Friday, March 29, 2019

More Fun With LensBaby Sol

It has been fun playing some more with the new LensBaby Sol 45. It is virtually weightless, so when shooting with it, your camera feels very light in your hands.

Generally I leave the sharp sweet spot in the center, but you can also move it around to place the sharpest area of your image higher, lower, left or right.

This image of orchids in a botanical gardens is sharp in the center of the main bloom, and the focus falls off beautifully toward the edges. The look of softness with the LensBaby is different from typical shallow depth of field. Because of the lens design, the sharp area is relatively small, so even portions of the image on the same plane of focus as the main focus point begin to soften and reduce sharpness.

I used the Gradient Filter in Lightroom to darken the corners so that more attention is focused on the main central bloom. I also boosted the saturation slightly to enhance the lavender color.

This LensBaby is great fun, and can stimulate creativity. I have enjoyed using it with a variety of subjects. It is so easy to use, and easy to get used to. It is also relatively inexpensive and is available at a great discounted price for my clients at this link to Hunt's Photo and Video 

1/125 sec. at f/3.5, ISO 100. LensBaby Sol 45 f/3.5 lens on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You can't use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have."  --Maya Angelou

Sunday, March 24, 2019

First Look - LensBaby SOL 45

I was happy to have the opportunity to test the new LensBaby Sol 45 lens. It (plus the similar Sol 22 for mirrorless bodies) is the newest model in the LensBaby lineup. I had seen some images that a friend made with the Sol 22 and was very impressed, so I wanted to check out the Sol 45 (on my DSLR) for myself. I brought it along on my recent Florida travels, and had an opportunity to put it through it paces.

Because it is simpler to use than other LensBaby options, and is priced lower, I did not have high expectations. Boy was I wrong. I was very pleasantly surprised to see how wonderful a lens it is.

Like other LensBaby options, it has a sharp area (that you can move around as you wish), and softens all the other areas outside of the sharp "sweet spot." That provides an artistic look that I really like.

The three examples above show you how well it works with a variety of subjects. Initially I thought it would be best for flowers, but in using it I found it was great with other subjects as well.

The top image was shot at the entrance to Flagler College in St. Augustine, FL. It did a super job of rendering the central architectural details razor sharp. In fact the sharpness of this lens is much better than I expected, which made me very happy. There was no mushiness or loss of detail in the sharp sweet spot.

The middle image was shot of an iris planted along a public walkway. The light background is the sidewalk, and I love the way the lens retained the beauty of the flower, while allowing everything around it to be rendered progressively softer.

The bottom image was of a mock-up of a 17th century rifle, and once again the sharp sweet shot is beautifully clear while the surrounding areas are much softer, giving an old world feel.

So three very different subjects, all portrayed beautifully with a bit of an artistic flair by the LensBaby Sol 45.

As I mentioned, the Sol 45 is for DSLR bodies, and the Sol 22 is for mirrorless bodies. Each has a fixed aperture of f/3.5, and the lens must be focused manually, but focus is quick and easy.

Gary Farber, at Hunt's Photo and Video is running a special discount on both the Sol 45 and the Sol 22 for my clients. If this type of lens appeals to you, click on this link for special pricing

As always, Hunt's offers Free Shipping and an easy-going staff of helpful people.

Building - 1/1250 sec. at f/3.5, ISO 400 on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.
Flower - 1/2000 sec. at f/3.5, ISO 200 on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.
Rifle - 1/1600 sec. at f/3.5, ISO 200 on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Life inevitably throws us curve balls that remind us to expect the unexpected."  --Carre Otis

Wednesday, March 20, 2019


The St. Augustine, Florida birds workshop has just ended, and what a trip! The variety of shooting options was huge, given the relatively small area that the rookery occupies. Birds certainly maximize their use of space.

By special arrangement, photographers are able to enter the area an hour before the place opens to the public, and can stay after it closes until sunset. That provides greater opportunities for shooting and more freedom of movement with no crowds to deal with.

This Great Egret was sporting its bright green mating eye-patch and was showing off its huge wings. These are beautiful birds who strike lovely poses as they fly or land gently in the trees. I happened to catch this view of a forward wing sweep, which covered a portion of the eye and created a feeling of shyness.

This image is cropped from the original since I wanted all attention to be on the wings and the eye. When photographing birds, you need a quick response time to capture movement since things change radically from one moment to the next. Rapid Burst mode on the shutter, and Continuous Focus (also called AI Servo) for autofocus helps to capture unique moments.

Using the Highlights slider in Lightroom, my favorite software for refining images, helped to bring out the detail in the bright whites of the wings.

1/1250 sec. at f/5, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 227mm on Canon 7D Mark II body. Handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Birds are a miracle because they prove to us there is a finer, simpler state of being which we may strive to attain."  -- Douglas Coupland

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Aerial Ballet

The Florida Birds workshop in St. Augustine is well underway, and has been going wonderfully well. A great group of highly motivated and excellent photographers is here with me, and we have been having a blast. The bird activity has been beyond spectacular, with breeding pairs of Roseate Spoonbills, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, and Wood Storks all around us. The action has been fast and furious, and everyone has come away with superb images.

Today's featured image is a roseate spoonbill in flight. They are not the most beautiful birds when stationary, but when flying, their wings create some lovely ballet-like moves.

When shooting birds in flight, it is important to do four things:
- set your camera to Shutter Priority,
- use a shutter speed of no slower than 1/1250 sec.
- use Continuous Focus (also called AI Servo on some cameras),
- and set your shutter to Rapid Burst.

Mastering those things will quickly move your bird photography to a much higher level.

1/1250 sec at f/5, ISO 1600. Canon 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II lens set at 200mm on Canon 7D Mark II body, handheld.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched - they must be felt with the heart." --Helen Keller