how to rock a lensbaby

by Emma Wood

how to rock a lensbaby photo

If you’ve never used a lensbaby before, they almost seem like a mysterious kind of secret, something unique and totally different.  This is how I felt before I joined in on the fun about nine months ago.   Lately I’ve found more and more people experimenting with them, and loving them.   They bring something fresh and new to images and they are not expensive compared to most lenses.   I remember being totally intrigued with them before I got mine, from how they work technically to how you attach them to the camera.  There’s a great deal of information on the Lensbaby website, but really the only way to explore a lensbaby is to get your hands on one and have a go.   Lensbaby lenses attach directly onto your camera body and there are eight interchangeable optics that can be easily removed or replaced with one another.  Each of these optics give you slightly different effects.  The lenses are built to bend, as much or as little as you wish, which is what gives you the tilt shift effect. I own the Composer Pro with double glass Optic and the Sweet 35 Optic.  I couldn’t tell you which I prefer, both are uniquely fun in their own way and I like to switch them around depending on my mood and the image that I’m creating.

These images were taken earlier this year using the double glass optic.  I love the ethereal feel that this lens gives to the images, it almost takes them into another realm.

how to rock a lensbaby photo

how to rock a lensbaby photo

There is definitely a learning curve when using a Lensbaby and one of the things that I found when first using one, is that I shot more frames then I usually would.  As time went on and I become more familiar and comfortable with it, I found myself shooting less frames, but it’s just something that improved with practice.  I also take the time to stop and look in the viewfinder after the first few frames and especially if I bend the lens – I want to make sure that focus is still falling on my subject and each time you bend the tilt shift part of the lens, this can change.  I would recommend when practicing at first, not bending the lens too much, you’ll still get a lovely blurry background and it’s easier to keep focus on your subject.

how to rock a lensbaby photo

Practice is the key with Lensbaby, the more you practice the better you get.  I’ve found this to be true of everything photography related but the slightly more unpredictable nature of a Lensbaby or a tilt shift makes this even more necessary.  For me, the practicing and experimenting is the fun part.

Another great way to practice is to use objects that don’t move.  This allows you to get used to the lens, without worrying about focusing on moving subjects.  These were taken using my double glass optic.

how to rock a lensbaby photo

how to rock a lensbaby photo

Capturing children with a lensbaby

One of my favourite ways to use a lens baby is capturing my kids.  The fantastic tilt shift effect of the lens just enhances that dreaminess and playfulness that we often associate with childhood.  It allows me to focus completely on my subject, leaving the background very soft and smudgy.

It’s absolutely possible to get a nice sharp subject with a lens baby but I have to admit, moving children are not the easiest subjects in the world.  I’ve adopted a pretty relaxed attitude when using the combination of kids and the lensbaby because sometimes I get images like this:

how to rock a lensbaby photo

(composer pro with sweet 35 optic)

how to rock a lensbaby photo

and other times I get images like this:

how to rock a lensbaby photo

how to rock a lensbaby photo

I try not to get hung up about the whole focus thing, because if I did, I’d miss moments like these, and I love them every bit as much.   Having fun with the lensbaby is really what matters to me and why I reach for it as often as I do.

how to rock a lensbaby photo

how to rock a lensbaby photo

how to rock a lensbaby photo

Whenever I’m feeling in a rut, or just uninspired, this is my lens of choice.  Lensbaby takes me out of the everyday, out of the ordinary and allows me to take my images just that little bit further.

how to rock a lensbaby photoEmma Wood, United Arab Emirates
CMU Instructor | CM Mentor
website | facebook | twitter | pinterest | instagram | google+ | ask a pro | daily project
Emma currently resides in the United Arab Emirates with her pilot husband and 5 of their 7 children, the older kids are now studying in the UK. She loves any chance she gets to spend some one on one time with her children, watching a movie with her husband, or getting out and about and exploring new places. Emma starts her day with a Latte and can’t live without her earl grey tea, camera, iPhone, MacBook Air, avocados and miso soup. Despite discovering photography as a means to document her children’s lives within the past few years, she has always had a love for photography, “particularly black and white which stems from my love of black and white films when I was a child.” Her passion is black and white photography, often described as moody and earthy, and bringing out beauty from the most simple concepts. Emma arms herself with a Nikon D700, a variety of prime lenses and a Lensbaby. She is the instructor of the CMU workshops Shooting 103: Foundations of Composition, Shooting 107: The Art of Mobile Photography, and Shooting 205: Timeless Photography and Emotive Expression.

