Lensbaby section

Lensbaby Double Glass trees
Lensbaby Double Glass optic shooting trees and reflections

The Lensbaby is a system of optics that you can screw on to your DSLR camera body in the same way as you add or remove any lens. And that, more or less, is where the similarity ends! Stepping into the world of the Lensbaby is rather like stepping inside a kaleidoscope. The optics can create the most wonderful effects inside the camera. It is a whole new ‘take’ on what you see normally through your own eyes, and through the view-finder of your camera. Prepare to be enchanted.
The Lensbaby system has been around since 2004. To quote their own words: “In 2004, Lensbaby was born out of a photographer’s frustration with flat, sterile, digital images. Since then, we’ve been helping photographers gain creative control and inject emotion into their images.” Lensbaby.com
And that is indeed what I get from my Lensbaby optics, a way to transform ordinary shots into something special, something that I have created rather than just recorded, and sometimes I create something that takes me quite by surprise!

The pages that I’ve made here roughly follow my own journey into Lensbaby land, from my very first bundle in 2013 through to today.

Meet the Lensbaby
I start with a little about the ‘base unit’ called the Composer Pro, and how you drop in the ‘optics’

The Double Glass optic
Then I look at this first optic, and what I could do with it right from day 1.

The Sweet 50 optic
In 2015 I bought my next optic, the Sweet 50. This added a new range of effects, and a simpler focusing system.

The Edge 80
In 2017 I added a third optic to my range, this time with landscape especially in mind. This optic has range of subtle effects, and a sharpness of focus that is quite remarkable.

As I suggested, the results that you can get straight out of the camera can be truly artistic – and I like to think my Lensbabys are for ‘Art Photography’. I really love that I don’t have to manipulate imaged on my computer in Photoshop.

Lensbaby Art 1
Looks at how the Lensbaby can help to compose a shot.

Lensbaby Art 2
Some of the ways in which the Lensbaby can take me by surprise.

I seem to work in 2 year cycles, as in 2019 I have just added a Twist 60 to my Lensbaby range. I haven’t used it enough yet to add it to this section.
I’ve got more Lensbaby shots on Flickr. I’ve divided them into the 3 lenses I use
On Flickr you can find my Album of Sweet 50 photos
On Flickr you can find my Album of Double Glass photos
On Flickr you can find my Album of Edge 80 photos

Note: the range of camera bases that Lensbaby support, Taken from their website July 2019: “We make creative effects lenses, tools, and accessories that fit the following DSLR and mirrorless camera bodies: Canon EF, Nikon F, Sony E, Fuji X, Micro 4/3”.

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell

You’ve been framed!

At the optician
At the optician, with a Lensbaby Sweet 50

Spoilt for choice at the opticians recently, getting new specs. As usual I have a camera with me – not just the smartphone – but small enough to be reasonably inconspicuous! And they kindly allowed me to shoot the displays while I waited. The array of frames is quite dazzling, and I was indeed spoilt for choice. Should it be big, bright and bold? Or maybe rimless – how about Harry Potter completely round and owl-like? I caught my reflection here in the full length mirror, surrounded by just some of the choices.
Shot with the Lensbaby Sweet 50 optic, which gives an in-camera fly-away effect to the shot.
On Flickr you can find my Album of Sweet 50 photos
and more about the Lensbaby if you feel like exploring an interesting way of looking at photography.

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell

Let’s sit among the flowers….

Twist-60 Lensbaby at Fyvie Castle
First outing for the Lensbaby Twist 60, shooting the loch-side walk at Fyvie Castle

The kind of place you just want to sit and watch the world go by!
The rhododendrons are still blooming at Fyvie Castle. Too good to miss the chance to enjoy them! And a chance to try out my latest Lensbaby optic, the Twist 60.

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell

Such a simple pleasure!

A white rose with raindrops.
A white rose with raindrops. Shot with the Lensbaby Edge 80 optic on the Sony NEX-6

A simple single white rose, shot against a black velvet cloth. I used the Lensbaby Edge 80 optic, which means shooting in Manual Mode. This optic is a favourite of mine, as it can produce amazing clarity and detail. I’ve written more about it here
And ‘Flying Solo is all about using full Manual Mode on your camera.

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell


Sweet and pink!

