Selective focus is a hot trend in photography. The soft, dreamy look is ideal for portraits, close-ups and scenics, directing attention by blurring your subject’s surroundings. When you want the creative effects of selective focus in-camera, you can’t beat the simplicity of Lensbaby lenses and optics.
A big part of the appeal of Lensbaby lenses is the painterly, handcrafted feel of the images they produce. To get an idea of what’s possible, we asked several pros who use Lensbaby about some of their best images, which they captured using the system.
Though Lensbaby makes it relatively easy and affordable to shoot selective-focus images in-camera, getting great results will take practice. Shooting with a Lensbaby is a more manual experience than you may be used to with today’s high-tech lenses, so be ready to experiment—and open yourself up to lucky mistakes.
When you first use Lensbaby, you’ll notice that you don’t control the aperture with your camera’s controls. Instead, aperture rings are supplied with your lens. You drop the ring for your selected aperture into the lens, then set your camera to manual and select a shutter speed to set your exposure.
For flash photography with Lensbaby, you need to know your camera’s flash sync shutter speed. Set your camera at this shutter speed (or slower). If the image is overexposed, try switching to a smaller aperture ring or decreasing your flash output.
“This image was shot with a Lensbaby 2.0 in Pasadena, Calif. There’s a part of town where the light is sweet and bounces around between buildings. I guess it was the light that day which inspired me, along with a cool location and a great model with a cool, quiet vibe. Everything just lined up perfectly that day: light, subject, location, vibe and tool. The Lensbaby 2.0—I love how fluid that lens is. I work fast and it responds in kind, becoming an extension of my hand and my eye and my brain all in the same instant. With a Lensbaby, I can shoot a variety of normally distracting surroundings near a model and turn them into softer compositional elements. It continually shows me how to see in a new way. I like this flexibility.”
“I’ve been using Lensbaby lenses since their inception. After some experimentation, I decided on the plastic lens—without any aperture disc—and the 0.6x Wide Angle adapter for all of my work in Laos and Bhutan. Although perhaps excessive for some, on a full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II, this combination offered the maximum smearing and melding of the tonal scale with a beautiful luminescent glow. Another advantage of the large aperture is the ability to work in extremely low-light environments: alleys, interiors and nighttime.”
“Shooting flowers with a Lensbaby is more like painting than photography, especially when using a large aperture. For this image, I used the Lensbaby 2.0 with no aperture disc, giving me an aperture of ƒ/2. This allowed me to paint the background with colors and shapes, while also providing a clear focal point.”