Unconventionally conventional?

I woke up this morning, early and with an asthma attack brewing, but my first thought was not “where’s my inhaler?” but rather “I am going to take an unconventional image for my 365 today”.

This 365-lark rather gets to you after a while it seems! This is my 144th consecutive, daily image since I started last October and Max, the guy who introduced me to the 365 group,  was right when he said that it gradually becomes just a part of your day rather than something you have to consciously think about.

© Dave Whenham
Fuji X-T20 / Sweet 35 optic

So, unconventional?

A Lensbaby Sweet 35 is not exactly an obscure lens but then again it’s probably not entirely mainstream either; more of a niche interest. The paucity of sharp elements in these images (there are some, I checked) is definitely against the accepted norm of enthusiast photography though. I was also, basically shooting into a very harsh, direct sun reflecting off the glass and steelwork which definitely flies in the face of perceived wisdom about keeping light behind you or to the side. Then there’s the irregularly sized images in the triptych, they increase slightly left to right with the second being slightly wider than the first and the third slightly wider than the second. I used a fairly hard, dark vignette to really pull the eye into the middle of the triptych too.

I’m going to enjoy reading, and learning from, any comments todays offering elicits!

Blurring the Lines

I promised some blurry images and here they are. All bar one taken this morning on my very first trip out of the house with the Lensbaby Edge 50 optic.  Next misty morning it will be the turn of the Sweet 50 optic!

Unless stated, all images are Nikon D800E with Lensbaby Edge 50 wide open – gotta maximise the blur! Common sense suggests starting with the lens stopped down a little to make focusing easier but I will leave that for another day. Today I just wanted to embrace the blur!

© Dave Whenham
Note the plane of focus runs up and down the lamppost on the right!
© Dave Whenham
Same settings (50mm f3.5) but this time taken with a normal lens. (Fuji X-T20)

To start though, these first two images hopefully show the creative potential of the Lensbaby Edge. In a “straight” photograph the plane of focus runs across the image. In the picture above taken with a Fuji X-T20 the 20 on the road is in sharp focus as is the 30 on the road sign alongside. Both images are shot from basically the same spot at the same focal length and same aperture (although a few hours apart). In the first image above the plane of focus has been twisted to run vertically along the lamp-post. This is the Edge 50’s unique selling point, the ability to move the plane of focus wherever you like (with practice) around the frame.

This image of a tree clearly shows the narrow strip of focus produced by the Edge 50. Nikon D800E and Lensbaby Edge 50 wide open. With the image open in Photoshop I applied a High Pass layer on a fairly large radius to show where the focus lies.

Classic Lensbaby blur and glow
Lensbaby Edge 50 wide open
Can you see where the focal plane is?

Anyway, lecture over, here are the rest of the images from this morning wander around the block just as the mist was starting to clear. It’s an eclectic mix but all shot within a few hundred yards of my front door.

© Dave Whenham
Grass and Mist
Lensbaby Edge 50 wide open
Lingering Colour


© Dave Whenham
This one shows the plane of focus quite nicely too.
Lensbaby Edge 50 wide open
Not sure anything is actually pin-sharp although the tyres come close. An otherwise boring subject transformed by shooting through the wire fence with a Lensbaby into the sun.
Lensbaby Edge 50 wide open
You knew there would be a mono!

“Embracing the Blur”

I’ve pinched the title for todays post from a photographer-friend of mine to describe the latest twist in my photographic journey. Perhaps twist isn’t the right phrase, just adding another branch might be a better way of describing it.

I’m a landscape photographer primarily and so the recent brutal weather, at a time when the doc isn’t happy for me to be out in it, has been very frustrating. It’s brought home that I need an alternative outlet for my creativity for those times when the outdoors is closed to me.

There is also the 365 to consider. Taking a picture a day has been challenging but, touch wood, I’ve kept the variety of images fresh even if I have had to reuse some locations several times.  I have used a variety of cameras – DSLR, mirrorless, compact, drone and even a phone. I have used lenses from 23mm to 300mm and shot at all times of the night and day. I do still have some ideas for the coming weeks but unless I can regain full mobility I will be struggling come the Summer.

Then, the light bulb moment.

The image of the day for 4th March (below) was, as you can see,  heavily manipulated. I started with lovely early morning misty light and transformed the original shot by use of textures, blending modes and layer masks in Photoshop. This naturally, or at least naturally enough for me, led me to researching the subject online, purchasing an on-demand course, producing the images in my Floral Dance blog post and ultimately on the Definitely Dreaming website from where I stole the title to this piece.

© Dave Whenham
As shot (unprocessed)  –  Final Image

As I mention in Floral Dance it’s a while since I seriously played with floral photography, indeed I discovered that it was way back in 2008! That’s pretty much right at the beginning of my digital photography journey. Back then my floral  images were very clean and literal but as you will have seen in the Floral Dance my current approach is dramatically different.

Embracing the blur refers primarily to Janet’s love for the Lensbaby optics, of which she has a good sized collection I believe. These quirky lenses were not new to me but I last used one in 2016 and hadn’t really kept up to date with developments in the Lensbaby world.  So, of course that meant another diversion around the internet which ended up on the Wex website, where else, and the purchase of not one, but two Lensbaby optics along with the Composer Pro II which is needed to mount these optics onto the camera.

© Dave Whenham
Lensbaby fun in North Berwick harbour. Canon 5DIII with Lensbaby Spark (2012)

They won’t arrive until the end of the week so I’ve plenty of time to read and research further, and of course look at some of the fascinating Lensbaby imagery online. I will blog my progress of course but if you notice a flurry of blurry images then at least you will know why!

Forewarned is forearmed!


UPDATE: delivery brought forward – due today, three days ahead of schedule!