Saturday, May 24, 2008

Lensbaby!

So I've wanted a Lensbaby for at least a couple of years now, but they're kind of expensive for a specialized lens, and I think pretty much everybody I know who has one played around with it for a bit and then got bored. Then again I still shoot with my Holga now and again, which has somewhat of a similar look. Anyway, I gave in and bought one.

If you don't know, a Lensbaby is kind of a strange lens that has a sweet spot that's sharp and is blurry around the edges, much like a Holga. But unlike a Holga you can then physically push the lens around so that the sweet spot moves - but it's more than this, because it's acting like the movements on a large format camera since the front of the lens is no longer aligned with the sensor. In this image (using a handy bush in my front yard) the sweet spot is down in the lower right, so it's a fairly extreme effect. Note that you can't just replicate this in Photoshop since the depth matters and that information is lost once you take a picture.

Pretty much everybody takes flower images with these things to start and they can be very pretty. I've seen some very beautiful macro work (where you have limited depth of field anyway). I've seen a few nudes but not a lot, and some interesting shots of animals and such. Basically just enough really interesting work to make me think it has potential, although just like anything else 99% of what people produce with it is crap. Hopefully I'll get out of the crap stage eventually.

I have some ideas for a few things with models that ought to look interesting but we'll see if I can turn that vision into reality or not. I don't anticipate spending vast amounts of time with this thing, but I think it's going to be like with any shoot where I decide if I have time for some fun stuff, and if I'm going to shoot film, and what. So as an example if I'm too backed up to shoot film because of the processing/time requirements, but I have time to spare in the actual shoot, I can whip this out and do some body landscape work or whatever. And if it's awful, well, no harm done.

But for now that's pretty hypothetical - I'm definitely not going to do any model work for a while, and even after that... I'm just getting really frustrated with the whole no show, or "how dare you sell your art, art should be free", or the flip side "I'm worth a zillion dollars even though I have no experience because I think I'm more attractive than I am", or the "I don't trust you unless my husband's there", or you go find their blog and it's all long rants about how they hate men. It's really tempting to just go back to bird or macro photography for a year or so, but I'll do at least some shoots with trusted, known models this summer.

Anyway, if you want to see some better lensbaby examples, check out their website - I just took a few shots to make sure I basically understood how it works and that everything was OK. Clearly to master it you have to try quite a few things - you have a lot of control if you know what you're doing, and if you don't you can just flail around and hope you get lucky. I'll be doing that second one to start. :-)

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