An Adventure in Lensbaby-land

Sometimes producing a compelling photo is just plain frustrating.  Long ago I bought a Lensbaby, took a course from a guru, and just couldn’t get the hang of it.  Everything I produced looked like one big out of focus blob.  I hated having to hold the bellows in a certain position and of course, the minute I moved, my focal point was lost.  So, okay, out goes the Lensbaby 2 and in comes the Composer.  Fine, much easier to hold a spot; you just move the lens.  Let’s take a look at those photos….humpf….more blobs.

Okay, take the whole mess and put it away.  But you know I keep seeing those wonderful Lensbaby shots produced by the likes of Tony Sweet, Kathleen Clemens and Corey Hilz.  So, all right, let’s give it another try.  I enrolled in a second class and here I am. 

My instructors have the patience of saints.   I am that one in a million student who just doesn’t get it no matter what and drives you crazy with arcane questions that are obviously not going to help improve the student’s art.   Throughout it all, I am trying, trying, trying, but with very little result as yet, which only increases the frustration.

Nobody said this lens was easy to use, and they are right.  For one thing, you cannot depend on your camera to do any work for you.  The lens is completely manual.  You change the aperture by inserting a little metal ring into the optic of the lens with a magnetic tool.  THAT is easy.  You must focus manually, however, and there lies the biggest challenge.  Since the lens is made to provide bokeh, depending on your aperture (and your optic, but we won’t get into that) you may produce more of less of it with a sweet spot of good focus that may be large or small, with the wider apertures giving you a bigger sweet spot.   And once you start to bend that baby, the sweet spot will move around, too.

Baby-challenged people are urged to start with the glass optic and a wide aperture.  No bending allowed,  so you find your subject, compose, focus and shoot.  With no bending, the sweet spot is in the center, remember, so if you focus and then move the camera to recompose you’ve lost it.  And that’s pretty much what I have been doing.  It is SO hard to forget that you cannot recompose and I am not used to putting my subjects in the center.  What to do, what to do?  All right, I am not giving up. 

My first week I took hundreds of photos of all different things and liked none of them.  More importantly, I did not get a nice center sweet spot so I didn’t even nail the lesson.  I did get one nice shot, which serves as an inspiration to keep at it.  This is for Grace Marie, who asked for a recent image of our precious Labrador, Sam.   I was lucky, yes lucky, to get his eye in relatively good focus.  Oh, say hey, maybe the problem is with my eyes??? 

Dreamy Sam

Dreamy Sam, 8 x 12 inch photo
© 2011 Fran Saunders

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About Fran Saunders

I am a photographer located on the beautiful Eastern Shore of Maryland, where I live with my husband and my Yellow Lab, Sam.
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