Chance

Macro photograph of pink, purple and blue plastic dice against a pink and purple background.

More macro fun with my Polaroid lens attachment. The dice are little plastic beads on a bracelet and the background is a section of rainbow fur. I love how experimenting with macro photography has me looking for tiny details in everything now!

Elements

Macro photograph of part of a silver five pointed star against a red, orange, yellow and green background.

Playing with my Polaroid macro attachment again, this time with flash instead of natural light. The 5 pointed star is a pendant on a necklace and the background is a section of rainbow fur.

Prints available at http://www.deviantart.com/print/38428108/

Holga lens for dSLR: Product review, indoor test with natural light

Photograph of a Holga lens for Sony dSLR.

In my never-ending quest to find affordable photographic toys, I recently discovered this little beauty on Amazon for £12.99. Although the one I linked to is specifically for Sony dSLRs, you can get them for just about any brand of camera at a similar price.

Photograph of a Holga lens for Sony dSLR.

The picture above shows where the light travelling through the lens makes its way into your camera. There’s no aperture control. It is what it is. And it is so much fun!

Photograph of a Holga lens for Sony dSLR.

The picture above shows the focusing ring. You have four options, which appear to be Person, Small Group of People, Larger Group of People and Landscape. I’m pretty sure they refer to distances, although the whole thing is so gloriously imprecise, it’s pretty much just a case of do what you reckon might work and take your chances. You can still control the shutter speed on your camera though.

Reference photograph of a glass clock shot with a Sony lens on a Sony Alpha dSLR

These photos weren’t taken with any particular artistic intent. I set up a scene which included material that was opaque and material that was transparent/reflective, had bright highlights and strong shadows, and was lit by natural light to gauge how the Holga lens’ quirks and irregularities affected all those things. The image above was shot with a Sony 18-55mm lens on my Alpha A550 as a point of reference. It’s had nothing at all done to it beyond converting the RAW file to jpeg.

Photograph of an ornamental glass clock shot with a Holga lens on a Sony dSLR camera. Unprocessed, straight out of camera image.

Above is the shot-with-the-Holga-lens version of that scene, still using the A550 camera body, also completely unedited. It’s almost totally out of focus, there’s all sorts of weird stuff going on with the vignetting and it’s really rather beautiful.

Photograph of a window and blinds taken with a Holga lens on a Sony dSLR. Unprocessed, straight out of camera image.

This picture also demonstrates the lovely things that the Holga lens does to focus and the way light and shadow play at the edges of the frame. The test photos here only demonstrate a fraction of the wonderful ways a Holga lens can transform digital photography from precise and predictable to random and experimental. I haven’t yet used this lens to shoot outdoors, to take photos of people, or things in the distance, or when using flash rather than natural lighting, but when I do these things, the results will be shared here.

My verdict so far? I adore this little lens. It’s exciting, slightly ridiculous and seriously fun. At less than £13, it also comes at a price where “But I wouldn’t use it that often” isn’t really an issue. Also, I got through this entire review without rhyming the words “plastic” and “fantastic” so I’m feeling a bit proud of myself right now.

Polaroid Macro Lens Attachment Review

Sometimes you just know. From the first moment, you feel it in your heart, an almost magnetic draw. You feel weak with desire and you know that you’re going to surrender. You whisper, “Together, we will experience so many beautiful moments. With you, I will see the world in a new way. I want you. I need you. I must have you. Plus, you’re totally affordable and compatible with my existing lenses”.

Polaroid macro attachment and adapter ring

And that’s the moving tale of how I met my Polaroid Studio Series .43x wide angle lens with macro attachment on Amazon*. The one I linked to is the exact one I bought, sold as Sony-compatible because it comes with an adapter ring which makes it fit a bunch of Sony lenses. You can get the same piece of kit for just about any brand of camera and size of lens – all the compatibility is down to the adapter ring that comes with it.

Although this is a wide angle WITH macro, I’m going to focus on the macro attachment today (I’ll get to the wide angle option at a later date when I’ve had a chance to play with it). All you do to get up (very) close and personal is unscrew the macro attachment from the wide angle lens, add the adapter ring, then attach it to whatever lens you want to use. And guess what? Autofocus works through the macro attachment! Obviously it’s personal preference whether you want to use auto or manual focus, but it’s good to have options and fun if you like to go off-tripod (like I do) or have hands that get really shaky when you’re tired (also like I do).

To be honest, I wasn’t expecting this to be amazing. After all, it’s seriously inexpensive. I thought it’d be kind of alright and really just bought it because I like having new toys to play with. I set up some small shiny things on a windowsill to take advantage of the lovely early evening light (ok, I was too lazy to set up any lighting) and started to shoot.

First of all, here’s a very much not artistic reference photo to show you the still life arrangement I was working with. I took this photo with an 18-55mm lens on my Sony Alpha A550.

The Shining Face of Death (reference)

This picture is straight-out-of-camera, so basically converted from RAW to jpeg with absolutely no adjustments made to the RAW file to change its appearance.

