My first lensbaby was that playful and difficult to handle Muse.
By the time I bought it I had already immersed myself in the broader creative photography genre and had been trying to achieve those dreamy atmospheric images others whose work I admired were creating.
I stayed with that lens for a number of years and looking back, I am not sure my standards were very high. I was always thrilled to create something respectable but in reality, those early efforts were not my best. And that’s the very essence of working with specialty lenses. You really need to give yourself time to find out how the lens works and how it reacts to light and varying scenes. In hindsight, perhaps I should have shared less and practised more.
A few years later when I bought one of the new Olympus Micro Four Thirds cameras, I picked up a second lensbaby. Here is a bit of advice – not only can they be an acquired taste – you probably need to look at images others have made with a range of lenses before you jump in. I bought the Composer Pro thinking it would be fabulous to interchange optics. And it is. The interchangeable insert I bought was the Sweet 35. For some reason it was never quite what I wanted. I added some extension rings and that gave me different effects bringing me closer to flowers but something was missing. I have seen images others create with it and they are delightful but mine were again ordinary at best.
Then out of nowhere something clicked. The lensbaby site is quite useful as are some of the Facebook groups. Kathleen Clemons has great tips and techniques on her website and on the Lensbaby site as well as on Creative Live. http://kathleenclemonsphotography.com
I began to have more control of the lens and started to create images I quite liked. I picked up a 2nd hand Double Glass Optic and between the two I now have a few pleasing images.
Fast forward and I finally bought the Velvet56. See Green Leaves Capertee (above).
Now the Velvet lenses are a different beast and although they take a little time to acclimatise, I find them much easier to use. They are not dissimilar to some of the older vintage lenses. The soft effects when shooting wide open really appeal to me.
The Velvet 56 is perhaps the unusual lens in my bag when I shoot seascapes. I have had some fun playing with it around beaches. Add some ND filters and it can be used at all times of the day.
Click on the image below to see it full size. Autumn at the Old Homestead.
The less expensive Sol is also in my kit bag. It has altogether different appeal. It bends like my earlier lenses and it has some blades that add another level of vignetting. It was a bit of a favourite for a while. I enjoy the vignetting and the more moody look. It is also very small and light so I find it quite easy to walk around with it. See final image below. The Hut.
Reflecting back now as I write this, I think I have accepted (or maybe I have recognised) that for my form of photography some of the lenses work better with different subjects. The two optics that fit the Composer Pro are a great combination working with leaves and flowers. I often have them in my bag together. By screwing on an extension ring, I get another feel to these subjects. I love them both wide open.
The Velvet56 is probably the most versatile for my style being able to use it for portraits, foliage and flowers, landscapes and seascapes. The Sol is a great walk around lens.
I do love them all.