A New Lens, A New Start

Today’s Post by Mildred Alpern

With any new lens, there is always a learning curve, some easier to master than others. A lens that auto focuses is a big aid in shooting. More assistance comes from the lens manufacturer, photo reviews, and YouTube videos that describe in detail the specifications and attributes of the lens and offer sample photos. But there is nothing like popping the lens on your camera and taking it out for your personal spin to see what it can do.

I recently acquired the Lensbaby Composer Pro with Edge 50mm Optic f/3.2. It is a manual focusing lens with a ball and socket design that does slicing or carving out a selective focus that is sharp with encompassing blur. This design is done by moving and tilting the lens which swivels up/down/left/right thus changing the angle of the plane of focus. The “carving,” that is, the direction of the slice whether horizontal, vertical or diagonal creates a dramatic special-effects view.

That was my experience when I decided to shoot the NYC Guggenheim Museum on Fifth Avenue on a recent Sunday morning: The 50mm lens (100mm equivalent) was too tight for me to get more than a detail of the museum from my position blocked by cars and trees. I pondered and then viewed the open corner, half in sun, half in shade across the street where passersby were walking and idling. I made a series of shots isolating passersby while tilting the lens in different directions and focusing both with magnification and color peaking. The images reminded me of Edward Hopper’s scenes of solitude. I am new to this lens, but persistent in mastering its capabilities including its macro close function focus. And therein lies the fun. (More posts will follow.)

All images were shot with the Olympus E-Mark II in Aperture Mode and the Lensbaby Composer Pro with Edge 50 Optic f/3.2 ($399.95.) There is no EXIF data but it is clear that the image with the standing woman is sliced vertically and the image with the walking woman sliced diagonally.

During July, you can see Mildred Alpern’s work in person at the St. Agnes public library in NYC located at Amsterdam and 81St. Tel. no. (212) 621-0619. The exhibit will feature 26 metal prints and several posters showcasing her images of Winter Gardens and Seedheads. The poster (at left) is Mildred’s personal homage to Piet Oudolf.