Posted by: David Vernon | October 22, 2010

Project Double Take 20 – Lensbaby

Welcome to the 20th installment of Project Double Take. Fall is in the air and amazingly we only have five mini-projects left for the year. We are down to the nitty-gritty.

Chapter 20 was a bit of an oddball. An open assignment – it was more about the choice of tool then it was about what we pointed the camera at. For years now, the fine folks (I’m sure they’re fine) over at Lensbaby have been making an odd assortment of selective focus lenses to play with. A selective focus lens essentially is a lens that moves left or right – up or down – to move away from the true axis of the lens. When it does this – focus shifts selectively. Instead of two things that are parallel and equally distant from your sensor being in focus, we selectively move one of them out of focus by moving the lens. This renders parallel and nonsensical idea and strange things start to happen.

Years ago I purchased a Lensbaby (version 2 – now called “The Muse“) that let you render focus via a bellows-like contraption that makes up the bulk of the lens. Press the bellows to focus closer – pull the bellows to focus further away – and tilt the bellows in all directions to bend focus. And in the end I’ve decided that it can frankly be a pain in the rear end most of the time. I really struggle to get the focus exactly where I want it. There’s no locking mechanism of any kind so when you think you are in focus on a spot – you hope and you shoot it. Didn’t get it? Well – there’s no fine-adjustment to make – you’ve already let go and you are starting over every time.

Now let me just say that Lensbaby has come a far ways since my version. Everything they make now is clever and stays where you leave it and you can really work to a place where you hit homeruns in terms of focus all the time. My Lensbaby however just drives me crazy. Anyone want to buy it? Make me an offer!

For my image – I trekked down to Historic New Salem State Park just northwest of Springfield for the first time. Abe Lincoln spent some time here in the early 1830s as a shopkeeper and all-around town guy. They’ve got it mostly restored to where life was at the time and it makes for a nice walk around park. My image of flowers and a cabin/residence in the background typifies what you see down there – it’s a very nice place. There are numerous volunteers in the roles of townspeople working their trades as you walk around so you can see the blacksmith in action, for example, and learn a little bit more about what was going on – back in the day.

Stacy used the same version – the Muse – to craft her shot over in the lovely gardens at Illinois Central College’s campus in East Peoria. You should of course go visit her blog to read her story on our adventures in Lensbaby-land.

And we’re back next week with the results of Special Project #4 – Parks. See you then.

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