Sigma fp review with images

 

Over the last 2 weeks I had the chance, thanks to Sigma, to get my hands on the “Worlds smallest, full frame camera” . The Sigma fp.  It’s about the same size as your smartphone but a little thicker. They had to make it deeper to put all the crazy bells and whistles inside. While this camera is, in my opinion, designed as a video/cine camera it also works amazingly well as a still photographers camera.

This is the very first mirrorless camera I have ever shot with. I admit I was a little nervous at first but it was much easier than I thought.

Pros-

  • Super Low ISO’s down to 6!
  • Very small and lightweight – Epic travel camera
  • Super Easy to use
  • Fantastic image quality up to 3200 ISO
  • Some lenses are smaller and lighter than their DSLR equivalents
  • Files are fast and easy to work with
  • 24mp Full Frame
  • 60-500 seconds in camera for the lower expansion ISO’s
  • Solid Build
  • Designed to be fully customizable

Cons-

  • No flip screen on back of camera
  • Really small camera for those with bigger hands – a grip would solve this
  • Color noise in underexposed images.
  • Image Stabilization only available in jpg modes
  • HDR only in jpg modes
  • IS and HDR can not be used at same time

 

Sigma fp c43900

I had the chance to use this camera here in Colorado as well as on a trip to Kansas to photograph the largest running locomotive, Union Pacific’s Big Boy 4014. I shot in some extremely cold temps but nothing that would be considered warm. The weather was very cold over the last couple weeks which made me worry about the battery life. I was surprised to see the battery last as long as it did.  I did not count image to see how many I got off one charge but I can say for me that having 2 or 3 batteries would be enough to last me all day shooting.  This was nice to see since the camera does not have an EVF or eye piece.  Everything is done right from the back of the camera in live view.

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The info on the back of the camera is well laid out and easy to read. One thing I really love about this camera is that the histogram is one of the display options on the screen.  Having the histogram and the level on the same screen was great for me. I teach people that the histogram is the scientific proof of how much data you are or are not collecting in your image. Being able to see the histogram and how it changes based on your ISO, Shutter Speed and Fstop was really nice. I didn’t have to take a shot, look at it and then adjust. I could just dial up the histogram so that my exposure was correct every time!

Sunrise Path
Chatfield Sunrise, Sigma fp, Sigma 14-24mm at 23mm 

 

I’ll be very honest here, the real reason I wanted to try this camera was because of the ISO going down to 6. Yes, 6 ISO. I don’t think there is another camera out there that has an ISO that low. This meant that I could shoot long exposures in the daylight, I did not need any filters and the image quality would be amazing.  What I did not know at the time was that the lower ISOs – Below 100 – had longer shutter speeds available to them as well. At ISO 6 you can shoot for 500 seconds, that’s crazy!!! It totally makes sense though. Why would any camera company give you the option to shoot at an ISO that low and then limit your shutter speed to 30 seconds…So I had to try this for myself.  I went into Denver where I knew I could see the skyline and hopefully get a nice sunrise. I arrived before it was light so I could take full advantage of the super low ISO and the super long shutter speed.

Denver 5001
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 6, f/16, 500 seconds

I fell in love. As someone who loves the lower ISO’s and longer shutter speeds, I was in heaven. I had to try more…so I did… in the snow and some very cold temps.

Cold Morning at Nymph
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 6, F/5, 60 seconds. 

My goal on this morning was to shoot Dream Lake under a partial moon and shoot sunrise as well. When we got up to Dream Lake the wind was blowing at least 100mph. Those of you who have been there know it’s like a wind tunnel at times. This particular morning was nothing less than brutal. I stood on the ice as the wind pushed me around like an ice skater. I knew there was no way I was going to set up a little camera on a tripod and expect to get any kind of decent shot. We decided to head back down to Nymph Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park where we were partly protected by the wind. It was still very cold out!  Once again I cranked the ISO down to 6 and used a 60 second shutter speed to completely smooth out the clouds. I liked how the clouds formed the same shape as the tree line. Yes, there are some trees moving because of the wind but the details on the face of the rock, Hallett Peak, are amazing.

Moraine Valley
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 100, F/10, 1/160th 

After leaving Nymph Lake I headed into the meadow where I captured this stream in front of the mountains with a wave cloud over it. The light was nice and the camera handled the highlights and shadows without fail.

Coco
Sigma fp, Sigma 14-24mm, ISO 100, F/2.8, 1/800th second handheld. 

On a walk with my dog, I decided to try and see how well the focus points worked. This is the one things that is touch activated on the back of the screen. If I were to press down and focus, then I could simply touch the back of the screen where I wanted it to focus and it would bring up all the points where I could change it to. In this image I was able to move the focus all the way over to my dog’s eye. My dog doesn’t like to look at the camera so a side profile is the best I’m gonna get!

_SDI0151
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 100, F/2.8, 1/125th second handheld 
Anytime I get some new camera equipment the first thing I do is test it out on my daughter. She hates having her picture taken. I think I have ruined her.  Knowing the fine details of hair, eyebrows and eyelashes I knew she would be the perfect subject so that I could get a great idea of how well the new Bayer sensor was going to perform. I took the shot, zoomed in and was blown away with the details. The ISOs from 100 down to 6 are very smooth and creamy but retain a lot of fine details.

 

 

Chatfield Snow
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 100, F/5.6, 1/500th second

Whenever it snows, I always go over to the lake near my home. The Fall colors were over for the most part but a tiny bit were hanging on. It was snowing when I shot this and it wasn’t until I got home that I realized I had actually photographed a deer walking in the snow in this image. I did not see the deer when I pressed the shutter. I loved the intimate details in the image from the background all they way to the front of the image where the snow is falling and actually out of focus because it’s so close.

Foggy Creek

Later in the afternoon I ventured over to this little stream/waterfall and found these bubbles floating down from the bridge. It was fairly bright out but with this camera I wasn’t worried…I just cranked it down to ISO 6, F/22 and shot for 2 seconds. That was enough time to allow the bubbles to move and create a sense of motion.

HDR
Sigma fp, 14-24mm, ISO 200, F/5, 1/400th second – top image is in camera HDR, bottom image is a single image. 

This past weekend I headed to Kansas to photograph the “Big Boy 4014” Locomotive that was touring across the USA as part of the 150th Anniversary of the Transcontinental Railroad’s Completion.. I thought this could be once in a lifetime opportunity to see it in action.  When I arrived in Kansas I found this old church next to a museum and thought this would be a perfect place to test out the HDR feature in the camera. I set it to shoot + and – 2 along with a normal image and then combine them all. The top image is the HDR image and the bottom image is a single image metered the best I could get with the white conditions.  Because the HDR is only able to be used in Jpg mode it doesn’t have the latitude for post processing as a DNG file. With the DNG file I was able to recover a lot of details in the shadow area without any issues with noise at 64 ISO.

_SDI0528
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 1600, F/5.6, 1/80th second handheld 

In Wallace, Kansas is “The Bank” it’s an old bank that has been converted on the inside to a coffee shop/antique shop. I met the owner and enjoyed a cup of hot coffee on this cold morning while I snapped some shots on the inside at higher ISOs. I had nice soft light coming in the window on the left and it really made the image look very natural. I was extremely happy with how ISO 1600 was working.

Inside the Bank
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 3200, F/2.8, 1/250th second handheld 

I loved all these old farm and tractor signs hanging behind the antique cash register. I thought they would make a good case for a higher ISO. Generally with higher ISO’s they tend to lose color as the ISO gets higher. I felt this one came out very natural based on the lighting inside the shop. The greens, reds, yellows and blues all came across nicely. Even upon close review ISO 3200 is really nice and very usable. Just for kicks I ran this image through Topaz DeNoise and it came out super clean in the areas that did have a little extra noise. That being said. I would print images shot at ISO 3200 out of the Sigma fp.

