18 May 2017

Texture and patterns in the bokeh

I am drawn to the abstract pattern that a lens can create when the the whole subject can not be in focus resulting in some areas of the image blurred.
Much can be said about bokeh and it's rather impossible to be fully quantified or describe it but most purist cherish the "smooth" out-of-focus backgrounds.
I, on the contrary, prefer to find lenses that offer "texture" in the blurred areas of my images.

enchanted forest sunrise
refitted projector lens 35-KP 1,8/120   1/640sec

I do understand that such traits in these lenses are not so well suited for subjects where the attention should remain in the in-focus areas but a lot of my photographs are often of close-up and semi-abstract subjects where a "busy" bokeh might be the crucial component of an image

grass softness
adapted Pentacon 50mm f1.8  1/1600sec

Initially my visual adventures were concentrated on "bubbles" in the bokeh; now I am pursuing the textured, busy and "weird" bokeh.
Some lenses are specifically sought after for those incredible traits and unfortunately my favorite looks are out of my price range (like the Dallmeyer Super-Six 102mm f1.9 lens)

Slowly I am starting to understand which subjects, what patterns and what light will be a suitable theme for my experiments. Repetition of small objects and lines, combined with the correct subject/background ration and lens will reveal surreal images.
And it's a look that the mighty iPhone has not conquered yet :-)

Floral tentacles
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7  1/50sec

refitted Helios-89 30mm f1.9 (from FED Mikron)  1/4000sec

watercolored ants
refitted Russian projector lens 35KP-1,8/120  1/800sec


21 April 2017

Images from a Russian projector lens

I have a case full of modern lenses that can deliver ultra sharp images, all with the comfort of auto-focus, yet I am drawn to use old manual lenses that somehow give me a feel in my images.
In my book sharpness is overrated and the bokeh is king, but that must be textured and dynamic, not just soft out-of-focus blandness.
In my search for unusual glass, that often was never intended as photograph-taking lens, I came across an old Russian projector lens that is rather long and bright allowing for particularly interesting shallow depth of field.

late Sunday afternoon
refitted 35KP-1,8/120 (120mm f1.8)  1/1600sec

The lens is heavy and very cumbersome to use: it took some effort to refit it and make it usable on my small cameras. The images I take with it are often a bit soft, low contrast and they exhibit flare easily if pointed towards are strong light source, yet I love the results.

golden filigree
refitted 35KP-1,8/120 (120mm f1.8)  1/8000sec

Images that come straight of the camera could be considered a fail by some but with a bit of contrast and sharpness enhancement often they give a feel to my image that modern lenses can not.

painting with grass
refitted 35KP-1,8/120 (120mm f1.8)  1/1000sec

The eye has not got the opportunity to scrutinize the details but rather takes in the whole scene as one and draws on my recollection of places I have vised before for an unconscious trip down memory lane.

sunshine in the forest
refitted 35KP-1,8/120 (120mm f1.8)  1/1000sec


06 April 2017

Autumn leaves

Finally the summer heat has given up and opened the doors to more temperate days, the harsh light replaced by more subtle and lower angle with softer warmer hues for a longer "golden hour".
And while there are no frosts around to change the color of the leaves, like typically in the Northern hemisphere, autumn foliage takes its own twist here in Queensland.

Dusting on scarlet
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7  1/400sec

Recent heavy rains have reversed the typical role of spring new shoots making it happen now, in autumn. Some bushes have come alive with new pink and purple leaves

after the rains
Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7    1/320 sec

soft new leaves
Pentacon 50mm f1.8    1/1250sec

On the other hand other trees are starting to change color and shed some of their leaves. It's a mixed combination of spring and autumn at the same time.

Signs of Autumn_3
Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7   1/10sec

Bubble spill
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7  1/200sec

Spiky graveyard
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7   1/80sec


23 March 2017

Damsels and Dragons

It has been a rather hot and long summer.
I usually stay out of the sun in the middle of the day but these strikingly beautiful insect have kept me chasing them even in the blazing sun.

Wind beneath my wings
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7  1/500sec

Where most other animals worthy of attention are hiding in the shade or sleeping, dragonflies are most active buzzing around hunting.

Hello stanger
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7  1/1600sec

The delicate cellophane wings are in stark contrast to the menacing looking body, certainly inspiration to the modern helicopters.
And every so often they land to rest, usually in the same favorite high spot, giving me the opportunity to take a few quick images.

