The Lensbaby Effect


    Have you ever heard of a “Lensbaby”? It is a selective focus lens that you can bend around to your heart’s desire to create a special, one of a kind photo. The lenses are made for Nikon and Canon mount cameras. By bending the lens around, you are moving your point of focus while blurring and streaking the rest of your photo. The amount of blur versus clear focus point in your photo depends on the aperture you shoot with. The larger the aperture, for example f/4 instead of f/22, will give you a smaller area of focus and will create larger streaks of blur. I can hear what you are thinking, why would I want to deliberately blur my photos? Well I can think of a couple of reasons. The first one is to have fun and the second one is to get out of your comfort zone and be more creative.

    Okay, let me also say this isn’t the normal way to photograph horses as far as proper gear but remember, I said we were going to have fun and get more creative 🙂

    I treated myself to the Lensbaby Composer for Christmas after purchasing one for a friend last summer and seeing the beautiful photos that she produced with it. Normally I shy away from gadgets like these but lately I’ve been trying to keep an open mind and explore my creative side. If you are a control freak like me and want to have “perfect” pictures, get ready! lol. This lens is going to teach you a thing or two about patience and perfection. It can be tricky to use but not impossible. Focusing is done manually, ugh, that’s a tough one when you are used to auto focus and your eyes aren’t what they used to be and just when you think you have everything focused just right, your horse will move.

    Backgrounds are very important when shooting with a Lensbaby, not unlike any other kind photography but the added difference with a Lensbaby is you need something to blur and streak so a blank sky will not work. You will not get any streaked effect if there is nothing to streak and depending on how you compose your photo, foregrounds can be important too.

    Take for example, this shot of Rachel, the sky was blank so I couldn’t place her in the bottom third of my frame so I placed her way at the top and streaked the foreground which actually helps lead your eye up to her. Rachel is tiny in the frame with lots of environment showing. Too bad there isn’t more color in the grass yet.

    How to make the Lensbaby effect

    You can get close, too, after shooting the wide angle shot of Rachel I walked up to her and took a shot of her face. I made sure to focus on her eye, when you are shooting animals, always make sure you focus on their nearest eye.

    How to make the Lensbaby effect

    The winter photo turned out better than I expected. I love how the snow shows up against the dark tree background. My girls were being very cooperative and modeled themselves perfectly there. Kelly even gave me a “how’s this?” look.

    How to make the Lensbaby effect

    Lens flares are usually something to avoid but they can be very cool and artsy, don’t dismiss them just yet. You can see them happening through the viewfinder so they aren’t a surprise and you can work with them by changing your camera angle or position on the subject.

    How to make the Lensbaby effect

    If you are finding that your horses are too difficult to shoot because they keep moving around, try shooting something stationary. Get practiced up on a bridle, pitch fork, horse shoe or anything else that you can control. Hang your bridle on a fence post or pretty stall door or stick a pitch fork in a bale of hay. Your subject and your backgrounds will be much easier to control this way too. Like anything else, lots of practice helps.

    How to make the Lensbaby effect

    How to make the Lensbaby effect

    Things are just starting to turn green around here and I can’t wait for the grass and wildflowers to come along so my Lensbaby photos will be more colorful!

    How to make the Lensbaby effect

    Happy Shooting!
    Christina Handley

    Reference links:

    If you are thinking of purchasing a Lensbaby, you can check out B&H Photo in the US:

    or Henrys in Canada:

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    1. Very Cool! I love the shots. I am enrolled in your DSLR 101 class right now, by the way, and can’t wait to get to the equine photography classes!

    2. The pictures looked great. The only way to become better is to practice and it looks like you are on your way to becoming a world class equine photographer.


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