Do it Single Glass like a LensBaby
I’m a big fan of the single glass optic from LensBaby. What’s a single glass optic from Lensbaby, you ask? It’s an optic that you insert inside your LensBaby kit to emulate the antique lenses from the early 1900s. Great for fashion, art or whatever else you’d like to do with it. I love everything LensBaby does but it’s not always practical for everyone.
The single glass optic is essentially soft focus since the glass is not designed to be tack sharp. This may be anathema to some photographers but to those who are a bit more adventurous, this could prove to be the key to opening your minds to classical photography, which is when I raise my hand and say, “Me! Me!” There are what some may call drawbacks to the LensBaby since it’s a manual focus kit that could be a pain in the ass to deal with in uber-low lighting and when you don’t have a lot of time to get that shot. Also, some may not be willing to invest in a new lens that many would narrowly think is simply an art lens (although it is definitely not just that. Many photographers such as Fritz Liedtke uses it for much of his commercial and wedding work. Check out his work!)
For the photo below, I used Nikkor 50mm F/1.4 glass, which is known for being really friggin’ sharp — in fact it’s one of the sharpest lenses I’ve ever used. This is to illustrate that any glass can be used. This is demo so easy that you’ve probably done it by accident:
What you do is FIRST switch your lens from auto focus to manual focus. SECOND, make sure that your subject is tack sharp by adjusting the focus ring of the lens (you could also use auto focus to make sure that the focus on your subject is sharp and then select manual focus on your lens) then THIRD, twist the focus ring just a little so that the subject isn’t a blur but just sharp enough to make out the subject and get that old timey soft focus look. And then FOURTH — Experiment!
Most photographers know this and it’s very old hat so this post isn’t really geared to them but to those who are starting out, wanna do something different than usual and need some new inspiration or if you don’t want to spend more money on glass.