On a recent excursion to the U.S. Botanical Garden, I took nothing but my D4 with a Rodenstock 68mm f/1.0 lens mounted on it. This is an incredibly limited use, fixed-focus piece of glass (which definitely attracted some attention due to its bulk and chunky metal look), and this is some of what I got with it. I like these shots a lot, but these are still my two favorite photos that I’ve ever taken with super wide-aperture lenses (in that case, a 42/0.75).
Archive for the ‘Abstract’ Category
Last week, a show opened at Karma Salon and Gallery in Winston-Salem, NC (sorry, no website) featuring nine of my photographs and several watercolor pieces by my mother, Mona Wu. All of my work being shown are photos I took with my Rodenstock TV-Heligon 42mm f/0.75 lens – in other words, the artsier kind of stuff I’ve been doing recently. A lot of those shots have appeared on this blog every now and then; here are a couple that haven’t that are in the show.
The centerpiece of the exhibit, though, is this one below, which I had printed on a piece of 16″x24″ aluminum by the amazing folks at Image Wizards. The rest of the photos are all printed at 8″x12″ (by White House Custom Colour) and matted and framed traditionally.
I haven’t added to it recently, but you can see some more of my work with X-Ray lenses at this Flickr set.
The show at Karma runs until December 23; the gallery is a combination hair salon/art gallery located at 206 W 6th Street, Winston-Salem, NC, and is open Tuesday-Friday from 10am until 6pm. All this info is also contained in the show invitation (PDF).
You’ll be seeing this image again but I wanted to highlight it. Definitely my favorite shot that I’ve taken so far with the Rodenstock 42mm f/0.75 X-ray lens. It’s not actually sunset, I just caught a sliver of golden sunlight behind the petal, and the lens’ rendition of out-of-focus color is so brilliant that it turned a mundane moment into something a bit more mysterious and alluring.
Here’s another using the same “technique” of putting a tiny patch of warm light behind a simple subject:
More to come.
Guaranteed way to get any photography nerd’s attention: tell them you’re shooting with an f/0.75 lens. That’s what the two photos in this post were taken with, a Rodenstock TV-Heligon 42/0.75 lens that I snagged off of eBay, along with an XR-Heligon 68/1.0 that I got for all of $10. The 42mm is perfect for Nikon mount; an M42 to F-mount adapter ring fits perfectly and can just be glued on. The 68mm is going to take a bit more effort, but an extension tube set and some more epoxy should do the trick.
These lenses are as about as specialty as it gets. They’re fixed-focus (the 42mm on my D300 focuses at about 3 inches in front of the lens), they have no aperture ring and so are fixed at maximum aperture, they are massively prone to flare, they have extremely low contrast, and they have an at times bizarre color rendition. I think they’re interesting because at those apertures, the depth of field is ridiculously tiny and so the shots have a dreamy feel that even an 85/1.4 can’t come close to.
More information about these lenses, shamelessly stolen from Robert Rex Jackson (check out this photo to see what the 42/0.75 looks like):
This lens was intended for [X-ray] fluoroscopy. The image in a fluoroscope appears on a very dim fluorescent screen (it could be much brighter if you didn’t mind exposing your patient to MUCH more radiation…heh…) and to get images they had a camera with a fixed-focus lens pointed at the screen. To get images that were usable without having to use extremely fast film (which would introduce unwanted grain) they had very fast lenses made.
So this lens was intended to shoot a screen from about six inches away. It was never intended to photograph 3D objects at varying distances. Using this as a general-purpose photographic lens is an extreme perversion of a once extraordinarily expensive industrial lens. But it’s fun, anyway.
The obvious inspiration for stuff like this is the inimitable Bjørn Rørslett, whose work I’ve admired for years, and I’m psyched to be able now to try my hand at this kind of thing. Just walking around this evening with the 42/0.75, I found myself trying to notice things that would look good as subjects for this lens: tiny patterns, local color contrasts, and the like. It’ll take me a while to “see” the way these lenses do.