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.

IMG_3640

 

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

 

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.

What are Night Photography Workshops?

Night Photo cover

 

One of the most commonly asked question I get is, “What are your Night Photography Workshops all about?” The simple answer is, learning night photography. That being said, our workshops are much more than that.  They are fun, entertaining, educational and some have called them, “life changing.”

Myself, with Mike Berenson help to take your night photography to a much higher level. We welcome all skill levels into our workshops. One of the benefits of having 2 instructors is that you get more attention, you are able to ask more questions and get more helpful answers and you will leave the workshop without any unanswered questions. This is our goal. We want you to feel as though you have asked and been answered all the questions you had. We don’t hold anything back. We tell you all we know at the time.  I say, “at the time” because in the 4 years we have been doing the workshops so much has changed in the world of Night Photography. We do our best to keep up to date with the latest equipment, software and processing techniques so that we can give you the most current info to help you create the best possible images.

IMG_4160

Mike and I currently teach our Night Photography Workshops in Moab, Utah – Arches and Canyonlands National Park,  Jackson, Wyoming – Grand Teton National Park and Idaho Springs, Colorado – Mount Evans – the highest paved road in the America at over 14K feet. We have good working relationships with Ranch Inn in Jackson and Moab Valley Inn in Moab to provide you with a comfortable working space during your classroom time.  Classroom time?  Yes, we spend about 3 hours each day in “class” going over all kinds of aspects of Night Photography so that you have more time in the field each night to actually shoot and get great shots..   Trust me when I say we have more content for the classroom than we can use.. We have been making small modifications so that you get only the best and most important info available.

We meet on day 1 and go over an introduction about who we are, what the workshop will cover and some images that we hope will inspire you to get creative and make you want to learn. After all, that is why you are there.

group

CLASSROOM TRAINING

WHAT DOES THE CLASSROOM TRAINING CONTENT LOOK LIKE?

Students receive all training content in electronic format (in addition to the live training) giving them easy access all the clickable links and resources.

Topics We Like To Cover In Classroom Training

  • Planning
    • Key Concepts & Tools
    • Planning Resources On The Web
    • Getout There And Scout
    • Safe Night Photography
  • Shooting
    • Procedures & Settings
    • Noise & Noise Reduction
    • Multiple Exposures
    • Light Painting
    • Super Long-Exposures
  • Post-Processing
    • RAW Processing in Lightroom
    • Exposure Adjustments
    • Color Balance & Selective Color
    • Blending in Photoshop
    • Focus Stacking Blending
    • Star Spikes & Comet Like Star Trail Processing
    • Multiple Exposures for Noise Reduction
    • More On Noise Reduction
    • Panoramic Stitching
    • Sharpening For The Web

Software Applications We Use In The Post-Processing Portion

  • Primary
    • Adobe Lightroom
    • Adobe Photoshop
  • Secondary
    • Nik Color Efex Pro & Dfine
    • Star Spikes Pro

Evans Workshop Group

 

Depending on the time of year (April, May June) we tend to take advantage of Milky Way shooting and sunrise. August and September we generally take advantage of sunset and Milky Way.  We have found this makes it a bit easier on our students and allows them to get more out of the workshop and see the area we are working in before it gets dark. With 2 instructors and taking advantage of sunrise or sunset we feel this really adds quite a bit of value to the workshops.

We have finished up day 1 of classroom training. Out into the field we go. What do we do now?  We will discuss some group shooting guidelines so that everyone can have an enjoyable experience. Once we have talked about that we will discuss the most important aspect of night photography. No matter how epic the skies are, no matter how relaxed you feel to be under a billion stars, no matter how far you hiked or drove there is one thing that will ruin your night of photography quicker than anything else… Any guesses is to what that is?   Not knowing how to focus in the dark. I could write 20 pages on this alone but the simple fact is, you don’t want soft blurry images… You don’t sacrifice sleep, time and effort (hiking) to get home with properly exposed images only to find they are blurry.  This is the first thing we will teach you on night 1 of the workshop. No matter if you are working on points of light or long exposure star trails, you want your images to be sharp so that when you print them (yes, you should be printing your work) they will look as good as they can. Why is it the first thing we will teach you?  We don’t want you to waste an entire night of shooting great nights scenes only to be disappointed when you come to class on day 2 to find that all your images were blurry… Having your images in focus and sharp is, in my opinion, the most important part of night photography in relation to image quality.

