“All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.” ~Calvin Coolidge
Sometimes I just need to take a time out and focus on what I want to know and get better at. This year has been a year of rediscovering why I love photography. I took an online class, tried several new films, bought one new camera system, and acquired several new lenses. Of the lenses I acquired, three are modified lenses from a guy named Tom in Poland who runs the Bokeh Factory. Two of the three are fixed apertures at f/2, and one with a maximum aperture of f/1.4. All of them are manual focus lenses. I’d taken each one out with me on different sessions throughout the summer to shoot a roll or two, but I never really spent enough time with any of them to begin to know each one or to begin to feel confident with any of them. I decided to do a session of personal work in which I brought no other cameras or lenses than these three and to shoot multiple rolls of film with each. The biggest challenges with these lenses for me is nailing focus–especially because the depth of field is so shallow at f/2. I know that the only way to get consistent is to practice. This session was great practice.
I learned that the Contax Planar 50/1.4 on my Nikon F100 was the easiest to focus and works well with the focus confirmation light in the viewfinder. I learned that the Zeiss Planar 80/2 (the beloved lens of the Contax 645) is a little more challenging to focus but much easier to focus on the Pentax645nii at f/2 than it ever was on the Contax. However, I have to be careful using the focus confirmation light/beep on the Pentax 645nii because the focus area in the viewfinder is quite large. It can grab focus on something close to what I want to focus on and give me confirmation, but it may not be what I want to be in focus. I think I’ll be better off in the long run focusing manually and trusting my eyes just like I do when I use that lens on the Contax. Yes, I still miss focus sometimes, but not as often. I learned that the Cinelux is getting easier to focus on my Pentax 67 and I am getting more keepers every time I use it. I’ve also discovered that I cannot use it in backlit situations because it creates a very unflattering lens flare that almost always has to be edited out. I may have to devise some kind of lens hood for that lens. I’ve also discovered that if I want the buttery textured bokeh that I love, I need to put the subject a few feet away from something with texture like leaves, grass, brick, or whatever. And finally, I love how crisp and sharp each of these lenses are (when I focus correctly!) and how creamy smooth the bokeh looks. I may have to do a bokeh project next year where I shoot every session with one or more of my Bokeh Factory lenses all at f/2.
I’ve never done a sisters session before, but I’d love to do one again! I’m so grateful for friends with daughters who don’t mind modeling for me. These two girls are the sweetest set of sisters I know! They are as kind and humble as they are beautiful. Both are talented and busy with activities, so we had been planning this session for the entire month of October. Unfortunately, it rained every Saturday in October until the last, but by then, it had also gotten cold. Our wardrobe plan of ivory cotton dresses was a little impractical. To make the 30 degree weather bearable, I brought along my collection of vintage fur coats. I’ve known these girls since they were little because they are the same ages as my boys. They, too, are growing up way too fast! And I hope it will not be long before they are in front of my lenses again!
I created these images with my Pentax 645nii and a modified Zeiss Planar 80/2; my Pentax 67 and a modified Cinelux 110; my Nikon F100 and a modified Contax Planar 50/1.4; and Kodak Portra 160, Portra 400, and Kodak Gold 200.