C.P. #5: Something Different

In focus, glowing brightly!

In any creative endeavor, we can find ourselves in a proverbial rut sometimes. This has happened a number of times during all the years that I have dabbled in the photographic arts; across nearly 50 years of photography, one looks to learn and improve. When I struggle to see improvement in my work, I tend to question the why behind my photography, which might lead down a couple of rabbit holes!

Luckily, photography is not a one-dimensional means of expression, as there are lots of choices to make to get that image you might be after. Aperture, shutter speed and composition are starting points. Of course, the equipment we use for a particular shot matters, as it did in this image from 2009…

Zone Plate Yellow no. 1

At first glance, you might ask what is so unusual about an image that is out of focus? The catch is that this image is not out of focus. It was captured with a Lensbaby Composer using a zone plate lens. You may ask what all this means, unless you too have dabbled with this kind of lens.

A zone plate lens is effectively a series of rings surrounding a center hole with each of the clear zones of these rings equalling the area of the center hole; thus each zone gets thinner as you move away from the center of the zone plate. You may still be scratching your head, and I could tell you that the zone plate uses diffraction for focusing rather than refraction, the way a standard lens works. Based on analysis by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel, the lens was constructed with the spacing of zones to create constructive interference of the diffracted light, thus producing the image.

This might still sound a bit odd, so let me share that one of the effects is that the detail of the image is given a surrounding glow, as you can see in the above shot. This might be an effect that one tries to achieve in post-processing; for me, it is enjoyable to capture this intent right in camera. The post-processing that I applied consisted mostly of raising contrast and bumping up saturation to create a more vibrant image. There also was a bit of retouching of dust spots on the sensor, as the zone plate has an effective aperture of f/22.

I’m curious to hear what type of photography equipment options you use to boost your creative juices. Let me know.

Author: jansenphoto

A Fresh Perspective Photography is more than just a vehicle for capturing the world around me; it provides me with a palette and a set of brushes, with which I paint not only what I see, but also look to express the emotions that are evoked by the scene in front of me in that moment. Growing up in the Netherlands exposed me to a wide cross-section of visual arts that laid the foundation of my photographic view of all that surrounds me. Early influences were the Dutch Masters of the 17th century, to whom I was introduced by my grandfather during museum explorations; favorites among them are the scenes of quotidian life depicted by Jan Steen and Frans Hals and the vivid landscapes of Jacob van Ruisdael. My classical high school education was supplemented by the Boijmans Van Beuningen museum, where I spent many a lunch hour exploring its great collection. Here I was introduced to surrealism with a particular love for the approach taken by Salvador Dali; Dali also rekindled my appreciation for the work of Hieronymus Bosch, who often showed the folly of us mortals. Universal Connections My approach to any photographic subject is to look for understanding first; in this I look to establish either a connection between the viewer and the subject or capture the connection of the subject with its surroundings. The captured image then aims to portray this connection from a perspective that is part of my personal interpretation. This interpretation is often a form of externalized introspection, which may alternately display the connection of isolated beings and items with their environment or highlight the whimsy of the profound world, in which we find ourselves. The universe is full of connections, many of which are waiting to be discovered; part of my journey as a photographer is to document these connections. Any assignment, be it an event, a product shoot or a portrait session is always approached through communication with the client; this is where the first connection is established. Ideas are exchanged and a collaborative plan of action forms, ultimately resulting in a set of images that aim to exceed the expectations of each client. And, lest we forget, it is important to have fun while practicing the serious business of photography!

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