One way to
force encourage yourself to look at photography in a new and creative way is to use an unconventional lens or camera. Back in the long ago days of film, many people turned to the Holga toy camera. Plagued by vignetting, light leaks and a plastic lens, it still managed to produce some wonderfully artistic images.
I, for one, never saw the attraction of the Holga. I like my images sharp and crisp. Blur? Delete. Vignette? Delete.
But the time comes where you need to stretch yourself, to learn new techniques, to put yourself in unfamiliar and uncomfortable territory.
Enter the Lensbaby. The Lensbaby is a flexible, selectable focus lens that captures images with a "sweet spot" (an area of sharp focus), with the rest of the image surrounded by gradually increasing blur. Here are some examples:
Can you get this sort of effect in Photoshop? Sure. But where’s the fun in that?
We have two of these: the Lensbaby 2 and the Lensbaby 3G. The 3G is by far the better version, since it allows you to lock the lens at a particular angle and focus.
We bought the 3G at the PPA (Professional Photographers of America) Convention in San Antonio. This was the year of the Great Ice Storm, and all of us were trapped for an extra day in San Antonio. So, of course, there were hundreds of photographers all over the city, having fun and taking photos for themselves. We ended up at the Alamo with the entire Lensbaby sales team, and we had a great time.
If you ever use of these, though, be prepared for some strange looks.