Lensbaby Photography Tips and Tricks - dummies

By Doug Sahlin

The Lensbaby is a tool that creative photographers use to capture images with a sweet spot of focus in one part of the image that gradually goes out of focus at the edge of the frame. The photographer has full control over how large the sweet spot is and where it appears in the final image.

The Lensbaby is positively addictive. When you start getting good photos, you get inspired to stretch the envelope and take more. But the Lensbaby Composer has a bit of a learning curve. Here are ten tips that your friendly author learned the hard way:

  • Begin your Lensbaby explorations with the Double optic using the f/4.0 aperture disc. Doing so makes it easier to learn how to use the Lensbaby and get sharp images. After you master shooting with the Double optic and the f/4.0 aperture disc, you’re ready to try other optics and apertures.

  • Don’t tilt the Lensbaby until you’ve successfully taken lots of images using the preceding tip.

  • When learning how to use the Sweet 35 optic, shoot at f/5.6 or f/8. The bigger sweet spot helps you learn how to focus accurately with the optic.

  • When shooting with the macro filters, use either the f/5.6 or f/8 aperture disc. This extends your depth of field, which is woefully shallow once you add the macro filters to the Lensbaby.

  • When shooting with the wide-angle, super wide-angle, or telephoto extensions, look at the sides of the frame. If you tilt the lens too much, you’ll see the edge of the extension in the frame. This problem is more noticeable with a full-frame camera.

    Lensbaby makes a lens called Scout that doesn’t bend. The lens ships with the Fisheye optic, but you can use any Lensbaby optic in the Scout. This lens body is ideal for photographers who own full-frame cameras. With the Scout, you don’t get any vignetting because you can’t tilt the lens.

  • When photographing close-ups on a windy day, focus your camera at a point in the middle of the arc in which your subject is swinging. Switch the camera to Continuous Drive mode, and press the shutter button. Capture four or five images. Chances are one or two of them will be in focus.

  • When using the macro filters, switch to Live View if your camera is so equipped. The bigger screen makes it easier to accurately focus on your subject. Live View is also handy when you’re shooting with a small aperture.

  • Stack the telephoto extension with the macro filters to zoom in. Using this technique enables you to photograph a potentially dangerous subject from a safe distance.

  • Use the Step-up adapter with a 52mm polarizing filter when shooting landscapes. The polarizing filter darkens the blue parts of the sky when the camera is pointed 90 degrees from the sun.

  • Use the Step-up adapter with a 52mm neutral density filter when you want a slower shutter speed to photograph subjects like waterfalls. The neutral density filter decreases the amount of light reaching the sensor.