Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Renewing the Magic With the Sol 45

I have been testing something new from my friends at Lensbaby and am madly in love with this little lens! It's called the Sol 45 and it has renewed the magic that Lensbaby has always brought to my photographs. This is a lightweight sweet spot lens, 45mm, with a fixed f/3.5 aperture and a 14 inch minimum focus distance.  It's all metal and tilts within the rule of thirds and also locks into a center position. The magic comes with a secondary feature,  it has "bokeh blades", two little arms that sit out to the side of the lens that can be moved in front to get texture in your bokeh, or left to the side when you don't want to use them. You can also rotate them so the texture can go in any direction to match or contrast with the lines in your subject. So now I can add a texture to my background right in camera, how cool is that? It is also inexpensive at $199 and very simple to use.

Here is a shot of the inside of the lens with the blades together and also out of the way:

You can change the tilt of the blades easily:

I haven't taken this lens off my camera since it arrived. I have been feeling a shift in my work recently for more blur and limited depth of field, and the fixed f/3.5 aperture fits that beautifully. Shooting for selective focus makes you slow down, compose carefully, and think about what it is you want to highlight in your subject. Careful focus placement is also essential with this type of work. 

Here are some samples of what I have been shooting, straight out of the camera. I have used the Lensbaby Macro Lenses for some images, the +2 is just right for the Sol 45:

This lens is definitely not just for macro and not just for flowers, I had fun shooting many different subjects, even lobster traps!

There is also a version for Micro 4/3rds users, the Sol 22 has a minimum focus distance of 3.5 inches.

A few tips for using the Sol 45:

~A background with lots of lines will show more effect.
~You can push the blades out of the way if you don't want the effect for a particular subject.
~Remember the minimum focus distance, if you get closer than the Sol can focus you will get frustrated.
~ Try tilting, don't put all of your subjects in the center.
~Compose and focus carefully, use selective focus to draw your viewer's eye to what you found to be more interesting in the scene.

Happy shooting!

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

So Much News!

Hi there everyone!

There's so much going on in my Kathleeniverse right now! Here are a few things I need to tell you about.

1. Lensbaby and I have teamed up for a print giveaway, all you need to do is click here to enter! We will be giving away 3 of my favorite Lensbaby flower portraits:

The contest ends June 26, the three winners will be announced at the end of June.

2. AdoramaPix just announced their new Fine Art photo papers and I love them! The texture of these papers is just beautiful, and a wonderful match for the painterly look of so many of my photos. The paper is thick and sturdy, and AdoramaPix always matches my colors beautifully. I am in awe of the recent prints I had made using these papers.

Here are some close ups of that texture:

3. I did a podcast interview last week with Matt Payne of  F-Stop Collaborate and Listen, click the link to have a listen. We talked about my work, selective focus, textures, Lensbabies and even what is in my head when I take a photo. Lots of laughs and a fun interview, Matt is great,  definitely sign up for his mailing list for future interviews.

4. My broken ankle is slowly healing, thanks for all of the concern and healing wishes that were sent my way. Finished up two sold out Santa Fe Photographic Workshops last week and have scheduled two more for May 2019. This weekend I'm off to teach at the Madeline Island School of Art, looking forward to exploring the Island with my students!

Happy Shooting,

Friday, May 11, 2018

Bringing Back Joy

Many of you know that I broke my ankle a few weeks ago. Though I can get around with my cast, I can't really walk on uneven ground or get down on the ground to make photos. With Spring flowers popping up all over my yard, it's been difficult not to be able to do any shooting.

This morning I hobbled outside and cut a gorgeous Tulip I had been admiring from the window. I placed it in a small vase and set up a mini studio on a table in my living room. I used my Plamp attached to a tripod to hold a background in place, and the natural light from the large windows in the room worked beautifully. I also used a reflector to bounce some light under the flower as needed. I pulled a up chair and shot the Tulip with several different lenses and backgrounds, as well as my iPhone. I worked my subject with over 250 photos!

Here is a shot of my set up:

I shot with my Lensbaby Velvet 85, Composer Pro 2 and Sweet 80, 35 and 50 optics, experimenting with my compositions and backgrounds. Here are a few samples:

I also used my Lensbaby Mobile kit, shooting with both the LM-10 for max blur, and the LM-20 for more in focus:

Being able to make photos again brought me great joy, I'm so happy to have found a way to do it!

Happy Shooting,

Thursday, March 1, 2018

Join me on Madeline Island!

I am excited to be adding a new workshop venue this year, I'll be teaching Fine Art Flower Photography at the Madeline Island School of the Arts (MISA), June 11-15th. Imagine 5 days of flower photography heaven! 

About the school:

Madeline Island School of the Arts (MISA) is ranked among the top five art and craft schools in the country. The school is located in northern Wisconsin, on Madeline Island, the largest of the 22 Apostle Islands in Lake Superior. The Island is celebrated for its magnificent light and colors, creating an unparalleled setting for a week of creativity. Classes are held June through October in spacious studios, with superb on-site accommodations and a dedicated staff that will ensure an unforgettable experience.

About the MISA campus

The beautiful prairie meadow campus is located on the site of the historic Sandstrom Dairy Farm of Madeline Island.  All but one of the existing buildings are new and have been custom-designed to maximize the creative experience offered by the workshops. 

