset and rushed to capture it. Without an exposure meter, he could rely on his knowledge (of the moon’s brightness) and experience to get the shot. Incidentally, exposure settings of 1/200s at f8, ISO100 for the moon, and 1/320s at f8, ISO100 for direct sunlight will often be okay.
The Sigma 24-105mm f4 OS Art lens could be the only lens you need for a full-frame camera. It’s slightly longer telephoto reach compared to the professional 24-70mm lenses is useful and can save carrying an extra telephoto lens. f4 isn’t ideal, but the optical stabilisation and high ISO capabilities of modern cameras largely makes up for this. It isn’t weather-sealed. It is big and heavy. It is good value, and a recommended buy as a lens to leave on the camera most of the time.Prime vs Zoom lens
Prime lenses (which can’t zoom) are great until you need to get a shot and you don’t have time to change lenses (assuming you even have the one you need). Most professionals don’t rely on a fancy 200mm f2 lens or even a 50mm f1.4; they use a general purpose zoom lens most of the time.What’s the best lens for …?
As photographers, we love the slightly wide-angle to slightly telephoto 24-70mm and slightly telephoto to longer telephoto 70-200mm lens combination. Occasionally, a wider lens like the 14-24mm will join the team, with a large-aperture prime lens added for low light/ shallow depth-of-field photos. Those four lenses are really all the vast majority of photographers will ever need. In fact, just the 24-70mm lens will be fine for most people.Is a Superzoom lens any good?
A super-zoom lens covers from wide-angle to long telephoto like a 18-300mm lens. Are they good lenses? Yes, because they are very versatile. No, because they make too many sacrifices. The Sigma has a 4.4x zoom range; I’ve never heard a professional compare a lens with this #x figure.The Canon/Sigma 24-105mm f4 lens
70mm is okay for a portrait, but 105mm is better. The Canon and Sigma lenses zoom in slightly more than the standard 24-70mm lens, which is often very useful. The Canon lens isn’t as sharp as the Sigma lens, but is weather-sealed. There are also lots of used Canon 24-105mm lenses available so if you can get one significantly cheaper (they’re already cheaper new) than the Sigma 24-105mm lens, it’s a good deal. Otherwise, because the Sigma is a little better at everything else, it is preferred.Vs. the Nikon 24-120mm lens
Nikon has a slightly longer zoom lens. However. the extra 15mm hardly makes a difference so isn’t a big factor in comparing the two lenses. The Nikon lens is more expensive, but it isn’t as sharp. It is lighter and uses 77mm filters compared to the heavy Sigma with 82mm filters; the Sigma feels sturdier.Vs. the Nikon 24-85mm lens
This lens is included with cameras sometimes. It’s lighter, plastic-y and the image quality isn’t as good. But the Nikon can be found cheaply second-hand and may suffice.f2.8 vs. f4
The professional 24-70mm lenses traditionally have a maximum aperture of f2.8. This helps blur the background a little more and lets in more light which allows you to use a faster shutter speed; important when photographing action or in low-light conditions. f2.8 is preferable, though it can make the lenses bigger/heavier. The Sigma 24-105mm lens has [...]
I hope you’re already doing this. I’m writing this for you in case you’ve forgotten how powerful it is, or haven’t even heard about it yet.
You know that photography gives you new experiences. One of mine was staying with a Mennonite family deep in the jungles of Belize. They don’t use electricity; so I learned the value of man-made light.
We forget how amazing it is that when the sun goes down, our lights come on to replace it. It’s so normal that we don’t notice the transition. But as photographers and videographers, we should.
You know by now that the Golden Hours of sunrise and sunset give great light. It’s obvious; you can see how incredible it can look.
But at dawn or dusk, with the sun below the horizon, the light can be too dim for our eyes to properly see the colour – try looking at a red rose in moonlight to see the effect.
When the blue natural light at dawn or dusk is the same brightness as our yellow incandescent lights, it is the Blue Hour – though really the best light only lasts about ten minutes.
Blue and yellow are on opposite sides of the colour wheel; they are complementary colours; so the photos look amazing, even straight from the camera. With a little editing, they are world-class.
And this can work whatever camera you use. Waiting for the best light in photography is more important than having a better camera. Spend the money you saved on a tripod to help keep the camera steady. Even with the Apple iPod; lots of noise but perfect for Instagram.
Look out for photos taken during the Blue Hour. Especially in travel photography, in postcards, and in luxury Real Estate, you’ll see how image makers, instead of fighting against natural light with more artificial lights, just wait until there’s a balance and capture beautiful effects.