Tuesday, September 19, 2017

New Lensbaby Sweet 80!

I am so excited to share the announcement of a new Lensbaby, the Composer Pro II with Sweet 80 Optic is available for pre-order today! This new 80mm optic is the third in the Sweet series of tilting selective focus optics, joining the Sweet 35 and Sweet 50 optics with a sweet spot of sharp focus surrounded by beautiful blur. With apertures from f/2.8-16 and a minimum focus distance of 22 inches, the Sweet 80 will be available either with the Composer Pro 2 or as an interchangeable optic for any of the previous optic swap system lenses.

Selective focus is my favorite way to make photos, I love to create a small area in focus and blur the rest of the image, drawing the viewer's attention to just one part of my subject. The first thing I noticed while shooting with this optic was the wonderful fall off to blur created by the compression of the longer focal length.  The blending of colors and shapes is beautiful! 

Here are some photos I made this weekend with the Sweet 80, the 80mm focal length of the optic is awesome!  The weather was very foggy in my area, with lovely diffused light. My son caught a blue lobster last week (one-in-two-million odds!), so I photographed that as well as flowers. I used f/4.

When you want to get closer with the Sweet 80,  you pull out the front of the Optic. This close-focus feature allows you to focus from 22" from the front of the lens to your subject.

Be sure to push that close focus element back in when you want to focus at a longer distance away. Here are some examples with and without using the closer focus feature, all at the minimum focus distance of the optic:

I also tried adding a +2 macro diopter to get even closer to my subjects:

And since I love to shoot wide open with my Lensbabies, I shot some at f/2.8 for max blur too!

This new optic definitely has a place in my camera bag, and I'll be reaching for it when I want more background compression than the other two Sweet optics can provide.  Being able to bring the background in closer will make this optic very useful for the way I like to shoot.

Thank you, Lensbaby, for continuing to produce new and innovative ways that allow me to show the world the way that I see it!

Happy Shooting!


Saturday, August 19, 2017

2018 Workshop Dates

Hi all,

I hope you have all been doing lots of shooting! Here in Maine, flower season is in full swing, and that makes me very happy! Here is my new favorite photo, shot with my Lensbaby Sweet 50 and macro diopters:

I have been getting lots of requests for my 2018 location workshop dates, and I am happy to announce them here.  The April Longwood Gardens workshop is already full, but we are keeping a waiting list:
Flower Dance Workshop with Donna Eaton, Charleston in Bloom, Charleston, SC March 19-22, $995.
Flower Dance Workshop with Donna Eaton, Springtime at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA April 16-19, $995 NOTE: Workshop is full, waiting list available, kathleenclemons@me.com
Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, Santa Fe, NM: Fine Art Flower Photography, May 21-24
Fine Art Flower Photography On Madeline Island, Madeline Island School of the Arts June 11-15, 2018
Flower Dance Workshop with Donna Eaton, September at Longwood Gardens, Kennett Square, PA September 4-7, $995.
Flower Dance Workshop with Donna Eaton, Early Autumn on the Coast of Maine, Harpswell, Maine, September 27-30, $995.
E-mail me if you are interested in reserving a space, kathleenclemons@me.com.

Also wanted to mention some new items I have been using.  When I am shooting and want to travel super light, I grab my Lens Flipper and can attach 2 lenses and leave my camera bag at home. It's light and secure and I don't have to worry about losing lens caps. My 10% discount at http://lensflipper.com is kclemons.

I am also enjoying using my custom flash drives from usbmemorydirect.com. I had a bunch printed with my logo, they work well and are large enough not to get lost easily, I definitely recommend them.

Happy Shooting!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Lensbaby Velvet 56 or 85?

                                        Choices, choices...

I've been getting lots of questions about the new Lensbaby Velvet 85, and many of them have to do with the difference between the Velvet 56 and the new model. Some people want to know which to choose, while others who already own the Velvet 56 want to know if there is enough of a difference to add the 85 to their lens collections.

Though you can get in close with both models, and that wonderful Velvet etherial look is produced with both lenses, the main difference I see in my work is to the backgrounds. The longer focal length of the Velvet 85 provides compression. That means it reduces the distance between subjects and backgrounds, pulling the background closer, at the same time providing more blur to it too.  I am really loving this effect when I include a background, and more and more I am reaching for the Velvet 85 when I used to use my 180mm lens.

Here are some sample images, same subject with both lenses:

                                                                    Velvet 56, f/4

                                                                    Velvet 85, f/4

                                                                   Velvet 56, f/4

                                                                    Velvet 85, f/4

As you can see, the Velvet 85 provides more background simplification and blur.  It was also nice not having to get in as close with that longer lens, the bees were loving these Poppies! That extra space also comes in handy when I want more space to use a diffuser or reflector.

                                                                      Velvet 56, f/4

                                                                      Velvet 85, f/4

I tried some indoor shots as well, using a huge Dahlia from my garden and a printed background texture.  I could not capture the whole flower with the Velvet 56 without also including the edges of my 11" x 17" background. The compression provided by the Velvet 85 helped to bring that background forward and I was easily able to fill the frame without issue.