Ride To Church
Sigma fp, Sigma 14-24mm, ISO 100, F/7.1, 1/200th second handheld 

A fun image for sure with a wide angle lens. When I saw this little cart on the train tracks I knew I wanted to shoot it with the church. My reason for this was to see how well the camera would balance the white of the snow and church with the yellow of the cart. As you can see here it did a great job. The yellow stayed very natural and the white stayed white without greying out. I feel this Bayer sensor in the fp was a great choice.

Midnight Rest
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 400, F/5, 4 seconds

Big Boy arrives in Sharon Springs, Kansas for an overnight maintenance stop. When I arrived in the afternoon there were still quite a few people around the train. That wasn’t my idea of an image I wanted to capture. I checked into my hotel about 5pm and at 1:30am I got up and went to down to the station to find myself alone with this beast. I talked to the police officer who was “on guard” and he was really nice telling me I could get a close as I wanted to do photography. I told him the moon was going to be rising soon and that I wanted a shot of the moon over the train but he didn’t seem to care too much. From 1:30am – 3am I had the whole place to myself. I shot many image at lots of angles. This gentleman shows up and we talk for a while and then we go our separate ways to do more photography. I really wanted the moon rising over the train so I stepped back to include the tracks in the foreground and I noticed him down a ways shooting his own images. I normally don’t include people in my images but I felt he added a great sense of scale compared to the locomotive.

Wheelhousing
Sigma fp, Sigma 45mm, ISO 32, F/4.5, 40 seconds
Big Wheels
Sigma fp, Sigma 45, ISO 32, F/9, 100 seconds
In review, this camera was an absolute joy to work with. It takes crazy sharp images and allows the photographer to use super long shutter speeds without the need for a cable release or using the bulb setting. I was reviewing this camera as a backup, travel camera and it fits the bill perfectly. For still photography this camera has most everything you need and it can be fully customized as well. I see a lot of people picking this camera up to take on longer trips when packing a 44lb camera bag isn’t going to work well. I know as I get older I am always looking at ways to downsize my gear and what I take on each trip. I found a lot more positives to this camera than I did negatives. One of the positives is that some of the lenses for this camera (L-Mount) are smaller than their DSLR Counterparts. As you can see below, the Nikon lens is almost a pound heavier than the Leica L mount. The L mount is also smaller. So if weight is really an issue for you in your travel and adventures, I would highly recommend you taking a good hard look at this camera. Because it’s such a small camera you can also get away with a smaller tripod too.
Screen Shot 2019-11-25 at 1.44.51 PM
Now in all fairness let’s talk about some of the things I would like to see improved in the next version or a firmware update.
  • Articulating screen on the back of the camera. This is something I would have loved to have since the camera is so small. I mentioned this to Sigma and they agree and said that many other photographers had mentioned the same thing.  The camera is so small that doing reflection shots at ground level seems like an obvious thing to do. Without the screen being able to tip up means you need to get down to ground level too.
  • I did notice some color noise in underexposed images when I tried to boost the shadows on ISO’s over 400. I am guessing this is to be expected, I’d just like to see a bit less.
  • IS and HDR only work in jpg mode. I think IS should work in RAW or DNG mode too.  If you have a lens that has IS on it then this is not an issue for you. I am only talking about the electronic IS in the camera.

The 3 issues above are not deal breakers for me in anyway.  I would never base my decision to purchase a camera on the fact that HDR or IS don’t work with RAW files. As long as you expose your images properly the color noise should not be an issue. Having the screen be able to flip out would be super nice but I could be happy with the camera without it.

When I am testing out a camera the main things I look for are image quality, ease of use. I shoot all my images in Manual so I adjust the settings myself. Being able to do this easy is a key for me. The Sigma fp made it super simple. They even have a quick select button that, when pressed, it brings up 8 of your basic settings like ISO, File type, Metering, WB and aspect ratio. F stop is controlled by the dial on the top right of the camera or the lens itself as with the 45mm. The shutter speed is controlled by the dial on the back right side of the camera. These can be changed to your liking as well.

I would be thrilled to take this on a longer trip with me overseas where I am walking around cities and doing some night photography. Using a smaller travel tripod would be perfect with this camera and I would not need to sacrifice image quality.

I look forward to using this camera again in the near future!

Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs.  I am always happy to answer any questions you may have. Please feel free to drop me a line by filling out the form below.  I am going to include a bunch of links fo you to check out if you’re so inclined. Thanks again

Sigma fp Camera

Sigma 45mm Lens

Sigma 14-24mm L Mount ART

Robus Tripods

RRS BH55 Ball Head

2020 Night Photography Workshops

Bandon, Oregon Workshop Feb 2020

 

Bandon, Oregon Photography Workshop Feb 20th-23rd 2020.

Oregon Islands Sunrise

What – Southern Oregon Coast Photography Workshop with professional landscape photographer Darren White. Shooting sunrise and sunsets each day with optional shooting during the day if weather is good. Because this workshop takes place on a New Moon, I also plan to shoot at night if the sky is clear and you’re welcome to join me. During this workshop Darren will be shooting alongside students to show them proper techniques, exposures and compositions. This give you a visual learning experience as well.

Where – Bandon, Oregon  –  I’ll be staying at the Sunset Oceanfront Lodging but there are many places along Beach Loop road to stay if you want something a little more upscale.                                                                       

When – Feb 20th-23rd, 2020  – 4 full days of photography in the Bandon area. 

Weather – Unpredictable. Chance of sun and storms or both.

Moon Phase – New Moon

Investment$999

 

Bandon Beach

oregons-new-day

 

Sunrise/Sunset Times

7:00am/5:45pm each day  

The Oregon Coast is a good location for both sunrise and sunset 

 

Who should sign up?

Anyone who wants to expand their photographic skills both in the field and on the post processing side for landscapes. 

 

How do I get there – If you are flying in, Portland will be your closest international airport and then it’s only a 5 hour drive.  Eugene airport is smaller and just under 3 hours from Bandon

 

bandons-new-year-eve-light-show-final

 

Do you want to visit the Southern Oregon Coast and learn how to take your beach images to the next level?  Then this is the workshop for you. 

During the workshop we will discuss proper exposure, shutter speeds for various effects, depth of field, composition, and much more. 

Post processing instruction will be an optional part of the workshop. Post Processing will be done in a very relaxed, casual manner probably at the hotel or Bandon Brewing over lunch. There are not many people in Bandon in Feb. Combining in field instruction with post processing will bring this workshop full circle. 

Darren’s goal is to make sure all your questions are answered and your learning experience is fun. As part of the processing instruction Darren will share with you his simple workflow as well as other ways to process your images.

Bring home more than just snapshots. Bring home images you will want to hang in your home. 

Darren has been photographing the Oregon Coast for over 20 years and has extensive knowledge that will bring your images to life. 

port-orford-sunrise-storm

 

good-morning-bandon

Equipment required –

Digital SLR Camera

Rain Gear

Sturdy Tripod

Comments and Questions for discussion

Positive Attitude

Optional Equipment

Cable Release, 3 or 6 stop ND filter is good for longer exposures or shooting during the day. Laptop with Photoshop and Lightroom installed if you want to do some post processing.

 

Locations we may visit 

Bandon’s extensive beaches

Port Orford Battle Rock Beach, Coquille Lighthouse, and the Bandon Harbor/Marina

Depending on weather we may travel north or south to find better shooting conditions.

 

port-orford-morning-storm

 

What’s not included?

