So, I just purchased myself one of these gorgeous Petzval lenses, put out by Lomography.com, and based on an 1840 design.
That little knob coming out the bottom is the focussing knob – nothing automatic here! And the lens creates it’s own strange world of swirls and depths that you just can’t see with the naked eye. Functionally it means that sometimes I miss with the focus, and it’s not tack sharp. You also get a darkening and softening of the image, as you move away from the centre of the photo. So, you may be wondering, what’s the point?
Well, in a world where 21 MP cameras exist, we can edit down to individual pixels. We are used to seeing everything super sharp. And there is definitely a place for that. But, truthfully, most of us don’t look our best at tack sharp. Most of us, myself included, could do with a little softening, once in a while.
These images won’t be for everyone, but in my experience, those who like it, like it a lot! I definitely count myself in that category. We all need a little magic in our lives. Photography, in the days of digital, has lost a little of it’s magic – no more cracking open the film canister in the pitch black, no more waiting with bated breath, and staring at contact sheets through a loupe to see what you got, no more exposing images onto paper, and dropping them into baths to see the final result.
But now, I feel like this lens brings a little of that magic back. It surprises me, in delightful ways. It seems to capture moments the way that I feel them in my heart, and not necessarily the way a computer would. It reminds me that the one thing that never changed for those of us who love to capture light, is that the final image often says as much about the photographer as it does about the subject.
These are some of the images from my test run – the kids and I playing together in the backyard. I hope you enjoy them!