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The Lensbaby Obscura Pinhole Lens

March 11, 2022


If you are someone who likes the status quo, never wants to take a chance, and hates a challenge, this next part and this next lens are not for you. 

However, if you like new things, want something interesting and exciting, or have ever been interested in pinhole photography and you are going to love the Lensbaby Obscura.   

Pinhole photography or the Obscura camera effect has been around forever. There is information about the camera obscura effect dating back to 300 to 600 BCE.

As a child, I played with the effect by taking a cardboard box poking a pinhole in it, and then observing the inverted image on the opposite side of the box. 

The new Lensbaby Obscura is the furthest thing from that cardboard box. Lensbaby has taken a type of photography that’s always been crude at best and refined it.  Their finished product is a very impressive high tech-looking device. It is the most innovative design for a pinhole lens ever.   

Just for clarification, all the testing I did with the obscurest 16 was on a full spectrum converted Canon EOS-R and a natural Color, unconverted Canon EOS-R.  The lens has an RF mount. 

Here take a look. 

The lens is so small that you will never have trouble finding space for it in your bag.  On your camera, it almost looks like you forgot to put a lens on.

So, how does it work? 

You simply mount the lens on your camera and any adjustments that you want to make you do so on the front of the lens. There are three settings on the Obscura 16 f/90, f/45, and f/22. 

You change the f-stop by rotating the ring inside the front of the lens.  It’s very easy to do and only takes a second. 


Now the first thing that everyone always asked me about a lens for infrared is “does it have a hot spot?”  

The short answer is, no it has no hotspots.   If you think about it though it really shouldn’t. Hot spots are caused by the coating on the inside barrel of a lens reflecting infrared light into the center of the sensor. This lens doesn’t have a barrel and is so close to your sensor I don’t see how it could possibly have the ability to create a hotspot.

So that’s good news for us infrared photographers 

Now let’s discuss the most important thing about using the Lensbaby Obscura 16. 

 Your sensor needs to be completely clean.

I cannot stress this enough. 

This is embarrassing, but I’m going to show you how my first outing with the Obscura 16 went. 

I took a series of shots and then sat down and reviewed them.

I stopped counting at about 15 spots.  This is NOT the fault of the lens, but completely my fault. 

Luckily I had equipment with me to clean the sensor in my car and was able to correct the situation. 

Anything on your sensor will be seen. 

Once you realize that you will have no issues. 

The process of image capture was exciting to me.  The best way I can explain it is shooting with the Obscura 16 is more of an analog experience than digital.  I love digital photography and hope I never shoot film again.  Sticking a card in my camera and having thousands of frames to use still thrills me. 

With that said, there are many aspects of film photography that I did enjoy. Shooting with the Obscura 16 is similar to that.  Some aspects of digital photography have become so technical that sometimes I think the artistic aspects of image capture can be lost or diluted.  This lens was very different from everything else that I’ve shot with, and I was definitely out of my comfort zone which was great! I didn’t feel at all proficient with this lens when I started shooting with it and even after shooting with it for a while now I still realize I have more to learn. So, if you’re someone who’s getting a little bored with your photography I would recommend this lens. It’s probably the artsiest lens out there right now.  

So, what did I make with it? 

Glad you ask.

With regards to post-production, I was once again a bit out of my comfort zone a bit, but I enjoyed where the images took me.

This image

Became this, by using NIK Analog Efex and adding a sepia tone to it. 

I also found myself drawn to monochrome a lot.

But, color Infrared also works.





So, what do you think?  

Want to know about this lens?  Click Here



Re-size your Images to Protect your Intellectual Property

January 26, 2022


They say you haven’t arrived as an artist until someone steals your image.  If you’ve ever had it happen, you know what a disheartening thing it is, you feel violated and very angry.  There are even websites where you can take an image directly from social media and order a print of the image.

So, what can you do?

Well, you can try what lots of photographers do and put the copyright logo on your images.    If you put it in the corner, that area can be cropped out and then printed. Putting it in the middle is an option.

That though can really distract from the image.

I have seen a photographer who does the example below, but I have to wonder why they even bother posting.

