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 09 2012 at 10:58 pm #

    oh my gosh emma, your images are always so stunning. i LOVE how you use the lensbaby in your work! i want one so bad & it’s on my list of things to buy when i have some fun money. looks like so much fun.

  2. Dec 09 2012 at 11:00 pm #

    What beautiful, inspiring photos. :) Thank you for sharing, and for mentoring!

  3. Nikki
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    Thanks for the review! I hope I get one; looks like fun :)

  4. Wendy Riseborough
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:03 pm #

    I have wanted a lensbaby for a loooonnnggg time! Such awesome photos!

  5. Catherine
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    Beautiful images! I’d love to win!

  6. Dec 09 2012 at 11:06 pm #

    This product looks super fun to use. Going to the site now….

  7. Heather Dost
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:07 pm #

    How fun!

  8. Alison
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:08 pm #

    Great pics!

  9. Rebecca Bitti
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:11 pm #

    Looks like a lot of fun!

  10. Ann-Marie
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:12 pm #

    Very cool! Great blog and post! Thanks!

  11. Dec 09 2012 at 11:13 pm #

    I recently had a chance to use a lensbaby when a fellow photographer and I went out to location shoot at an old abandon barn. I fell in love. No question about it. I had one of the photos printed and it is under the tree as a gift to my mother for christmas. I hope someday soon to own one of these treasures for myself. thank you for the opportunity to win one =)

  12. Danielle Ford
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:14 pm #

    Sublime imagery :) I want to get my
    Hands on a lensbaby! Looks like fun

  13. Dec 09 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    The Lensbaby has been on my wish list for so long!!

  14. Dec 09 2012 at 11:16 pm #

    They are really stunning, makes me want to get one

  15. Helen
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    Being a photographer in Alaska it would be fun to use …..

  16. melody
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:23 pm #

    How pretty! I’d love to try it out…

  17. Edwina
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:26 pm #

    Would love to try this out!

  18. Dec 09 2012 at 11:28 pm #

    I would love to have a lens baby! It’s on my gift list already! :) thanks for the offer!

  19. Dec 09 2012 at 11:31 pm #

    I dream of these dreamy images using a lensbaby..

  20. Lynne
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Thanks for the amazing opportunity! I would love to win!

  21. Gregory
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:33 pm #

    Love the Look, Lensbaby does it again!

  22. KV
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:34 pm #

    Great giveaway! I would love to win.

  23. Dec 09 2012 at 11:36 pm #

    Awesome post! I would LOVE to win this!

  24. Karin Erickson
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    Love to win this for my hubby!

  25. Alicia M.
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:39 pm #

    I’ve been wanting this exact one — fingers crossed! Great post, and thank you so much! :)

  26. elisabeth
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:40 pm #

    This is facinating. Would love to try it out.

  27. Dec 09 2012 at 11:43 pm #

    Have always wanted a lensbaby! Love seeing these images :)

  28. Christina
    Dec 09 2012 at 11:51 pm #

    I’ve been wanting a Lensbaby for so long! This would be my Christmas gift to myself…

  29. Dec 09 2012 at 11:55 pm #

    Awesome prize :)

  30. Dec 10 2012 at 12:01 am #

    I would love to have this! Super awesome!

  31. Dec 10 2012 at 12:02 am #

    Winning a Lensbaby would probably be the awesome-est Christmas ever!!! I’d love to shoot my kids with one!!

  32. Dec 10 2012 at 12:05 am #

    This is such an amazing site, and the images and tutorials are great! I love this about the LensBaby lenses, the images displayed are amazing! I’m in love!

  33. Dec 10 2012 at 12:07 am #

    I have been eyeing up the Lensbaby Composer pro for awhile now…truthfully the whole concept intrigues and terrifies me at the same time! Thank you for this post Emma, I think that I’m ready to take the plunge!! :)

  34. Dec 10 2012 at 12:12 am #

    Would LOVE one of these! Looks SO fun!

  35. Gayle
    Dec 10 2012 at 12:23 am #

    I would love to win one of these…I have been trying to save up to get one, but something always comes up!

  36. Kylie
    Dec 10 2012 at 12:34 am #

    I likey !!!!

  37. Allison
    Dec 10 2012 at 12:36 am #

    Tilt shift is becoming my new favorite style of photography,and great to learn how the Lensbaby can accomplish this. Thanks for the info!

  38. Dec 10 2012 at 12:50 am #

    I have been dying to get a lensbaby ever since Emma’s breakout first ran! What a wonderful post and fantastic giveaway!

  39. Kim
    Dec 10 2012 at 12:58 am #

    Would love one of these!

  40. Robyn Kelley
    Dec 10 2012 at 1:00 am #

    You should try using a lens baby while shooting hot air balloons…uh-ma-zing!!!!!

  41. Dec 10 2012 at 1:03 am #

    Lens baby brings out the curious creative in me. I love using it when I can.

  42. Ania
    Dec 10 2012 at 1:22 am #

    Love this! Looks really magical!

  43. Mandy J
    Dec 10 2012 at 1:33 am #

    Would love to win one! Beautiful shots.

  44. christine herrle
    Dec 10 2012 at 2:21 am #

    I have never had the opportunity to use one of these! Oh, how I would be tinkled pink to win one! The powerful feel they can give to a photo is stunning!! Wish….

  45. Leontien van Veen
    Dec 10 2012 at 2:25 am #

    Thank you for this great article Emma, makes me want the Lensbaby even more…. Thanks for the chance!

  46. Dec 10 2012 at 2:38 am #

    Would love to win the lensbaby! Love the effects on the portraits!

  47. Yuri
    Dec 10 2012 at 3:14 am #

    Beautiful images as always. I would love to try it out:)

  48. Angie Custer
    Dec 10 2012 at 3:38 am #

    I would love to try this!!! Amazing pics!!

  49. Marnie
    Dec 10 2012 at 3:54 am #

    I love Lensbaby images and these are no exception. What a great giveaway :)

  50. Dec 10 2012 at 4:19 am #

    What a fantastic product!


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