Transportation

Meals

Airfare and Lodging

Travel/Camera Gear Insurance!!                                                                                                    I can not recommend this enough. We are working in and close to the Pacific Ocean.  While I care about you and will do everything to keep you safe, the ocean does not care. You will thank yourself and have peace of mind if you know your camera gear is insured. If you are just a hobbyist then something as simple as a rider on your home owners policy may be enough. If you are a photographer who has a business then you may want to take out a separate policy. Check with your insurance agent to be sure.

 

lighthouse-moon

 

What does the schedule look like – all times are aprox and subject to change.

Each day we will meet at 6am and walk or drive to our location for sunrise. We will have a break in the day before meeting up at 4:30pm to walk or drive to our location for sunset. I will be available 2 days in the middle of the day for those that want to work on post processing. Again this is very casual and informal as it’s really just me helping you edit your images and talking you though my processes and software I use. This will be on the 21st and 22nd.

 

What happens if it rains the entire time?

Generally speaking the weather along the central and southern Oregon coast is much better than the north coast.

I also like to be flexible as often times the weather will come and go and I like to take advantage of those times when we can shoot.

If the weather just will not let us shoot, we will have more classroom training that can be covered on post processing to help fill some time.

 

Cancelation policy –

If you cancel by Oct 31st 2019 you will be refunded your full amount.

Cancel between Nov 1st and Dec 20th 2019 you will be refunded 50% of your investment.

Cancel between Dec 20th and Feb 18th 2020 you will be refunded 25% of your investment.

No refunds will be given after Feb 18th 2020 or for no shows.

 

overlooking-bandon
Million Dollar View, Bandon, Oregon

 

The learning doesn’t stop after the workshop. I will always be available to answer questions via email or phone. So if you have questions when you get home or get stuck in a process, just ask.

 

Each person in the workshop will also get an 18 inch fine art print of their favorite image taken during the workshop. I will also do a full evaluation of the image file before going to print so that if there are any issues they will be fixed before printing.

Sunrises, Sunsets, or Coastal Storms, this can be a great opportunity to learn, meet new people, and have a lot of fun.

 

moody-blues-of-oregon

One last thing – bonus bonus

If you know me you also know I am a night photography instructor as well.

As mentioned above, if the weather is clear I will be going out at night to photograph the coastline and if you are so inclined you are more than welcome to join me and learn about night photography too.

I have some neat tips and tricks I like to teach to really help bring those night images to life… During this workshop we will not have any moonlight which can make for some great night photography

 

et-are-you-out-there

If you would like to sign up or would like more information please use the contact form below and I will be in touch as soon as possible. This workshop is limited to only 6 people.

 

Please note, I am a licensed Oregon Outfitter Guide with Insurance and First Aid/CPR training.

White OG.pdf

Robus Tripods and Night Photography

IMG_7545 2

There is no doubt about it, you have to have a tripod when shooting at night.. None of us can handhold the camera for 1 second or longer. If you can, please show me!  We teach about 10 night photography workshops a year and see all kinds of tripods. Big heavy ones, little ones that look like toothpicks and some medium sized ones.  In all honestly, some people are very new to night photography and their little tripod does well for them when they are traveling and working in daylight conditions.

After finishing up our May workshops I knew it was time for me to get a new set of tripod legs.  I wanted light weight yet solid. twist grips on the legs, something that wasn’t too tall and wouldn’t break the bank.

I am not sure where, but I saw an ad for Robus Tripods and at the time thought they looked like a good fit for my shooting style. I didn’t think much of it until it was time to upgrade my tripod legs.  I did a bit more research and didn’t find them on any social media sites. Instagram only has a few #Robustripod tags so I decided to reach out to the company and see about the possibility of working together. I did not need their biggest, most expensive tripod. Just something that worked great and and fit my needs. I ended up getting the Robus RC Vantage Series 3 5558

IMG_7515 4

When I think about tripods, I think about how they will work at night. Generally, when shooting sunrise, sunset or during the day the exposures are not that long and therefore it’s not as crucial to have a really solid tripod as it is to have one at night. Often times our exposures are anywhere from 10 seconds to an hour or more. This really gives a lot of time for things to happen. Wind is a big issue with night photography and needs to be taken into consideration when shooting the night sky. If you’re shooting and winds are gusting it’s pretty natural for you to want to grab your tripod and hold it down. This works well if you are already holding it before the exposure starts and you hold it all the way through the shot.  If you feel wind and grab your tripod during the exposure there is a good chance that your image wont be as sharp as you like.  After having shot in the wind quite a bit over the last week I have realized that this tripod works pretty well even in gusty winds. That makes me a pretty happy camper.

When stability is key so that your images are as sharp as possible you want to keep your camera as close to the tripod base as possible. This means you don’t want your center column extended very far if at all. I recommend purchasing a tripod that has a short column or no column at all. The Robus does not have a center column but can be purchased separately if you really want one.  I, personally, like the fact that my camera is extra solid on the tripod because I don’t have a center column. When choosing a tripod size be sure to not use the center column height to help you determine if the tripod is right for you. I would suggesting going off the base height and then figure in the ballhead height and the distance from the base of your camera to the eyepiece.

IMG_7517

Design and functionality are also important. You don’t want to be out in the dark fiddling around with your tripod while your friends are all shooting already. You want to keep things simple and easy to use. I love the design of the legs and how they extend out to get the camera even more solid. You simply pull the silver lock out and then you can move the legs freely to the desired width. I also love the twist locks for the leg extensions. In the past I have owned tripods that that had clamp locks and I found they jammed too easy and were a pain to clean. The twist locks make for simple extension and retraction in just a second or 2.

IMG_7520

I like and sometimes need to get my tripod into odd positions to get a shot. This is where I really like Robus’ decision to make this tripod without a center column as well as make the legs go out almost flat. For both landscapes and nightscapes this is a real benefit.

IMG_7957

Having a larger base at the top with the legs on the outside make the tripod very easy for me to hang my camera bag on the oversized hook in between the legs. On my last tripod the legs were mounted under the base and my Mindshift 36L did not fit. Why do I hang my almost 40lb camera bag under my tripod when I am shooting?  Added stability. By doing this it does 2 things.. It keeps my gear all in one place and it adds a whole other level of solidness that you can’t get by doing anything else. This allows me to shoot in really windy conditions without worry. I know my images are gonna be razor sharp no matter how long I am shooting.  Because I can spread the legs nice and wide, I can put the bag on the hook and even if the wind moves the bag a little I still don’t have to worry about the camera moving during the exposure.

Snapseed

Your tripod should fit in or on your camera bag to help keep your hands free during hiking. Trying to carry your gear in your hands isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Too many chances to have something happen and the gear get’s broke or damaged.  At the same time you don’t want to put a huge tripod on your little camera pack. They should fit each other well and it should wear well when you’re hiking or walking.  I did several hikes in Utah over the last couple months and found that I didn’t even know the tripod was on my back. It fit really well. Balance was good and it’s easy on easy off.

You may notice the white tape on the legs and ask what that’s for. It’s glow in the dark tape so that I can see where my tripod is in the dark without having to turn on lights.  Even if you only shoot at night occasionally, I highly recommend it.  You can get it on Amazon.  I checked all of my local hardware stores and no one had it.

IMG_7809

In review – things to look for when purchasing a tripod for night photography

  • short or no center column
  • proper height
  • legs that extend wide
  • legs on the outside of the base, not under it
  • Hook to hang your bag for added stability
  • Twist lock leg sections
  • Carbon Fiber – Weight

Had Robus and I not been able to work something out, I would have still purchased this tripod and I would have been thankful that I did.  I like to keep a $500 budget for my tripods and this one fits right into that amount without going over.

Robus is owned by B&H Photo and the Gradus Group

Thank you for taking the time to give this a read. I appreciate it and look forward to more blog posts in the near future.

Links where you can read more about the products and my work

 

Workshop Season in Full Swing

Wow!

