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Lensbaby: How Not To Shoot Sharp Pictures

Fine Art Blurred and Unsharp Images

Deliberately shooting Unsharp pictures…..Why?  Wouldn't it be just a little bit, well...naughty?  Of course it would, which is why it's so much fun. It's not as though the ‘focus police’ are going to come and check to see you have correctly used your equipment ………….right?

Blur, blurred, Focus, Lensbaby, soft, soft focus, unsharp, Lensbaby Composer, Lensbaby Muse, Lensbaby Control Freak

Placing sharpness where you want it in an image is achieved by careful focusing and deft manipulation of the lens angle.

Lensbaby Composer, Lensbaby Muse, Lensbaby Control Freak

Sharpness is one of the main ways that lenses are judged. Which is why deliberately fitting a lens that isn't sharp could be regarded as slightly eccentric. And yet there is a company in the USA that specialises in producing lenses that create very soft effects.

Lensbaby produce a lens (or to be more accurate, a system) that's designed to produce soft, almost dreamlike results. It works by allowing you to move the lens element so that it's no longer parallel to the camera. This tilts the plane of focus so that it slices through the picture rather than across like a conventional lens. The result is that less of the image is sharp.

Blur, blurred, Focus, Lensbaby, soft, soft focus, unsharp, Lensbaby Composer, Lensbaby Muse, Lensbaby Control Freak

If you want to create a more dreamlike atmosphere Lensbaby lenses can't be beaten.

Lensbaby Composer, Lensbaby Muse, Lensbaby Control Freak

The lenses used in the Lensbaby system are also very simple too. They don't have corrective elements in them like a normal camera lens. This means optically they produce inferior results, with flare and chromatic aberration often very evident.

And, as you tilt the lens, you move the image circle projected onto the camera's sensor away from the optically-better centre to the optically-worse edge. But that just adds to the charm of the system.

Blur, blurred, Focus, Lensbaby, soft, soft focus, unsharp, Lensbaby Composer, Lensbaby Muse, Lensbaby Control Freak

Lensbaby lenses aren't sharp by any means – but that's what's so refreshing about using them.

Lensbaby Composer, Lensbaby Muse, Lensbaby Control Freak

You don't buy a Lensbaby system because it's the best lens available, you buy it because it isn't. And if that doesn't have those serious-minded camera engineers pulling their hair out in frustration at the perversity of photographers I don't know what would.

Geoff Harris

I am a photography journalist and photographer and currently work as the Deputy Editor of Amateur Photographer (AP) the oldest weekly photographic magazine in the world. Before that I served as the editor of Digital Camera, Britain's best-selling photography magazine, for five years. During my time as editor it became the UK's top selling photo monthly and won Print Publication of the Year at the 2013 British Media Awards. As well as being lucky enough to get paid to write about photography, I've been fortunate to interview some of the greatest photographers in the world, including Elliott Erwitt, Don McCullin, Martin Parr, Terry O'Neill, Steve McCurry and the late Mary Ellen Mark. This has been a wonderful learning experience and very influential on my photography. Beyond writing, I am a professional portrait, travel and documentary photographer, and reached the finals of the 2016 Pink Lady Food Photographer of the Year competition. I am a Licentiate of the Royal Photographic Society and hope to take my Associateship whenever I can find the time.

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