Christine Kapuschinsky Johnson put four different Lensbaby lenses to the test when creating these psychedelic macro marble masterpieces. Read more about how she did it below.

Ever since childhood I’ve enjoyed to create- whether it was designing with blocks, building dollhouse furniture, drawing, writing, or even gardening. The passion to make something from nothing has always been inside me. My roots are also grounded in art- as a child through my early twenties, I would sketch pretty much everything I saw with my charcoals, oil pastels, and watercolor crayons. But once I grew up, got married and started a family, my artwork inevitably took the back burner, and I reverted instead to an old favorite pastime of mine- photography. When I was a kid, I liked to tinker around with my dad’s Minolta x700. Now that I have children of my own that I enjoy photographing, it naturally became not only my new creative outlet but also my passion. I enjoy finding beauty in everything, whether it be architecture, still life, nature, people or animals. I like to photograph something in a way that is unique and then edit it so as to produce a certain response or emotion from the viewer. To me, music and art go hand in hand, so I’ll often get lost in a particular song while editing, which will then dictate the way the subject and mood is portrayed.

Emotive monochromatic imagery is my favorite editing style. I feel like it’s something I’ve learned to master, and am quite happy doing. But so as to not get stuck in a pattern of editing the same thing the same way over and over, I’ll push myself by taking on projects that force me way out of my comfort zone. I enjoy the challenge, and the lenses produced by Lensbaby are great for this. Because of how incredibly unique and artistic each one of their optics is, they’ve introduced me to ideas I would have never otherwise had. A project I did last winter with the Burnside 35 took me well out of my element and into a world of atmospheric, painterly landscapes. And this year, I went in an entirely opposite direction with this vibrant macro still life project. I’ve only been shooting with Lensbaby for about a year and a half, but it is truly a photographic love affair that I look forward to continuing cultivating.

My Marble Glow project was essentially a resurrection of an old series I made about four years ago where I photographed close-ups of colored silica gel crystals with my 50mm and macro filters. It was so much fun I couldn’t resist picking it back up with Lensbaby’s optics because I knew that the final outcome of each image would have interesting variations depending on which one of their lenses I used. This time, however, I opted to try out my glass marble collection instead of the silica marbles, because of their more varied, colorful appearance. So with a macro converter on the Sweet 50, screw on macro filters for the Sol 45 and Twist 60, and the Velvet 85 is amazing all by itself, I set out to see how I could make a fun series with something as ordinary as a marble. In order for the finished project to be somewhat cohesive, I used only one setup- I laid a large mirror on my kitchen counter, poured water over it and then placed the marbles on top of that. Rearranging the marbles in different patterns with all the different optics resulted in shots that were colorful, dreamy, and a tad psychedelic.

The biggest challenge of this project was nailing focus. Because I was using manual lenses while working close up with such a shallow depth of field, it was really tricky getting the right part of the image clear, especially when using the lenses that had a tilting optic, or screw-on macro filters that inevitably removed some of the clarity. Many times I would have the marbles positioned the way I wanted, but it would take several tries until I’d finally get the shot just right. The fun part was actually not setting up the foreground as much as it was coordinating the background- It became paramount to arrange the marbles that were out of focus just as strategically as it was the ones that were in focus, or else the color would clash, or I’d be left with gaping, unwanted dark spaces in the background.

I found that the Velvet 85’s results were pretty predictable. This was in stark contrast to the Twist 60, Sweet 50 and Sol 45, which had all kinds of different outcomes depending on how many macro filters I used, the perspective, the orient of the frame and whether or not I had the lens tilted. One cool thing I discovered with this series is that using macro filters and converters on the Twist 60, the Sweet 50 and the Sol 45 enabled them to be used in less restrictive ways than normal, giving me a versatility that I was not expecting. I thought for sure that each lens would have similar results, but this was far from the case, even with the Velvet 85. My hope for this project was to see the ordinary in new, beautiful and mesmerizing ways, and have lots of fun in the process. Thanks to Lensbaby, I got just what I wanted.

Check out more from Christine Kapuschinsky Johnson on her website, Instagram, and Facebook.

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