That went fast. It seems like just yesterday we were finishing up our last Night Photography workshop of 2018. Getting home taking a break and making final plans for the 2019 season and now it’s here.  I was in Moab, Utah last week kicking off the first workshop of the season.  I had a great group of students who were passionate about learning all they could about night photography.

Sharkfin MIlky Way
Nikon D850 – Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

It’s possible that this may be the last year we are allowed to use Low Level Lighting to illuminate our foregrounds. The Parks are proposing a change to this rule that will ban all forms of artificial lighting except when moving from one location to the other.  I don’t want to start a discussion about that on my blog, I am simply stating what I have heard and seen in emails from the Parks.

Low Level Lighting is one of the things we love to teach so that our students can go out after the workshop and do it on their own in their own hometowns or when they travel.

If the ban does come into effect for the 2020 season we do have a plan. Another aspect of our classroom training during the workshop is Planning and Scouting. We teach you how to plan your shot based on what you want to accomplish. Next year is when we will be putting into practice what we have been teaching and using ourselves for years. We don’t want our students going home with great skies and black foregrounds. We want nicely lit foregrounds to go with our wonderful skies. This is something we will plan for before setting the dates for 2020.

Path to the Milky Way
Nikon D850 – Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art

The above image does not use any Low Level Lighting. All the light you see is natural. These are techniques we teach so that you can make the most from any shooting situation. Just because the skies are dark and there may not be any moonlight does not mean you can’t get great images. It just takes a little more time in the field shooting but the results are well worth the effort.  Do you think this image would look as good if the entire foreground was just dark?

Corona Pano
Nikon D810 – Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art – 6 vertical images stitched for pano

Corona Arch is a fairly popular spot but because it’s outside the National Parks near Moab, it sees much fewer people at night than other places like Delicate Arch. On this particular night we took our group up during a time when we had good moonlight. We timed it so that we could hike up in the moonlight, get set up and then the moon would set and the skies would get dark. I shot this image just as we arrived and our students were getting set up to help show what kind of illumination you can get from the moon. Once your eyes adjust in the moonlight it’s actually pretty easy to see and only minimal light should be used for safety reasons. This really allows us to have our senses be in tune with what is around us and it causes our hearing to be more sensitive as well.

OOF
Nikon D850 – Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art

What is the absolute most crucial part of Night Photography? Yes, it’s focusing (right after safety)  and how to properly focus in the dark. It doesn’t do you any good to go out in perfect conditions only to come home with blurry images. To the untrained eye it may be hard to see if your images are in focus or not just by looking at the back of the LCD on your camera. We teach you how to properly focus in the dark so that you get sharp images every time. There are a lot of things you can fix with Photoshop but an out of focus image isn’t one of them!

DS
Nikon D810 – Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art – Image is at 300% crop

Part of our classroom training focuses on Noise Reduction, it’s actually a fairly big part of the classroom training because, let’s be honest, who wants to go out and shoot awesome scenes at night only to end up with grainy and noisy images….Not me!  While I can’t take all the credit for figuring out some of the techniques we teach, I can say I do a lot of trial and error work to find the best and most efficient ways to do them. If you look on the right side of the image above you will see what looks like confetti sprinkled on the image. Now, look at the left side and you wont see it. You may be asking yourself, “how long did it take him to remove all that with the clone took or healing brush?” The answer, about 5 seconds max and I did not use either one of those tools…  We want the fun of photography to be out in the field, in nature, photographing the scenes you love without having to worry about spending countless hours cleaning up your images once you are home. We show you how to do this and in fact it’s so easy you’ll probably be mad at us because we don’t take longer to explain the process…trust me when I say the process is only 5 mouse clicks from start to finish!

Moab Group 2018 September

Arches Group May 25 2017

Mike and I love our workshop groups. Many of the students take multiple workshops with us in various locations as we expand our locations over time. Before we even released our 2019 Yellowstone workshop we had 3 students who were on a workshop in Moab sign up.

I am home now till the end of April when I head back to Moab for 2 weeks to help teach 5 back to back workshops.  We have filled 59 of 60 spots and have 1 spot left on our May 9-13th Night Photography Workshop

We also have some openings in June as well as August and September. These months make it a bit easier on the body since the Milky Way is up right after sunset.  We sure hope you will consider joining us under the starry skies.

I love hearing your feedback, questions or comments so please feel free to use the contact box below.

 

Links to products used in the making of these images.

Sigma Lenses

Nitecore Lights

Nikon Cameras

 

Night Photography All Year long!

I know so many people who put their cameras away around the end of September when the Milky Way Core dips back below the horizon. Around mid Feb to early March they bring them back out again when the Milky Way core rises up over the horizon in the early hours of the morning right before sunrise. This year on Feb 2nd the core was up and able to be photographed only a few min before the light of dawn came and washed all the stars away.. Was I out there to see and photograph it, yes. For me, personally, it’s very exciting to see that Milky Way core for the first time in a new year. It signals 8 months of great shooting ahead. Do I put my camera away in September when the core dips below the horizon? No! I photograph the night sky all year-long. I love the night sky. Often the cold, Winter nights are some of the clearest and darkest. Here in Colorado where we have very dry air it makes visibility that much better.

I have put together a series of images that span all of 2018 of the night sky. I do night photography all year-long and while this blog post wont include a shot I just recently took, you will see it next year when I do my review of 2019. It was a shot I had wanted for a long time and I was finally able to make happen.

Let’s take a look at some night images in order month by month. I will include the times taken and the dates so you can note the changes you see in the sky as we progress through the year.

January

Orion Over Loveland Pass
Orion Over Loveland Ski Area – Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm @24mm, F/4, 1600 ISO, 10 seconds

Orion over Loveland Ski area in Colorado. Orion is a winter constellation and one of the most easily recognizable in the southern sky. Light fall off from cars and the resort area helped to light up the side of the mountain.  January 14, 2018. 7:45pm

February

11mile
11 Mile – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art, ISO 6400, F/2, 13 seconds

Eleven Mile Reservoir is becoming a more popular spot for night photographers. It offers nice dark skies for how close it is to Colorado Springs and it also has a very flat horizon. This means that because there are not mountains or tall trees in the way, it’s easy to see the Milky Way Core very early when it rises in February.  The Milky Way is very low on the horizon and makes it very easy to do panoramas between Feb and June. Feb 16th, 2018. 5:51am

March

Smokey Valley Milky Way
Smokey Valley Milky Way – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, ISO 3200, F/2.2, 15 seconds

Late Feb and March are my favorite times to do panoramas of the Milky Way while the galactic core is rising up in the south. This image was shot in Kansas just before sunrise and covers a full 180 degrees from North to South looking due East. March 16th, 2018. 5:52am

Big Dipper over Abandoned House
Big Dipper over Abandoned Home – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.5, 10 seconds

The Big Dipper is a constellation we can photograph all year-long here in the Northern Hemisphere. I liked how it was looking over this old, abandoned home in Kansas. I used a Sigma 20mm to try to frame the house and Big Dipper as a tight crop when I probably would have been better off using the Sigma 14mm 1.8 and given myself a little more breathing room up top.  March 17th 2018. 4:31am

April

Delicate Skies Over Moab
Delicate Skies Over Moab – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art, ISO 5000, F/2.2, 20 seconds

By April we now have quite a bit of time to photograph the Milky Way Core before sunrise. 2-3 hours at least which makes it nice so that you don’t feel rushed. In Feb we have just a few minutes which can make it frustrating if anything goes wrong. April is the beginning of warmer weather for most of us and makes for some enjoyable nights under the skies compared to the sub freezing temps of Jan and Feb. We use Low Level Lighting to illuminate the arch during our Night Photography Workshops April 18th, 2018. 3:15am

Rocky Mountain Sky Candy
Rocky Mountain Sky Candy – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, ISO 6400, F/2.2, 20 seconds

