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The thing I get asked about most when out on a photowalk (apart from the bemused ‘what is going on’ questions from the public prompted by the hoards attending the +Trey Ratcliff walk) are when I am using the Lensbaby composer on my camera. These questions have come both from members of the walk and passers by.

The Lensbaby composer system is easy to explain but difficult to understand, it is a low-tech lens with a sweet spot of focus in the center, the size of the spot varies depending on the aperture used, and the spot can be moved around the frame by tilting the lens which has a ball and socket design.

Aperture changes are made by removing a small magnetic disc and inserting another disc with a different sized hole. The actual aperture is not sent to the camera electronically, however metering in AV mode works just fine. Focus is manual using a ring, and getting this right takes some practice.

The core optics of the lens can be removed and replaced with a different one, so far I have the ‘plastic’, ‘single glass’, ‘double glass’, and ‘pinhole’. Others are available. Each optic gives a slightly different look

Lensbaby shots are typified by the sweet spot which falls off to a progressively more blurred outer section. This is great for directing attention to a particular element in the picture, and great for adding a sense of motion. The pinhole optic gives a very soft retro look.

So why bother? It’s something a little different, it’s something fun, and with practice you can get some fantastic images with one. They are available from most good camera stores, or online. Not everywhere stocks them, I do recall a fantastically bemused look by the assistant in Ted’s cameras upon being asked if they had Lensbaby, rather than try and convince him that they do exist, and are actually on their pro website, I decided to purchase elsewhere.

This post was originally published on blogger, and has been imported.