The Shining Face of Death (unprocessed)

This picture is the processed version, with colour and saturation adjustments made during RAW processing to make everything look a bit warmer and brighter, mostly because that’s the opposite of how skull-like things are usually depicted.

The Shining Face of Death

I’m not joking when I say I absolutely ADORE this little piece of glass. I shot with a fairly wide aperature (f5.6) and the resulting bokeh was stunning. I cannot even express how inspired I’m feeling right now about experimenting with different materials, textures and colours. At the risk of sounding like I’m giving an acceptance speech, I want to thank my parents. They gave me the beautiful Butler and Wilson shoulder brooch and my mum, who is a talented lady, made the beaded jewellery that I used as a background.

I know that if I spent a couple of hundred pounds on a macro lens I might get better results or different results or something else that would justify spending literally ten times more than I paid for this little gem, but I can honestly say I’m beyond satisfied with what £24.99 has bought me. Having never tried macro photography before and knowing that it’s unlikely to be a great money-making venture for me at any point, I was really just looking for something affordable and simple to produce artistic close-up photos with. I’m pretty sure I found it.

Prints of the finished image are available at http://www.deviantart.com/print/38388122/

*You might notice on the Amazon listing that the price is £24.99. That is the amount that I paid. For some reason, which I am not daft enough to question, my order arrived with a telephoto lens fitting as well, all in one sealed package. So I got a bonus telephoto lens and you’ll get a bonus product review once I’ve tried it out.

RockstarVanity now on Pinterest

RockstarVanity on Pinterest

Yay! I’m now on Pinterest!

A few weeks ago, a friend said something that got me thinking. She asked “Do you put your photos on Pinterest? Cause a lot of the time when I’m looking for something, I don’t even bother with Google. I go straight to Pinterest”. It suddenly hit me that although I hadn’t put my photos on Pinterest, other people probably had. I had a quick look – it turns out other people definitely had. I’d never really considered Pinterest to be a thing that photographers might use, mostly because I’d never really considered Pinterest at all. I had an account there from a couple of years ago that I used to collect make-up and hair colour ideas, but I rarely logged in. After reading a few articles online about why Pinterest can be good for photographers, I decided to take the plunge. Because I totally need another social media platform to obsess over. Always. This is a run-down of my (fairly limited, to be honest) experience so far…

SIGNING UP
Creating an account on Pinterest is really easy. You can sign up with Facebook (no thanks) or create an account with an email address and password (yes please). I’d read about Pinterest for Business, which offers fabulous analytics (crunchy numbers!) and allows you to use a business name instead of the usual Firstname Lastname format, so I converted my brand new account to a business account and verified my website by adding a little snippet of code to the relevant place in my Portfoliobox control panel. My only minor gripe about Pinterest profiles is that they really don’t offer much space for a description or general information. There’s also a limit on how many characters in your business name will actually show up on your profile page without being truncated, hence mine being RockstarVanity Photography rather than RockstarVanity Photographic Art.

SHARING MY PHOTOS
Pinterest’s content policies are quite vague. I always err on the side of caution when it comes to what I upload to social media platforms, so chose to refrain from including any of my artistic nude photography and some of my fetish-themed and horror photography. On the horror photographs that I have pinned, I’ve made it very clear in the descriptions that blood and injuries are created with make-up and have avoided anything that might even hint at suicide or self-harm. The boards I made for my photos generally follow the categories I’ve used on my website, with a few minor changes. I also created a board specifically for my prints on DeviantArt because it allows me to show ALL my prints in one place, which DeviantArt unfortunately does not. I absolutely love that board covers can be changed (the default is to use the most recent pin on that board) so I was able to choose my favourite photos to use as covers. My only issue with pinning to boards so far is that it isn’t possible to rearrange or reorder pins once they’re pinned without using fiddly workarounds or annoying (and ugly) browser add-ons.

SHARING OTHER CONTENT
I could spend my life pinning other people’s beautiful photographs – no, seriously, I actually could cause Pinterest is totally addictive – but I felt a better use for my account would be to share things that I find useful, or that I know my photographer friends would find useful. After a lot of thought, I opted to create a selection of boards based around tips, advice and tutorials for different kinds of photography, along with a board for blogging and photo sharing resources and one for photography quotes. I only started looking for content to pin on these boards today and already I’ve found so many awesome things! I spent quite a bit of time reading about how to name and describe boards to help people find them and was glad to know in advance that only a certain number of characters in a board title show up on the preview. This really helped with choosing clear and concise names for my boards from the get-go, then going into a bit more detail in the descriptions.

MY PINNING PLANS
I’m still finding my feet on Pinterest and have only been using it for a few days, which is obvious from the lack of interaction on my profile so far. Most of that time has been spent getting everything set up and pinning my own photos and prints to begin with, but I’m enjoying it already and plan to pin regularly. I love that Pinterest allows me to create a resource that’s useful to other people as well as fun for me to curate!