So, once again, what can you do?

Well, you can make it so if they steal your image it is of little to no use.  The way you do that is by re-sizing your images, or if you want to take it a step further, web optimize your image.

It’s very easy, lets take a look.

Her’s my image.

 If I select properies of this image, we see that this image is it is currently 9MB.

To resize the image in Photoshop, go to Image, then Image Size.

When the dialog box appears, make certain the aspect ratio is locked.  When it’s locked, there will be a line from the top and botom of the lock icon as you see in the picture below.

You will also want to have your width and height set to Pixels.  Just click the drop down box and select pixels.

Now you will change the size of your image by selecting the widest part of the image, the width or height with the largest number, and change that number to 1200. 

 The smaller number will automatically adjust. In this example image we took the image from 3726 by 2484 pixels down to 1200 by 800 pixels.  At 1200by 800 pixels your image will now look great on any computer screen, tablet or mobile device.

Next click OK and then sleect Save As 

Now this important, you want to change the name of the file so that you don’t overwrite the original file.

So, we’ve resized our image and it still looks the same, but let’s check out the new properties.  When we started, the image file was 9MB.

Now it’s only 562KB.  To take it a setp further, consider Web optimizing your image.

To Web Optimze it, there is an additional step.

Go to File, then Export, then select Save for Web (legacy)

When the dialog box appears, I usually go with the auto settings, (Jpg High) but you can change anything as you prefer.

And then select Save. 

Now, Our image that started off as a 9MB file is now just 172KB. 

Your image will look great on a screen, but if someone steals this file, it will be of little to no use as it is too small to do anything with. 

There’s how to protect your images by resizing and web optimizing. 




Working with textures

November 17, 2021


Let’s start with an image.  How about this?

I’ve got the image open in Photoshop, now let’s get a texture file.  I choose 2LO Spirt29

Now let’s put them together.  To do that. I just have to drop the texture file onto the orchid image.

Then move the texture file to fill the image area of the orchid.

You’ll now see two layers displayed on your Layers Tab, one for the orchid image and one for the Texture file.


Now we are going to blend them.

First, make sure you have the top Layer, the Texture Layer highlighted.  

Now we are going to adjust the blending of the two Layers.  To do that, select the drop-down box marked Normal and all the possible Blending Options appear.

This next part is where you make the artistic decision on which Layer Blending option to use.

In this case, I choose Screen.  Then I adjusted the opacity on the Texture Layer until it looked the way I wanted.

 And here’s what I got.

The Texture and Orchid blended together well.


I want to add one more step. I want to remove some of the Texture from the Orchid petals.  So, I’m going to use the eraser tool.  The hardness is set to zero. 

Then I just erase away the parts of the Texture I don’t want.   

And here’s what I ended up with.

One other option would be to use the Texture Layer as a Layer mask and paint the Texture in where ever you want it.




Can I clean the sensor on my Infrared converted camera?

September 16, 2021



One of the common questions I’m asked during a training session is, “Now that my camera has been converted, can I clean my sensor?” What concerns most people they know that something was done to their camera’s sensor, but they are not entirely sure what. 

Yes, the self-cleaning function has been disabled, but the short answer is Yes, you can still clean your sensor. 

Will you need to clean your Infrared converted camera more often?  That really depends on your shooting conditions.  In extreme conditions, like on an African Safari where there is a large number of airborne particulates (dust), yes it will get affected sooner.  In other conditions, I can go for much longer periods before I need to clean.

Now if you’re not familiar with how to tell if you need to clean your sensor, let’s take a look at this image. 

This is a Super Color image at 590nm.  The image itself is nice, but man is this sensor in need of cleaning.  Just look at all the … stuff on it.  There are dust spots and hair.  Remember what I said earlier about Africa?  Here’s what I was talking about.

Even after the image is channel swapped they still show.

With a little work in Photoshop, we could hide those dust spots and hair, but this sensor needs to be cleaned. 

The thing about sensor cleaning on an Infrared camera is it is just the same as before it was converted.  So, if you are comfortable cleaning your sensor, go right ahead.

