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© Ute Reckhorn

© Ute Reckhorn

Finding Light with Omni

  • 3 min read

After opening the little brown box from Lensbaby back in November, I was thrilled to find beta pieces for the future released Universal Rainbow Omni Kit. I’ve been enjoying using Omni with my photography, and to have the opportunity to test out some potential new pieces was exciting. I couldn’t wait to get out and play around!


There was this one looming, gray and wet hurdle getting in the way, though. Western Washington is not known for its dry and sunny winters, and when I peered out the windows I became discouraged. No amount of time basking in front of a SAD light would change that. Well, there was that, and the busy holiday season was also upon us. When was I going to be able to make time to test these out, and with good light?


Having lived in the pacific northwest for the past 17 years, I’m no stranger to improvising. As a visual artist who turns toward her outside natural environment for inspiration and subject matter, I’ve had to learn to work with and around unpleasant weather. In winter, when the sun graces us with her light, it’s often also freezing outside. Oh, but the ponds are frozen and just lovely, and it’s so peaceful! So, I throw on my thermals, fleece, parka, flannel-lined jeans, wool socks, and one glove, and step outside with my photo gear. Sometimes my younger kid comes along for the trip, happy to slide around on the ice and let me take photos.



Sometimes, occasionally, the sun peeks out for very short visits between deflating rain clouds, reflecting her blinding light onto wet surfaces everywhere. It’s jarring to our sensitive eyes, but we celebrate it nonetheless. Where did I leave those sunglasses?! Too often, however, I miss these very brief and shining photo shooting windows and curse the weather under my breath.


On a particularly dreary day I took out my light pad and found inspiration from pressed leaves and small antique bottles I had around. The Quilted Iridescent Filters positioned at various angles in front of the lens brought exciting color into the frames, making for interesting minimalist silhouettes. I could play for hours!


The Repeater Wand does exactly that: when held at certain angles you’ll see your subject, or parts of it, repeated into the rest, or part, of the frame. This immediately brought to mind Cubism; the sort of segmented and suggestive forms. More ideas came to mind, and as I write this blog even more ideas come to mind!


At some points during the beta testing cold months I did slip away outdoors to the water’s edge. The sunlight was brilliant, peeking in and out of bloated clouds, spearing through thin pockets and onto the glassy surface. Moments like this I imagine being lured into the knowing depths, then transported to another dimension.


Keeping an open mind and having an adventurous attitude when it comes to my photography and art-making naturally pushes me to do more, to take it another step further or in a new direction. As creators, we need to continually fuel our creative fires to keep this rhythm going. Lensbaby has helped me, and many others, do this. They also keep things fresh, which is always inspiring!


Mandi May

“There are many ways to be free. One of them is to transcend reality by imagination, as I try to do.”   Anaïs Nin

Mandi is a native Long Islander who made the pacific northwest her home for the past 15 years. She found her muse in her natural surroundings and weaves this inspiration into her creative work. Lensbaby lenses have played an important part in her creative toolkit for over a decade. Through her lens she approaches her environment with curiosity and unique angles, producing images that often have impressionistic and otherworldly qualities that evoke a sense of dreaming.

Mandi received her BFA in Photography from L.I.U. Southampton NY in 2004. Since then she has held photography assistant positions, photographed artworks for reproductions, printed giclées for both local artists and art publishers, licensed her photography, and continues to exhibit her work locally. She currently resides near Seattle with her husband and two boys.




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