Mastering the Art of Landscape Photography: Capturing the Poetry of Guilin with SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN | Sports

Mastering the Art of Landscape Photography: Capturing the Poetry of Guilin with SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN | Sports

- SongShan Xie

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 125, F7.4, 1/640s, 70mm 

I was born in Guilin, known as the “best under heaven for landscape,” a place famous for its mountains and waters. Guilin features lush mountains, serene rivers, and a unique beauty that is the result of time’s accumulation of ancient memories.

I was fortunate to study under the renowned traditional Chinese painter Tang Daochang during my childhood. Under his guidance, I learned the essence of classical art, which sowed the seed of a deep love for Chinese traditional painting aesthetics in my heart. As a global landscape photographer, I have photographed the resplendent Northern Lights in Iceland, the brilliant starry sky in New Zealand, the majestic volcanoes in Indonesia, the pristine glaciers in Greenland, the roaring seas in Australia, the vast Sahara Desert in Morocco, and the magnificent American West. However, it is still the picturesque landscapes of my hometown, Guilin, that tug at my heartstrings.

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 100, F10, 1/40s, 102mm

The famous Chinese painter Li Keran once said, “Artistic conception is the soul of art, the concentration of the essence of objective things, combined with the molding of human thoughts and feelings, achieved through highly artistic processing to create an artistic realm, a realm of poetry.” Therefore, capturing the unique artistic conception of Guilin’s landscapes is the highest realm I have been pursuing throughout my life.

Guilin’s landscapes can be captured with wide-angle lenses to create grand visual masterpieces. They can also be rendered with grace and elegance using medium to long focal lengths, a characteristic that I have a particular affection for. Hence, the 70-200mm focal length is indispensable for photographing Guilin. The new SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports is a large-aperture zoom lens designed for full-frame mirrorless cameras. As part of SIGMA’s mirrorless “The Big Three” (a trio of F2.8 large-aperture zoom lenses that can cover focal lengths from 14mm to 200mm), this lens not only delivers outstanding imaging performance thanks to the latest optical design but also offers high-level functionality to meet the demands of both stills and video shooting professionals.

* The images without photograph data have been created with lenses other than 
SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 250, F10, 1/800s, 139mm

What are the advantages of the SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports for photographing Guilin's landscapes?

Focal Length: The 70-200mm focal length provides a versatile range that can capture both near and far scenes while maintaining a clean and simple composition. It’s more in line with the minimalist aesthetics of Chinese art. Additionally, it allows for panoramic stitching with long focal lengths, resulting in higher-resolution images suitable for large prints.

Wide Aperture: An aperture of F2.8 provides faster shutter speeds, allowing handheld shooting even in challenging lighting conditions. This versatility allows me to work freely and also offers better background blur, making subjects stand out.

Image Stabilization: Featuring the Optical Stabilizer with new algorithm (OS2), this lens is capable of reducing image shake, even at slightly slower shutter speeds in low light conditions. This increases the success rate of handheld shooting.

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 100, F6.3, 1/100s, 122mm

Excellent Image Quality: The lens offers high resolution, capturing more details in Guilin’s landscapes, resulting in clearer and sharper photos. Accurate color reproduction presents the true colors of Guilin’s landscapes, making images more vivid. High contrast helps display better details and depth at the boundaries of light and shadow, creating three-dimensional, textured photos.

Inner Zoom: This design maintains a consistent lens length throughout the zooming process, making the lens more portable and user-friendly. Additionally, the inner zoom design enhances sealing and protects against dust and moisture, allowing shooting even in light rain.

Weather Protection: As part of the Sports line, this lens features a robust dust- and splash-resistant structure, along with a water- and oil-repellent coating on the front element, ensuring that I can use it in various challenging shooting conditions.

Lightweight: The lens weighs 1,345g for L-Mount, making it friendly for landscape photographers who carry their gear daily.

