Lensbaby Photography

Sunrise over Manhattan. Lensbaby Photography by Alina Oswald.

Lensbaby Photography

I first heard about a special lens called “Lensbaby” quite a few years ago, while at B&H, my favorite photo store. As part of the Infinity Photographic Society, I was working on a Lensbaby photography project. We were to walk the streets of Manhattan and photograph various subjects using a Lensbaby lens. I ended up getting myself a Lensbaby Composer, which now is pretty old, but it still does the job. As part of the project, I got to walk around Times Square and photograph billboards, buildings, street scenes, and many other subjects.

That’s how I photographed the Albert Einstein billboard in Times Square. I’ve always been fascinated by his Theory of Relativity and, many, many…many years ago I actually could write down the system of equations describing it. (not bragging, just saying)

Relative: Albert Einstein billboard in Times Square. Lensbaby Photography by Alina Oswald.
Lensbaby safari in Times Square, part of B&H photography project, April 2009

What is a Lensbaby?

A Lensbaby is a small lens designed by Oregon photographer Craig Strong and launched in 2004 at WPPI. The original Lensbaby was a…hose, pretty much–one end of the hose would connect to the camera body, and on the other end the photographer would attach different aperture rings. By using the fingers to bend the hose, the photographer would achieve a special effect–a sweet spot of sharper focus surrounded by directional blur.

Newer Lensbaby models, such as the Lensbaby Composer, made it much easier to create that effect, without having to run out of fingers and hands to use to hold the camera and the lens.

The aperture rings come in different sizes and also shapes, if you decide to buy the creative aperture rings–that is, cut in the shape of a heart or a star. You can also cut your own shape, and create your unique designs.

There are also Lensbaby adapters–for macro and telephoto Lensbaby lenses. They make things quite…interesting.

Many people, some photographers, tease me about my Lensbaby. But I like this lens because it is fun and pretty easy to use, once you figure it out. It also it’s small in size–fits in my pocket, it’s light, and allows me to get creative. I can use the heart-shaped aperture ring for shooting something for Valentine’s Day or engagement photography sessions. I can also use the star-shaped aperture ring for more abstract projects. And also, I use different size regular (round) aperture rings, depending on the amount of light I want to use to photograph other subjects and stories.

Here are a few examples of images shot using a Lensbaby Composer.

Water droplets sprayed around a fountain, in front of a bed of tulips, like in the images posted below.

Water droplets and tulips in NYC. Lensbaby Photography by Alina Oswald.
Water droplets. Lensbaby Photography by Alina Oswald.

Sepia Bouquet or Just4u
Sepia Tulips. Lensbaby Photo by Alina Oswald.

Tulips marking the corners of the streets in Lower Manhattan. This Lensbaby sepia tulip ended up part of a photography show, The Birds and the Bees, at LITM (Love Is The Message) in Jersey City, years ago.

Then, I got to photograph one of my favorite angels, my Angel in Central Park–that is, the Bethesda Angel statue in Central Park. For the Bethesda Angel, I used the star-shaped aperture ring.

Angel in Central Park
Angel in Central Park: an image of the Bethesda Angel in Central Park.

I also experimented with photographing “lava trees” (but I call this “lava creature”) using my Lensbaby.

For another project about the end of the world, I decided to photograph colliding planets, using a Lensbaby. Here’s the final image:

Intersecting Planets
Planet Collide. Photo by Alina Oswald.

I used the heart-shaped aperture ring for my Lensbaby rendering of the 9/11 Tribute Lights.

9/11 Tribute Lights. Lensbaby Photography by Alina Oswald.
9/11 Tribute Lights. Lensbaby Photography by Alina Oswald.

One winter morning, I waited patiently for the sun to rise over Manhattan. Here’s my Lensbaby NYC sunrise image:


And then, my vampire composite image, “Biting the Apple”

A bite of the apple
Vampire teeth about to bite the Big Apple. Lensbaby photography composite for Vampires in NY art show at Casa Colombo, Jersey City, NJ (2014).

So, one can get really creative while using a Lensbaby. It doesn’t take long to figure out how to achieve the sweet spot and the desired amount of blur. It’s definitely fun to use, especially experimenting with different aperture rings and shapes.

As always, thanks for stopping by!

Alina Oswald

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