a teatray in the sky

look out jackson town, and on the sigma 100-300mm f/4

Posted in 5D Mark II, Grand Teton National Park, National Parks, Photography by firthefirst on October 1, 2010

nobody knows if Johnny Cash had the town of jackson wyoming in mind when he wrote “jackson” but I like to think so.  sure makes for a good excuse to play the song while rolling through the golden valley better known as jackson hole.  I really want to come back sometime in late november/early december, when there’s three things in jackson: snow on the ground, elk in the fields, and skiing to be done.  it was a huge surprise to me to find out that peak season in jackson is actually the summer, with winter being the quiet months.  seriously?  4000+ ft vertical drop on the slopes.  116 trails on two mountains.  cross-country trails that take you around the valley.

it’s hard to imagine that not being a bigger draw than whatever the tetons can muster in the summer months … unless you’ve been here in the summer.  hiking, kayaking, technical climbing, carousing… and of course, wildlife watching.

tina was dead set on seeing a moose before we left wyoming and not only did we see one, we saw four.  three from way far away and one from maybe five-feet-and-a-fence (thank goodness for the fence) away.

today’s two shots demonstrate the range of the sigma 100-300mm f/4 EX DG APO HSM lens, from good to ugly. 

the good is the fantastic color in the upper image, accurate focus, great sharpness, and pleasing bokeh.  I could have used the sigma 150-500 to get a closer shot, but that lens probably would have ruined the image due to its lack of optical refinement.  everything that works for this image would suddenly not work.  furthermore, cropping close isn’t always the solution, I wanted to capture more of the surrounding scenery to give it a sense of place.

the ugly is the lens flare shown in the second image; notice the properly contrasty and saturated right side of the photo.  now, as you move along the moose’s body toward the left, note a sudden lightening of the fur, creating the impression of a dark band at its abdomen.  no, this isn’t a moose who doesn’t know how to shave properly.  this is a sigma whose lens hood doesn’t know how to block light properly.

guess where the sun is, in this photo.  for starters, it’s not in the photo.  for seconds, it’s not just beyond the edge of the photo.  it’s actually almost perpendicular to my shooting angle, way off to the right outside of the frame.  so how am I catching glare?  the sunlight is hitting the inside left edge of my lens hood, and then blooming all over and ruining 2/3 of the image.  (also look at the trees on the right side of the image and compare to the trees on the left side of the image.  note the significant loss of contrast in the trees to the left).

I don’t know what the solution is … spray painting the lens hood interior a matte black?  is there a third-party-to-a-third-party lens hood I can find for this lens that actually works?  its such a ridiculous achilles heel, to have fantastic optics ruined by something as basic as the lens hood.

I’ll close with another shot from the sigma 100-300 f/4.  one that makes me much happier than the second moose photo.  I don’t know why I didn’t start using telephotos for landscape sooner, but I am damn glad I finally did.

8 Responses

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  1. womo531 said, on October 1, 2010 at 10:29 am

    MOOSE! Thanks =)

    • firthefirst said, on October 1, 2010 at 1:37 pm

      you’ll have to come back again and spend more time next time!

  2. Tina said, on October 1, 2010 at 10:36 am

    MOOSE!! this makes me ridiculously happy for no good reason. they’re just so darn awesome. 🙂 love love love the first shot. i wanna be that moose.

    • firthefirst said, on October 1, 2010 at 1:38 pm

      yeah I never knew you were such a fan of moose until this trip. glad you like the shot babe

  3. Don Komarechka said, on October 1, 2010 at 11:10 pm

    I really like the framing in the first shot – I love the whole set. very nice. I’m envious of your work lately! 🙂

    • firthefirst said, on October 4, 2010 at 8:55 am

      thanks don, I’m likewise very much enjoying the photos you are posting on your blog. keep up your great work; I’m looking forward to seeing more of your photos

  4. Kai Brockbank said, on October 3, 2010 at 4:59 am

    Excellent photos! The moose are great! I love the first one, I can really feel the thrill and magic of the moment. I occasionally do a bit of wildlife photography myself although unfortunately I rarely get the oportunity.
    Also, the landscape shot is excellent! It’s great in black and white and the clarity is amazing.
    Thanks for sharing these!

    • firthefirst said, on October 4, 2010 at 8:59 am

      thanks kai, I know what you mean about wildlife photography — I also wish I could get out more often to try and get some photos of animals, but it’s not easy

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