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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.
So far in this course, we've been looking at lenses that are really just more extreme versions of the type of lens you use every day. So some of them go more telephoto than what you're probably used to, maybe a lot more. Some of them go more wide angle than what you're probably used to--again, maybe a lot more. But for the most part they really just offered exaggerated versions of the type of lens that you work with all the time. In this chapter, that's all going to change. We're going to go really far field here and look at some radically different types of lenses. Lensbabies, Holgas, and the other things we're going to look at in this chapter offer radically different image-making possibilities from any kind of lens that you might have worked with so far.
These lenses take great liberty with focus. Sometimes they've got full-on optical problems. They might mess up color. They might have light leaks, which might lead you to think, why would I take a lousy lens that has known problems and stick it on my expensive camera? The answer to that goes back to the idea of abstraction. These lenses help you create images that are far more abstract than any kind of normal lens that you might work with, and with abstraction comes, sometimes, a stronger pull on the viewer.
As an image gets more abstract, the viewer has to do more work to make sense of it, and that extra bit of work often helps bring them into the image, or helps make it more personal for them, and that's really the power of these lenses. Also, a lot of these images create a look that feels like an aged photograph or like it was shot with a toy camera of some kind, and that part of the visual vocabulary carries a lot of meaning of its own. People have a very particular emotional response to an image that feels more antique, or feels atmospheric because it looks aged.
And so that's some power you have when you're making your image-making choices, whether you want to play with those vocabulary elements and put those types of effects into the image to play on those particular emotions. Finally, almost all of these attachments we're going to look at are very cheap, and by that I mean inexpensive. And so, if you're looking for a way to break out of what you're used to shooting or if you're looking for a way of adding a distinctive look to something that you shoot very regularly, this is a very affordable way of doing this. Most of the things we're going to look at here in this chapter are replicable in digital effects, and we'll be looking at that later.
The advantage of doing it with an actual lens is that there's a random element to your shooting, and a lot of people really like that. You don't quite know what you're going to get when you take the image home, and that's sometimes a nice antidote to the digital perfection that we're used to working with where we have our histograms and everything else to let us know exactly what we're capturing. So that's another way of kind of breaking out of your normal shooting habits: get one of these lenses and throw a little more randomization into your shooting life.
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