Pink geranium flowers.
Pink geranium flowers. Sweet 50 with 16mm macro converter

Thinking of summer as the flowers start to bloom. A pink geranium that we grew in a pot, close to the porch so it could get the sun and be sheltered from the winds. It rewarded us with beautiful flowers.
Shot here with the Lensbaby, which is one of my favourite range of optics. The Sweet 50 optic gives a sharp focus point called the “sweet spot” and a gentle blur surrounding that spot.
There’s a whole series of articles here on the Lensbaby optic system
On Flickr you can find my Album of Sweet 50 photos

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell

Chasing the light

Gladiolus petal in the sunshine
Close-up of a gladiolus flower in the late sunshine

When I was writing this I thought of it as “Chasing the late light at F2.8” or “3 cameras and 1 flower”. But both of these titles were a bit unwieldy as URLs, so I simplified it. But there are three lenses in this playful tale, and all are indeed set at F2.8. So, to begin…

The way my house is laid out, the front gets the sunlight in the morning, often until the early afternoon. A big south-facing bay window makes it the best place to shoot. Then it gets tricky … by late afternoon the sun has moved round to the side of the house; then there is a small window of time, and a small physical side window where I can sometimes catch the light. There are trees in the way – so, especially if it’s windy, there is a constant flickering of light and shadow. Then the sun moves round to the back of the house, and sometimes there is the late light shining through a willow hedge right into the kitchen and onto a dark blue Formica top of the breakfast bar. This the story of chasing the late afternoon light with a lovely salmon pink gladiolus stem, trying to get some photos using just the natural light! And as two of the cameras were already set on F2.8 I shot the third on F2.8 too.
Note: I always shoot on full Manual, especially indoors – I’m so used to it I never even think about it. And the White Balance remained constant on ‘cloudy’ or ‘daylight’ on all 3 cameras for this shoot.

The cameras to hand were:
1) Lensbaby Composer Pro with 50mm double glass optic with a +4 macro filter (essentially a fixed focal length)
2) A NEX-6 with my favourite Helios Russian lens (frozen at F2.8 so it is a fixed focus)
3) The Sony A77ii with the tele-macro 100mm lens (a heavy combination, but so versatile in the results it can achieve)

I moved a small round wooden table beside the side window with the swaying trees casting strong light then deep shadow. I laid the gladiolus on the wood and waited to catch the sunshine.
The tele-macro allowed me to zoom out and take in both the flowers lying on the table.

light and shadows on gladioli flowers
Sunlight casting strong light then deep shadow on my gladioli flowers. shutter 1/800 ISO 80 WB “cloudy”

I could catch the sunlight and strong shadow it cast; the graceful curved shape of the stem; and a sense of the wooden surface, with a slight reflection too. And using F2.8 meant that the background was nice and dark due to the shallow DoF.

Next I took the Helios lens. It makes a lovely and soft image, but F2.8 is the only option – which gives me a closer composition but with no flexibility to move in closer, or further away.

The Helios lens gives a lovely soft bokeh
The Helios lens is gentle and gives a lovely soft bokeh. shutter 1/80 ISO 100 WB “cloudy”

The light is softer, and there is a background bokeh and definite reflections on the table.
So – could the Lensbaby offer me anything different at F2.8 (the aperture ring was in place from a previous shoot)

Lensbaby and gladiolus flower
Lensbaby Double Glass +4 macro filter catches the light on the flower. shutter 1/2000 ISO 100 WB “daylight”

The light was much harder to control, and focusing took more time as the tree branches gave a strobe effect the table! But I did manage to get the Lensbaby swirl of bokeh around the petals, and the internal glow! Here I used a high shutter speed. I try to keep the ISO as low as possible – I find that my Sony cameras are best with low ISO, and get noticeable ‘noise’ at higher settings.

By now the sun was moving round the house and lower in the sky .. so to complete the process I waited until I could catch the light as it fell across the breakfast bar. I went back to the big tele-macro lens, as it can get closer in to catch the water droplets better than the the other two.

Gladiolus flower resting on the formica worktop
Gladiolus flower on the Formica worktop, shot in the fading evening light. shutter 1/80 ISO 50 WB “cloudy”

Against the dark surface, and with light slanting through the open door I took the final shots. This time the white of the freezer in the background stopped me achieving a matt black background. But there are nice reflections on the work surface, and it looks like liquid – a lens effect I hadn’t expected. And I can get in closer with the tele-macro than I could with either of the other two lenses.