Rocky Mountain National Park is a photographer’s dream. There is so much to shoot both day and night. Critical timing, moon phases and weather all play a factor in getting a shot like this. If you want to photograph the Milky Way over Longs Peak as seen here, planning is key.  After watching the weather, checking the moon phases and my own personal schedule I knew I had one night to shoot this. I called a couple of friends and they were in. We began our hike at midnight to arrive at this viewpoint in time to get set up and do some test shots before the Milky Way was in position. It was cold out, but still a fun night I will remember for the rest of my life. April 22nd, 2018. 3:35am

May

Dark Horse Over Windows with labels
Nikon D810, Sigma 50mm 1.4, ISO 10,000, F/2, 10 seconds
Milky Way Ride1
Nikon D810, Sky – Sigma 50mm 1.4, Foreground 11 min Sigma 20mm 1.4, F/2.5, ISO 64

One of the things we like to do during our workshops is to give a tour of the night sky. Mike uses his laser pointer to point out all the celestial objects in the sky. Here I have labeled a lot of them. It’s interesting to me that the Lagoon Nebula is 600 trillion miles across. Let that sink in for a while! We here on Earth are a very rare moment in time. The fact that humans even exist is a miracle in and of itself. It’s also amazing that we can capture such beauty of the sky with our tiny little cameras and sensors or film. Enjoy the moment cause as they say, “we’re here for a good time, not a long time”  May 14th, 2018. 12:42am

Dead Horse Dreams
Dead Horse Dreams – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, ISO 6400, F/2, 25 seconds

From Dead Horse Point State Park in Moab, Utah we were able to see, from the right side of the Milky Way, Antares, Jupiter and Spica.  May 19th, 2018. 3:28am

June

Mesas Comp
Foreground – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 64, F/13, 1/100th second – Sky – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 8000, F/2.5, 10 seconds

Wanting to see a bit more of the lower portion of the Milky Way, I decided to drive from Denver down to New Mexico for a night. My efforts paid off with beautiful clear skies with warm weather. Photographing the Milky Way in the summer is a treat because it’s shorts and tee-shirt weather most all night long. The issue with the warmer weather is that your sensor will heat up faster and produce more noise. Winter is actually better for night photography because the cooler temps keep the sensor cooler and produce less noise. When I arrived at this old church (still in use 2 times a year) I knew I wanted the best image possible. I used PhotoPills to map exactly where the Milky Way was going to come up. I then positioned my camera and shot for the church during sunset at ISO 64.  I then waited until 11pm when the Milky Way was in position and shot 21 back to back shots at ISO 8000 of the sky so I could stack them for noise reduction and blend them with the low ISO church image.  June 4th, 2018. 11:10pm

Old Timer
Old Timer – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.5, 10 seconds

Another trip to Kansas to shoot the Milky Way with my friend Jim and his daughter Annie. Jim knew this where this old combine was just sitting in a field. He obtained permission from the property owner so that we could have an evening to shoot he Milky Way. I actually didn’t mind the clouds on both ends of the Milky Way. June 15th, 2018. 11:15pm

July

Crater Lake Twisty Tree
Crater Lake Twisty Tree – Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, ISO 6400, F/2.2, 15 seconds

During a 6 week road trip through the Northwest my travels took me to Crater Lake National Park. Actually it was all part of the plan. I wasn’t sure what day I would get here so I really lucked out on this part. The faint clouds you see here on the horizon are actually front of the smoke from the California and southern Oregon wildfires that were burning.  I only shot 1 night at Crater lake and I am thankful that was all I planned. The next few days you couldn’t even see the lake for all the smoke in the sky. I managed to keep at least 1 day ahead of the smoke during my travels in the Northwest. July 19th, 2018. 2:26am

Pacific Nights
Pacific Nights – Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.2, 13 seconds

One of those rare summer nights when you’re sitting on the couch at 5pm watching the weather and the weatherman tells you to expect clear skies along the coast all night long. Needless to say I wasn’t on the couch for much longer.. I looked outside and sure enough it was crystal clear (normally the marine layer comes in and clouds everything over). I grabbed my gear and made a plan. There were 3 spots I wanted to shoot this night.. Cannon Beach, Happy Camp and Pacific City. Pacific City would be the last stop of the night and I knew I would just meet up with my dad for coffee after this location. I shot the other 2 locations with some clouds and as I got further south the clouds were totally gone. I arrived here about 3am and was totally blown away with how clear it was. I took several shots of slightly different compositions and ended up liking this one the best. Some of them had reflections in the wet sand of the stars. I must have been here for 3 hours just watching and the Milky Way leaned into Haystack Rock and faded away as the daylight came. July 11th, 2018. 5:16am

August

Mountianous Majesty
Purple Mountain Majesty – Mountain – Nikon D810, Sigma 24mm 1.4, ISO 64, F/2.5, 30 min – Sky – Nikon D810, Sigma 50mm 1.4, F/2, ISO 8000, 6 seconds x 20 images.

Finishing up our road trip with an amazing shoot with another friend, Jann, up at Mount Rainier. We had planned this shot several months in advance and being on the very end of our trip I was tired. This was my only chance in August to shoot. I had to make it count. As always I arrived early, scouted, found a good spot and patiently waited. We shot birds, flowers and the mountain before the sun went down. Knowing I had to make this the best it could be I shot a 30 min exposure for the mountain just as it got dark. This allowed me to get the best possible quality. I then waited for the Milky way to get into position and shot 20 images back to back for noise reduction. August 7th, 2018 12:15am

September

Untitled1
Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.2, 15 seconds. 

September takes us to the beginning of when we start to see Andromeda high in the night sky. It’s also the time when photographing the North end of the Milky Way is much better. Here I am standing in front of Double Arch in Arches National Park while the Milky Way leans over the arch. In this image is Cygnus the Swan, Denab, Andromeda and Cassiopeia as well as the Elephant trunk nebula. By stacking the images of the sky for noise reduction I was able to bring out some of the pink nebula colors that are natural but not seen with the naked eye. You wont see me in many pictures. I am standing here using my Nitecore MH 25 Night Blade light to illuminate the arch. September 12th, 2018. 3:52am

October

Darren at Twin Lakes in the Moonlight
Twin Lakes in the Moonlight – Nikon D810, Sigma 24mm 1.4, ISO 1600, F/2.8, 15 seconds

Sometimes I go out, just to go out and shoot. I’d rather spend my nights under the stars than in a bar. I knew the moon would be coming up and that it would be almost full but that didn’t stop me. I got into night photography by photographing at night when the moon was full. I was amazed at how bright the images were and that they looked like daylight. For those who are just starting out with night photography I highly recommend doing a few shoots at night with a full moon to help get comfortable with not only setting up your camera but also getting the correct exposure. Here you can just barely see the faint stars of the Milky Way over the top of the Mountains. I am standing out in the field again with my Nitecore light on its lowest setting (didn’t do me any good this time) my mistake. I loved the calm pond water which made for a gorgeous reflection. October 19th, 2018. 9:01pm

November

November Lights
November Lights –  Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8, F/2.2, ISO 6400, 25 seconds

While the Milky Way is visible all year-long, this is probably the section that is most left out or forgotten altogether. This is looking East right after sunset in early November. It has Taurus, Starfish cluster, Perseus, Polaris, Double Cluster and Denab. One thing I love about Balanced Rock in Arches National Park is that it offers 360 degree views all year long.  November 1, 2018. 9:09pm

