Some months ago—April, actually—before I went down the Raw Convertor rabbit hole, I burned a roll of Kodak Porta 400 testing out some of the toy/art/fun lenses in my stable.
I loaded the film first, likely in late March or so, but forgot what was in the camera when I decided to test these lenses… had I remembered, I probably would’ve run these tests with a somewhat cheaper film.* But since I didn’t know anything about the Porta, a week or two with three different lenses was as good a workout as any. Continue reading “Porta 400 and the LensBaby”
Happy Martin Luther King Day! May this day serve to remind us of 1) the power of the people to change living, working, economic, cultural, etc. conditions; 2) the right of the people to push back against those in power, the local/regional/national government, and any other entity or entities that cause the undesired state of affairs to endure; 3) the lengths the state and those in power will go to maintain the status quo.
And if you’re not already out shopping or something, why not take a moment find a cause you believe in and sign apetition or write your congressperson, or maybe make up a placard, join a parade, and make joyful noises up and down in front of some symbol of whatever thing you most despise about this world.
Unlike the first LensBaby week for this 7/52, I started this one intending to use the LensBaby. And as you might notice, I got some somewhat better results (to my eye, anyway). I still wonder what I might be able to accomplish if I had the time and the leisure to really focus on photography: Allahu A’lam.
And Alhamdulillah I have much more to focus on, some incomparably better, others more or less equivalent; more or less chosen.
For those of you outside of Texas, we got about 3 inches of ice Thursday night… It took me 45 minutes to scrape the windshield. Good times. Hence the shift from houseplants to outside plants & trees. In both, I think the LensBaby held its own. Fun stuff.
For most of these, I shot without focusing, or with the old lean forward/lean back focusing method: I didn’t much bother with squeezing/twisting the lens. The minimum focus distance is roughly a foot, more or less. An aperture ring of f/4 or so might have sharpened things up a bit, but I wasn’t looking for sharp: I wanted color and light; form was secondary.
D7000. LensBaby Muse (plastic optic). ISO100, f2, AP mode. Some adjustment in Lightroom to bring out color and cheer things up a bit.
So I was pondering a theme for the week, couldn’t come up with anything better, so I decided it would be LensBaby Week. Yay.
The LensBaby is a sort of toy tilt-shift lens with a pronounced sweet-spot (area of acceptable focus) and distinctive blur to everything else. I have the Muse with the plastic optic (no longer produced: current models have a double glass optic that is sharper with less distortion)… there are fancier ones, with larger sweet spots, the ability to lock focus etc., but the Muse does some things the others simply can’t do.*
With the Muse, you focus by squeezing and twisting the lens. The slightest change in lens position causes a vast change in focus.
For most applications, a normal-type lens—one with an aperture and the usual twist-ring focus (or auto-focus) and numerous glass lenses with fancy coatings and specific curvatures—is preferred. In fact, I found myself rather frustrated with the LensBaby on more than one occasion this week. I probably need to limit myself more, as I think this frustration showed a lack of creative intent and suggests that a certain amount of decadent complacence has crept into my photographic practice.
Anyway. If you look back into my archive, you’ll find a few other examples of the sorts of things the LensBaby is great at (in my hands, anyway). In more capable paws, it’s likely the Muse would be capable of greatness.
D7000. LensBaby Muse (plastic optic). Various ISOs ([email protected], [email protected], [email protected]), various A-mode-provided shutter speeds, wide open (f/2) for the first part of the week, with drop-in apertures of f/4 and maybe f/8 employed, but I’ll challenge you to find them, since the EXIF reports f/2 only. Very slight changes to saturation and contrast on one, and a slight bump-up in shadow detail on another in Lightroom.
Truth be told, it’s a bit muggy for my taste, but whatever. And there was a neighbor or a friend of a neighbor that was out smoking, and that I didn’t notice until she started talking on the phone. I wonder if she wondered “what is that___ guy in 106 doing?” but bet she didn’t even look up from her phone.
Anyways. I shot a house today, and planned to give the realtor and owner a bit of free advertising, but I really didn’t feel like messing with those pics just now, so I made this one instead.
And making this one was quite a process…
D7000. LensBaby 50mm f/2 Muse (Plastic). ISO100; 1/640th, 1/160th, 1/40th; f/2. HDRified in Merge to HDR Pro, photo filters/levels adjustment/luminance layer (thanks to ChrisMarquardt for the idea to clone the layer, convert to b/w, tune, then convert to a luminance layer. It added just a hint of Idon’tknowwhat that worked nicely here), then a vignette and tiny bit of slider play in Aperture.