Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Guest Post--Jessica Maleski on Why She Loves Her Lensbaby

We are so very excited to have a guest post today from the wonderful Jessica Maleski. I "met'' Jessica through Kim Klassen's online courses...yep, she is a fellow "groupie."

Jessica is an amazing photographer who loves her Lensbaby collection almost as much as her seven real babies. Living in a Still Life is her personal blog full of more musings about photography and art and how to fit it all in between carpool and after-school activities. You can also find her on Twitter , G+ and Instagram. And on top of all this, she is also in the midst of a collaborative 365 photo project that you can follow along with at Call & Response. She is one busy mama!

Thank you Jessica for sharing your gorgeous work with us and we look forward to hearing more from you. 

P.S. After seeing your images and reading your post below, I ordered the Lensbaby Sweet 35 (thanks for the creative nudge).

You may have seen the Lensbaby Spark contest on Mom’s who Click last month and wondered why anybody would want a lens that’s designed to be blurry. Well, the short answer is because, as Texas photographer Keith Carter puts it, “sharpness is overrated.”

The long answer admits that while sharpness has its place, so does blur. The idea behind the Lensbaby is not to just document reality but rather to evoke an emotion -- to manipulate the focus within the scene in order to direct the viewer to what you think is important.  

With a standard lens you may stand in front of your subject and ask, “what do I see?”; with a Lensbaby you stand in front of your subject and ask, “what do I feel?” This is what the Lensbaby slogan, “see in a new way” means to me.

But that’s not to say that there are limits on subjects. Any subject looks good and is appropriate for any of the Lensbaby optics.  It’s all a matter of what mood you are trying to evoke. And there is certainly no limit to moods: nostalgic, romantic, forbidding, wishful, dark, mysterious.

But can’t you just get the same look through post-processing? Can’t you fake it in Photoshop? Maybe. Well, yes, to some degree. You can get the tilt-shift type look and you can also go back in and add layers of blur through masking. And we all know there are 101 different actions to add flare to photos. But the mechanics of the lens create something that Photoshop really can’t.

The Lensbaby works by bending the lens around the focal plane. That’s what makes the sweet spot of focus move around the frame. As the focal plane bends it causes a bit of distortion in the image especially around the edges of the frame. That distortion creates a sense of motion and a smearing of color that is difficult to accomplish in post-processing.

But that doesn’t mean post-processing can’t be used to enhance the final product. Textures and other photographic processes can all be used on Lensbaby images to good effect.

So, why do you want a Lensbaby? Because blur is what moves a photograph from a documentation of reality to an expression of an idea. The Lensbaby is a tool to help you create art.


  1. Great recommendation for Lensbaby. It was great to learn more about them and see the results.

  2. Love the post no Lensbaby for me though as I have a bridge camera , never mind I can look at everyone's beautiful images instead....

  3. Great post...and something to think about.

  4. Great post ladies! Jessica, your photos are amazing! Love the blurred effect you were able to create with the Lensbaby. That would be a great asset to Wedding photography.

  5. Photography is a unique art, we can realise that you have these special skills. You have a great future ahead. Pretty pleasing to the eyes.

  6. I guess I'll be adding this to my list. I'm played with my friends' lens baby, but think I'll go check out the sweet 35.

  7. I love what Jessica says about photographs conveying ideas. That is pure genius. :)


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