On-campus lodging is steps away from the studios and dining area, and is adjacent to the MISA apple orchard. Students can choose to stay in a shared room with bath en suite, a private room with shared bath en suite, or a private room with a private bath en suite.

A meal package is included with all on-campus lodging options, consisting of breakfast and lunch each day, and two on-campus dinners. Several restaurant options are available on Madeline Island and students are encouraged to explore the local offerings for dinners not provided on-campus. Unlimited healthy snacks and beverages are available at any time. Vegetarian and gluten free options are also available.

Spring flowers should be in abundance, we'll be shooting wild flowers as well as visiting a few local gardens. Each day includes a presentation, group critiques of student photos, and photographing flowers in Madeline Island gardens.The Lupine should be plentiful, one of my favorite Spring flowers to photograph! Join me!

Happy Shooting, 

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Lensbaby's Burnside 35!

Introducing the Lensbaby Burnside 35! Many of you know that I had an emotional reaction to my first Velvet 56 photos. I am happy to tell you that looking at this Burnside 35 photograph (see below) on the back of my camera caused a similar reaction. It literally took my breath away, I love this lens!

Let's get the technical stuff covered first. This lens is 35mm f/2.8, with a 6" minimum focusing distanceThough it's not a true macro lens,  the 1:2.25  magnification ratio did allow me to get in as close as I wanted.  What makes this lens extra special is a bronze slider on the side of the lens, sort of like an additional aperture adjustment, and it controls the in camera vignette and swirly blur. You can use it to adjust how soft or how detailed you want the swirly vignette blur to be. I think that's brilliant! Being able to control exactly how much blur, detail and darkening I want in my backgrounds allows me to create just the look I want.

Here is the same subject with different vignette settings, note the change in detail and darkening in the backgrounds:

You don't want to get in super close, because the twisty blur and vignette need some background to be most effective. I've been having a blast shooting with this new lens, and cannot wait for Spring to really see what it can do when I have more subject matter here in Maine. It's tough to find full backgrounds for twisty blur in snowy conditions! I am looking forward to photographing Spring flowers and making outdoor portraits.

You can see the Burnside 35 on Lensbaby's website here, as well as a video on the new features:


Lensbaby also created a page to show what the effects look like on full frame and crop sensor cameras, as well as a comparison with the Lensbaby Twist 60:


Happy shooting!

Monday, February 5, 2018

What If?

     I recently wrote an article for Landscape Photography Magazine entitled, "What If"? You can see the article here. It's really about being unafraid to try new things in your photography and to push yourself out of your comfort zone. Here is the text from the article, as well as more of the photos I shot for it.

Earlier this month I attended “Andrew Wyeth at 100”, a fabulous exhibit of his painting and drawings at the Farnsworth Museum. Wyeth’s work always inspires me, and this time was no exception. Many of the paintings were of winter scenes, Wyeth’s favorite season to capture. He said, “I prefer winter and fall, when you can feel the bone structure in the landscape.” I spent some time really looking at how he captured snow in the paintings. It wasn’t just empty areas of white, but an intricate part of the mood and story in the work.

I don’t make photographs as much in the winter as I do the other seasons here in Maine. I love to include natural backgrounds in my work, and a plain white snowy background just doesn’t usually interest me.  It doesn’t provide the blur and distortion that I love. But the more I thought about the exhibit paintings, the more I felt inspired to move beyond my preconceptions and see how I could make the photos I love to make under snowy conditions. I stated asking myself, “What if…?”  This is something that I always teach my students. I tell them to ask themselves, “What would happen if…” and then to go and try it. If there is a secret to the way I make photos, this is probably it. I am always willing to try new things, to be open to possibilities and to embrace the randomness they can provide.

I decided to keep my process simple, and headed out towards the beach with just one lens. I chose my Lensbaby Composer Pro 2 with the Sweet 50 optic, and the +4 macro diopter from the Lensbaby Macro Kit. This way I could shoot from up close to infinity.

Not having my usual subjects and backgrounds made me slow down and really look for things that interested me. I found trees with gorgeous bare branch lines, rose hips, dried blossoms, berries and leaves twisted with age. The leaves fascinated me, and I spend much of my time drawn to them. I paid particular attention to my backgrounds, and tried to include subject matter that I could blur and distort. I also tried to blur as much of my subjects as I could and still tell the story I wanted to tell, this is my favorite way to make photos.

 I also photographed some amazing leaves and dried flowers with just a plain snowy background. I have avoided this is the past, because a plain white background won’t show any detail or Lensbaby effect. But what I learned from this experiment is that if the subject itself has enough depth and interest, blur on just the edges of the subject can be enough, and the way that blur fades into the white background is quite beautiful.

While I was shooting, a phrase kept coming into my head, and that was “What remains”… That was really what I was shooting. I was focused on the things that remained during the winter, the plants, branches and leaves that had hung on through snow and ice storms. Despite their fragility, I saw strength. Putting that into words starting me thinking about a new series of photos along this theme. I plan to make photographs of what remains at each season, what stands the test of time and weather and still perseveres. 

Think about some of the preconceptions you have about your work. Whether it is subject, season or the type of photography you usually do, try something new to challenge yourself. Finding a theme can really energize your photography, and I am excited about the new ideas and directions I want to go with this. Had I not tried something out of my comfort zone, this new project would not be happening. 

Happy Shooting,