Lens Whacked

Lens whacking (aka free lensing) is a video technique where an old manual focus lens is used in front of a digital camera body, but not attached. The idea is that you can move the focus and let in light leaks. The beauty of this technique is that you get a really nice old fashioned filmic look to footage without faffing about with a lot of processing and software. Of course, with most current DSLR’s having a live view mode, you can use the technique for stills photography as well.


This was my first attempt. I was happy with it. The first thing I realised is that it isn’t easy. Balancing that lens in front of the camera while trying the different effects was hard enough, but then try and get to the shutter button! (I used a Zuiko 28mm lens in front of an EOS 60D and liked the combo.)

The next day was sunny, so it was out into the back garden. Strangely enough, I found this harder! Still, a nice focus effect.

in the garden

As a video technique, I really like it. It gives a super 8 kind of look and feel, and I love the effect for photography. Something I shall be playing with more and more over the summer.

A really good link for the technique is on Philip Bloom’s website.


Welcoming Back an Old Friend

Moving from Nikon to Canon has had one benefit. It meant I could get an old EOS film body and get a couple of cheap lenses that I could use with my digital body and not have to run yet another system. That old film body was the 50E.

Canon EOS 50E

The 50E is one of my all time favourite cameras. I love the styling, which has never dated like some cameras. Yes, the 30 which replaced it was sleeker and had more autofocus points, but I think this looks better. It’s also nice to have a camera with eye controlled focus again. I know some people didn’t like it, but I’ve always been a fan of it and I think it is a shame that Canon never carried on developing it.

So welcome back old friend. I look forward to putting you through your paces.

All Change.

Time flies. Can’t believe it has been a few months since I last posted. To say I’ve been busy is an understatement, but, the first year of university is almost over and there’s plenty of news to come.

Of all the excuses for not posting, not having any camera gear has been a pretty good one! After Christmas it was goodbye to Nikon and a long search for a replacement. After a lot of research I opted for a return to Canon and ended up with a 60D. I like the camera and partnered with a Sigma 17-70 F2.8-4 produces really nice results. I’m loving the jump in ISO and reduction in noise and the colour rendition is really nice. (Sounds like there’s a ‘but’ coming I hear you say, and there is.)

I do miss Nikon. As a photographic tool Nikon works the way I work. I love the autofocus system, which, for me, is far better and more flexible than Canon’s. I prefer the layout of the controls, although I will give Canon the edge on the metering. The irony however, is that my DSLR is now no longer just a photographic tool and my focus (pun intended!) is moving more to video. Sadly, Nikon don’t seem to get the video thing yet, which is a shame, because Canon is running so far ahead of the video game that not even Sony can catch them up, and Sony has some nice offerings. Most of the guys I’ve teamed up with at Uni are also Canon users and the final thing that swayed me was Magic Lantern, which does some amazing things to the 60D. (A lot of buzz is being generated lately by the Raw footage ML are getting out of the 5D mark III as well.) Magic Lantern has turned Canon’s DSLR’s into a serious movie making tool for independent film-makers. To be honest, if it wasn’t for Magic Lantern I would have gone for Sony. (I fell in love with the NEX 6 after playing with it for 5 minutes.)

So, time to catch up, post some pics, and reveal something about my next project. Gonna be fun.

To Colour or not to Colour

Essay time is fast approaching and I have a choice of things to consider, but I’ve plumped for how photographer’s use colour. I thought it would be nice to reference some of the great photographers that present their work on the blogosphere.

If you feel like you can spare a couple of minutes it would be great to get opinions on why you choose colour or black and white for a particular image, or your particular style? What kind of colour do you like in your images – saturated, desaturated or natural?

If you feel you can contribute, just leave a comment below, if not, no worries. For those who comment and that I can use in my essay, I’ll reference your blogs in the bibliography.

So Long, and Thanks for All The Films

It’s been a while since I did any Kodak bashing, but the latest news from Rochester is that part of the business up for sale will include its consumer film emulsions. Interestingly, they still plan on producing motion picture film, and there is some debate about whether Kodak includes its professional films with its consumer films!

Whatever it sells off, and whatever it keeps, I think it is safe to say that Kodak is officially dead. Everything that made Kodak great is gone or going to the highest bidder, and judging by the difficulty they’ve had selling off what should be a very lucrative patent portfolio, one has to wonder how they will ever sell an unprofitable part of the business.

The really annoying thing for me though are the number of anti-film/film is dead/ why would anyone use film comments circulating off the back of the story. Well Kodak’s film stock may be going bye-bye, but Ilford are turning a profit, Fuji are doing okay, despite whittling the range down, and there are plenty of Eastern European companies making film. There’s even Lomography, and let’s face it, any company who’s livelihood is built on selling cheap plastic cameras to people who’ll pay a massive premium for them is going to make sure there’s film available.

Kodak may be dead, but film lives on, despite the naysayers.

More Sad News

It slipped under my radar did this, but Cecil Jacobs has gone into receivership. For those not familiar with these shores, Jacobs was one of the better high street photographic retailers. Not a major chain, but I’ve lived in two areas where Jacobs had stores and I have to say they were some of the best around.

As if that wasn’t enough, Ritz camera’s in the US has also filed for bankruptcy. Hard times all round it seems.

The news didn’t get much fanfare, which is a shame since if it had been Jessops, there would have been a lot more noise I think.

Rather than pontificate about the news, I though instead i would pay tribute to the staff at the Jacobs store in Leeds. I’ve bought all my digital Nikon gear from them and if I’d had more money, i would have spent it there. (Alas!) It was clear from the start that each of them knew their stuff and it was always a pleasure to pop in and talk about gear and the craft. (Something I’ve never been able to say about Jessops!)

I hope the administrators find a buyer for the chain and that Jacobs remains a fixture on our high street.

Here’s hoping.



Of all the shots in my back catalogue, this is the one I’m proudest of. Taken six years ago, this was part of my first personal photo project. Taking advantage of the Government’s edict that parents could take a certain amount of unpaid leave to look after children, an opportunity presented itself where I needed to take a month off. I decided that I would spend the month following my two year old daughter around and capture that period of her life.

I decided on a 1 camera, 1 lens, 1 film approach for the month. My choices were a Nikon F100 (I really do miss that camera), a 50mm F1.8 AF-D and because most of the shots would be in the house I opted for Kodak T-MAX 3200 as my film.

This shot was taken as she was settling down for the night and was lit with a single bedside lamp, a simple and natural setup.

I love this shot. I like the composition, the way she is staring at the camera. I love the grain and the contrast of the film. Kodak really made a great film in the 3200 T-MAX emulsion. Most of all I really love the lighting, which for me, makes this image.

A sad anecdote: I posted this image elsewhere shortly after it was developed and someone commented that it was out of focus and too soft, suggesting I should have chosen a lower ISO. It made me realise that there was a generation of photographers growing up without understanding the finer points of film, especially a film like T-MAX 3200. Made me feel very lucky to have grown up on film.