Read all photography tutorials by Emma Wood.

sponsored giveaway!

Congratulations to Melanie who said, “I love those ethereal looking shots! Beautiful! I would love to have one. What a fun Christmas gift that would be!” on being the random winner!  I will email you soon about claiming your new lensbaby!

We’d like to say a huge thank you to Lensbaby for sponsoring today’s blog post!  They have so generously donated a Composer Pro with Sweet 35 to one random commenter on today’s post.  How awesome is that?!  Simply comment on this post before next Tuesday December 11th at 12pm EST to enter to win.  We’ll be back here on Tuesday to update the article with the winner.  Good luck and please share with your friends so they have a chance too!


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852 Responses to “how to rock a lensbaby”

  1. Dec 10 2012 at 5:03 am #

    want one sooo bad <3

  2. mARTa
    Dec 10 2012 at 5:56 am #

    Mysterious images of babies is what I’d like to photograph next. Very inspiring post and images! Thank you for sharing Emma.

  3. Dec 10 2012 at 6:09 am #

    Lovely images as always Emma. The lensbaby is a bit intimidating for me, but I have been wanting one for the past two years, I would love to win great giveaway!

  4. Dec 10 2012 at 6:18 am #

    A couple of my friends have posted pictures using the Lensbaby. It really.seems like. Great way to.add a little fun and some interesting effects to an image. Kudos to CM and Lensbaby for offering this contest.

  5. Astrid
    Dec 10 2012 at 6:19 am #

    Love it… definitely would love to win one of these. :)

  6. Helene Sell
    Dec 10 2012 at 6:29 am #


  7. Libby O'Reilly
    Dec 10 2012 at 6:50 am #

    Such gorgeous, inspiring images! I think I might have to talk to Santa about a Lenababy…

  8. Erin
    Dec 10 2012 at 7:24 am #

    Lovely photos! I’d love to have a lens baby!!!!

  9. Courtney
    Dec 10 2012 at 7:29 am #

    I would love to own a lensbaby to rock my kids and cats! I love learning about photography and pushing my creativity.

  10. Susan
    Dec 10 2012 at 7:41 am #


  11. Dec 10 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Love this post- have been wanting a lens baby for a long time and keeping my fingers crossed that I will have one soon!

  12. Kelli Schoefer
    Dec 10 2012 at 8:08 am #

    I’ve wanted a Lens Baby for so long! I’d love to rock one! =)

  13. Zabrina Bouvier
    Dec 10 2012 at 9:08 am #

    Beautiful! Very interested in trying one if these!

  14. Amanda McKay
    Dec 10 2012 at 9:19 am #

    Lovely shots!

  15. Allison Beuker
    Dec 10 2012 at 9:50 am #

    I love these shots. After a very busy fall season, I feel like I’m in a bit of a rut stylistically. I would love to add a Lensbaby to my bag, and broaden my horizons. I know a few of my clients would adore this look, and I can already visualize some great shots of my own kids. It’s definitely on my gear wish list!

  16. Susan T.
    Dec 10 2012 at 9:50 am #

    Beautiful pictures.

  17. Olivia
    Dec 10 2012 at 10:10 am #

    I would love to win this. One of my passions is creating different and unique pictures! This fits perfect with my style!! :) thanks for the contest!!

  18. Nicole
    Dec 10 2012 at 10:23 am #

    These are beautiful! I have been drooling over the Lensbaby for awhile, it looks like so much fun!

  19. Joanne
    Dec 10 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I love the images you’ve shown with the lens baby and would love to add it to my other lenses. My 3 grandchildren would make good subjects!

