First Post / First Day With New Sigma 8-16mm
I've been meaning to start this blog for a while now, and intended to start it near the beginning of quarantine with the purchase of my then-new Loawa 60mm 2:1 Macro lens. But I've always had trouble starting projects, so I'm glad that I'm working on this at all.
Yesterday I got my Sigma 8-16mm lens in the mail, purchased from a very friendly gentleman on Ebay. I wish I could show you the photo that inspired me to purchase my first ultra-wide lens, but alas, I never saved it. So let's move on!
My widest mm lens up to this point has been 50mm (I have 50mm, 60mm, and 70-200mm, which I'll cover in my next post), so I was excited to get a lens capable of capturing much more of a scene. The first photos I took were of the rooms in my apartment, just to get a feel for the lens and see what it could capture.
For reference, here is my living room from the same distance at my next widest focal length of 50mm:
Clearly, the ultra-wide is just that. It gets the whole room in frame! You might also notice that in the 8mm shot (and slightly in the 16mm), it looks like we're looking down the barrel of a gun. I didn't piece it together right away, because what I thought was part of the lens is actually the lens hood (a tool to reduce sun flare, and you can't put the cap itself on without it). I took a few shots yesterday before I realized what it was. I thought this was just going to be a sacrifice I was going to have to make using a crop sensor lens, but I'm glad it's not!
Here are some more examples:
I thought I was going to have to crop every image forever! Fortunately, you don't need to shoot with the hood on.
When I got home, I put my camera on my tripod and attached my speedlight and got to work testing out the lens - how close I could get, the distortion effects, and whether my 53" seamless backdrop paper would be wide enough to cover the background (it's not). I'll spare you the hour of photos I took, and show you half an hour.
This was one of the first pictures I took after getting set up. I wanted to see how close I needed to get to become distorted and how the distorted part of my body would compare to my rest further from the lens. I didn't get any distortion in this image, but it did give me an idea going forward.
I didn't get any distortion in this photo either, but I did draw a cute smiley face on my finger. Failing again, I really wanted to get some distortion on the next set of images.
Success! You can clearly see the distortion effect in this image. My arm is much larger in proportion to the rest of my body. I'm really looking forward to playing around with this idea some more, but at the time I was happy to finally achieve it. After getting this shot, I tried a couple more times, but didn't get what I wanted. Here are those shots:
In the first photo, I was trying to distort the hands in relation to my head, but it came out pretty normal (me, on the other hand...). In the second, I was recreating the distortion image above, but wanted to get a more composed image. This was the first one I liked, so I spent the next ten minutes or so taking different variations. In the end I managed to snap a shot I was satisfied with, so I'll leave you with that and the editing that went into it.
Bit of a lengthy process for this one. I started by enabling lens correction (usually do this for all my photos, unless I like the distortion for a particular image). Then I moved it into Topaz Sharpen AI, which really helped bring it back into focus (I'm going to do an entire post about this software at some point, it is quite incredible). If you zoom in on the eye in the unedited pic, you can see that I did not achieve focus. Perhaps I was too close to the lens. I just looked it up, minimum focusing distance for this lens is 9.5 inches (how close you can be before you lose focus). So either the autofocus missed it, or I was too close. Either way, Sharpen AI's "focus" tool fixed it really well.
After bringing it back into Lightroom, I tried to paint the background black using -4.00 exposure, killing highlights, and dropping blacks to get it as dark as I could. However, a few things continued to come through, specifically the chain on the left wall and a few parts of my backdrop rig. So I brought the image into Photoshop, masked myself, created a black fill layer, inverted, and voilà, perfect black background. The last major edits were to crop and paint down the highlights on my hand, where there is a fine line between bringing them down enough so your attention isn't drawn there while also keeping it looking natural enough. Afterwards it was minor slider adjustments (temperature +1, contrast +35, highlights -25, texture +25, dehaze +25).
That's it for now, thanks so much for reading! Please email me if you have any feedback; I'd love to hear what you think of my writing style, if there's any information you'd like included, more pictures, anything. My next post will be more of an introduction to myself as a photographer, my lenses, flashes, set up, etc. Thanks again!