Redhead stare
Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7  1/200sec

In flight wipe
Kodak Cine 102mm f2.7  1/3200sec

Almost bedtime_c
Kodak Cine Telephoto 152mm f4.5  1/100sec


10 March 2017

Closer look at the bark

The simple natural beauty of a tree, looked up closely.

Flaking bark
refitted Hexanon 45mm f1.8 (from rangefinder camera) 1/160sec

There is great variety of trees in my part of the world and the bark is most intriguing at times.
I particularly like the shape and texture of some gumtrees that shed the bark and reveal a smooth and colorful new skin. The "exfoliation" seems to be constant and the colorful patterns revealed are most abstract.

Writing on the wall_c
adapted Pentax-110 50mm f2.8   1/100sec

Often when having a close look I notice a miniature world of ants and insects that are often hidden to the casual passer-by

Stick on bark_c
refitted projection lens 16-KP 50mm f1.2   1/100sec

And then everything suddenly changes; the fire completely alters the look of a once smooth bark and creates new textures.

Scorched trunks_c
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7   1/640sec

Charred tree trunk_c
adapted Kodak Cine 63mm f2.7   1/60sec


02 March 2017

Role reversal

What happens when one reverses the role of the intention?
When a lens that was meant to "show" images suddenly "captures" them?
That is what actually happens when I use a projector lens mounted on a camera, the role is reverses.

Grassy caleidoscope
refitted projector lens Meyer-Optik Diaplan 100mm f2.8  1/30sec

Technically speaking a lens from a projector lens is designed and optimized to show images there were once created with a different lens.
A projection lens, apart from being often not corrected for optical "faults", lacks mechanisms that most camera lenses have: a focusing helicoid and an aperture control diaphragm. They are really just a tube with several lenses arranged to project an image on the wall or screen.

Leaf's bubble bath_c
refitted slides projection lens Will-Wetzlar Maginon 85mm f2.8    1/2000sec

So why would I want to cripple myself trying to capture images with a tool that clearly is "inferior"?
There is no clear answer and most likely not one that most people accept: because images photographed with projection lenses for me are more capable to deliver the concept of fantasy rather than reality.

Blue and bubbles_c
refitted projector lens Meyer-Optik Diaplan 100mm f2.8   1/2500sec

Since trying to faithfully represent real life in a 2 dimensional format is a futile exercise that is simply limited by conventional constraints (perceived accepted unspoken rules) I much more prefer to explore the emotions that an image can create. Projection lenses enable me to create an in-camera look that modern lenses designed for digital imagery often can not.
While I am not interested in manipulating excessively a concept in post production, by compositing and editing conventional photographs, I allow myself to exploit the design faults of old simple optics to convey a sense of supernatural in my images.


17 February 2017

The foreground bokeh

In an image, bokeh quality is more important to me than sharpness.
While most of the photographic world seems to be stuck on one single way to measure I.Q. (Image Quality) by carefully analyzing resolution of a lens, I go beyond the simple charts and brick walls test-shots.
I look for how a lens renders the areas that are out of focus.

Sunset dragonfly_c
adapted Kodak Telephoto 152mm f4.5   1/125sec

There were a few lenses that reportedly sounded absolute stunners and I was interested in them. Through sample images I found however that they displayed horribly looking (to my eyes) out of focus areas. The whole image was kind of ruined for me: my eyes were drawn away from the main subject that was in focus, there was a certain "nervous" look to the background, the bokeh was not pleasant.
I never got those lenses despite being very sharp...

From the creative point of view a lens must have a certain look, character if you want, for the areas that happened to be not in focus. I often specifically look for subjects where the areas of blurred background will add so much interest to the image to sometimes become the main point of interest.

Floral pattern_c
adapted Meyer-Optik Trioplan 50mm f2.9  1/400sec

In my quest for creating images that are more fantasy than reality I am constantly experimenting with new optics, mostly of them are old and obscure, some never intended to used on a camera
The focus has now shifted to create images with a dual field bokeh, where the intention is to look for subjects that have a busy depth of field, often natural elements.
On my photowalks I look for vegetation that is veiling a subject that is interesting to me and then I try to photograph it. By carefully focusing and shifting my point of view I search for the angle and composition that will create that dreamy surreal look.

Sunset texture in the grass_c
refitted projection lens Will-Wetzlar Maginon 85mm f2.8    1/250sec

Glorious rain_c
refitted projection lens Will-Wetzlar Maginon 85mm f2.8    1/6400sec


09 February 2017

The judgement

"Yes, but that is Photoshopped..."  with a consternated tone of voice.