December

Horse Rides
Horse Rides – Nikon D850, Sigma 20mm 1.4, ISO 6400, F/2.5, 5 seconds

Here in Colorado the winter temps get pretty cold in December. That wont stop me from getting out and grabbing a few shots on a clear night. Especially when there is a comet in the sky. That was the case this night when Comet 46p was to make a great appearance. We arrived at this location first before moving into position for the comet which would appear a few hours later. Looking to the west here, Vega steals the spotlight with its bright blue color directly over the old stagecoach. We used Low Level Lighting (think about what your cell phone puts off from its screen) to light the side of the building and a Nitecore LA30 light for the inside of the porch. I really like this location because of the way the Milky Way leans over the mountain and the old building. December 7th, 2018, 6:51pm

Comet 46P over Stagecoach
Comet 46p – Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm for the building, Sigma 85mm for the comet

It was sure exciting to see Comet 46p on my last night shoot of 2018 but I have to admit I would have really loved to see a big tail on this one! I guess there isn’t anything I could do about that.  We used some Low Level Lighting and small tea lights to light the outside and inside of this old building. I used a Sigma 14mm for the foreground and the Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens for the comet and stars. I blended the 2 together just to make the comet a bit bigger than it would have been with the 14mm. I am now looking forward to more night sky events in 2019. December 7th, 2018. 9:29pm

 

Shooting the night sky all year is sure fun and could be seen as a project for some of you to help you get out and shoot more if you need the motivation. While many of you also live in cities or light polluted areas there are often places only a couple of hours away that will give you good viewing of the sky. I like to use Dark Site Finder to help me figure out where I can go and get the best viewing of the night sky. I also like using apps like PhotoPills during the day to plan my shoots at night.

Shooting in the winter months can be challenging for sure. If you are going after the Milky Way core then you are either getting up really early or staying up all night long and that can sure wear a person down after a few days.. Here in Colorado the weather has been super cold at night which can make it hard to be away from your car for an extended period of time. I recommend lots of warm clothes, especially for your hands and feet. Over the last several weeks I have been out shooting and never had less than 5 layers on my top, and 3 layers on my legs. When your fingers get so cold that you can’t press the shutter button on your camera, you know it’s time to get warmed up. It sure is fun though when you get home and see the images you captured.

Be sure to check out Sigma Lenses for all your photography needs

I recommend Nitecore Lights for all your illumination needs.

All prints are available for purchase either directly from me or via my website Darren White Photography

As always, thanks for taking the time to read the blog and I hope you will leave me a message or questions if you have them. I will reply to all comments I get.

 

So Far in 2019…………

I know we are only into the new year by just over a month but I thought it would be fun to share some of my work so far this year. I have been trying to make the most of my free time by getting out and shooting. As a full-time photographer it can be pretty easy to just sit in the house and edit and catch up on social media. While those are parts of the process, the process I really enjoy is being outside and capturing the images. I wont share all my new images, just the parts that will put it all together.

In early January I hosted my annual “Oregon Coast Winter Workshop” in Yachats, Oregon. Our group all had Oceanfront rooms at the amazing Overleaf Lodge and Spa

We were truly blessed with good weather. The few days before the workshop was rainy and right after the workshop the rain came back. We just happened to time it so that the 4 days during the workshop were in between storms.  Needless to say this made the workshop students happy as well as myself. My friend, Chuck Rasco of Chuck Rasco Photography always comes along on these trips with me. After the workshop was over we spent the next 5 days on the southern Oregon Coast between Bandon and Brookings. We had a good and bad weather in both places. Having lived in Oregon most my life, I felt right at home walking along the beaches in the rain. We did some crazy hikes too.

Scale
Seal Rock Sunset, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105

On Saturday night of the workshop I took the group down to the Seal Rock area near Newport, Oregon. Once we parked the cars I could see the clouds in the sky and I had a feeling that the sunset was going to be epic.  I decided to grab just my camera and one lens, my workhorse, Sigma 24-105mm Art to use for some snapshots while helping the students. Right on cue, the sky just began to explode with color. Everyone was going crazy trying to find the best comps. Moving around and making sure they were not in each other’s way, the group really worked well together. Gary Kochel planned a big northwest trip around the workshop and I think it’s easy to say that he was extremely impressed with Oregon. Here is Gary getting an epic shot from his own vantage point.

Moving down the coast after the workshop, we headed directly to Brookings and had plans to stay in Bandon on the way back up. My friend Chuck and his wife Cathy had never really explored the Samuel Boardman State Park area of Oregon. I felt as a good host, I should show them around properly. That means with a few steep hikes that lead to incredible views.

Natural Bridges
Natural Bridges, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105

The first hike was at Natural Bridges. It’s a pretty common spot for good reason, the views are amazing. Not everyone can get down to see the views from here just because it’s pretty steep. This view isn’t too bad to get to but once you go further, down to the red arrow, it gets much steeper. So steep that there is a 50ft section where you need to repel down the hill with a rope…Once we were set up at the red arrow the views were just as good.

Pacific Views
Pacific Views, Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

It was right here when I realized that Chuck wasn’t too keen on heights. The Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art makes this little path look wider than it actually is. Chuck was standing almost right next to me on my right and my left tripod leg is actually off the path, down a little ways being held up by a rock. The top of the arch that we are on is maybe 4ft across. That doesn’t leave much room for error when packing up your gear and turning around to head back up the trail.

Cliffside Views
Cliffside Views, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105, Haida 10 stop ND Filter

It’s fun to shoot the same scene with various lenses. You simply get different results. This was shot from the same place, tripod in the same spot, as the last image but with a Sigma 24-105mm Art at 52mm for 67 seconds with a Haida 10 stop ND Filter

Sunset Storm at Face Rock
Sunset Storm at Face Rock, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105 Art

After powering though a few days of pouring rain in Brookings and filling up on the best breakfasts ever (we ate here 3 days in a row) Mattie’s Pancake House we made our way up the coast to Bandon. Bandon is not an open book by any means. I have been visiting Bandon now for over 10 years, maybe longer and the weather is always interesting. After getting checked into our hotel and picking up some provisions for the evening the rain started. It was windy, blowing sideways and I was thinking that our chance for a sunset was out the window…literally. As it got closer to sunset the rain let up, the sky started to break up with a few holes in the clouds. We made our way across the street to the beach in amazement that our timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The wind was still kicking pretty good so I decided to put the tripod away and shoot handheld with the Sigma 24-105. The OS on this lens is incredible. We were down on the beach for about 2 hours until sunset was finally over. There were no chance of shooting stars that night so we called it a night and began walking back to our hotel… I kid you not, just as we got back to the hotel it started pouring again.

Super Blood Wolf Moon
Super Blood Wolf Moon, Nikon D850, Sigma 20mm 1.4 & Sigma 85mm 1.4

Months ago, I planned a shoot with a friend who was interested in shooting the Blood, Super Wolf Moon on the night of the 20th of January. We used PhotoPills to plan the shoot and know where exactly the moon was going to be at what time when it was eclipsed.  Since I was just getting home from 10 days in Oregon, I didn’t want to travel too far from home. South Valley Park is right behind my house and because we are looking away from Denver the sky is a little darker.  Using these rocks as a foreground subject, we set up, shot the foreground and then waited for the moon to turn red. Because it’s impossible to capture the moon and the foreground all in one shot with the proper exposure, I used 2 shots for this image. The Moon is in the exact location it was when I shot the foreground. I used the Sigma 20mm for the foreground and the 85mm for the moon. A quick blend in Photoshop to bring the two together was all it took to create this image as I saw it with my own eyes.

Since being home from Oregon, I have been jumping all over Colorado searching for fun and interesting photos. If you have been following me for any amount of time, you will know that I am really intrigued by the smaller towns on the Eastern Plains of the state. On a trip out near Matheson, Colorado with my friend, Tony Lazzari we found this beautiful old seed mill.

Manaville Seed
Manaville Seed, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art

The light was just coming up over the horizon hitting the metal siding. There were just enough clouds in the sky to make good use of my Haida 10 stop ND Filter and create this really long exposure of 2 minutes. I was able to get the camera low enough so that I was looking up, by doing this I was able to include much more of the sky.

