Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Guest Post by Jessica Maleski--5 Quick Tips For Using Your Lensbaby

We are super excited to have Jessica Maleski back to give us some tips on using a Lensbaby. If you missed her early post on why she loves this creative lens, be sure to click here.  Jessica's tips below are perfect for those of you starting out with this very fun lens and have helped me tremendously! Thank you Jessica for sharing you know-how with us and for continuing to inspire us all!

So, after all the talk around here about Lensbabies have you run out and bought one? Kristina did and took some amazing shots of her lovely daughter (http://www.momswhoclick.com/2013/04/lensbaby-love-wordless-wednesday.html)!

If you have played around with one than you know they can be a little tricky. Since the Lensbaby contains no electronic parts, it can’t talk to your camera. You are in manual territory on focus, and with some cameras, metering and exposure as well.  If you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by the Lensbaby learning curve, here are 5 quick tips to help you get off to a good start with this fun little lens.


1. You must clearly see what you are trying to focus on.
If the camera’s diopter is adjusted for your eyes, then what you see in the viewfinder will more  accurately reflect what the camera sees. On most cameras the diopter is the little wheel next to the viewfinder. To adjust it, look through your viewfinder at a blank white wall and slowly turn the diopter adjustment dial until the lines in the viewfinder are at their darkest.

2. Make the in-focus area larger.
It’s best to start out using a medium aperture of f5.6 and up. The smaller the aperture the greater the area that remains in focus. A large “sweet spot”  is easier to keep in focus and even see as you bend the lens around.

3. Keep the focus in the center.
In the beginning, resist the urge to bend the lens or you’ll be left wondering where the “sweet spot” went. As you practice with your Lensbaby, slowly bend the lens outward more and more. You’ll soon develop a feel for where to look in the viewfinder based on how you’ve bent the lens.

4. Use the Live View screen on your camera.
If you have mounted your camera on a tripod, then use the live view screen to get the best possible focus. Not only can you see better since the screen is larger than the viewfinder, but you can always zoom in. By zooming in you can locate the sweet spot with great accuracy and make it as sharp as possible. And the double glass optic as well as the Sweet 35 and Edge 80 are very sharp lenses.


5. Learn to love the histogram and the clipped highlights warning screens!
Check your guesstimate for exposure using these two screens. They will help you adjust shutter speed and ISO as necessary in order to get the best possible exposure. Look for a nice bell shaped histogram with few, if any, points at the very ends of the graph. Also, make sure there are no flashing warnings for clipped highlights.

Above all, get out there with your Lensbaby and practice! I highly recommend leaving the lens on your camera for a week or two and practice taking random shots throughout the day. You will begin to develop a feel for what the exposure should be based on various conditions and you will grow to love manual focus. The Lensbaby’s manual selective focus gives you so much more creative control over your subject matter. And for some of us, that’s what photography is all about!

-- Jessica Maleski is a photographer in the Washington D.C. area. She blogs at Living in a Still Life even though, with seven children her life is anything but still. She is in the final quarter of a collaborative 365 project with a long-time flickr friend at Call and Response. Sometimes she posts things on flickr, sometimes on g+ and often on instagram -- and is desperately trying to figure out a logical way to do all that!

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