Half moon rising_c
refitted projection lens Will-Wetzlar Maginon 85mm f2.8   1/125sec

So, if those images were created in camera, would it have more value?
If one works magic with in-camera settings, plays with lenses that are unusual, uses unconventional angles and cleverly crops an image, is then held in higher esteem?

I have that discussion often when on topic of editing: some are up in arms that images are manipulated but perfectly accept black and white ones :-)
To me however sounds like ignorance and laziness; somebody's defense for unskilled results.

*PS for the record, above image was created in camera....

31 January 2017

We are all photographers

We are all photographers. Some like to record the world in front of their eyes, others create art from reality.

The feeling of speed_c
refitted projection lens Meyer-Optik Diaplan 100mm f2.8  1/400sec

Pretty much we are all photographers, from the simple tiny mobile phones to the invested amateurs with hefty monsters around the neck. The difference lays in what we want: a record of an event or place to share socially (or file for posterity), or is it an outlet to express our creativity?
This goal alone will define us as we pursue our passion.


23 January 2017

The gaze

Two black and white images of wild animals
I used an adapted old Russian lens (1957circa) from a rangefinder camera since I like it renders the out of focus background more than my auto-focus modern lenses

Fowl gaze_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/60sec

Dragon gaze_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/160sec


14 January 2017

Winged predators

The fast buzzing dragonflies fly erratically in the summer heat, darting along the water.
And every so often they come to rest on their favourite patch that they claim their own.

Evening dragonfly_c
adapted Pentax-110 50mm f2.8 (freelens technique)  1/30sec

Fascinating bright colors make them very attractive although at closer look some might appear a bit menacing. They are predators snatching other bugs mid flight

Cellophane wings_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/1250sec

Red tail_2_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/1250sec

But what goes around comes around and themselves become meal for others.

Dragonfly down_c
adapted Jupiter-11  135mm f4  1/160sec


04 January 2017

Going deeper into the weird

Further and further I slip away from the norm, from what most want.
I find the pursuit of perfection futile and senseless if only applied to one parameter: sharpness.
I find less focus in images that are regarded as technically sharp but lack direction and emphasis on the subject that matters.

Sunrise screw_c
adapted Kodak Anstigmat 63mm f2.7  1/640sec

Lately I have been exploring the style applied to impressionist paintings: dots and brush strokes that form an image but are not intended to document a scene but rather give a feel for the moment.

Mercury leaf_c
refitted Helios-89  30mm f1.9  1/800sec

Purist photographers are applauded by such "low standard" style and a few years ago I would have been too...
Oh, how things change :-)

Ibis stare_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/250sec


19 December 2016

Little green frogs

For years I thought green frogs were some kind of myth since I could never spot one.
Then one day somebody told me that if I looked carefully in the pond I would probably spot some.
And I did.

Stripy frog_c
adapted Kodak Ektanon 102mm f2.7  1/200sec

Not larger than 3 cm most of them are very shy and hide under leaves or hop away if approached.
It took some patience and steady hands with my favorite Kodak Cine lenses to finally capture them.

adapted Kodak Ektanon 102mm f2.7  1/500sec

leap to gold_c
adapted Kodak Ektanon 102mm f2.7  1/400sec

Wilted lotus_c
adapted Kodak Ektanon 102mm f2.7  1/100sec


08 December 2016

Beach kangaroos

A storm has been brewing for a few hours and the dark clouds started gathering and moving in.
I headed for the beach trying to capture the dramatic sky when I noticed a few kangaroos grazing on the dunes.
Just as I was photographing the shore a couple of kangaroos hopped right down to the water's edge wanting to dip their toes. A few minutes later a few more came and soon there were twenty or so.
In a rather bizarre moment they all lined up and started to wade, mother with joey in pouch, letting the spilling waves lap up to their bellies

Family beach trip_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/4000sec

The dark sky served me a surreal scene with the parting clouds and the bright sun complements to the moment. I stood in awe and observed what was going to happen next.
Some hopped around, some just let the waves wash them a bit to then gather again and slowly retreat to the dunes again to forage.

Beach on-guard_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/2500sec

The evening brought some very soft light where I could capture them again in a large grassy field.

Evening pasture_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/100sec

Evening snack_c
adapted Jupiter-11 135mm f4  1/500sec

These are wild kangaroos, free to roam without enclosures, as nature intended.
I can not bring myself to enjoy observing wild animals in any other way...