Today, I took a huge step forward towards making my photography more distinct and creative. I spent hours on the phone with B& H photo talking about new ways to stretch my comfort zone. We studied and discussed about 20 different lens, Eli and I settled on the same one at the same time.
I've been studying different specialty lenses, and I loved the Lemography Petzval (what a great name,) I've been reading about it for days. it is manual lens with an old gear mechanism for focusing, I will have to work hard to understand it and work with it.
The lens is quite striking looking. It supposedly takes phenomenal portraits, unlike any I have taken so far. I traded in one of my current lenses and purchased a very exotic brass plated version – the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens.
This very famous and iconic lens was designed by Joseph Pezval, a Russian in 1840, at the time when portrait photography was flourishing. This is a rarely used or purchased lens, because of the gear mechanism and the manual focus B&H said hey have only sold a handful in the past few years, there are only three reviews of the lens on the B&H website, there are usually thousands.
The lens is essentially the same lens that was designed in 1840.
It's Russian glass, which I've never used before (four lens elements in three groups), famous for it's sharpness, a handcrafted lens with a radical Bokeh (background blur) control ring. The reviews say the lens, which has a 58 mm focal length together with an f/1.9 maximum aperture, gives me almost total control over the blurred areas of my portraits, the backgrounds.
The lens focusing mechanism is gear rack focusing, something I have heard of but never have even seen used.
This enables the photographer to move the viewer from one place to another, all within the same shot. I have some learning to do.
I like that this lens will challenge me. My Canon 5D Mark III does a lot of thinking for me, I want to do some more of my own. Good photography is part luck and part skill. I want to expand on the skill.
I will use the Petzval 58, as I call it, for portraits, I think, and for some still-life street scenes and some landscapes. I bought four aperture plates which have to be manually inserted into the top of the lens casing (above) to change the aperture settings. I adjust the focus by turning the screw, it will not be a simple adjustment for me, and I can't shoot fast-moving things without a lot of practice.
The lens actually the same lens that Petzval first designed, a big stretch for someone who has only used DSLR's with sophisticated stabilizing and focusing systems. There are no electronics in the lens. None of that here.
The lens comes tomorrow and I am excited about it. I also took another big leap for $24 I bought a standard pinhole ring so I can take black and white pinhole photographs, a form of photography that I love. The old photographs stuck a pinhole through a piece of paper and shot through it, the effect is haunting and lovely.
So two new challenges for me, two ways of taking distinctive photos that are different, and hopefully, beautiful. I will spent about $750 for both and I feel like a little kid, it is exciting, and I'm a bit nervous. I didn't want to buy another fancy Canon super lens, and I can't afford it anyway..
As always, the photographs will be posted on the blog, and are free to anyone who wishes to use them for any reason. You can use them as screensavers or print them out. I don't bookmark or copyright my photographs, I see them as spirits and angels going forth to bring color and light to the world.
A pinhole camera is essentially a light box with a small hole in it. I fell in love with pinhole photography on a recent trip to New York City, a pinhole photographer was selling his photos on the High Line and they were quite wonderful. My black and white monochrome camera is perfect for both the Petaval 58 mm lens and the pinhole mount.
I hope to begin shooting with the new lens this weekend and will share the results with you as soon as I can. Stay tuned. I see this as yet another step forward for the blog as well as for my photography.