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Catching Yosemite’s Firefalls with the 60-600mm Sports lens

(Last Updated On: Apr 30, 2019)

By Raul Roa Categories: Sigma Shares Tags: Landscape PhotographyNational Parksoutdoor photographySigma 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lenswaterfallsYosemite

Raul Roa captures Yosemite National Park’s renowned Firefalls with the Sigma 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM | Sports lens.

 Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls firefalls are a rare, unique occurrence that require specific circumstances for the event to happen.  “Firefalls” are created when the waterfalls are lit up naturally by the setting sun on a few days in mid February. But this can only happen if there is enough snow on top of El Capitan where the falls originate, it’s warm enough for the snow to melt and if there are no clouds blocking the setting sun.

Yosemite’s Horsetail Falls become a spectacular reddish color as the setting sun light hits the water and ice to create the illusion that the falls are on fire, in Yosemite National Park on Friday, Feb. 22, 2019. This photo was taken with the SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens set at 413mm. This effect only happens around mid February if conditions are right. There has to be enough snow at the top of El Capitan, it has to be just warm enough for some of the snow to begin melting, the sun has to set at just the right angle and there has to be clear western sky so that sunlight illuminates the falls. Facing these challenges, I decided to make it a go and try to capture the rare natural phenomenon in freezing temperatures. About one month before the trip, I checked the calendar for the possible best date to go. Nature can’t be predicted but I was hopeful I’d have a good chance since winter had been wet so far and there was plenty of snow in Yosemite.

This photo was taken with the SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens set at 600mm.  My choice of lens for this unique trip was nothing less than the Sigma 60-600mm f4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports because of the 10x optical zoom and it’s reliability. I’d used the lens a few times before so I wanted it to be my go-to lens for this trip. Not having to lug around multiple lenses and changing lenses in freezing temperatures meant I could concentrate on my creativity.

This photo was taken with the SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens set at 60mm. After a more than 5-hour, 300-mile drive and a mile-and-a-half walk to the right spot in Yosemite Valley, I was settled in for the spectacle. I was now in freezing temperatures (about 39°F) and standing on a couple of feet of snow along with hundreds of other hard-core photographers and nature lovers.

The water was flowing down the falls but clouds kept passing above El Capitan. Luckily once sunset at 5:30 pm came around, clouds were not blocking the setting sun and for about 12 minutes, we had a surreal natural event at our sights.Twelve minutes may seem like a long time, but when this is the only chance you’ll have to capture a great image, you have no time to waste fumbling with lenses.

This is where it became clear that my choice of lens for this event, the Sigma 60-600mm f4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports, was the only right choice.

I was able to capture the full-length falls in their spectacular fiery show zoomed at about 200mm as well as very close-up views of the lava-looking water at the 600mm end. No need to switch lenses or grab a second body with a different lens since this lens was all I needed!

This photo was taken with the SIGMA 60-600mm F4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports lens set at 88mm.

And another unintended benefit I found was that this lens performed spectacularly in temperatures of around 39°F that evening and as low as 19°F. Before leaving the next morning, I set out to photograph the Yosemite Valley Chapel at sunrise, around 6:30 am, and the lens performed flawlessly. No fogging up, no locking up or tightening in subfreezing temperatures.

And the images were the sharpest I’ve seen done with any brand lens.

The Sigma 60-600mm f4.5-6.3 DG OS HSM Sports has really given me an advantage and the versatility that I as a working professional photographer need. I can’t wait to see how well this lens will perform in other situations.  Until next time, Raul Roa.

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Original article here

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