December.01.2010 · Posted By - Paul

This blog is concerned with Lensbaby lenses as well as do it yourself tilt-shift lenses.  Some of the photographs in this blog were taken by me.  The photographs related to the DIY lens were taken by Shane Moss whose photography site can be visited here:  Rampant Photos

A Lensbaby is a special kind of lens used in photography.  It basically presents a circle of focus that can be moved in the frame through the use of a bellows or ball and socket mechanism at the front of the lens.  The falloff from sharpness to blur tends to be very high and that presents a unique look.  Even though the Lensbaby effect can be faked in Photoshop people who know this technology can usually tell when this is done.  As mentioned in the introduction to this blog series I try to do as much in camera as possible.  It just feels a bit more real to do so.  My Lensbaby simply presents to me another option for doing new and unique effects in lens.

Several different versions of the Lensbaby exist.  The version I currently use is a Lensbaby 2.0.  It is a lower priced version of the Lensbaby that is no longer sold.  The Lensbaby is able to accept wide and telephoto lenses that are made for it as well as +4 and +10 macro lenses.  The aperture of the lens is changed by inserting various aperture disks into the body of the Lensbaby.  The hole shapes on the aperture disks determine the look of the bokeh pattern for the photo.

Here is one of my photos taken with the Lensbaby:


Here are a few other photos that were taken through the use of macro lenses:


This particular photo used a star shaped aperture: 



Rather than buying a Lensbaby you could build a selective focus lens similar to the Lensbaby.  The following images were taken with one of these do it yourself (DIY) lenses.  This particular lens has more of a tilt-shift look since the line of focus is more along a straight line plane as opposed to a circular zone of focus.  In fact, Lensbabys are different from expensive tilt-shift lenses in that they present significant curvature of field.  One of the nice things about these home built lenses is that they can be tossed together inexpensively.  Usually they can be built for under 50 dollars.

Here is the link to a website that explains DIY tilt-shifts:  DIY tilt-shift

This photograph by Shane Moss shows a miniaturization effect that can be achieved with his DIY lens.  Tilt-shift lenses are often used for this purpose:


Another photo by Shane Moss using his DIY.


This is what Shane’s DIY looks like:


A Lensbaby or tilt-shift look can be faked in Photoshop by creating a duplicate layer of an image you want to apply the tilt-shift look to, blurring one of the layers, creating a mask, and using a gradient to fade one image layer into the other. 

This is an example of a fake tilt-shift look created a few years ago in Photoshop.  This particular Southwest rock art panel is about six feet tall but with the use of a tilt-shift effect it almost has a miniaturized look.

_MG_5343 copy

Thanks to Shane for the use of his images in this blog.  Rampant Photos