Lensbaby Twist 60 Optic

Last month I purchased the Lensbaby Twist 60 Optic.

It is based on the Petzval design and is supposed to produce a swirl of bokeh, much like the older Helios lenses. I had been curious about it since it was released but also very hesitant as most of the uses seemed to be focused around portraiture photography. As I rarely shoot pictures of people, I wondered how this style of lens effect would work with inanimate objects also.

At wide open f2.5 & f2.8 the swirl effect of the Twist 60 optic is very pronounced.

It does mild down significantly by f4 – f5.6 and is almost non existent by f8 producing a normal view from any standard lens. I found the wide open swirl effect to be a little distracting but really do like how a minute amount of swirl from the f4 – f5.6 range does make the subject stand out a bit more.

Where this optic really shines for me is mounted on a 25mm extension tube, bringing it up to almost a 1:2.4 magnification macro.

I did try it on a 44mm tube but didn’t like the effect as much as the 1:2 ratio.

Though I occasionally find a use for the Sweet Spot or Slice Focus of my other Lensbaby optics, my favorite optics so far have been the Zoneplate and Plastic. I’m quickly seeing the Lensbaby Twist 60 optic will join those two.

Something about the “so called” imperfections of early film photography appeals to me.

 

Macro Photography Lens Stacking

As I’ve mentioned on my macros page, I’m not a macro photography purist.
I don’t focus on achieving a 1:1 life-size ratio when photographing a subject.
I do prefer using dedicated macro lenses (at least close focus) or macro techniques while doing close focus work as I find there is less distortion than with wide angle lenses.
I also enjoy trying anything that will spur my creativity.

Lens Stacking, Lens Reversal, Pentax M200/4, Rodagon 105/5.6, Bishop CA, Pentax K-1, Macro, Macro Photography, 2:1 Photography, Closeup Photography, Extreme Macro Photography, Fine Art Photography

This last winter, I was reading a website on extreme macro photography lens stacking and came across an article about using the Pentax M200/4 as a barrel lens for micro-photograpy work.
Extreme-Macro is a fantastic site for studying anything to do with close focus work. There is a wealth of information ranging from techniques to lenses, lighting or magnification calculations.
The page I stumbled upon mentioned the Pentax M200/4 as a wonderful lens to couple with a microscope objective for extreme work.

Lens Stacking, Lens Reversal, Pentax M200/4, Rodagon 105/5.6, Bishop CA, Pentax K-1, Macro, Macro Photography, 2:1 Photography, Closeup Photography, Extreme Macro Photography, Fine Art Photography

As I have an old M200 that doesn’t get used in this digital age, I decided to pull it out and see what I might be able to do with what I already had on hand or at least low cost investment.
A 52mm-52mm coupling ring, a 52mm-40.5mm step-down ring (which I did have to buy) and my old Rodagon 105/5.6 enlarging lens reverse mounted.
I must admit here that I am often lazy about using a tripod unless doing night shots and still prefer using an optical viewfinder over the rear lcd so achieving and maintaining focus with any depth of field would be a challenge.
I was surprised at how easy this combination was to hand hold and still achieve nice photos with a magnification of approx. 1.9:1.
Also, it was a fantastic pleasure to view something larger than life and try to see it in an artistic style.

Lens Stacking, Lens Reversal, Pentax M200/4, Rodagon 105/5.6, Bishop CA, Pentax K-1, Macro, Macro Photography, 2:1 Photography, Closeup Photography, Extreme Macro Photography, Fine Art Photography

Next I tried a reverse mount combination of the M200 with a Sigma 24/2.8 for a magnification ratio of approx. 8.3:1.
The added weight of the Sigma made it much harder to handhold but still produced nice results, though even at f16 the depth of field is very shallow.
This will take a lot more practice to get the my creative sight going.

I have been enjoying this new artistic view of the world so much that I just purchased an old EL-Nikkor 50/2.8 enlarging lens to use in the field (don’t want to take my Rodenstock out into the elements)
and am now on the hunt for an infinity focus objective plus adapter.

Seeing in Black & White – Infrared Photography

Infrared Photography resembles the image in my mind’s eye.

