I’ve been having fun recently with a lens that I bought about 5 years ago, played with a little and then shoved it in a camera bag and forgot all about it. I dug it out after seeing a few posts on social media and realised that these quirky little lenses now have a massive fan club and have changed a little over the years!
The lens is called a Lensbaby and its appearance certainly matches its name! It’s about 5cm long and 6cm in diameter and has a flexible hose pipe type barrel. Depending on how much you bend and squeeze the front ring with your fingers, you get distorted, out of focus areas to the edges of your photographs. The trick to is to get the right area of your image in focus and then use the distortion creatively.
To add to the fun and creative possibilities you change the aperture of the lens by physically changing a ring, NOT by setting it on the camera. Whilst we are on settings, you need to be able to shoot in manual exposure mode to use this lens. Click on the link to see how to shoot in manual if you’ve not tried it yet.
I shot a number of different photographs this week with a Valentine’s theme, just to get me trying out different things. Part way through the week I ordered a set of creative apertures, which give you the ability to have fun shaped bokeh effects. This is the Facebook header I created with some of my images. You can see the heart shaped booked in the third picture.
Today I tried out the Lensbaby on a micro two-thirds Canon camera (a sort of mini SLR – size of a compact camera with detachable lenses). This camera (Canon EOS-M) comes with its own lenses but you can also use any Canon lens as long as you use the lens converter. I’ve been disappointed with it until now, as it’s slow to focus, but with the Lensbaby this isn’t a problem as you focus manually anyway. I was stumped for a while as the shutter wouldn’t fire but good old Google came up with the answer straight away. I needed to set the shutter to fire without a lens. I had no idea there was even a setting for this or even why you’d ever want to use it, but you learn something new everyday.
Using the lens outdoors shooting action is a whole different ball game to still life indoors. It takes practise and luck to get shots that are in focus SOMEWHERE never mind where you artistically want them to be! I did get lucky with these two shots of this dog (not one of mine, despite a lot of trying!).
It’s fair to say I’ve got addicted to the Lensbaby fairly quickly and can see lots of applications for it in portrait shoots, food and flower photography. There’s some new versions available now and I’m considering upgrading to a Composer Pro, which is easier to use (the bendy hose on mine is bit tricky!) and there are some great optics available that you swap in and out, depending on the creative look you want.
You can find out more about Lensbabies on their website https://lensbaby.com and it’s definitely worth joining a Facebook group and doing a search on Pinterest for inspiration.
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