High-Speed Autofocus: The lens employs a dual HLA (High-response Linear Actuator) for fast and precise autofocus, which is crucial for photographers who need to react quickly.

Have technological improvements in cameras and lenses provided you with a new perspective on photography?

As photography technology continually advances, improvements in camera and lens performance have indeed expanded my options and creative space. For instance, the SIGMA fp L, a high-resolution camera, enables me to capture finer details, with a wider dynamic range that allows me to shoot comfortably in harsh lighting or low-light conditions. Simultaneously, the design of the new SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports also offers me the opportunity to experiment with different shooting effects and perspectives. These technological enhancements provide me with more tools and means for expression and creativity, allowing me to approach photography from diverse angles and methods.

Why is photography crucial to your life and work?

First and foremost, I am a professional landscape photographer. Photography is not just my profession; it is also my passion. Being able to work on what I love, organize my schedule freely, and follow my passion is a profound source of happiness. I firmly believe that only through genuine passion can we achieve excellence. I have great love for nature and a deep reverence for it. I consider nature to be the finest designer. It’s perhaps the merging of my artistic aptitude for painting and nature that fuels my unending search for stunning landscapes. Photography enables me to step out of my comfort zone and make like-minded friends. While I have many students, they are also my teachers, providing me with significant assistance in various aspects of life and work.

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 125, F9, 1/250s, 110mm

Where do you draw inspiration for your photography?

I derive inspiration from poetry, painting, music, movies, and conversations with many artists. However, to truly find inspiration, I believe it stems from a calm heart. Only when the heart is tranquil can deep thinking and imagination occur, and inspiration naturally follows. Images are projections of the soul. Landscape photography is an artistic creation merged with nature, an expression of emotions, continuously inspiring me to seek out my next destination.

What do you consider essential when taking photographs?

Observation, perseverance, and imagination.

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 400, F4, 1/10s, 70mm 

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 160, F2.8, 1/200s, 160mm

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 160, F2.8, 1/200s, 148mm

What advice do you have for those who want to try photography?

Art requires talent and heavily relies on it. This talent isn’t just life experiences, aesthetics, and artistic knowledge. I personally believe that passion, persistence, communication, and methodology are also part of talent. Additionally, choosing the right style that aligns with your own abilities and advantages is crucial. It’s essential to understand the market and not just talk about ideals blindly, as making a living from photography is challenging. Beginners can visit reputable photography websites to collect their favorite works. I recommend collecting and pondering daily. After three months, start decisively deleting works you don’t particularly like or themes that aren’t achievable. This step should align with your conditions and strengths. Ultimately, keep deleting until you have only ten images left. At this point, you’ll know your most preferred style. Then, find photographers with similar styles and concentrate on learning from them. They are your most suitable teachers. Imitation is a fine starting point. Don’t worry about being similar to others; it’s just the first step.

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 125, F8, 1/1000s, 70mm 

SIGMA 70-200mm F2.8 DG DN OS | Sports, SIGMA fp L, ISO 100, F9.5, 1.7s, 70mm

Landscape photography requires a substantial investment in equipment and locations. Having stable financial conditions is a solid foundation. It is challenging to produce excellent work, and it primarily depends on one’s artistic cultivation. As a landscape photographer, the most crucial factors are enthusiasm, dedication, endurance, humility, and being open to different perspectives.

What are your current challenges in life or in general?

My work and life balance is good at the moment, and overall, it’s smooth. The only potential challenge might be finding the right life partner sooner; it seems more challenging than capturing epic scenes. I hope that in the future, I can explore the world’s famous mountains and rivers, creating even better work with her. (laugh)

Behind the Scenes

SongShan Xie
Landscape Photographer

SIGMA (China) Collaborative Photographer
Visual China, Tuicoo, Tencent Contracted Photographer
Certified Photographer of the China Collector’s Association and Contemporary Art Committee Author of the Bestselling Book “Great River Landscape Photography Notes”

Website  |  Zcool

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