Plant Photography, Vine Flower, Lensbaby Plastic Optic, Bishop CA, Pentax K01, Macro, Macro Photography, 1:1 Photography, Closeup Photography, Infrared Photography, IR, Infrared, Fine Art Photography

I always preferred shooting black and white film before I moved to digital, I even usually prefer seeing other art formats in B&W. I didn’t even make the jump to digital until around 2007/08 because of the desire to continue working with b&w film and prints in the darkroom. The primary reasons for the switch were the hassle of disposing of chemicals in a rural environment and the Polaroid effect of seeing instant results.

Plant Photography, Grass Seed, Lensbaby Plastic Optic, Bishop CA, Pentax K01, Macro, Macro Photography, 1:1 Photography, Closeup Photography, Infrared Photography, IR, Infrared, Fine Art Photography

I loved the manipulation process in the darkroom to create the image I liked, I can’t say I really enjoy doing the same on a computer.

Plant Photography, Vine Leaf, Lensbaby Plastic Optic, Bishop CA, Pentax K01, Macro, Macro Photography, 1:1 Photography, Closeup Photography, Infrared Photography, IR, Infrared, Fine Art Photography

Over these digital years I have attended some fantastic workshops on how to process digital black and white, much the same as one would create a b&w image from a color negative. One of he best was at Shooting the West with Mark Citret, learning how to adjust curves, contrast and hue/saturation to try and achieve detail in each zone of grey from white to black.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, monochrome, monochrome photography, Pentax K-01, Tiffen #87 Filter, Silos, Owens River CA, Owens Valley CA, Bishop CA

Still often I would find myself shooting in color. If the zones of grey were off a bit or the detail wasn’t fine enough in a particular zone, color would often mask what my mind’s eye thought should be there.

This last year I decided to try infrared photography again and had a Pentax K-01 converted to full spectrum using r72 and #87 filters on the lens.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, monochrome, monochrome photography, Pentax K-01, Tiffen #87 Filter, Cow, Round Valley CA, Owens Valley CA, Bishop CA

What a joy! To work in almost pure black and white again has been extremely satisfying.

I’ve realized that even though my eyes do see color, (I can distinguish red from blue and yellow or green, etc.,) they are always bland.

In my mind’s eye I see in light or lack of, resulting in shape, form and texture.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, monochrome, monochrome photography, Pentax K-01, Tiffen #87 Filter, Mt. Tom, Round Valley CA, Owens Valley CA, Bishop CA

Now the challenge will be going back to color:)

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, monochrome, monochrome photography, Pentax K-01, Tiffen #87 Filter, Ranch House, Round Valley CA, Owens Valley CA, Bishop CA

Lensbaby Plastic Optic Revisited

Very busy this month but I was able to revisit the Lensbaby Plastic Optic and play with a bit of Macro Photography in the yard.

Plant Photography, Iris, Lensbaby Plastic Optic, Bishop CA, Pentax K1, Macro, Macro Photography, 1:2 Photography, Closeup Photography, Flower Photography, Fine Art Photography

These were taken using a de-glassed Takumar-A TC for an extension tube, approximately 27mm in length, giving around 1:2 magnification.

Plant Photography, Iris, Lensbaby Plastic Optic, Bishop CA, Pentax K1, Macro, Macro Photography, 1:2 Photography, Closeup Photography, Flower Photography, Fine Art Photography

Very pleased with he results and really like the soft focus effect the lensbaby plastic optic offers.

And a few with IR:

Lensbaby Plastic Optic

Recently picked up the Lensbaby Plastic Optic.

I arrived at Lensbaby to late to buy the original optics as a kit and started with the Sweet35.

Selective Focus Photography, Plastic Optic, LensBaby, Exa Camera, Pentax K-01, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA
Lensbaby Plastic Optic @f8

Though the Lensbaby system isn’t for everyday shooting, I really enjoy the special effects they create.
Think I own all of the original optics now plus the Sweet35 & Edge80.

Selective Focus Photography, Plastic Optic, LensBaby, Exa Camera, Pentax K-01, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA
Lensbaby Plastic Optic @ f4

Of all of the first generation plug ins, I think the Zoneplate and the Plastic are my two favorites. Really enjoy the vintage Holga or Dinah look this optic creates.

