Meet the Lens Bits

A few of you Instagrammers have been curious to see the lens bits I use for my work - your wait is over! Here are some of my most-used pieces, viewed from the top, upside down, and sideways:


The big two in the top row are the easiest, I guess you could say; there is minimal fussing to bend light and achieve results. Most of the fireworks shots are from those two, as it's easy to work fast and not worry about dropping the darn things. Also, the shots with aperture cutout shapes are from these ones, as the cardboard discs fit inside and stay put.

The second row, starting on the left:

1) "the one that works with neon signs" - notably challenging shape to hold and try to limit light leak. It makes big graceful swoops of the light, and depending on which way you hold it, also does interesting 3D distortions.

2) "little bitsy" - tiny, challenging to hold, wonderful spherical exploding-planet effects. Flip it the other way and it makes cup shapes with pretty intense amounts of light leak because it's so awkwardly small. I'm considering attaching this one to a stick to make it easier to manage.

3) "pointy" - aptly named for both its spindly shape and the pointed peaks of light it produces. This one is quite fun, as the effects of it vary significantly with the degree and direction of tilt. I've gone out with just this piece and returned with a surprising variety of images from just a few locations. 

4) "oh, wait, not that one." - ...uh, I shouldn't have included this one. It was in the bits bag with the others and, just like *every time* I go out, I forgot about it and how useless it is, only for it to surface again and earn its name. This is a routine occurrence in the experimental process - I test bits out in different locations, sometimes one that was useless before just needed different conditions to be interesting. I haven't yet discovered the conditions that makes this one interesting. Eventually? Maybe? Who knows.

5) "soft blobs" / "finger painting" - this is one that, like #4 above, proved kind of useless for a while until I found the right circumstances, and now it's a regular. It does the soft textured egg-shaped-blobs (or "makeup sponges" as Instagrammer @m.apparition sees 'em) as well as the finger painting shwoops, birds, and other mysterious shapes. It is also fairly close-focusing, in the general scheme of the bits, which is nice. (A couple metres for this one, vs anywhere from 50 to 100+ metres for the others. It's hard to tell, I am not a great estimator of distance.)

There are a few other lesser-used bits that I don't have in the bits bag, but might show at some point. They're the ones that are interesting in one way but aren't all that versatile, so haven't been in rotation for a while. I find that going out with only one or two bits helps me discover deeper capabilities of each - apply constraints, and creative solutions arise.

So, there you have it, the strangely-shaped chunks of glass I use to make strangely-shaped blobs of light. With the exception of the two big bits with the facing info ring still attached, I couldn't tell you what kind of lens each came from. I disassembled over 15 lenses and have a sizeable box of parts remaining, some of which require hacksaw action to harvest the remaining elements for testing. If you're curious to try this stuff out for yourself, I wish you happy disassembly, and happy experimenting! May patience be on your side.