Welcome to the Artistic World of Lensbaby Lenses
Toward the end of last year, I started to see some images on Instagram and Facebook of these absolutely beautifully different flowers. Different not in the type of flower but in the way they were presented and processed. There was something that I couldn't explain. For the most part it was the lenses that were being used to photograph the flowers. They were from Lensbaby.
I had heard of Lensbaby but they never really caught my eye until now. I began to really admire the work of two professional flower photographers who use Lensbaby lenses a great deal. They are Kathleen Clemons and Anne Belmont. If you have not heard of them, look them up on Google and study their images. Their images are so artistic and abstract in some cases. Their work really lit an interest in me to study more about Lensbaby lenses.
If you're not familiar with Lensbaby, I encourage you to check out their website. All of their lenses are prime, meaning they have a fixed focal length. They are also fully manual, i.e., no auto focusing. You need to adjust the aperture with a dial on the lens itself just like in the old days. At small apertures, most of their lenses are very sharp. But the beauty of Lensbaby lenses comes in the larger apertures. They produce an ethereal "glow" around the edges of objects. At f1/8, very little of the photo will be in focus creating an incredible bokeh, not replicated in "normal" lenses. Search for YouTube videos by Anne Belmont or Kathleen Clemons. They will share their technique and the wonderful results.
This is my first photo using my Lensbaby Velvet 85. I love this lens. This first experiment really didn't do justice to Lensbaby. But you can see the "glow" around the edges that they can produce. This was an indoor shoot using off camera speed lights in softboxes with a green back drop.
Here in my second attempt with a yellow rose. I used a wider aperture and you can really get a sense of the softness the lens provides. This was also shot using my Velvet 85 and used speed lights in soft boxes.
In the image below I began to experiment with textures. If you look at Kathleen Clemons online store, she sells sets of beautiful textures, which can be applied with Photoshop and other comparable software. Here, I used a somewhat muted pinkish texture to help provide a bit of color. You can begin to see the artistic element the lens provides. The creative possibilities are endless.
In this final image I tried something entirely new for me that I picked up from a video from a Kathleen Clemons' course in Creative Live. Not only does it add a texture but then adds a layer mask to gently allow some of the unaltered image show through the texture. The "look" may not be for everyone but I love it. It can allow your creativity to run wild.
If you do visit the Lensbaby website, you'll seen many different uses for them. Portraits are particularly nice. Still life photos could also do well using a Lensbaby. I'm not sure landscape photography would be great with them however.
With spring quickly approaching I'm really looking forward to getting to some gardens to see what I can create with these lenses. If you do ever buy one, be aware there is a learning curve when using them. I can become frustrated with myself. But when I get a keeper, it makes it all worthwhile.
Until next time, happy shooting.
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