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Join photographer, author, and teacher Ben Long on location in San Francisco as he explores the creative options provided by the kinds of lenses and lens accessories that don't always make it into most camera bags.
The course begins with a look at several common and inexpensive lens attachments, from polarizers to neutral density filters. The course then explores ultra-wide angle and fisheye lenses as well as ultra-long telephoto and macro lenses. The course concludes with a look at tilt-shift lenses, which are useful for architectural photography and special effects, and at offbeat lenses, such as Lensbaby and Holga attachments.
The course also contains Photoshop postproduction advice and examples that illustrate the creative possibilities that an expanded lens collection provides. And because some specialty lenses are extremely expensive, the course also contains advice on renting gear.
Lenses come in different speeds, and by speeds I mean maximum aperture. So you might have a 50 mm lens that can open to f/1.8. This would allow you to work in very low light and to have extremely shallow depth of field. However, it's possible to get an even faster lens. Here is a 50 mm f/1.2 lens. With it I can shoot an even lower light and get depth of field that's even more shallow than with a 1.8 lens. Now, this may not be as exotic as some of the other specialty lenses that we've looked at, but it's still pretty different from most lenses you'll encounter, and it allows you to shoot with a very particular look.
When opened up all the way, this 50 lets you get depth of field that's so shallow that when you use it on a portrait you can get something like this: eyes in focus, nose a little soft. The super-shallow depth of field creates a kind of a dreamy look. It's really flattering to skin tone, and it really brings focus to the subject's eyes. Now shooting with a wide-open super-fast lens is mostly just like shooting with any other type of lens, except that you can work in lower light and you have to be extremely careful with focus. For example, for this headshot I shot a lot of frames, both because I was working with George to get a good look, but also because I knew how critical the focus can be when you're working like this.
If your focus is off at all, your image can appear soft because you won't have a deep depth of field to make up for it. For example, here the focus is on his ear, and it's left his whole face soft. When you're shooting portraits with an aperture this wide you'll have to have your subject facing directly towards you if you want both eyes in focus. If your subject's head is turned, even slightly, then their far eye will be out of focus. Working with shallow depth of field in this way is really fun, but it can also be frustrating. It's not the type of thing you want to do in a rapidly changing situation, until you're sure you're comfortable with focusing extremely quickly.
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