Selective Focus Photography, Plastic Optic, LensBaby, Exa Camera, Pentax K-01, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA
Lensbaby Plastic Optic @ f2.8

And a few from the filed

Lensbaby + Pentax K-1

Playing with the Lensbaby on the Pentax K-1.

Been busy with work and dealing with the cold weather so haven’t been able to do much in photography this month.

I did get enough time to take the older Lensbaby optics out and play with them a bit on the Pentax k-1.

Very different using the double glass and single glass instead of the newer Edge or Sweet models but found them very enjoyable to work with. Fun to have to think about the aperture one wants first and then install the disk as opposed to setting the aperture in the lens.

I did get lucky one day and had an Egret land in the artisian well I was working around using the double glass.

Egret with double glass

Selective Focus Photography, Double Glass Optic, LensBaby, Bird Photography, Egret, Wildlife Photography, Pentax K-1, Bishop CA

Winter tree with single glass

Selective Focus Photography, Single Glass Optic, LensBaby, Monochrome Photography, Monochrome, Pentax K-1, Bishop CA

Winter pasture with single glass

Selective Focus Photography, Single Glass Optic, LensBaby, Monochrome Photography, Monochrome, Pentax K-1, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

Pentax A50 f2.8 macro & K-1

Recently pulled out the old Pentax A50 f2.8 macro for a few shots of autumn leaves in the back yard.

This lens performs wonderfully on the new Pentax K-1. Though not a “true macro” with a reproduction of 1:2, I find the scale adequate and the IQ superb; plus it is such a joy to use.

I can see why vintage Pentax glass was noted for it’s quality, the colors are brilliant and the IQ is sharp for the area of focus. Bokeh is pleasantly pleasing also. This doesn’t seem to change on the new digital sensors either.

In fact, I find their performance is equal to or better than the newer digitally enhanced lenses.

 

What’s the fuss about lens quality reviews

(Recently submitted post to PentaxForums.)

I find it curious how we photographers fret so much over lens quality reviews or lens superiority AND I do understand the difference between precision engineered glass and a soda bottle.

It’s easy to blur/fade an image made from a lens transmitting great IQ but impossible to add detail from an optic that never saw it in the first place.

I was using PF long before I became a member (I know, my bad) because of the wonderful amount of knowledge shared here by fellow Pentaxians. The lens database is incredible, especially the coverage of vintage and third party lenses.

My ex girlfriend shoots Canon and doing a fair amount of research there, it seems nearly impossible to find any reviews on anything other than the “latest & greatest” (and never so much information in one place.) I sense PF members seem more concerned with sharing creative process than promoting Market Hype.

I curb myself as much as possible from LBA but do like to keep informed on lens performance (vintage and modern), especially the diversified hands on experience I find here. Reading a recent post on Lenses and the K-1, I was very pleased with a response by Noel Porter. “One of the key things with any lens is understanding it’s characteristics and using it’s strengths or avoiding it’s weak areas (soft corners wide open etc).” (Read more at: http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/190-pentax-k-1/329374-my-k-1-wasted-my-legacy-glass.html#ixzz4JuFQw1zm)

I’ve always viewed lenses as paint brushes. An artist may use two different brushes of the same size or shape to achieve different desired effects.

My main workhorse lens is a Sigma 24-60/2.8, it provides consistently good IQ. It will never provide the color and smoothness of my M50/1.7, the sharpness of my A50/2.8 macro or dirty/gritty film feel of my Vivitar 35/2.8. The Sigma 70-200/2.8 DG OS USM is in no way superior to my old F300/4.5 for IQ, but is the “go-to” lens during low light, nighttime sports events (and yet it never finds itself in the vest pocket like the tak-f 70-200 on a day hike.) They each are what they are.

Still, one of my favorite techniques is – NO LENS PHOTOGRAPHY (IQ be damned) – images below.