I do spend a lot of time chasing the light – I guess many of us do! It is nice to be able to control the light in a studio setting – and I do that too. But natural light and the camera lens can make unexpected magic, with lens flares, bokeh, and a richness and variety of light quality that man-made lighting just can’t touch. I no longer have the energy or stamina to chase the light across the landscape and into the night …. but around the house can be quite a challenge too ;o)
On Flickr you can find my Album of Gladioli photos
Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell

Meet the Lensbaby

Trees reflected in water
The Lensbaby in action, catching the tree’s reflections in the water at Fyvie Castle

A new 6-part series on the Lensbaby optical system for DSLR camera.
It’s a personal journey through 6 years of shooting with the Lensbaby. It covers the basics of what the Lensbaby is and how it works – then the 3 optics I have used, from the original Double Glass, to the Sweet 50, and then the Edge 80. Finally there are two gallery pages, one looking at composing shots with the Lensbaby, and one of the delightful surprises that the optics can give.
The shot above was taken last November, when the autumn colours were almost gone. Using the Double Glass optic at F2.8. I caught the slight signature circular swirl in the middle, and the distinctive zoom-like bokeh fading to a gentle blur towards the edges of the frame.
Meet the Lensbaby
On Flickr you can find my Album of Double Glass photos

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell

Lensbaby Art and Glass 2

Golden coins (only chocolate!)
Golden coins (only chocolate!) shot with the Double Glass optic and +4 macro filter

In my first selection of Lensbaby “art” shots I wanted to concentrate on how the Lensbaby can creatively enhance a composition – even transform it. Now I want to add some more flamboyant images! As I said … what I set out to do and what I end up with can be miles apart. Every shoot is a journey into the unexpected! The magic comes when the camera takes you by surprise! So I have compiled a small gallery of shots that have done just that – taken me completely by surprise!

A very early shot from 2013, when I first bought a Lensbaby.

Scarf ring on a bright scarf.
Scarf ring on a bright scarf. Double Glass and +4 macro filter

I took a bright colourful boa scarf and placed a scarf ring on top to help me find the sweet spot, and learn focussing. The result really blew me away! The colours, the bokeh, the swirling and zoom-type movement … wow! OK, I missed on the focus, it landed on the fuzzy wool to the left of the target ring – but what a result. I admit, I was hooked ;o)

Since then I have learned more about the powers and potential of the various optics, and how to control and use them. But they can still take my breath away. One subject that the Lensbaby is especially wonderful with is trees, and foliage.

Sunlight through trees.
Sunlight through trees. Double Glass at F2.8 with telephoto optic

Simple sunshine through the trees at Leith Hall gardens, with the bokeh movement of the leaves. And next, looking up on a dull day, as the sunshine caught the tops of the fir trees.

Looking up through the tree canopy.
Looking up through the tree canopy. Sweet 50

And a magical composition, combining two shots that I have described
at the bottom of the page about the Sweet 50 optic here:

tree walk at LeithHall
Walk into my world. The Sweet 50 composite of a Leith Hall walk.

It seems that handling light is one of the many superb qualities of the Lensbaby range of optics.

Blue hydrangea flowers in bright sunlight
Blue hydrangea flowers in bright sunlight. Double Glass and+4 macro filter

Here the way the optic handles bright sunshine makes for a softly melting watercolour effect. The petals become almost translucent. And the effect is achieved in camera, and not by post-processing.
Another shot where bright sunlight was handled so well by the Lensbaby

One of the old stone lions that guard the garden gate at Leith Hall.
One of the old stone lions that guard the garden gate at Leith Hall. Sweet 50

I was hiding among the branches, and trying to shoot the stone lion gate-post at Leith Hall. I thought the extremes of light and shadow would defeat the camera … but a rather haunting semi-abstract emerged.

An old tree stump, caught in a shaft of sunlight.
An old tree stump, caught in a shaft of sunlight. Sweet 50

Here the sudden sunlight falling on the tree trunk, and the delicate shadow cast by the weed across the stump, caught my eye. Again, it was the contrast of light and shadow – and again the Lensbaby surprised me. No post processing was needed – just a small crop.

In all three of these shots I expected I was asking too much of the camera and lens, that the extremes of bright light and deep shadows would mean failure – but I was taken by surprise at what the Lensbaby could do!

And finally, one of my personal favourites – something the Lensbaby can do as no other lens I have, and no post-processing skills I have can simulate.

A crystal glass sphere lying among some flowers.
A crystal glass sphere lying among some flowers. Sweet 50 optic

A flowering rambler atop a wall, sunshine and a crystal sphere – and the Lensbaby. Unexpected magic ;o)

I’ve got more Lensbaby shots on Flickr. I’ve divided them into the 3 lenses I use
Double glass optic:
Sweet 50 optic:
Edge 80 optic:

I hope that you have enjoyed this personal journey through 5+ years of my “living with the Lensbaby”. I have enjoyed looking back, and now look forward to see what new surprises and delights it can offer me ;o)

Flickr holds Elisa’s online Photo Gallery
© 2019 Elisa Liddell