A wonderful thing about working in the Old School Gallery is the many conversations we have with the folks who visit; whether it’s the American lady who suddenly recited three Robert Frost poems, or the ex RAF Nimrod pilot who told me tales of flying over the North Atlantic, or the Chinese film maker recently returned from Tibet. We learn so much in these conversations and hopefully give a little back on the subject of art, crafts and photography.
A recurring conversation concerns Sigma’s “secret” cameras with their magic Foveon sensors. The trigger is the overheard debate between customers, discussing whether an image is a photograph or painting. It quickly moves on to the vibrant colours and immense detail, even in the far distance … and that brings us to the technical bit about Bayer sensors and Foveon sensors, micro-contrast, photons and wavelengths.
If the technical bit doesn’t kill the customer off they invariably buy the print! … And one camera club member liked the print so much he returned to say he’d bought the camera!
I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the top selling photographs in the gallery are taken by the Sigma DP0 Quattro. It offers something different from Bayer sensored cameras that the buying public seem to be instinctively drawn to, unbiased and unburdened by any technical knowledge or heavyweight marketing budgets. And as a photographer it provides me with a distinctive, unique, tool with which to capture the stunning scenery that surrounds our tiny village in upper Swaledale.
It’s been nearly two months since I last troubled this blog. Life has been fairly hectic of late (which I’ll save for a future post), but one background project that has now, finally, reached completion has been to turn my EBC blog posts into a book; not a book “available to the public from all good retailers and bookshops” you understand, though that would be nice, but instead a personal, tangible, memento of the trip, that can sit proudly alongside my other books on photography on the shelf in the downstairs loo.
Given that the base material was already contained in the blog posts, it’s taken an inordinate amount of time and effort – rewriting and expanding the text, designing layouts, spell checking, selecting images, captioning images, lining up, etc. – and the proof reading has sent me goggle-eyed, but now its done, and ordered and being printed somewhere in the world I know not where, I’m quietly satisfied with the final product and, like a kid waiting for Christmas, can’t wait for it to be delivered.
For those interested I chose the Blurb website which uses the BookWright application to create the book. There are already many, many websites that list the pros and cons of book printing sites (which I used to choose Blurb) so I’m not going to cover that here, but once I got to grips with both the BookWright application and the Blurb website (and it did take a little time) the process became pretty straight forward and flexible. My biggest problem was proof reading (always my Achilles heal) and I’m still sporting errorrs know!
If you’re interested in seeing what the finished book looks like follow the link below and click on Preview. Be careful not to click on Add to Cart or you’ll become noticeably poorer!
Twelve favourite images from 2016; an unforgettable year of travel that took us to Norway’s Lofoten Islands, the Isle of Harris in Scotland, and the Himalaya of Nepal, but begins with two shots of my home county of Yorkshire, England.
In order taken … click on a the image to see the bigger picture …
1. Hole of Horcum, North York Moors, England. Shot in the winter on the drive home from Whitby, East to West across the North York Moors, and perhaps the only photo of the Hole of Horcum that doesn’t feature the Hole.
2. Saltburn Pier, North Yorkshire, England A flip of a coin decision somewhere in the Winter desolation of the North York Moors took us to Saltburn, and a perfect sunset as the tide receded. When your lucks in …
3. Utakleiv Beach, Lofoten Islands, Norway. A million photographers on the beach sent me stomping up the sand in search of solitude and a clear shot. All I found was a pile of lumpy old rocks!
4. Olstind, Lofoten, Norway. Leaving it as late as ever it became a race against the storm, wading through two foot deep snow to find a spot that pointed up the valley. We won by five minutes!
5. Pipework, The RERF, Leeds. An odd shot to throw in, but an image that perhaps only the Merrill with its extraordinary tonal range could take, and the culmination of a year long project to photograph the build.
6. Boat & House, Isle of Harris, Scotland. A mouldy old boat, a broken down croft and a dull, wet, miserable day; anywhere else awful, on the isle of Harris, wonderful.
7. The Gloaming, Isle of Harris, Scotland. The rooftops of Northton silhouetted against the bay, then out over the sea to the mountains of Harris. Not such a bad midnight view.
8. Soul Machine, Wakefield, England. Discovered in the middle of a farmyard machinery graveyard on a local walk, the truck has seen better days, but wears it’s scars with dignity and soul.
9. Himalayan Mountain Stream, Nepal. A rock, water and time, combine to create an example of nature’s perfection.
10. Himalaya Trail, Nepal. A line of Mani stones stretches along a tree-lined, sandy trail, overlooked by the sacred mountain of Kumbila shrouded by cloud ; a microcosm of everything I loved about Nepal.
11. Suspension Bridge, Nepal: A texture and detail of Nepal; the polished slats of a metal footbridge suspended 30 meters above the turbulent, mountain river, captured in Foveon detail by the Sigma DP3 Merrill.