Schoolhouse Spins
Schoolhouse Spins, Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

This old one room schoolhouse sits out in the middle of nowhere. In fact I have only seen a couple pictures of it online. It’s 150 miles from my house. While Bob Coorsen and I were setting up, a truck pulled up and asked where we were from. We told him and then he proceeded to tell us how his grandfather and father both attended school here back in the day. I have searched high and low and I can’t find any information on this school. The mad did say that a few years back he was going to buy it and put a new roof on it but something fell through and he never was able to make the purchase. The school is maybe 15 ft wide by 40 ft long. It’s really small. I used a Nitecore LA30 to illuminate the inside of the school. The image is a blend of 2 shots. keeping the camera in the exact same position I did one long exposure for the star trails and then a short exposure for the points of light stars. I simply used a blending mode in Photoshop and changed the opacity to blend the long exposure with the short exposure so that you can see both in the sky. I masked out the foreground so that only the long exposure for the school shows. This allows me to keep image quality at it’s best.

Train Station Tuesday
Train Station Tuesdays, Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art

I don’t venture down into the city too often. After some good snow and a warming up it’s easy to find puddles to shoot unique perspectives. It has been a while since I visited Union Station and I remember that the concrete wasn’t level. This means that pools of water form. With no wind it makes it easy to get some fun shots. Here I had the camera sitting on the ground behind held up by my L-Bracket. Using a Sigma 14mm lens really let me get quite a bit in the shot even though I was so close. The lens is really only an inch or 2 off the ground from the water.

Morning Mass in the fog
Morning Mass in the fog, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art

Weather, in my opinion, is the most important factor in photography. It can be a make it or break it kind of thing. It can also give you images you never imagined you would get. Thus being the case here. My plan was to shoot this old church (1913) with the Milky Way rising up in front of it. The way it faces, I would need to shoot it from the backside. I arrived here early afternoon, met with the guy who owns the farm next to it. He was leaving for the day and I told him I would probably be out there shooting all night and that if he saw some lights, not to be alarmed, it would just be me. About 10pm I started shooting. I was doing star trails, shooting Orion, the Big dipper and getting pretty excited for the Milky Way that was going to be coming up around 5am. At 2am I hopped back in my Jeep to warm up and grab a quick nap. When I woke up at 4am I could not see any stars….I was puzzled..I turned my lights on and it was solid fog. I thought to myself, “well, hopefully it will go away in time”.  That was not the case. The fog began to freeze on everything (hoar frost). I soon realized that not only was I not going to shoot the Milky Way, I also wasn’t going to get a sunrise. About 6am it was light enough to get back out and shoot what I could. I actually really enjoyed the fog and the beautiful atmosphere it created. Living in Oregon I saw fog all the time. Since moving to Colorado almost 6 years ago, I rarely see it here…

Corn Stalk Tree Fog Color
Foggy Tree, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art

I could have shot scenes like this all day long. If you follow me on either Facebook or Instagram you can see more of these foggy moody images in the near future. They are a nice change of pace from my normal stuff. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

Iced
Iced, Nikon D850, Sigma 24-105mm Art

Last but not least…Boulder Canyon Falls recently opened back up to the public after being closed off. I am not sure what the reason was or for how long it was closed. I do know that in the 6 years I have lived in Colorado, I had not been to it. Odd because it’s only 31 miles from my house. Tony Lazzari and I decided to go check it out…The falls were half-frozen when we were there and I was able to find some intimate scenes like this that showed both the flowing water and the frozen water. Because the falls are in a canyon, the sun rarely hits on them directly this time of year. Getting a good exposure was very easy due to the flat lighting. The mist from the falls had frozen on the ground but being the cautious person I am, I decided to not get too close and chance falling in. I used my Sigma 24-105mm Art lens at 95mm to get closer to the falls and compose the shot. A shutter speed of only 1/4 second shows both movement and detail in the water while keeping the ice razor-sharp.

This brings all of you up to date on what’s been going on over the last 45 days… I am really trying to get out more, shoot more and just enjoy nature in all aspects that I can. Tonight a friend and I are headed out to find clear dark skies and possibly old abandoned buildings to shoot the stars over.  Give me a follow on social media, leave a comment about this blog as I would love to  hear from you.

What’s next?  I don’t have any set plans for the rest of this month. I’ll just keep and eye out on the weather and go where it takes me. Next month I will be spending 2 nights/3 days at the Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico. I am very excited about this and thankful for the opportunity to see the night sky from a different vantage point. I am getting ideas on how and what I want to shoot while I am there and if the weather is good then I will be sharing those images with you as well as doing a separate blog post.

Send me blog post ideas if you have something specific you’d like to hear my thoughts on or a photographic process you’d like to see.

In April we will start our Night Photography Workshops for the 2019 season. We’d love to have you join us. This year we are adding Yellowstone to our list of events and we only have 1 spot left on that workshop.

2018 – Year In Review

As I look back on 2018 after having a full week to reflect, it’s hard for me to really put into words what 2018 meant to me. I was blessed to travel to Paris with my family in March and spend my daughter’s 11th birthday at Disneyland Paris. During the Summer I traveled through Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Kansas, Wyoming, Nebraska, Utah, and all over Colorado. During the Fall I went to Iceland for 8 days with some friends. 2018 was simply filled with so many enjoyable moments and memories that there is really no way to put it all up here in a single blog post.  I asked my Facebook followers Facebook Fan Page if they would rather have me post my 10 best images or my favorite image from each month. They chose to have me do 1 from each month. While social media can be annoying sometimes, I still respect what my followers say and value their opinions.

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I did creating them. With each image you will find camera exif data and a description of each one. Please note that while I am doing a lot more composite imaging these days for fun, I picked images that were either single exposures or focal length composites of real scenes. Each of the images I have picked to share with you are real images that you could see with your own eyes…Not, just something I came up with in my head.  I know there are a lot of people who are inspired by other photographers so I wanted to make sure I only shared images that you can create yourself, should you choose.

January

fire and ice 2
Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art, ISO 64, F/7.1, 1/5th second

Chatfield Lake State Park is only a couple of miles from my home and more times than not, it’s my “go to” spot when I just need to get a quick photography fix. We had a pretty good cold snap and the lake froze completely. As Colorado weather would have it, the next few days were very warm and the ice started to break up due to winds and water movement. These big ice chunks were layering themselves along the shoreline. When I arrived at this part of the lake I was happy to find some nice pieces that made for a good foreground. Getting the camera down low with a nice 20mm Sigma wide-angle lens let me take it all in and still capture the great sunset in the sky.

February

frosted rox
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm Art, ISO 64, F/8, 1/100th second

Roxborough State Park is another park that I am fairly close to. I love to shoot these slanted rock formations at various times of the year. I would rather be outside than sitting in my house. After a few hours of heavy snow I decided to go take a drive and see what I could find. I loved the soft trees against the jagged rocks that were fading away in the distance.  Temps were in the single digits and the wind was blowing fairly good. I used my Sigma 24-105 Art lens at 90mm to bring this scene in closer and fill the frame.

March

bogue sunrise
Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art, ISO 200, F/16, 1/160th second

Bogue, Kansas, Population 136

This was my 2nd of 3 trips to Kansas in 2018 and both the 1st and 2nd were much more pleasurable than the 3rd. I am a huge fan of the small towns across America that didn’t make it. I find the people who live in these towns to be very kind and gracious. They tend to like to talk about the history of the town and what happened.  This old building on the corner was a small shop of some kind, possibly a car garage shop. As we were walking by I noticed the sun coming up on my right. I thought it would be neat if I could get the sun coming up through the tree. It wasn’t till I got home I realized I had also captured the reflection of the old grain silo in the front window. The Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art lens allowed me to get close to my subject and still capture all that I wanted in my scene without any extras.