Zone Plate on K3

Black Locust Blooms, backyard photography, garden photography, plant photography, fine art, zone plate

http://www.instructables.com/id/PHOTOGRAPHY%3A-Creating-Perfect-Pinholes-and-Zonepla/

http://www.whizkidtech.redprince.net/zoneplate/

Writing with light – The brush doesn’t make the painting, the painting dictates the brush.

I’m consistently impressed while reading an inquiry here on the forums, how often a responding member will ask for more information on someones shooting style, subject matter, etc. before giving a recommendation. Sometimes it’s the newest technology when appropriate but often members encourage us to explore the strong characteristics of what we might already have or can easily obtain.

I look forward to reading more “fretting” over lenses, you folks make it an enjoyable treat and me happy to be a member of PF.

Another Zone Plate

Laws - California - locomotive - slim princess - railroads - museums - zone plate - black&white - monochrome - Bishop

Not much to write about this month, Just enjoying the Pentax K-1

Spending time this month reading about lenses and the Pentax K-1.

I find Pentax Forums a very nice resource for all sorts of material, lenses, cameras, flash, techniques – and not necessarily related to solely Pentax.
Easy to research articles and always someone willing to give a helpful reply.
Shots taken this month with the Pentax K-1 and various lenses or optics.

Death Valley by Zone Plates

Last month I was fortunate enough to get out of the snow and head to Death Valley for a well enjoyed photography trip.

For the past couple of years I have really been enjoying working with zone plates and decided to try my luck in the desert landscape.
Zone plates are very similar to pinhole photography in there is no lens and the resulting photo is from light diffraction rather than refraction through a glass element.
Zone plates however use a pattern of opaque and solid concentric circles resulting in a softer (less sharp) image caused by a larger amount of undiffracted light to reach the image plane. They are often reduced in contrast and produce a distinct glow or halo in the highlights.
California - Death Valley - National Parks - Panamint - historic locations - valley - zone plate photography Continue reading

Using ND Filters for Strobes and Speedlights

ND Filters, often used to slow exposure times can also achieve great effects with flash.

Being a loyal Pentaxian, one of the biggest limitations to my setup is the flash sync speed of 1/180.
I often wonder where Pentax came up with this exposure and why they hadn’t developed a higher sync speed of 200 or 250 like many of their competitors.
Then I remember my film days and cameras that only had a sync of 125 and realize that even a shutter of 800 is slow compared to the speed of flash.

Flash or strobe work is really the balance of two exposures simultaneously.
Background or intent – exposed with ambient light, controlled by shutter, ISO and aperture plus Subject – exposed by flash, controlled by ISO and aperture.
Shutter speeds don’t really come into play during the flash part of the exposure, as most flash units fire much faster than the top sync speeds in cameras today.

Often, I find the strength of my studio strobes and non-ttl speedlights powerful enough on their lowest settings, that even with a low ISO 100 and the fastest sync speed of 180
I must still use an aperture of f11 or f16 to keep the highlights from blowing out beyond recovery.
When I have my ideal exposure setting for the flash, these small lens openings often cause an undesired effect,
they create a greater depth of field, taking focus away from the subject. Continue reading

How the Digital Age destroyed Photographic Creativity

Don’t get me wrong, I love working is PS and have been enjoying learning new tricks in LR.
Also, it’s been over three years since I’ve even picked up any of my trusted film cameras.

Ghosttown - California - Eastern Sierra - museums - seiler house - lace curtains - lensbaby - sweet35 - selective focus - monochrome - Bodie - Bodie State Park
Selective & soft focus through the lens.

My passion for photography actually started in the darkroom and not behind the lens, so I’ve always been enamored by the tricks and techniques for post production.
The ease and speed of being able to burn/dodge, fine tune, stack, create multiple exposures or mask for precise detailed exposure; almost every software now provides these tools for the photographic enthusiast.
When I first started with a digital camera I thought instant preview (so long polaroid backs) and eliminating developing chemicals was the only real advantage over film.
Now so much more data is recorded at the same time & in the same place, it’s incredible. Shutter & f-stop, exposure, copyright info, location, even star tracking.
No more pocket notebook and tear sheets that I would misplace and desperately look for a month later.
The digital age has brought more of photography to the masses than anything since Kodak’s “a camera for every household.” Continue reading