Playing with a Lensbaby Composer

Winchester Highstreet A little over a year ago I got a Lensbaby Composer (on Amazon). For Christmas this year, I was given the Creative Aperture Kit 2 (On Amazon). Given the inactivity on this website I figured I should give a run through of the sorts of images this Lensbaby could produce and a few samples of how the creative apertures can help enhance them.

When I first got the lens I experimented a little indoors and outdoors. One of the first things you’ll notice about the photos is that not everything is in focus. The focal plane (ie the bit that’s in focus) is curved due to the type of lens. So if everything is set up straight, the middle of the photo will be in focus and as you get towards the edges it’ll become more out-of-focus. This can obviously be manipulated by tilting the lens in a particular direction in order to move the in-focus area around the photo.

This can allow your attention to be directed easily to a particular part of the photo.


Some other samples

CupcakesMini (2004 model)Winchester Highstreet


Using the Creative Apertures

RC Car with Christmas tree backgroundThe way you change the aperture with this Lensbaby is with a small supplied magnetic arm (ie manually). This also allows different shapes to be added which will change the way your image looks in an out-of-focus areas. There is one kit that allows you to literally make you own shapes (On Amazon). The kit I have comes with 9 pre made shapes. Once dropped into the lens, the first thing you’ll want to do is take some out-of-focus photos of fairy lights! Thankfully at Christmas these are not usually far away. The photo on the left was one of the first few that I took showcasing the star aperture.

I’ve included a few more samples below showing the other shapes in use. I just wanted to explain the last one though. For this one I wanted to enhance the fairy lights in much the same way as an out-of-focus shot would have done, while still retaining the detail of an in focus one. I considered multiple exposures then ‘photoshoping’ then but, after some trial and error, managed to get it on a single exposure by adjusting the focus mid-shot. The result is weird and interesting… not unusual for any photo taken with a Lensbaby lens.

If you want a cheap lens for your regular photos this is not it, you cannot get ‘normal’ photos due to manual everything and the curved focal plane means you’re only going to get half a photo in focus at best. However if you want a (relatively) cheap lens that you can have some fun with, then this is for you. The photos have a distinctive arty look which after a little practice, can produce Instagram beating photos with full DSLR quality straight from the camera.


More creative aperture examples

Greetings card Presents around the treeFocus effect Christmas tree

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Playing with flash controls

Recently, I’ve been playing with 2nd shutter sync. This simply means the camera flashes at the end of an exposure instead of at the beginning. This lends itself perfectly for capturing motion on longer exposures then effectively freezing the subject at its last position.

A few weeks ago I entered an ICAEW student photo competition:

Contest Instructions
Unleash your creativity. Is accountancy just something you do for a job or does it mean more than that? What images, objects, places or people does accountancy evoke?

I decided to use this technique to make it look like I was writing quickly while working on a set of accounts. Unfortunately I didn’t win, I lost to a (admittedly well shot) picture of three meerkats titled Safety in Numbers. Regardless, I’m pleased with my entry:

While out of the country, relaxing in Spain, I continued my experimentation with 2nd shutter sync. This time instead of capturing the final position of a movement as above I tried something a little different…

Playing in Spain

I’ve seen loads of photos taken where people use a light and a long exposure to create patterns or words in the image. I’ve even done it myself:

Photo taken as part of the marketing for The Queen’s College (Oxford) Commemoration Ball 2010

Another marketing photo for Queens 2010, awarded “highly commended” at an OUPS Photo competition

The problem with these photos is you don’t see who is behind the pattern or the text. In Spain, I combined this interesting type of photo with the 2nd shutter sync to capture the people behind the photo, in the same exposure. Obviously this can be done with photoshop and I have compared the final result for the two methods below.


All of the following are single exposure images.

Due the limited creativity of those involved (myself included) there were no interesting pictures, only names and usernames to be seen, but at least everyone could introduce them in their own way! Apart from the Bez image (which has had the light colour altered) they have only had very basic adjustments made, such as brightness and colour balance etc


These look like they could have been made using composite imagery. As promised, I tried that too:

4 piece composite image

This is made up of 4 images. Due to the significantly shorter exposure times the body is more clearly visible in the four sections, “person”, “Jake”, “#” and “11”. While there are benefits to creating the image in this way (such as easy retakes of particular sections), the finished product feels less authentic.

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IR and Faux HDR Panorama

Another bank holiday, another excuse to break out the geeky camera equipment. This time it’s the panoramic tripod head and the new IR filter.

Navigate the three panoramic images above using the highlighted hotspots. There is a faux colour IR shot of the garden, a night edit version of the same photo and a faux HDR (single raw image) of a kitchen.

Find the actual photos over at Flickr, here.

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Playing with IR photography

I recently bought an IR filter in order to experiment with IR photography. The Green.L 760nm IR filter from amazon marketplace. Today with the sun out, I decided to give it a go.

What makes IR photography different?

By blocking visible light with the lens filter, you allow the camera to pick up normally invisible Infra-red light. This ‘new’ light makes grass and leaves show up bright white explaining the snowy appearance of the photos. As a result of blocking all the blue, green and almost all of the red light, the photos are technically monochromatic (one hue). The images appear red and white directly from the camera.

With channel mixing you can swap the red and blue making the images look a little more natural. Alternatively you can go down the faux colour route, making up your own colours for everything!


I created some Adobe Lightroom presets for the two faux colour shots, Lightroom IR Presets.

Gallery also viewable on Flickr.

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