April

magic in the mountains
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm Art – Sky, ISO 10K x 15 exposures at F/4, 15 seconds at 28mm – Mountain, ISO 100, F/4, 16 minutes

Rocky Mountain National Park, Milky Way Over Longs Peak was sure a sight to see. I had just got home from a workshop in Moab and I called up a couple of friends to see if they wanted to do a midnight hike in the snow and freezing temps to this spot that overlooks Longs Peak. They agreed and we made some final plans and off we went. Hiking the 1 mile up here is fairly easy in the summer but not so much when the trail is mostly ice and you’re going uphill. We allowed extra time that we knew we would need. In hindsight the uphill wasn’t so bad compared to coming back down. One friend slipped and almost went over the edge. We were able to get him up to safety and past the sketchy part of the trail. There are only about 45 days of the year that this image is possible when the Milky Way is right over Longs Peak. If you take into consideration things like work schedules, weather, and moonlight, realistically for most people this view is only seen for about 7 days total. I’ve seen this shot without any snow and I have seen it shot one time right after a big fresh snow…This image takes advantage of a setting moon which creates the shadow under Longs Peak.  I used a Tiffen Double Fog Filter at the time of capture to enhance the stars in the image.

This image is a combo of a blend and stack where I simply used 2 focal lengths and exposure times. Both images capture with the Sigma Corporation of America 24-105 Art Lens.
Sky – 15 exposures, ISO 10,000, F4, 15 seconds each at 28mm stacked to reduce noise. 
Mountain – 1 single 16 min exposure at 42mm, ISO 100, F4,

May

twisted universe
Nikon D810, Sigma 20mm 1.4 Art, ISO 6400, F/2.8, 20 seconds

Moab, Utah.

This big, beautiful old tree lines up perfectly with the Milky Way in April and May. It’s one of the places we love to take our workshop students who enjoy the tree as much as we do. Moab is known for having some of the darkest skies in the USA and it’s one of the reasons we love teaching there. Depending on exactly where you stand to shoot this tree it can take on many different looks. Having the Milky Way as a backdrop isn’t bad though!

June

milky way thermal pools
Nikon D810, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art, ISO 3200, F/2.2, 15 seconds

Yellowstone National Park

My daughter and I did a 3500 mile road trip from Colorado up to Yellowstone and then back down into Kansas. We enjoyed all the sights, animals and even visited the geographic center of the USA (more my bucket list item than hers). During the day we would explore and see the attractions but at night it was my time to do my thing.  Seeing these thermal pools in the day was great and I am glad I got to experience it with her. At night when all the people returned to their hotels, I could get out and shoot. Very peaceful at night with a faint bubbling sound of the thermal pools. I really enjoyed shooting this image as our nearest neighbor, Andromeda, rose up behind the trees. It was a beautiful night in a beautiful park.

July

hug point mist (1)
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm Art, ISO 64, F/9, 30 seconds

Hug Point, Oregon

Heavy mist and fog can do amazing and crazy things to the visual surroundings you see. The fog was laying on the beach like a first time tourist to the tropics. It just wouldn’t go away. The Sun was getting lower and lower and everything was this odd grey/silver color when all the sudden everything lit up. I looked to my left and saw there was a small break in the fog that the sun was coming through. It was more like the sun was shining through a thin layer of fog, not really a break. I scrambled around and found this composition and began shooting. The light lasted a couple of minutes and was gone.  Having lived on the Oregon Coast for many years, I really feel that this image summarizes what the Oregon Coast is all about. Hazy, Foggy, some sun, damp and yet extremely refreshing.

August

mountianous majesty
Nikon D810 Mountain -ISO 64, F/2.5, Sigma 24mm 1.4 Art, 30 min exposure. Sky – 20 images stacked, ISO 8000, F/2, 6 seconds, Sigma 50mm 1.4 Art

Mount Rainier National Park 

Finally able to check this off my bucket list and it feels good but I know I’ll be back to see it again. We were on the tail end of our 6 week journey through the Pacific Northwest. Many months earlier I had made plans with a friend to come up and shoot this scene with them. We were treated to a wonderful sunset before it got dark and the stars came out. We picked this location based on where the Milky Way would be as we knew we wanted to get it over the mountain. It was stunning!

This image uses 2 focal lengths to create a more natural (to what your eye sees) scene. The mountain was shot at 24mm and the sky at 50mm The human eye sees at roughly 50mm.

September

gullfoss mist
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 64, F/11, 0.3 seconds at 52mm

Iceland

Depending on where you are in Iceland, one of the biggest challenges can be shooting so that you don’t get other people in your shot. In the southern region there are more people simply because it’s closer to the capital, Reykjavik. Here at Gullfoss waterfall this was sure the case. Probably at least 1000 people here while we were here. What you can see here is all of them on both sides of me and up on the trail leading down to the falls. I loved the way the water was flowing over the falls and then the mist would shoot straight up along the rock walls into the air. I like to challenge myself when not so perfect situations present themselves. This was one of those times.

October

mountain waters
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm Art, ISO 200, F/9, 1/30th second w/OS on at 105mm

Iceland

Our trip to Iceland spanned the last week of September into the first week of October. The first image I picked for October was a nice sunset with some wave action along the beach. After thinking about it for a while I realized it didn’t show the true Icelandic landscape. I wanted something that showed the more rugged side of the country as well as the changing weather. This image was shot near Snaefellsjokull National Park on the far west side of the island. As we rounded the corner of the road I knew I wanted to shoot this scene. I love the golden tones of the grasses and land while the snow-capped peaks rise up above. The waterfall looks like it’s coming out of nowhere and the little farm in the lower right corner really puts this into perspective.  One thing we noticed while driving around is that a lot of farms/homesteads were built near the bases of waterfalls so they could have fresh water. Yes, there are that many waterfalls in Iceland! They are everywhere.

November

reflected golds
Nikon D810, Sigma 24-105mm, ISO 64, F/10, 1/50th second at 24mm

Moab, Utah may not be known for it fall colors but if you look in the right places you will find some nice groves of Cottonwood trees. I had just finished up a workshop and had some free time when I started hiking down this little muddy creek/canyon. The water was very still and made a beautiful reflection against the blue sky. Sitting here simply enjoying this moment was priceless. I’ll always remember these trees and look forward to my next visit when I can shoot them in another way!

December

comet 46p over stagecoach
Stagecoach – Nikon D850, Sigma 14mm 1.8 Art, ISO 6400, F/2.8, 15 seconds. Sky – Nikon D850, Sigma 85mm 1.4 Art at F/2, ISO 8000, 5 seconds. 

At the end of the year, Comet 46p graced us with its presence. It wasn’t an epic comet with a big long tail like others before it, it was just a nice green dot in the sky letting us know we are not alone. At only 3/4 of a mile across and 7.2 million miles from Earth, it’s amazing that it shows up this bright. This comet is ONLY 3 laps around a track wide. That’s not very big in the grand scheme of things when you think that Jupiter could hold 1300 Earths. What a great experience for those who go to see Comet 46p to finish of the year. This image was taken behind an old stagecoach building in rural Colorado on Dec 7th, 2018.

 

2019 should be a year of just as much fun. I have a lot planned this year and tomorrow I am starting the year off right with a trip to the Oregon Coast. I look forward to catching up with everyone soon and please feel free to contact me directly using the form below.

I hope you find these links helpful.

Darren White Photography

Sigma Lenses – See these amazing high quality lenses and all their info

Night Photography Workshops in Colorado, Yellowstone, and Moab, Utah – Take your night photography to the next level and beyond.

Nitecore Lights for all your needs – The only lights I trust while out playing in the dark.