The Gateway Arch in St. Louis photographed from the Mississippi riverside.

“Fisheye lenses are gimmicks.”

Lots of photographers think so. Most have never used one. I don’t travel without one.

The 15mm f/2.8 fisheye lens from Sigma is less than three inches in diameter and length. It weighs in at less than twelve ounces. This compact, relatively inexpensive optic offers remarkable creative possibilities. First, it focuses impossibly close to the lens’ front element, less than six inches. Second, its 180 view adds extreme perspective and drama. Third, the 15’s curvilinear qualities bend the world in ways we are unable to see or even imagine with our eyes.

Downtown St. Louis, MO photographed from the observation lobby at the top of the Gateway Arch.
Downtown St. Louis, MO photographed from the observation lobby at the top of the Gateway Arch.

I love being able to hold focus on something less than a foot from the lens all the way to infinity. Everything in this photograph, from the base of the Gateway Arch all the way to the clouds above, are completely sharp at f/11.

The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO.
The Gateway Arch, St. Louis, MO.

Looking skyward from underneath an orange lily, the fisheye bends the sky. The circle trees on the horizon frame the photograph in a natural vignette.

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When I find myself at a loss for new ways to see, I put the 15mm fisheye on my camera and go for a walk. The photos inspire, intrigue, challenge and most of all delight me. They are just a lot of fun to make and show.

Sunrise, Corregidor Island, Phillippines
Sunset, Corregidor Island, Philippines

My parting shot for this Photofocus post is of a sunset on Corregidor Island in Manila Bay in the Philippines. My parting thought is that none of the photos I have shared here would exist if I didn’t carry the oh-so-special lightweight and spectacular Sigma 15mm f/2.8 fisheye in my kit. I encourage you to get a fisheye, borrow one or rent one then go out to play. I’m sure you’ll smile at what you create.

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