However, if you are not comfortable cleaning your sensor, I am not suggesting you should undertake this job yourself.   There are plenty of places you can take your camera to have the sensor cleaned.

If you are comfortable cleaning your sensor, this next part is for you. 

There are several different ways to clean your sensor, and I am not going to go into each method or endorse using a particular product, but I do want to make a couple of suggestions.


1. Only clean your sensor when you have enough time to take your time.  This is not something you want to rush through.


2.Invest in a decent sensor scope.  This will give you the ability to actually see the spots and other debris on the surface of your sensor.


3.Be gentle.  I cannot stress this enough.  Brute force is NOT the way to clean a sensor.


Now I want to address this last part head-on.  There’s a suggestion floating around that the solution to cleaning your sensor is to just put one lens on your camera and never remove it.  From an artistic standpoint that is just dumb.  You want to have the ability to use all your lenses with your Infrared converted camera.  



Water Lilies in Infrared

August 29, 2019


Summer is still upon us but is starting to wind down.   While it is still warm I like to make the most of shooting opportunities, and one thing I love to shoot is Water Lilies.  In most areas where you find Water Lilies they have a fairly long season.  The thing to remember about Water Lilies is they bloom and tend to stay in bloom as long as the water temperature stays above 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Not only are they beautiful to see and photograph, but they tend to draw dragonflies, which makes for a great addition to your image. 

In Infrared, Water Lilies are quite stunning and you can capture some textures and details you wouldn’t see in natural color.  Whether you are shooting Deep B&W IR or our new Hyper Color you can get some eye-catching images. 

I’ve got a few suggestions if you want to try and shoot Water Lilies for the first time.  

White Balance

In a shooting situation like this, I usually set my in-camera White Balance by capturing an image of the grass nearby and using that image as a WB reference image.  

Timing and Light

As you know with Infrared, you can shoot at any time of day. However, you want to mindful of your shadows and you may want to shoot from a different angle depending on the situation.  In the image below you’ll notice my shadows are almost straight down because I was shooting shortly after noon.  

If you don’t like the shadowing you are getting, find yourself a comfortable place to sit and wait a bit, or come back later.    Also, watch for sun flares reflecting off the water.

Come Prepared with Lenses

I always like to have two options when I go out to shoot Water Lilies.  First,  is a good telephoto lens.  That 70-200mm you like to use for Portraits will work great here.  Got a 300mm or higher?  Bring it.  That Water Lilly that is towards the middle of the pond and not easy to get to is now a breeze for you.  

Second, I always bring along my Lensbaby Velvet 85.  If there is a Water Lily close to the edge, the Lensbaby Velvet 85 is perfect and I can make use of that great sharp and softness you can only get with the Velvet lens.

Try Low Angles

Most people walk up to a pond with Water Lilies and then shoot down on them.  The image can look good that way, but also try going low and shooting slightly above water level to give you a different perspective. 

Be Patient and Enjoy

Take your time while you are there and enjoy the beauty you are shooting.  If possible, stay relatively still and you may get the opportunity to catch a Dragonfly visiting the Lily you are shooting.

Shoot Brackets and in Continous Shooting Mode  

In the image above the Dragonfly was only there for a split second before moving on.  By having my camera set to auto exposure bracketing, I press and hold the shutter and my camera catches multiple images.  In Continous Shooting Mode, my camera will capture exposures as fast as it can.  Later I can pick the one or two that are good and delete the others.  

In Post Production

Just like always, you will want to use the RAW editor made for your camera to convert your RAW files.  With IR types like Super Color, Enhanced, Standard, or Deep B&W use the petal of the Lily for your White Balance, and you will see your image pop.  With Hyper Color, simply select any area in the image that has a green tint and use that for the WB and you will get the results you expect from a Hyper Color image. 

With all types of IR, except Hyper Color consider removing any blue tones you see as they tend to distract from the image.  With all types of IR, consider using Selective Color in Photoshop to darken and define the color tones.  

That’s about it.  

Now here are a few images to encourage you to go out and make some IR Water Lilies of your own.

Now it’s your turn, but don’t wait, it’s 3 1/2 weeks until Fall and then the Water Lilies will be gone until next year.  



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