12. Mountain Sunrise, Nepal. Not many things are worth climbing out of a nice, warm bed for, but this was one; truly a jewel on a crown.
Stop the Press! News has arrived of the price and release date of the Sigma SD Quattro H, the big brother of the SD Quattro, with a its APS-H size Foveon X3 Quattro, 51 megapixel sensor.
The Sigma SD Quattro H will retail at £1,499.99 and it’s due to arrive in UK shops in January, not quite in time for your Christmas stocking, but close enough to use the excuse of a late Christmas present to yourself.
But the surprise news, and real festive treat for all long suffering Sigma users, is that the H will capture RAW in DNG format!!! (see extract below). Whether you’re a fan of SPP or not this has got to broaden the appeal of the camera, and if those clever people at Sigma can do this for the H …
DNG format In addition to SIGMA’s original RAW format (X3F), DNG (Digital Negative) format is available.DNG is the RAW image data that is developed by Adobe Systems Incorporated. DNG file makes it possible to develop images on other softwares, which gives more choices of expression.
Read the full press release herePress Release that has just been emailed to Technical Editors and Magazines.
In a post specifically for Sigma enthusiasts I’ve collated the shots of the EBC trek taken with the DP3 into one post, so you don’t need to look at that horrible Sony thing 🙂
With a weight limit of 15kg, and the Sony already in the bag, I had to choose from one of my three Sigmas as the second camera. The Merrill DP3 was the obvious choice given its focal length, but more than that I’ve always been blown away by the DP3’s resolution and sharpness, and of course that Foveon look.
All shots were taken at ISO100 as it the Foveon way, all were handheld.
The third and final image from Sunday’s walk; the shimmering reflection of Autumn colours in the pond set perfectly in the aptly named Fishpond Wood.
We’d set off with the intention of visiting Guisecliff Tarn, in Guisecliff Woods, a second attempt after failing to find it exactly one year ago. Back then we took too long wandering along the river Nidd, captured by the stunning colours (below). This time Skrike’s Wood and Fishpond Wood, blocked our path.
Wow, crossing from East to West on our journey from the ferry at Talbert to Northton on the A859 and suddenly there’s Luskentyre right in front of you, white sands, emerald sea, a stunning introduction to the beaches of Harris.
Over the next six days I tried to capture just a hint, a smell, a touch of their beauty, but ultimately headed home defeated. Whether it was due to weather, or timing, or lack of creativity, or an unfamiliarity with the landscape, or lack of technique, I don’t know, but it was certainly not through a lack of inspiration.
But no photographic series on Harris would be complete without a shot of a beach so some feeble attempts and holiday snaps follow.
If you want to see some photos that do the place justice take a look at Ian Lawson’s Harris Tweed @ http://www.ianlawson.com/prints/outer-hebrides/ . Better still go along if Ian has another exhibition.
The shots above are taken with the Sony RX1rII or Sigma Merrill or Sigma Quattro cameras, post processed in Lightroom.
On our recent trip to Lofoten, Sigma asked me to check out their 18-300mm travel zoom on the SD1 Merrill. The resulting article was published on the Sigma Lounge blog at: http://www.sigma-imaging-uk.com/sigmalounge/lofoten-islands-richard-walls-sigma-18-300mm-c/ . It was also featured in Geographical Magazine’s newsletter, and the images were shared by Sigma Japan to all the worldwide Sigma subsidiaries.Fame at last 🙂 If you’ve not seen it the article, and are interested in the lens, it’s published in full below.Richard
The Sigma 18-300mm Travel Zoom
A few years ago I threw all my zoom lenses under a bus and become a prime man, preferring to zoom in and out using one of the best, recent (in geological terms), innovative advances, human feet. The zooms had become too heavy and unwieldy and I never once regretted my decision.
But lately, with a three day voyage to the Lofoten Islands looming, I was becoming more concerned. Zooming with my feet was all well and good on dry land, but if you’re on a ship wasn’t there a serious danger of those feet, and for that matter the rest of me, becoming very wet?
And there was another problem. The small army of cameras I’d packed were all wide angle, so while all the talk in the evening bar would be of hair-splitting close-ups of sea eagles and hump back whales, all I’d have to show was a small brownish dot on the horizon!
Fortunately Sigma came to my rescue and so as the ship set sail I was fully equipped with a SD1 Merrill paired with a 18-300mm F3.5-6.3 OS HSM travel zoom, and this zoom wasn’t big and bulky at all, in fact is was a relative lightweight!
Lofoten is an unsurpassable place, a place where around each corner the scene takes your breath way, a place where a ten-minute journey stretches into hours as you stop and reach for your camera again and again, a place where you need to be prepared for that chance moment …
… that instant when the last rays of the sun kiss a cliff face; or above your head sea eagles tumble in the sky; or the sun’s rays burst through an overcast sky; or a trawler shatters a perfect reflection. It was at those moments I reached for the lens.
