If you are a lover of creamy, shallow depth of field photography then you might shoot with lenses with an aperture of f2.8 – f1.4. If you are an adventurous type then you might have tried FREELENSING. This is where you remove the lens from your DSLR, hover it in front of the open camera body and continue to take photos. Beautiful and intense blurry imagery is the result. Be warned, though: holding the camera and lens apart is a challenge- not to mention that dust gets in.
If you love the style of images this method produces, then I suggest you find out more about the Lensbaby. Essentially, it is a tool that allows you to freelens without removing the lenses, by means of a swivelling lens holder.
The Lensbaby lenses are some of the most fun and challenging to use. They are described as trick lenses and are most appealing to photographers who like to experiment and create work that is out of the ordinary. A lot of the photographs are a bit hit-and-miss because of the varied blurring, softening and warping that is available to the adventurous photographer using the Lensbaby lenses, but when there’s a hit, oh boy…
Not many commercial photographers use the Lensbaby, because of its almost extreme results, but this is why I love it. Pushing the boundaries of what you think is a successful, artistic photograph is what the Lensbaby lenses excel at. Lensbaby components are quite inexpensive and have many interchangeable lenses and accessories for infinite creative options.
The big thing with the Lensbaby is that it is 100% manual. The lens does not talk digitally to your camera so you need to have a good grip on how to use your camera manually for exposure and shutter speed. That being said, this makes for a huge variation of trial-and-error which often results in photographs you would never have thought of taking, but which you will be so pleased you did.
You may have a photographic hiring company in your area who hires out Lensbaby lenses. This way you can try before you buy. I hired the fisheye optic and tilted it to the edge for the rainbow-like feature image above.
I knew the first time I saw the Lensbaby family that I would love it and never regret the purchase, and I have not been proven wrong.
When I shoot for clients, I bring a variety of lenses and most of the time I whip out one of my trick lenses to amuse myself and shift perspective during a long day of shooting.
EDGE 80 optic with Lensbaby Composer Pro
This lens imitates a tilt and shift lens and produces a miniature effect when shooting faraway subjects like a landscape. A small slice of the image is in focus and the rest gently blurs out from this sharp sweet spot. The lens also has a macro effect option if you pull the lens out.
Here are some of my favourites:
Double Glass Optic
This is one of the cheapest optics. It has one round spot in focus and the rest blurs out in a gradient. If you twist this lens on the Composer Pro, it zoom-pulls the edges in.
With this lens you get magnetic aperture disks, that you pop in and out. I shoot mostly at f5.6 because anything less and there is no sharpness, only varying degrees of out-of-focus and very out-of-focus. For some photographers this is what suits their style. What I also love about this lens is that if you twist it too much out of focus it creates a natural bokeh portal ring. This can look best when shooting a subject that is like a pattern.