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…
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.