Christmas with a Lensbaby

Snow White ornament, Lensbaby, bokeh, Christmas

I have always been a fan of the selective focus images created by a Lensbaby. However, even the cheaper Edge model is a little out of my price range for what is essentially a creative lens & not one I would necessarily use everyday. I purchased the Spark a year ago but have found it somewhat awkward to operate & certainly tricky to achieve consistent results. Consequently, I recently bought a second hand Composer (it’s the model with the interchangeable, magnetic aperture rings) & have been experimenting with it ever since.

Now I realise you can achieve the effect generated by these lenses through Photoshop or other similar post production software & believe me, I’m not one of those photographers who obsesses about getting everything right “in camera”. Don’t get me wrong, when it comes to composition I put a lot of thought into getting it right before I press the shutter but once I download the results, I’d only be fooling myself if I said they didn’t benefit from a little curves adjustment, hue/saturation layer tweaking & a touch of sharpening before being finished. However, there is something much more creative & certainly enjoyable watching the focus point change on the back of the camera before pressing the shutter as opposed to doing it later.

The festive photograph above seemed to lend itself well to a Lensbaby. Focusing on Snow’s face while having Father Christmas blurred yet still distinguishable in the background seemed to add to the festive spirit.

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Week 47

Christmas heart shaped bokeh

Settings: f/1.8, 0.6 second, ISO 100, 50mm prime

Set up. Draw around the lens cap on a piece of black card. In the centre use a modelling knife to cut out the shape of your choice (in this case, a heart). Remember the greater the distance between the bauble & the lights, the better the bokeh. You could use a torch to illuminate the bauble if it appears too dark in the image. Focus on the bauble then place the cut out card in front of the lens (ensuring there are no light leaks) & take the shot.

Opinion. This is a similar photo to the very first one I took when starting this project. However, I’ve taken it a step further by altering the shape of the bokeh.

Week 46

Settings: f/11, 10 seconds, ISO 100, 55mm focal length

Set up. With the camera on a tripod & in AV mode, select a mid-aperture. Initially focus in on the tree. As you press the shutter, zoom out steadily (not too fast or the light trails won’t be as bright).

Opinion. This was the one of the first pictures I attempted to take for my project, back in January. However, I wasn’t happy with the results. So here we are 45 weeks later (& after the purchase of a significantly more stable tripod!) to have another go. Still not perfect but I’m improving with time!

Week 40

Settings: Samsung Galaxy S4

Set up. A quick night shot taken while shopping.

Opinion. Kendals (now House of Fraser) always went above & beyond at Christmas with their outside decorations. It was part of what made Deansgate in Manchester look like Christmas when I was a kid & it’s good to see things haven’t changed today.

Week 1

Settings: f/2.8, 1.30 seconds, ISO 100, 50mm prime lens

Set-up. I placed the snowman on a cymbal stand a couple of feet from the tree & the camera on a tripod as close to the decoration as possible without being detrimental to the focus. I used my 50mm prime lens (in AV mode) in order to have as wide an aperture as possible therefore, producing a very shallow depth of field (I did try my other lens first but the bokeh were smaller & not as impressive). I have viewed similar images with people using a macro lens but seeing as I don’t have one of these I had to make do with the prime. Switching off the TV & all other lights in the lounge apart from one help to avoid having additional reflections on the snowman (if using a bauble with a reflective surface be careful not to get yourself in the photo too).

Opinion. This type of photography allows you almost complete control during the shoot. You can afford to take your time & have as many attempts as you need until you’re happy. No adverse weather conditions to worry about, no rushing before the light goes & the model is easy to work with! Given these factors, I think it was a smart decision to begin my year with something along these lines.