Two weekends ago, my friend Jeff Silverman and I took our Olympus OMD EM-5’s out for a photo shoot at Wilmott Creek Conservation area in Bowmanville. It was a clear day and an unusually warm May 5 weekend for Southern Ontario.
Why Wilmott Creek? First, it is relatively close to home and secondly, it is relatively unknown, so there are never any crowds. Furthermore, there are also some decent photos to be taken. Granted, rock, tree and lake pictures are a dime a dozen. In order to make the shots more interesting, we took some unusual lo-fi lenses out to the field. Jeff and I both took our $14 plastic Holga lenses and I took a Lensbaby Composer Pro.
The Holga is a marvel of simplicity, it has a fixed f8 aperture and a crude focusing mechanism which is best left at infinity. It inspires sheer spontaneity. The results from Holgas are predictably bad: harsh vignetting, low contrast, low resolution, chromatic aberration and flare. In short, it’s so bad it’s good.
On the other hand, the Lensbaby requires the patience of Job and lots of practice to master it. It is akin to shooting with a manual film camera using a view camera with tilt/shift capabilities. Unlike a regular lens, lensbaby optics do not have a flat field of focus, instead they have a focus “sweet spot” which can be moved around or re-sized according to aperture. Wider apertures have a small sweet spot and small apertures widen it. Distortions around the sweet spot are adjusted by the degree of lens tilt. Lensbabies are not easy to use, it requires one to really slow down and take lots of shots to master this creative optic. In the right hands, it can produce some amazing photos, but I’m still a rank amateur. One day I’ll get it right. For now I’m having tons of fun shooting both the Lensbaby and the Holga.
I also took shots with very sharp Olympus and Leica-Panasonic prime lenses. These primes capture images with surgical precision and razor sharpness. Oddly enough, I felt inclined to jazz up a few of those images in Adobe Lightroom to make them appear little less clinical.
Try to figure out which photos were taken with primes, the Lensbaby and the Holga.