On a recent cold and damp (but not actually rainy) evening I was invited on a Fujifilm-sponsored photowalk on Vancouver’s Granville Island. The day before, I’d received the fruits of a whimsical Kickstarter splashout from months and months back: a Daguerrotype Achromat 2.9/64 Art Lens from Lomography. It was great fun among the sparkles in the dark.
The lens looks like this:
It has a Pentax K-mount, fastened here to my Fuji XT-1 using a Fotodiox adapter. Look at the fancy writing on the narrow part of the lens, then look a little further away from the camera body, above the writing, and you see a black slot in the top of the lens. It doesn’t have an aperture dial, so if you want to change the F-stop, you insert “Waterhouse aperture plates”.
The top row are straightforwardly marked with their aperture, F2.9 through F16. The others introduce various sparklies and squigglies to your pictures. I got more aperture plates than in the picture, there were a whole bunch of them, some marked “experimental”, whatever that means in this context.
In fact, I got a lot more than that. The lens came in a lovely little box with a beautifully printed book full of history and dreamy over-artistical shots. This kind of lens was used, in 1838, to take the first known photograph that included a human. Eventually, the Achromat design was succeeded by the Petzval, which among other things is more compact. Take a look at that first picture above and you can see why; smaller isn’t always better, but this is a beast by any measure.
Enough preamble: Here are a couple of Achromat pictures of a bare tree wrapped in christmas lights.
The first is way out of focus, the second as sharp as I could manage; since the Fuji is WYSIWYG, all the sparklies made focusing hard. I found using the screen worked better than the viewfinder, for some reason. I have to say they made me smile. You really might want to click on that second picture for full effect.
It’s worth noting that if you want to monkey around with funky manual-focus lenses, the Fujifilm X-cams are a good choice, because of the superb focus-assist features.
At the market there were light-studded spheres hanging overhead.
I forget exactly which of the aperture plates I used, by this point they were in a messy tangle at the bottom of a camera-bag side-pocket and remember, it was dark.
It can’t always be sparkles and tingles, in Lomography as in life, so I wrestled the brass beast into shots that I might have tried with more normal gear. It was a super-moon evening.
And then, finally, people. The face treatment is, uh, unique, and the background surprising.
Every picture has been quite extensively processed. I think that’s the right way to proceed in this photographic space; obviously one is shooting for effect, not for truth.