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.


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

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

Zone Plate Photography on US Route 6

One of the cool things about where I live is the distinction of the western terminus of Historic US Route 6.

The route starts in Provincetown MA and follows a cross country track to become the second longest highway in the United States.
Originally the western terminus was in Long Beach CA and in 1937 it was the longest highway in America with a total of 3652 miles.

California - ranch - tatum ranch - barn - horse - monochrome - historic highways - us route 6 - zone plate photography- Bishop 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

Black & White for Digital Cameras at “Shooting the West”

At Shooting the West

I was fortunate enough to attend “Shooting the West Photography Symposium” again this year and take a workshop offered by Mark Citret on creating B&W utilizing Lightroom for global adjustments and then PS for individual or spot work.
In the past I usually thought about my subject in greyscale and then shot as I imagined the final to be in my mind. I would post process in greyscale, then burn or dodge in layers/curves to bring the grey tones into the zones I desired. Finally, I would import into LR for final adjustments of blacks, whites, shadows/highlights and for any toning or sharpening I wished to add.

Mark’s technique is exactly the opposite and one I find to be interesting (as well as useful) evolving from many of the simple practices we used with film. Continue reading

Back to the Basics 2 – zone plate photography

I’ve really been enjoying working with the zone plate photography and the fresnel effect it gives

There is something challenging about not being able to picture the image through a viewfinder and trying to imagine how the final will emerge. Continue reading

Back to the Basics – Pinhole & Zone Plate Photography

Pinhole & Zone Plate Photography. Back to the Basics – No Lens, No Meter, No Viewfinder

A couple of weekends ago I was fortunate enough to partake in a day trip down Titus Canyon in Death Valley. A colleague was wanting to work on some landscapes for the upcoming “Shooting the West” photo symposium and as I had always wanted to see this canyon and the en-lying ghost town of Leadfield, off we went.
Also around this time I had been studying the effects of pinhole photography. For the price of a lens cap I was able to pick up a pinhole/zoneplate optic for my Lensbaby to give it a try. I hadn’t really done any pinhole since college and never tried anything like zone plate photography, so was curious to see the effects and try the skills myself.
The pinhole is around an f177, so there is not enough light passing through to frame anything in the viewfinder and of course no in camera metering. While the zone plate is an f19 because of the concentric circles, the same applies. Continue reading