Sol 45 Iso200, 1/200, f/3.5
As we all know, the beginning of a new year is a great time to set goals. Last year, I set out to incorporate the Sol 45 lens into more of my professional work, mainly because I wanted to challenge myself to create things that were different than what I had been creating in the past. Yes, it was a little bit scary at first, mainly because these are client paid sessions, and not creative sessions that I was doing for myself. However, I also realized that I am being hired to be an artist, and that I have something very special to offer that is unlike anything else out there. If you aren’t familiar with the Sol 45, allow me to give you a brief overview. This little powerhouse lens is a fixed 3.5 aperture lens with a manual tilt-shift focus, meaning it can tilt + or – 8.5 degrees. Tilting the lens allows you to shift your focal perspective to anywhere in the frame, creating a distinct slice of focus, and allowing everything else to almost fade away, but in a very elusive and ethereal sort of way. So, if you’ve never used this lens before, have been debating on purchasing it, or maybe you have it, and need a bit of encouragement to pull it out again, I’d like to share with you what I’ve discovered, and hopefully inspire you to create something amazing!
Reason 1: Distinction
When you create images using the Sol 45, you will undoubtedly set yourself apart from your fellow photographers, and make yourself stand out as a photographic artist in your community. The example below was taken during an engagement session at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which is one of the most photographed events in the world. I was able to shift my focus to the area of my subject’s faces that leaned inward, blurring everything else outward, and away from them. The feedback I received later from this image is that it made them feel as if time stood still, as if they were in a dream.
Sol 45 iso 2000, 1/160, f/3.5
Reason 2: Uniqueness
Incorporating the Sol 45 into your client sessions gives you an incredible opportunity to create unique images for your clients that they have never seen before, and images that can never be replicated. Time and time again, the photos that I take with this lens are some of my client’s favorite images from a session. Above is an example of an image from a high school senior session, where I was able to set my focus on my subject in the center and create an amazing moody blur of traffic and lights behind her.
Sol 45 Iso4000, 1/125, f/3.5
Reason 3: Intentionality
Using the Sol 45 in your client sessions will absolutely teach you to slow down and photograph with more intention. There is ultimately no quick way to take photos with a manual focus lens. Your composition, settings, and focus all need to be tended to. I find myself slowing down and enjoying the moment of creating photos for my clients in a whole new way when I am using this lens. Above is an example from a recent maternity session where I used only the light coming from a window, placing my focus again on my subject in the light, while the shadows faded away from the lens effects.
Sol 45 Iso320, 1/400, f/3.5
Reason 4: Post Processing
I have continuously found that the photos I take with the Sol 45 require significantly less post processing time. Even in the area of focus, there is a softness to it. Things like skin imperfections, and details that I might otherwise edit out, are not visible. Typically, only global adjustments are necessary. Above is an example of another senior session that required very little editing thanks to the effects of the Sol 45.
Sol 45 Iso640, 1/250, f/3.5
Reason 5: Storytelling
Time and time again, I have heard that the photos I deliver in a client gallery that were taken with the Sol 45 evoke more emotion than most others. Perhaps it is the ethereal feel, or the softness in the blur, but I absolutely agree that they are some of my favorite storytelling images. Below are two examples. The first is a documentary image taken as my client was getting her makeup done on her wedding day. This image ultimately created a memory for her of something that others may not have photographed. The effect of the lens made the bride the main focus, as her makeup artist faded off to the side.
The next was taken during a newborn session. I wanted to document how tiny her brand new hand was against her mother’s chest. Making sure the hand was the only thing in focus, it tells the story of a fleeting moment that only lasted a short time.
Whether you are a professional photographer, or a hobbyist who is reading this, I ultimately hope that you are inspired to take a risk, learn a new skill, and incorporate it into your craft. The Sol 45 lens has a permanent home in my camera bag. I know that without a doubt, I can create magic with it. As with any new tool, it does take practice and persistence, but I encourage you to play as much as you can, and I believe that the results will pay off!!
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My name is Julie Hamlin, and I am the owner and photographer behind Sacred Sage Photography based out of Albuquerque, New Mexico where I offer a variety of professional photography services, including family/lifestyle, maternity, newborn, baby/children, graduating senior, couples/engagement, branding/headshots, as well as weddings and events. Much of my passion comes from an artistic perspective, which is why I love LensBaby. I am mainly a natural light photographer who uses light to help tell the stories of my clients. I am hired for my story telling abilities and the risks I tend to take to create a unique perspective.