A Dreamy 19th Century Christmas
Using a special effect lens is always a great exercise in creativity. I love the extra challenge. Seeing the resulting photographs on the computer screen after the photo shoot is always a bit like opening a present. The Lensbaby Velvet 56 offers a new way of seeing and forces the photographer to let go of the notion of sharpness. The fun is in the experimentation with different levels of soft focus depending on the chosen aperture.
These photographs where taken on December 11 at The Landing, a historic village south of Minneapolis composed of authentic buildings designed to recreate 19th century life in the prairie. The buildings were all moved from various locations throughout the state. During the visit, re-enactors welcome the visitors into their ‘homes’ and talk about the hardship of life in the prairie during the winter months. For a few hours you travel from 1850 to the turn of the century, immersed in a different time period. Lucky for me, the snow storm had kept the crowds away that Sunday afternoon and I was able to collect quite a few images without ‘non historical’ people in the background.
I had never used the lens in low light situations and it was really difficult to know how the pictures would turn out from looking at the LCD on the back of the camera. I had to trust my instinct and hope for a few keepers. I was using the Fujifilm XPro2 in Acros and Classic Chrome film simulation bracketing. After a few shots, I knew that I would use the Classic Chrome, it was the perfect combination with the lens and subject matter.
I had so much fun exploring each building in search of adequate window light and interesting details of everyday life from the past. The actors were so authentic and so passionate about the time period they were reliving, I grabbed a few shots of them while they were talking with the visitors. Santa was as close to the real deal as one could ever imagine, and he took his role very seriously.
The challenge of manual focussing added another level of difficulty to the low light situation inside the buildings. I was very impressed with the performance of the lens. I don’t think one can ever master it completely. There will always be an element of surprise in the photographs it produces and that may just be the biggest appeal of the Lensbaby. The anticipation is somewhat reminiscent of shooting film.
Overall I am quite pleased with the results. The lens was the perfect companion for my time travel adventure. I can’t wait to use it again in a different era.
Wishing you all a warm Holiday Season from snowy Minnesota! Please leave a comment below.