Show & Tell

It’s time once again for Show & Tell!! Choose a favorite image from your September posts and share it with everyone via Mr. Linky. If you would like you can repost your photo in a new post and add why it’s your favorite.

1. Esther Farnstrom 2. Jens

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Click here to add your link:


Blogging Group Signup

Can you believe it, we have almost completed another year of blogging!! Let’s finish the year with some more wonderful images. Be sure to signup for the November/December Discussion Groups. If you want to remain in a discussion group please indicate in the comment section below by writing “discussion group” and if you no longer wish to be in a discussion group please write “opt out”. If you decide to “opt out” and want to “opt in” at a later date you can do so during the next signup period.

Please respond in the comment section by October 20th.

The new groups will post on October 29th. Please remember to comment within your group at least once a week, more if possible and commenting outside of your group is always appreciated.

Pat Beaudoin is an amateur photographer living in beautiful Northwestern Ontario, Canada.  She took up photography with retirement and credits her involvement with Elements Village as well as the friendships arising from our annual blogging challenges with keeping her motivated and learning.  A visit to her blog, PatB Photo Impressions, will reveal her talent and affinity for landscapes and macro florals, as well as natural light portraiture.  Pat has embraced the Lensbaby as a tool to express her creativity and we’re lucky to have her share her experiences and suggestions in this guest post.   Thank you, Pat!


Getting Started With Your Lensbaby

Having enjoyed these Guest Blogger articles a great deal over the past months, I appreciate the opportunity to give back to this talented group and share my Lensbaby experiences.  I am by no means an expert with the Lensbaby but hopefully I can help someone get started with a creative and fun diversion from our usual quest to capture the technically perfect photograph.

That’s the great thing about a Lensbaby lens… using it encourages you to put aside the technicalities and the “shoulds”  and be a little more free-form.   Lensbaby images tend to be less literal, which is a great thing to help left-brainers like myself to unwittingly switch to the more creative right-brain in the process.

About the Lensbaby

When I first purchased my Lensbaby, I had no idea what the lens was all about…

The Lensbabies are actual SLR lenses, which means you need a camera with interchangeable lenses to use one.  You cannot fit a Lensbaby to a point and shoot camera, nor will it attach to an existing lens.   Lensbaby offers mounts for Canon and Nikon, as well as mount options for several other popular SLR cameras.

The lenses are without electronics, therefore, there is no digital connection to your camera.  Focusing is performed manually.  F-stops cannot be set from the camera but instead take the form of magnetic aperture disks which are placed onto the front of the lens itself.

Automatic light metering in aperture priority mode is available for almost all digital and film SLR cameras except for a few certain Nikon bodies.  Manual mode is also available to set your shutter speed for metering.

The focal length of a Lensbaby is approximately 50mm on a full frame camera, which equates to about 80 mm on a 1.6 crop sensor camera.

Lensbaby currently offers three versions of the lens – which model is right for you depends on your personal taste and the type of results you are looking for. Rather than list all of the options and accessories available, visit the official Lensbaby site for a more definitive description than I can give here.  There is also a great chart which compares the different optics, here .

Of the three lens models, the Composer is the easiest to use and my Lensbaby of choice for that reason.  Designed with a ball and socket rather than the tubing of the other two lenses,  the front element stays put where you aim it and focusing is achieved simply by twisting a standard focusing ring.

My Composer lens came with a set of Aperture Rings and case, the Double Glass Optic (the sharpest optic) and that cute little cleaning square you see in green.   I must admit I fell for the cutsie “baby” packaging.

I added the Macro Filters very quickly as I knew I would be photographing flowers, followed by the Single Glass Optic that is a little softer for portraits.  Next came the Telescopic and Wide Angle accessories, but I have to say that they don’t get used – I tend to use my regular lenses for these types of shots.  Only recently have I purchased the Soft Focus Optic, hoping to enhance my floral work.

Lensbaby Basics – Getting Started
The Lensbaby can be frustrating to use at first but with practice you will very quickly get the hang of it.  The lens is very much about selective focus and your goal is to have your subject in focus within the sharp “sweet-spot” and surrounded by the unique graduated blur of the Lensbaby.   You accomplish this by moving the focus from the middle of your image onto your desired point of focus or “tilting” the lens (unless your focus point is intentionally in the middle of the frame of course) and then fine-tuning the focus.

