Pierre Nicklaus on Velvet 56 & 85
Pierre is a portrait photographer from Witten, Germany. He shoots sensual, dreamy, real, reduced portrait photography with little makeup, posing, or fashion. As a proud owner of Velvet 56 and 85, he explains why he owns both and in what situations he likes to use each.
There was this day, where I found some pictures on the internet made with Lensbaby. What I saw was very interesting – blurred flowers and other dreamy stuff. This was my first contact with the Lensbaby Velvet. A baby with a soft and sensual “soul”.
I searched for portraits made with the Velvet and some of them were very nice and interesting. Not wow or stunning for me because it was a different shooting style from what I was used to, but they were nice in their own velvety way. So I decided to order a Velvet 56 to give it a try. From the very first moment there was a feeling that the Velvet would be a special lens for me. Yes, you have to learn how to use it, but once you understand how this lens works it will bring you so much enjoyment.
I use the Velvet 56 only at f/2.8 for portraits. So I get sharp eyes but around the face I get this special, wonderful blur. And no…you can’t copy this blur in Photoshop nearly as perfect and dreamy as it comes out of this lens. I shoot most portraits very close up – shoulders and face. The Velvet is a macro lens, so you can come very close to your model. You will also see a stunning bokeh. The eyes and face are sharp but the rest will fall into a wonderful, dreamy, blurry world, where sharpness no longer exists.
After a few weeks, I also ordered the Velvet 85. It is very similar to the 56mm but it’s not always nice to get so near to a model, that you could sit on their lap. So I think the 85mm is the perfect portrait lens. If you shoot head and shoulder portraits at f/2.8 you will get nice results. It is not as sharp at f/2.8 as a 85 f/1.4 Nikon, or my Canon 85 f/1.2 II USM – but do we need this razor sharpness in portrait work? What I need is sharp eyes and depth of field in a portrait – and the Velvet 85 and 56 are masters. They are the Mr. Miyagi of depth of field! But if you use the Velvet 85 for studio work, you will get the razor sharpness from f/8.
The guys from Lensbaby are creative. They think about photography in a different way. What they make, creates special pictures. Pictures that pop out of the masses of standard portraits out there. Every time I use the Velvet, Twist 60 and the Sweet I feel a special creativity. I have to think about what I will do and what I will shoot. I have to create my picture!