Mike and Lillian

We work with you, both in the classroom and in the field, to make sure you get any questions answered you want. If you don’t know how to find something in the menu of your camera then either Mike or I will know how to find it. Combined we have almost 60 years of photography experience with all kinds of cameras and lenses. Mike and I have slightly different processing styles which seem to work very well during the post processing portion of the classroom training. Because we have different shooting and processing styles, our combined knowledge really compliments each other to give the most benefit to our students.

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We love answering your questions and making sure you are learning. We will not only tell you “how” but we will also tell you “why” we do things the way we do. This gives you a better understanding and a better knowledge base for your photography. There is a lot of science behind getting great images from Night Photography and we want to make sure you know as much as possible.

With 3 hours of classroom training each day and 6+ hours of shooting each night the workshops can feel a bit intense. We ask that you go at your own pace. By this we mean that if you don’t feel like you can stay out as late with the group then don’t feel bad if you need to get some rest..either by sleeping in a car if you rode with someone or going back to the hotel. We want you to feel comfortable and your safety is our #1 priority.

Night sky description

Another fun thing we like to do is help you identify what it is you are looking at in the night sky. Mike will give you a “tour of the night sky” with his green laser pointer which usually draws some “Wow”, “Holy Cow” and “Where did you get that thing” because it does an amazing job of pointing right where he wants you to look. Most people know the Milky Way but not the surrounding celestial objects… We are here to help. This is also fun so that when you do get home and are showing your images to your friends or sharing them online you accurately describe what the objects are in your image.

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During our 5 night events in Moab, Utah we have permission to take our group into Moab Giants Dinosaur park and use their model dinosaurs as props/foregrounds in front of the night sky. It’s a fun experience for everyone.

Stars over Teton RanchIridium Flare over Grand TetonJackson Lake Northern Lights Pano

We love teaching in various locations because each area uses a different type of lighting. Workshops in Grand Teton National Park us natural lighting either from the stars or the moon to help illuminate the scenes. Generally speaking, the mountains are too far away to light paint. We time our workshops with the proper moon phases so that we can get the best possible light on our scenes. All 3 of the above images uses only natural light from either the moon or stars to light the scene. The top and middle image are all moonlight. In the middle image you will see an Iridium Flare that we set up to capture with our group. The bottom image is a multi shot pano which captures the Milky Way over Mount Moran from Jackson Lake as well as the northern lights glowing on the horizon. We have a very high percentage of return students who will take a workshop in the Tetons or Arches one year and then take the other one the next year. Different locations, different learning experiences.

Jackson Lake StarsNight On the Farm

Some people really love the long exposures. We teach various techniques with different focal lengths as well and where to position the camera for the desired result. In the top image a 50mm lens was used to create the longer trails of light looking West. The image on the bottom was created using a 14mm lens and doing multiple shorter exposures to the North that we later combined in PS to create the comet like stars. The bottom image was also planned so that we could capture the ISS as it flew by, low on the horizon.

Milky Way Dreams at Delicate Arch (1)Earth Day Visitors (1)

Our workshops in Arches National Park really take advantage of light painting and using LLL – Low Level Lighting – to illuminate the arches and rocks. Workshop groups are no longer allowed to use any handheld illumination devices to light paint. We have found that our LLL works better anyway as it keeps the light very even across the scene..

Delicate Air Glow

Delicate Arch – The highlight of our Arches workshop.  This scene uses just 1 LED light panel that is placed to properly illuminate the arch. This allows for constant even lighting for everyone to use.

Heavens above Turret (1)

September 2016 – our last Arches workshop of the year. The above image was created with years of planning. It’s not an image 1 person could realistically set up and capture. This image took 3 LED lights, 2 instructors with walkie talkies, clear skies, right time of year and some patience to properly align everything. Mike had one group over at Turret Arch and I had another group shooting this scene. Mike and I communicated back forth while the students took test shots to make sure the lighting was in the right spot. Once the light was in the right place my group of students took their shots and then switched over to Mike’s group and his group came over to shoot this scene. It really was a magical night for everyone. We had 2 students who traveled all the way from Austria who also had this vision in mind so it worked out perfectly.