                                                                       Velvet 56, f/5.6

                                                                    Velvet 85, f/5.6

So, which do I recommend?  I see the choice in a similar way to choosing the Lensbaby Sweet 35 or Sweet 50. Lens choice will depend on your subject, what you want to include in the frame, how close you can get to that subject and what you have to work with in the background. As with the Sweet 35 and 50, both the Velvet 56 and 85 have a place in my camera bag.

Happy Shooting!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Lensbaby Velvet 85

                                                         Lensbaby Velvet 85 @ f/11

Today Lensbaby lenses unveiled their latest gem, the Velvet 85 f/1.8 lens. I was lucky enough to test the lens over the last few months, and I fell in love with it.  Though the focal length is wonderful for portraits, this lens is also excellent for macro work, with a minimum focus distance of  9.5 inches.  This lens takes the magic provided by the Velvet 56 to another level. The longer focal length provides compression and the resulting background bokeh is just gorgeous, more blur to love! The lens is available for pre-order and will start shipping early next month.

I made a video with my test images, you can view it here:  Lensbaby Velvet 85 video

Happy Shooting!

Monday, November 21, 2016

11 Years of Lensbaby Magic!

11 years ago today, I opened the box of my new Lensbaby 2.0, and started to see the world in a new way. Though my first images were far from perfect, there was something about the effect that I fell instantly in love with. Here is a shot from my first walk around the neighborhood with my new Lensbaby:

The more I used that little lens, the more I understood what I could do with it, how I could draw attention to just one area of the frame, and how beautiful and fascinating blur could be.  Even when I missed the focus, there was still something I loved about these photos, straight out of my camera.

Can a lens change your life? Can it show the world the way in which you see it? Can it allow you to capture bits and pieces of things that the rest of the world walks right by? Can it allow you to grow as a photographer in ways you never thought possible and bring you immense joy? For me, the answer to those questions is yes, all because of Lensbaby. When I discovered Lensbaby lenses I was just starting out as a photographer, eager to learn as much as I could. The first time I saw a photo created with one of their lenses, I knew I had to have one, but I had no idea how that decision would change both my life and my photography. Through my use of Lensbabies, I have captured amazing beauty, simplified complicated subjects, embraced challenges, encouraged others to look beyond the obvious and to see in a new way. I have been able to share my view, my voice and my creative vision. I am so grateful for what these lenses have brought to my life and for the growth they continue to ignite in me both personally and professionally. Thank you, Lensbaby!

Here is a link to a video showcasing my recent Dahlia photos, all taken this year with my Lensbaby Sweet 50 or Velvet 56. I do love my Lensbabies! Oh- and if you are thinking about purchasing the Velvet 56, it's $70 off right now at lensbaby.com!

Happy shooting!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

The Twisted Collection

I am happy to announce my second collection of color textures! My Garden Collection has been a big hit, and I have been working on several new collections and have finally narrowed the selections down to these nine. I've been testing them and having lots of fun with them, here are some samples:

To celebrate the new collection, I am offering a 10% discount on everything in my Texture Store with the code: twisted.

Happy Shooting!

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Lensbaby's New Twist 60

It's time to Twist!

On Monday, Lensbaby announced a new lens and optic, the Twist 60! The lens is a 60mm f/2.5 model for full frame SLR and Mirrorless cameras, and there is also an optic version that works with the Lensbaby interchangeable Optic Swap™ System. The Twist 60 produces a large sweet spot of focus, with swirly blur and a slight vignette around the edges of the frame to isolate a subject from the background.

It's been raining since my Twist 60 arrived, but this morning was clear and sunny, I couldn't wait to try out the optic. Because this optic works best kept straight ahead, no bending, I put it in an old Lensbaby Scout lens which doesn't bend, and headed out early this morning to see what I could find to shoot. (You could use the Composer/Composer Pro and just lock the lens in a centered position.)  Spring is taking it's time coming to Maine, so I tucked a  "stunt feather" in my pocket to play with just in case I couldn't find much to shoot, as well as a macro diopter so that I could try shooting closer too. I put the optic on f/2.5 for all shots for max blur.

Here are the first images I made:

Right away I could see the wonderful swirly blur and slight vignette around the edges, and how it made my subjects pop right off the background. I also found that my most successful shots were those that included plenty of well lit background area that was a good distance away from my subject, that separation was key.

I also wanted to see what would happen when a subject was pretty much all on the same focal plane, and was happy that the swirly blur was still visible with these frosted leaves:

I found a lone Bamboo leaf that had survived the winter intact:

I also made some photos with my stunt feather:

I tried my macro diopter too, but mostly I found I preferred the images that included more background to really see all that delicious swirly blur:

I came back in the house and sent a note to my friends at Lensbaby telling them I'd fallen in love again. I can't wait to try the Twist 60 when my flowers start blooming. I highly recommend this new optic and lens!

Happy Shooting!