Step 1
For the first week or so I would suggest that you only practice manually focusing with the focusing ring on the lens.  Aim to get a centred subject in focus.   Most of us have depended on the camera to tell us when our subject is in focus and you will find it surprisingly tricky to judge on your own.  Take this initial time to retrain your eye, I found this to be my biggest hurdle.

  1. Attach your Lensbaby to your camera and set the camera to either Aperture Priority or Manual Mode.  Use your normal metering setting.
  2. Keep the lens in the centre position (straight ahead, not tilted).  You are able to lock it into that position if you’d like.
  3. Insert the f/4 aperture ring with the magnetic tool provided.  F/4 is a good aperture to use while  you are learning – it will give you plenty of blur and a large enough sweet-spot to recognize.
  4. Frame your subject in the centre of your viewfinder using the centre focus guide.  Turn the focusing ring until the centre of your subject comes into clear focus.  Concentrate on the small area within the circle of the viewfinder’s centre focus guide.  You may also find it helpful to adjust your camera’s diopter on the viewfinder.
  5. Snap that shot!    Take a lot of shots, refocusing each time.

My centred practice with f/4  – sooooo many deletions, very few keepers!

Step 2
Now that you have mastered manually focusing with your Lensbaby, it’s time to start tilting or “moving” your lens.

Assume that the focal point of interest, which you want to be in sharpest focus, is not in the centre of your composition.  What you will be doing is moving the sweet spot of focus, from the centre to your desired focal point.  The confusing part at first, is that nothing changes in your viewfinder; the camera’s centre focus guide does not actually move in the viewfinder and your “relocated”  focus point becomes more visible only after you have fine-tuned the focus.

  1. Continue with the f/4 aperture disk.
  2. Begin with the lens in the centred position on your camera (not tilted).
  3. Frame your composition with your subject or focal point of interest off centre or choose a smaller element of a larger, centred subject.
  4. Using the manual focus ring, bring the centre area, whatever is in view within that circular guide area on your viewfinder, into focus as you did in step one.
  5. Now, grasp the barrel of the lens, think about where you want the sharpest point of focus to be and move the barrel in the direction of your select focus point.  How much to move the barrel is basically guesswork at this point, so don’t be taken aback by that or think you are doing something wrong.
  6. Fine tune your new point of focus to it’s sharpest with the focus ring once again.
  7. Press the shutter.  That’s it, you’re on your way!

A small tilt of the lens goes a long way; experiment with small tilts and larger ones to see the effects.  It will seem awkward and cumbersome at first and you will miss your mark, but not for long.  Once you have put in some time and grown comfortable with the lens, placing your sweet-spot will become faster and more intuitive.  Continue on to experiment with all of the aperture disks from f/2.8 to 22.

Only a small tilt of the lens was needed to place the focal point on the rim and f/4.  (This is only a 2″ vase so I also needed the +4 macro to get close enough).

Whoops – I was aiming to place my focus point on the chipmunk’s head, instead landing on his body.  Focus looked fine on the camera’s LCD screen but not once it was displayed on the computer screen. (image cropped for example purposes)

A large tilt of the barrel here to place the sweet-spot on the head and draw the viewer’s attention to the inukshuk with the strong directional blur. 

 Lensbaby Tips  
  • Don’t delete your images until you see them on your computer.  The LCD panel makes it difficult to accurately judge the sharpness of your focus point or appreciate the blur effects.
  • Don’t take just one shot of a subject when shooting, especially in the beginning.  Stay away from moving subjects for awhile –  I still avoid them.
  • If your vision makes seeing the sweet-spot difficult, try adjusting or replacing your camera’s diopter magnification.  Others have had more success with matte and split-prism focusing screens.
  • The larger the aperture hole, the smaller your sweet-spot will be and the more blur effect you will  have  i.e., the least amount of focus to your image.  In contrast, the smaller apertures like f/11 and up, will result in more of the image in focus, as in a landscape.
  • Since you are using aperture rings, the camera’s metadata will not include the aperture size.  At the time of an aperture change, hold up an equivalent number of fingers to indicate the new size  and take a picture.  Or take a picture of the aperture disk itself to record the change.  This works when you change optics or add a filter as well.  Later on my computer, I record this info with the first image of the series and delete the indicator pictures.  Beats taking notes.
  • Having to manually focus is actually a good thing, it will slow you down.  Really look at your subject, decide which is the most important part and how you can use the sweet-spot and the blur to emphasize your viewpoint.
  • Do not obsess about the degree of sharpness in your chosen sweet-spot.  In my opinion, as long as your subject is in obvious focus a Lensbaby image will look fine.  Don’t set an expectation that it always stand up to 1:1 scrutiny.
  • Crop in-camera.  In this case, cropping your image during post-processing means you are throwing away at least part of the Lensbaby effect itself. 
  • PLAY with this lens…  it does wonderful things with highlights and you will often get surprise results that you will love!

