The original Omni Creative System was my first introduction to the wonderful world of Lensbaby. I had long been experimenting with creative techniques for refracting light using objects such as old CDs, ziplock bags, copper pipes, and even crystal drinking glasses, so when I saw the beautiful art a fellow local photographer was creating using the Lensbaby Omni wands, I knew I needed to get my hands on a set.
It was a decision that encouraged me to colour even further outside the lines and sparked a love affair with the entire Lensbaby range.
Fast forward through many months of capturing gorgeous rainbows, colours, and light leaks with both the original set and the colour expansion set, and I was lucky enough to be asked to beta test some of the newest additions to the Omni range: the Universal II pack.
This set contains a number of different reflectors, all much larger than the original Omni wands, along with two sets of clamps to affix the reflectors to the Omni rings.
Lensbaby Edge 80 | ISO | 3200 | 1/160 | Canon 6Dmkii
I have both the large and small rings, which allow me to attach the Omni wands to my prime and zoom lenses, as well as my Lensbaby Burnside 35 and Velvet 56, and then I hold the wands by hand to use them with my fave Lensbaby Edge optics.
So… time to test drive the new Universal II set!
" It was a decision that encouraged me to colour even further outside the lines and sparked a love affair with the entire Lensbaby range."
I grabbed my Canon EOS R with the Composer Pro II and Edge 50 optic and headed for one of my fave local sunset spots, Kissing Point Wharf in Sydney.
I love this particular location because the sun sets behind a row of high-rise buildings across the river, so as it drops lower, the light bounces off both the glass of the buildings and the water, creating lovely light bokeh.
Plus, Autumn is my fave time for sunsets - and this one didn't disappoint!
I arrived early in golden hour when the sun was still quite high in the sky, and the highlights on the water were super strong, so I decided to experiment with using the Omni reflectors to diffuse some of that light.
When shooting directly into the sun, holding the See-Through Silver Swiss Cheese at the bottom of my lens and focusing on the buildings along the horizon line, the result was a collection of slightly-gold, slightly-rainbow bokeh at the bottom of my frame.
Using the exact same technique but switching to the Silver Gold Concave, I got a slightly-curved gold firework effect across the bottom half of the frame.
Next, I had a play with the gold side of the #3 Silver Gold Swiss Cheese, which gave me similar bokeh to the See-Through Silver Swiss Cheese, only with a much warmer hue.
By changing position and shooting with the sun just outside my frame, rather than directly backlighting, I still got similar bokeh along the bottom of my image, but I also got a more defined, recognizable reflection.
Switching back to the See-Through Swiss Cheese, I got some lovely rainbow patterns scattered through the bokeh.
When I opened my aperture a little wider to account for the changing light, I realized that this also had an impact on the size of the bokeh created by both the Swiss Cheese optics.
At f11, the bokeh was small, defined, almost-hexagonal balls.
While at f4, the bokeh was much more clustered, almost like golden clouds across the bottom of my frame.
As the sun continued to drop lower in the sky, I played around with positioning the See-Through Swiss Cheese directly across the front of my lens, so I was effectively shooting through one of the larger holes in it.
This gave me a variety of unexpectedly abstract sun flares, with funky light leaks and colour reflecting back from my bright red hair and coloured clothing!
I did have to open my aperture up to allow more light in as the Swiss Cheese did block some of the light, and I did also get some noticeable vignetting around the edges of the hole I was shooting through.
By this point, the sun had almost disappeared behind the buildings on the horizon, so I coaxed my daughter into the frame and had a go at creating a silhouette with the Silver Gold Swiss Cheese.
This ended up being one of my fave shots of the session!
Right before we lost the light, I grabbed the See-Through Silver Cuttable and had a quick go at some double exposure-style reflections.
Overall, I had so much fun playing with my new toys, and I love the range of effects they enabled me to create in the images I captured. I'll definitely be keeping them handy in my camera bag!
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Emma Davis is a Lensbaby Ambassador and photographic storyteller who lives in Sydney, Australia, with her six children aged between 4 - 19. She is a photography instructor and mentor at Click Love Grow (URL https://clicklovegrow.com/), she's obsessed with colour, chaos, and blur, and she is passionate about documenting the beauty in all those ordinary little moments that make up our everyday lives.