Comet Star Trails at Double Arch 6704

Mike Wetzel – 2 time workshop student – uses LLL and comet like star trail processing to create the magical image of Double Arch in Arches National Park.

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Also a 2 time workshop student, Jann Ledbetter shoots Delicate Arch from the viewpoint as you end the hike. Jann writes – “Another Milky Way shot…this one over Delicate Arch (while the Aurora was dancing behind us!!). Definitely worth the somewhat scary climb to get up there!
This night was magical in a way that will NEVER be forgotten!!
Thanks Darren and Mike for making it all happen!”

FullSizeRenderArches Group May 25 2017Teton Group 2016 Sept

Being part of a group going out at night always feels safer to me. Even if it’s just me and one other person, there is a level of safety that helps to ease the tension of possible dangers and let’s my mind work on photography. We have had this told to us many times by our students as well.  We spend 3-5 days together and friendships are created which makes it a much more enjoyable experience, specially in today’s world of sharing via social media… We like group pictures, we like people having fun and learning.. So what happens after the workshop is over?  We will send you a post workshop evaluation that we hope you will answer with complete honesty. This helps us make the workshops better and a lot of great ideas have come from the feedback our students have given us.

What else?  You probably have at least 1 full media card if not 2 with roughly 1000 images just sitting there waiting to be processed. One thing that will ease your mind is knowing that Mike and I are always willing to help you after the workshop is over. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to send either one of us an email and we will do our best to get you moving in the right direction.

For me the final product is the print.. Seeing that image at least 18″ wide on beautiful photo paper, metal or acrylic is really the end of the photographic process. Some of our students have taken it much further..

We teach you how to focus, scout locations, properly expose and compose, how to find a great foreground to go with your sky, how to minimize noise in your images and when you put that all together…..

Hal Mitzenmacher writes – Darren White, Mike Berenson – THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!! Without the techniques you have taught me, I could never have dreamed of printing night images at 24″ x 83″ without a trace of noise and sharp as a tack (forgive my cell phone pic, I was so excited at the results I was seeing, my hand was shaking). I thought it would be appropriate to print this out on some of Legion Paper’s Moab Slickrock Pearl Metallic. It makes the image pop

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Thank you Hal and all of the students who have taken our workshops… We truly have a genuine interest in taking your learning to the next level.

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 What are people saying about our workshops –

Mike and Darren make a fantastic team. They bring a very wide range of skills and techniques to the workshop. They both willingly share their skills with all and strive to better each student’s knowledge of the craft.
– Rob from Colorado

Excellent workshop, well organized, professional.  I will definitely do another workshop with you guys.  I’ve done a lot of workshops, this is one of the ‘best’ for quality & value.
– Greg from California

The workshop was Muy Bueno!  This was not the first workshop that I take and let me tell you it has been the one I enjoy the most.  You both make me feel like we were friends for a long time.
– Guillermo from Mexico

I thought the workshop was excellent, a lot of great information especially about how to go about planning when and where to go out to shoot the milky way.  The in-field instruction was great and I was able to get my questions asked and answered.
– Angie from Missouri

I had a total blast on this workshop and learned a lot!  I’m so excited to try what I learned out on my own.  I’m also excited to do another workshop in the future!
– Elizabeth from Colorado

Mike and Darren – Thank you for being so patient with me as I adjusted to new equipment and not talking down to me. It was a little intimidating but I loved the workshop. You made me feel very comfortable with questions etc.  I love how down to earth you both are. I definitely walked away wanting more and hope to join you in Arches in the future after my 17 year old graduates this upcoming year. I do wish we could have covered more in class but definitely felt that outside the class I learned quite a bit from both of you. Next time will ensure that I am more comfortable with my newer equipment.  Thanks again for the inspiration.  I have already recommended you on Facebook.
– Raemi from Colorado

 

You can read many more testimonials as well as view our upcoming events here Night Photography Workshop