An example of  the softer Single Glass Optic, f/5.6  &  1/160s, SOOC with a contrast adjustment

The Soft Focus Optic came with 3 of it’s own special Aperture Disks as well as the full standard set.  These create a sharp underlying image with a soft overlay.

Another example of the Soft Focus Optic but with the wider aperture disk.


I most enjoy creating photographs that have an impressionistic or ethereal lean to them – something I only realized through experiencing a more creative outlet in the Lensbaby.   My final tip and my preferred way to use the Lensbaby, is to use it wide-open, meaning without an aperture disk.  This gives you a very small sweet-spot at about f/2.0 and very little DOF.   Flowers are my favourite and I will often pair that with a macro filter.

© Pat Beaudoin 09/2010 


Friday Photowalk Tip

Time for another Friday Photowalk Tip and this one coincides with the new theme list for October.   The tip for this week is to fully explore something.  Take a look at the list for October and see if you’re inspired by any of the words (if not,  choose something of your own liking).  Try to find 5 good illustrations of the theme (or technique if you prefer).  It will keep that photographer’s eye sharp as you push yourself to look around seeking something to fit a chosen goal.  It’s already got my mind going – I’m leaning towards seeking out Orange, Tools, or Hanging images.

October Themes

Time for some fresh inspiration in the way of new themes. If you’ve been hitting the wall and having trouble getting yourself motivated take a look at the list below, and the new Friday Photowalk Tip. It may just help you shake off the cobwebs and get yourself in gear.

Real Life

Friday Photowalk Tip

Time for another Friday Photowalk Tip and I’m in a colorful mood right now, so for inspiration I’m pulling out a tip we used earlier in the year.  Choose a single color and seek it multiple examples that really exemplify the color – not just a little hint of the color, but something that really shouts out your chosen color.  It might be a bold and obvious shot of color in a contrasting background, or the image might be overwhelmingly saturated with shades of your chosen color.  In any event, make that color the obvious focal point of the image.  Its a great way to make yourself look around and see things you might not normally see when seeking out images to shoot.

This month’s featured blogger is none other than Eleanor Abramsom.  I have enjoyed getting to know Eleanor this year through her blog and images.  I love how she is always trying new things and especially her new iphone series….I am amazed by the images it takes!  I am in love with her grandson and Odie pictures.  They are both growing up right in front of us.  Well, enough of me, everyone meet Eleanor…

1.  Tell us a little bit about you?

I’m 58 and live with hubby of 31 years in North Jersey.   We’re about 40 minutes west of NYC. I have 2 sons, one who lives near me in NJ and one who lives in Chicago.   I also have 1 beautiful 3 year old grandson. 🙂    I’m a volunteer puppy raiser for the Seeing Eye, which is located in Morristown, NJ.   They are the oldest guide dog school for the blind in the U.S.  We get the pups at 7 weeks of age (so cute) and keep them until they are about 15-16 months old.    So, right when you have the dog where you want them-they go back and you start all over again. LOL    A lot of people only see the part where we send them back and say they could never do it.   It is hard, but, fortunately, it is not the whole experience.   The experience is fun, rewarding, fulfilling, exasperating.   You also get to associate with a great group of people and get a new pup every couple years. What more could you ask for? 🙂

2.  What kind of photography / art background do you have?

Zero.  Never even thought I was capable of taking a decent photo.

3.  Have you ever participated in this type of photography project before?


4.  What do you hope to gain from the 2010 Virtual Photowalk?

I started out just wanting to learn how to take better pictures and become more familar with my camera.   I want to expand my “vision”- what I see when I’m looking at a scene.   I really appreciate people’s comments because they broaden my viewpoint immensely.

