This is a cRAzy view of our Christmas tree taken with my Canon DSLR using a wide angle lens on my ‘Lensbaby’ composer. There was no editing done to this photo except for the addition of the frame in pixlromatic.
I am a novice when it comes to Lensbaby, but I absolutely LOVE the creativity the system can lend to a photo. This was shot at night with very dim lighting, so my ISO was high at 3200 and my shutter speed was 1/10!! ( Yep, I was looking for some crazy bokeh and blur, and I got it!) Both focus and aperture are done manually on the ‘Lensbaby’. I find it extremely hard to focus with the composer, which was a good thing for this picture, since it is the lack of focus that creates the bokeh. To set your aperture, you literally insert a cirlce into the composer with a magnet. For this photo I was using a number 5.6 aperture piece. I would have liked to have opened it up wider and use my number 2 circle, but I could not find my magnet, so I used what was already in there. Again, no editing except for a funky frame to add a little more whimsy to the overall photo.
“If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.” ~ Garry Winogrand
I was really excited about the potential for learning with this day of the challenge. How to capture the perfect Christmas tree lights bokeh was something I’d been keen to explore. Ken Rockwell describes bokeh as, “the rendition of out-of-focus points of light”, the quality of blur in the areas of the image that are not in focus. Both pictures illustrated above in ‘Day 3 – Tree’ are lovely examples of bokeh, where the blurred points of light are central to the picture, those wonderful Christmas tree fairy lights which appear to be shining orbs.
So how did I achieve the bokeh effect in this image? I definitely experimented with different lenses, but regardless of which I chose, the key to take this particular photograph was to switch the button on the side of my lens from AF to MF (manual focus), and to use a wide aperture (a low f/stop number). The more I turned the lens ring out of focus, the bigger the balls of light were. So the more in focus the lens was, the smaller the points of light. Yet another thing I’ve learned through this challenge. Now if you want to take a picture of someone or something, with a bokeh effect of the Christmas tree lights behind them, you do not need to put your lens on MF. Instead make sure they are standing a distance in front of the tree, to create shallow depth of field, which will mean that background and therefore the tree is out of focus, and your subject in front will be sharp and clear. My photo from ‘Day 1 – Red’ is an example of how this is done.
The final image that you see was shot with my 50mm 1.4 lens on my Canon 7D. Taken at around 10 in the morning, it’s been a grey, rainy day here in Kingwood, TX, and so my ISO was set at 800, my shutter speed 1/60, and my aperture was f/1.8. Post-processing in Lightroom 4, I converted the image to black and white. We have all white lights on our tree, therefore any colors from the other decorations were not visible, and so the finished result in monochrome looks great. Finally, I increased the contrast, clarity, and sharpening, and decreased the highlights a little.