Sunday, February 19, 2017

Starting Out with Lensbaby

I recently purchased a Lensbaby Composer Pro II kit, which includes three lenses, or what they call optics.  The kit includes a "lens" that tilts and several "optics": the Sweet 35, a 35 mm lens that fits into the Composer Pro body, a Sweet 50, which is a 50 mm lens, the Edge 80, an 80 mm lens, and two macro lenses that can be fitted to the other lenses for close-up work.

I've finished reading two Kindle books on the Lensbaby and have started experimenting with the kit.  It's a way different way of working.  The Sweet 35 and Sweet 50 optics create a circular "sweet spot" that's in focus and that can be rotated via the Composer Lens body so the focus spot can be moved around the frame, with the out-of-focus zone in a place of your choosing.

The following photo was made using the Sweet 35 lens focused sharply on the stone fence and then tilted to the right so the "sweet spot" would be on that side of the frame, highlighting the fence and softening the tree at the left so it is barely recognizable.  I converted the photo to B&W in post-processing.

I'm having fun with these lenses, though I have a lot to learn about them yet.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Photogenic Subjects

John and Barbara Gerlach, in the second edition of Digital Nature Photography, describe three essential factors for making successful nature photographs.  
The first is that you can’t make a good photograph of a scene that is lacking in interest.  For landscape photography, this might normally require a site with natural beauty.
For many landscape photographers, the goal is to create images that portray great natural beauty and have a strong emotional impact.  Sunrises are popular favorites and often successful subjects for this purpose.  Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.  Nikon D810, Nikon 70-200 mm f2.8 VR lens, at 200 mm, 1/125 sec., f11, ISO 100, tripod.

But when we speak about a photogenic subject, what do we mean?  The term has many synonyms.  Some of these do, in fact, refer to scenes of native beauty, which is what the Gerlachs intend by including this criterion.  These synonyms include the terms picturesque, pretty, beautiful, and attractive.  But others, like graphic, striking, and camera-friendly allow for less than beautiful subjects.
Structures such as this operating water mill can make up in charm what they may lack in natural beauty.  Cable Mill, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee.  Nikon D810, Nikon 24-70 mm f2.8 lens at 38 mm, 1/100 sec., f2.8, ISO 800. 
Thus, not all photogenic subjects need to be beautiful.  Some interesting subjects may be notable for reasons other than beauty and others may even be downright ugly.  What gives them the potential to make photogenic photos is the fact that they are appealing for one reason or another.  In my judgment, the natural world offers far more variety and interest than can be found in the spectacularly beautiful alone.  Besides, not all of us have access to dramatic scenery on a regular basis.  That’s one reason my personal definition of “photogenic” has been expanded to include the subjects you’ll see in my book, Creative Composition for Landscape Photography, now available for Kindle on