Sadly the whale never showed its hump, but the 18-300mm was there to capture my favourite image of the entire trip; the most perfect, Foveon, sunrise above the mountains of the Norwegian coastline.
Without the travel zoom I’d have lost the shot, instead I’d have just been able to stare and wonder, shake my head, turn, and walk back home. I guess there are times even a prime man needs a zoom.
Driving around Lofoten I had plenty of time to muse on the email I’d received from Sigma UK that morning, announcing the new SD Quattros, especially the H. Where the heck did that come from???
As I was carrying around an SD1, 2 Merrills and a Quattro, my first thought to dump them all in a lake, hire a plane, fly to Japan and snatch one from the secret Sigma lab. The H, combined with a fast Art prime or two, wouldn’t that be the thing? I was genuinely, nurdishly, excited; a big sensor, a proper viewfinder, clever auto-focus stuff, a cool shape, weather sealing, what’s not to be excited about!
And then I started to worry …
I’ve bought into the whole small camera, carry around everywhere, thing, and the H combined with an art prime, is it just going to be too big and heavy?
I’ve bought into the matching lens / sensor combo, and just the thought of cleaning sensors again gives me the shivers!
Is low light performance and noise going to improve? When the sun goes down it’s bedtime for my DP0 Quattro, and on a 30 second exposure I’d be hanging around a while for seven shots to finish (3 minutes, 30 seconds to be be exact) and a lot wind can blow in that time!
Would’t it have been great with a mount that let you attach it to some small, high quality lenses, like Leica’s (if I could only afford it)! Wouldn’t a Foveon / Leica look be awesome?
The nightmare of SPP! I fall asleep processing each Quattro raw file now, and that’s with the bare minimum in my rush to Lightroom. How many more hours sleep will I get with H size files? Perhaps each H needs to come with the latest Mac Pro for free.
And how much is the darn thing going to cost?
But hey, what’s the point of worrying? I want one of these beauties and can’t wait to get my hands on one. If the image quality lives up to the promise, and lets me print Foveon images super-size, and I can afford it, I tell you now it’s going in my bag 🙂
Six days wasn’t enough to visit a third of Loften’s beaches. Vik and Haukland we saw through the car window as we passed by on our way to Uttakliev. We planned to return but ran out of days. Storsandnes, Eggum and Unstad, were on our list but we never got close. We put on snow spikes and hiked over the pass to find Kvalvika, only to find ourselves on the wrong path and overlooking Yttersand! (but we did have a frozen tarn all to ourselves). Our walk to the cliffs at A was obscured by rain, sleet and mist. All the more reason to return the islands and continue our exploration 🙂
All taken with Sigma, foveon, cameras, at low ISOs, post processed in SPP and Lightroom.
Mountains. They’re what we came to Lofoten for, and it’s a good thing, because they dominate the islands.
They surround you, and push you up against the beaches, lakes and sea, their shapes and moods drifting and shifting with the passing weather.
Both spectacular and daunting; spectacular as around each corner was another wow moment; daunting because the more I saw the more I doubted my ability fit Lofoten onto the tiny sensor wrapped by the small metal box of my camera.
Every journey expanded, 30 minutes turning into 2 hours, as around each bend we stopped to point cameras at the next view, or watch Sea Eagles drift in the sky, or wait for a passing fishing boat, or descend to a frozen lakes.
In the end I couldn’t do Lofoten’s mountains justice. A week’s not enough, nor a month, nor perhaps a lifetime, but I plan to head back and make another attempt, and then another and then …
All shots taken with Sigma cameras, post processed in SPP and Lightroom. Panoramics created in Lightroom. Shots cropped and proceed to taste.
Some Lofoten classics from Moskenesøy island. You could point your camera in every direction, and there’s busloads of photographers who are, and so it’s now time to get off the beaten track …
Shots taken with a variety of Sigma cameras, some on a tripod, some not, all ISO100, all post processed in Lightroom. The shot of Hamnoy is a Lightroom HDR of 4 shots.
The biggest challenge of photography in Lofoten is avoiding the hoards of other photographers, nice enough individually, on mass the devil incarnate! Transported around the islands by a high powered fleet of mini-buses, camera’s primed, they’re ever ready to jump out like shock troops and trample a scene to death. The day before the above shot of Ramberg beach was taken it was snowing as we approached, promising pristine conditions, but pulling into the parking area two mini-vans of shock troops arrived, piled out and immediately trampled the snow; a perfect scene ruined! Later that day on Uttakliev beach I counted 23,734 tripods before becoming bored and walking around the cliffs and away. I understand why people run these tours, and why people come, but part of Lofoten’s (and landscape photography’s) charm is its isolation and these trips will soon ruin it as a destination. It’s Greenland next 🙂