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!

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!

Thursday, February 4, 2016

See In a New Way

We are experiencing a very warm Winter here in Maine, so my usual favorite Winter subjects like frost and ice and snowy landscapes have only appeared sporadically. I've done a little flower photography inside, but really haven't been shooting much and have been feeling less than inspired. When that happens, I try to see in a new way, and the easiest way to do that is to put a Lensbaby on my camera. This morning it was 50 degrees outside, with light fog, and I love shooting with that sort of light, so I grabbed my new Lensbaby Composer Pro ll and Edge 50 optic for the first time and headed out.

For those of you unfamiliar with the Edge 50, it is a selective focus optic, but instead of the typical Lensbaby sweet spot of focus, this optic, like the Edge 80, provides a slice of focus through the image.  The aperture range is f/3.2 to f/22, and it can focus as close as 8 inches away from your subject.

I kept the aperture at f/3.2 for max blur, I really wanted to be able to simplify my backgrounds while walking around the yard, seeing what I could find to shoot. Here are a few samples:

It was a good morning, I am feeling more inspired and so happy to be outside shooting!

Happy shooting,

Friday, December 11, 2015

My Texture Collections

I love adding texture backgrounds to many of my images, and have been collecting textures for years.  You can find textures everywhere, my collection includes images of frost, rust, paint, water, wheat, plants and more and also painterly images I create from scratch. I love adding them to images that just need a little something more in the background.

This morning I finally made my textures available for purchase on my site and I am excited to share them. I have more collections coming, but the first 3 are now available for $9.99 each:

Though these textures are black and white (color collections coming soon!), I use them on both color and black and white photos:

You can find my Texture Collections on my website here. I am also working on some tutorials for working with Textures, watch for those after the Holidays.

Happy Shooting!