  20. Julia
    Dec 10 2012 at 10:36 am #

    I would looove a lensbaby!!

  21. Sandy Young
    Dec 10 2012 at 10:50 am #

    I would LOVE to win one of these!!! :-)

  22. Dec 10 2012 at 10:58 am #

    A lens baby would be sooo much fun to play with!

  23. Nicole Mursu
    Dec 10 2012 at 11:00 am #

    Would love to try out the, looks awesome! :)

  24. Michelle
    Dec 10 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    These are beautiful and would love to win one to try for myself. :)

  25. Dec 10 2012 at 2:02 pm #

    Gorgeous! I would love to play with one of these.

  26. BrieAnn Schmidt
    Dec 10 2012 at 2:59 pm #

    wow! Those are some amazing images!

  27. Holly Harrison
    Dec 10 2012 at 4:05 pm #

    Yay! What fun!

  28. Julie Mak
    Dec 10 2012 at 4:23 pm #

    Gorgeous images! Would love to be able to play with a lensbaby. And 7 kids?!? I follow Emma on IG and she makes it look so easy! :)

  29. Dec 10 2012 at 4:28 pm #

    Emma has a true gift; not only for photography, but for seeing incredible beauty in everything around her. Nobody rocks a lensbaby like her! <3

  30. Toni A
    Dec 10 2012 at 6:10 pm #

    I love the images posted above and I would never have thought they were produced by a lensbaby. Awesome

  31. Dec 10 2012 at 6:26 pm #

    Great article, Emma! Beautiful, fun images.

  32. Jen Hunter
    Dec 10 2012 at 6:44 pm #

    Beautiful images! I’ve wanted a Lensbaby for a long time now ;-) Thanks for sponsoring this giveaway!

  33. Dec 10 2012 at 7:08 pm #

    Would love to try one!

  34. Dec 10 2012 at 7:12 pm #

    I would love to be able to take pictures like this. Thanks for the great giveaway!

  35. Karen Powell
    Dec 10 2012 at 7:42 pm #

    Would love this!

  36. Dec 10 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    Wow! Beautiful work.

  37. Jody Rollins
    Dec 10 2012 at 7:45 pm #

    I have been eyeing the lensbaby for a very long time. I would LOVE to have one!!!

  38. Kristin D
    Dec 10 2012 at 7:59 pm #

    Thank you for sharing Emma! On my Christmas wish list :)

  39. Terra
    Dec 10 2012 at 9:43 pm #

    Beautiful! I just found another photography toy to ask Santa for Christmas :)

  40. Dec 10 2012 at 9:44 pm #

    I could definitely enjoy Rocking a Lens Baby! It would be perfect for my upcoming dog shoots in January!

  41. Judy
    Dec 10 2012 at 9:51 pm #

    Great article! I would love to rock a Lens Baby!

  42. Ariana
    Dec 10 2012 at 10:47 pm #

    What a great post! I would love to learn how to rock a lens baby! I am in need of something to rekindle my creativity. This would be awesome!

  43. Meredith
    Dec 11 2012 at 8:44 am #

    Great article, thanks for sharing!! I was interested before but now I really want this toy!!

  44. Amy
    Dec 11 2012 at 9:59 am #

    Those are so fun!! I would love to have one!

  45. Monica S
    Dec 11 2012 at 11:03 am #

    Awesome article and giveaway! Thanks!

  46. Monika
    Dec 23 2012 at 6:30 pm #

    Emma, thank you ones more for your advices! Great article!

  47. Jan 07 2013 at 11:08 am #

    Wow Emma, you have captured some amazing images with your lensbaby! I have been on the fence about renting one of these lenses, maybe I will give it a go!

    Inspiring post, Thank You!

  48. Olivia
    Jan 07 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    How fun! I have been wondering how shooting with these lenses would be…

  49. Jon Benson
    May 26 2013 at 11:31 am #

    Wonderful shots! I use the Sweet 35 lots of the time on my Compser and D300. Keep up the work, it looks super!


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