5.  How do you stay motivated for a years worth of photos?

I’m just finishing my first year of owning a DSLR so I think it’s still so new that I don’t need any extra motivation.   But, I guess, I’m always trying to obtain that “perfect” shot whether it be of my grandson or some wildlife.   There’s so much to capture that I want to share and my desire is to be able to share an image so that another person can see and experience the scene the way I did.   Another words – to communicate what I saw.

I also want to preserve memories.    Children and puppies are small for such a short period of time, I want to remember every minute of it. (& if you know me, you’ll know I need all the help I can get in the remembering dept. LOL)

6.  What is the inspiration behind your images?

I’ve always admired good photography, especially wildlife and never considered myself capable of taking a decent photograph.  After my grandson was born I was increasingly frustrated with trying to get a shot of the wiggle worm that didn’t blur.   I joined Elements Village and was really envious of the good shots that people were able to get without having to do a lot of editing.   So, I’ve really been inspired from what I’ve seen there and as part of the Photowalk.  Also, I LOVE being outdoors in nature-what better excuse than to have to go out and take some photographs.

7.  What type of photography equipment are you using (camera,lens,etc)?

I’m using a Canon Rebel T1I.   I have the kit 18-55 lens, a 50mm 1.8, a 70-200mm L series along with a 1.4 converter.   I also have a 430EX speedlight.  I use my iPhone a lot.   I have found I really enjoy using it very much and usually have it with me so it’s very convenient.   It won’t replace a DSLR but I find it pushes me to think more about the shot I’m going after and how to get the desired effect.  It also does away with the excuse “I don’t have my camera”.

8.  Are you a Mac or PC lover and what editing programs are you currently using?  Any favorite filters, actions, etc?

Currently, Mac all the way.  But, I’m always open-if someone comes out with something better I’ll try it.   I recently got Aperture 3, and swear,  I will be learning it for the rest of my natural life.  I also have PSE 6, onOne Essentials and something from Topaz labs.

9.  What is your best advise concerning photography?

I have found the only way to learn is just to “shoot, shoot, shoot”.   I recently went through some of my older pictures and realized that I learned even from the poor shots.   Like most people, I learn through osmosis.  What I don’t understand one day, the next day it will just ‘click’.   I also have to remind myself to be patient.   If I don’t get a shot or it comes out poorly, oh well, maybe I’ll get it next time – or the next, etc.   Along the way, I also remind myself that not everything is meant to be photographed-sometimes, it is just meant to be appreciated.   That occurred recently with a couple of gorgeous sunsets.  They were so beautiful, but, if I had taken the time to get my camera out, decide where to get the picture, etc., I would have missed the sunset.   Maybe God has a scrapbook with His most beautiful ones……….

10.  Name 3 words that describe your photography style.

Hahaha.  I’m not sure I have a style, but, upon reflection one word that comes to mind is motion.  It seems most things that I enjoy photographing are moving.   Another might be happy.  I especially enjoy photographing children when they are having fun.  They show such unbridled joy in the moment..  It releases the joy in me and reminds me not to sweat the small stuff – and it’s all small stuff.

11.  What is your favorite picture you ever took and why?

This is kind of like asking a mother which is her favorite photo.  And I know as soon as I choose one, I will think of another. LOL  I choose this particular picture because it shows my grandson Josh’s  joy in playing.

12.  I know you recently attended Photoshop World in Las Vegas, what did you think of the experience and meeting fellow bloggers?

I was really happy to meet BillZ and would love to meet other fellow bloggers.  Bill is as nice in person as he is on the forum and I appreciate how he went out of his way to meet me and show me around PSW.

So, if anyone is out my way (NYC area), feel free to call or email.  I’d love to get together if possible.

13.  Any other words of wisdom you would like to leave us with?

Not sure they are words of wisdom, but don’t be afraid to go out and photograph and share the photos.   Everyone on the blog is so nice and helpful and I’ve learned so much-whether from a beginner such as myself or a more seasoned photographer.   Don’t be afraid to offer suggestions either-when people make suggestions I find it expands my narrow vision and I learn from them too.   Above all, let it be fun.    Photography is a wonderful way to create a moment that endures.

A huge thanks out to Eleanor….we all really enjoyed getting to know you better.

Stop by Eleanor’s blog to look at her wonderful pictures and to say hi.

http://abramsonscorner.com    or