David's Blog

Tag: Budget

Filming on the Cheap (My Ode to Pre-owned)

When I started this blog I promised myself I would not review lenses or technology.  While i’m as impressed as an F-stop as everyone, I find that most film  blogs talk far to much about the technology and not enough about what you can do with it.  An extra F-stop is all well and good but how is it going to drive forward a narrative? And then theres the money involved… Would I be any less of an enthusiastic amateur photographer if a shoot with a 50mm 1.2 (cost £1,169 on amazon) than a 50 1.8? (£80 on amazon). Of course my pictures my look sharper, but will the compensation be improved? No, I (personally) would feel like a fraud- and if I did bought the 1.2, a very poor one.

However, just because of this does not mean I’m not interested in lenses. I’m fascinated by them. For my 21st I was delighted to be given my first digital camera, the EOS 600D. Before this I was taking pictures on my Canon A1 (before that my Canon T70 which I got when I was ten and I was snapping on it until it broke close to my 19th birthday). When I first got my digital camera I instantly got myself a cheap second hand converter and started to attach my FD lenses on them and one of the first tests was this:

Not a great video sure, but you can pick up the 28mm FD 2.0 for like £15 rather than £369 on amazon for the EF model.

My wonderful girlfriend (who’s blog I re-blogged below)  edited together a rather surreal fireworks video I shot around two years ago. Yes the video has a lot of flashes and it can’t quite pick up all the data on screen but what amazed me was how crisp and noise-free the video is when it was shot with just the natural light of the fireworks and bonfire. The lens was the Helios 44-2 2.0 and cost mer £10 (with the m42 adapter added on).

I was very lucky to go to arts school right next to an old camera store that sold lenses dirt cheap. I would suggest all of you play around with adapters (spend a bit of money on branded one such as Fotodiox, cheap unbranded ones can get stuck on your camera- trust me here, I’m speaking from tearful experience) and find Yourself a Philips to shop in. You can have great fun with a budget and spend your money on more important things, the glass is only as good as the quality in front of it.

Lens Whacking (or The Original Lens Whacker)

First of all I was thrilled with the response to my Double Reversing Lens Blog and I shall do a follow up shortly. Before that however, I would like to welcome you to my new blog post on the art of Lens Whacking.

Lens Whacking is an even simpler technique than the one shown in my last blog, all you have to do is take the lens off the camera, letting more light into the sensor, and hold it at different lengths to the camera, like so:


By lens whacking you can create a dreamy washed out shot that still has a sharp focus point. (If you like, it is a DIY lens baby shot without the lens baby). If you hold the lens close to the camera the shot is more in-focus and  great for portraits. If you hold the lens further away it gives a more abstract look.

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 13.16.45

For me Lens Whacking doesn’t really come alive until you do some filming, here you can move the lens both closer to and further from the camera to give a fluid dreamy look, this is demonstrated  with the header video wich is an elongated sequence from my degree film The World Collector taken all the way back in 2011.

Many things have multiple discoveries, while tracking in the Jungle  Alfred Russel Wallace came up with Evolution by Natural Selection at the same time Darwin was just completing his Origins of Species in secret.* Lens Whacking is another. It all started along time ago in the year 2010 in the magical land of Norwich, or perhaps more accurately, Norwich University of the Arts where our hero, a skinny, scruffy haired film student (yours truly) was playing around with a friends 60d. He was switching lenses with the camera was still on when he, accidentally, discovered Lens Whacking (or as he called it Light Bleeding, after 35mm development).

Screen shot 2013-05-19 at 13.13.13

This is where the story should end, his film was shown to polite appraisal and he graduated with a BA in 2011 as a fully fledged filmmaker. Then in 2012 something strange was happening, Twitter was abuzz with this revelatory way of filming it was called Lens Whacking. All my friends where doing it, all their friends where doing it and by all accounts it spread from Philip Bloom, DSLR Guru. I was aghast. IT WAS LIGHT BLEEDING, and not even a footnote talking about me. So go, have fun, and play around with the process, it’s both very easy to do and a lot of fun. But please remember the moral of this post:



*Not quite as simple as this you understand. Darwin’s theory implied in Origin (and given full attention in his behemoth of a read The Descent of Man) that humans were a part of his tree of life, Wallace saw humans (or rather human’s mind) as separate thus putting a nail in his intellectual coffin that T H Huxley gladly hammered in… this is all very interesting and I could not recommend looking Darwin’s life, his scientific ideas and his companions enough.

Double Lens Reversing (or DIY Macro)


For the last few weeks I have been playing around with Double Lens Reversing shots, a simple process where you add a reversed lens over an attached one to create a DIY Macro photograph. The process is a revelation to me and I have been embarrassing my girlfriend by every moment possible crouching down near anything, holding a two lenses together and rocking backwards and forwards slowly to try and find the focus (this is actually how you focus, you also have to get very very close to the subject), looking something like this:


You can do an array of different shots from the picturesque, like the daffodil  heading this blog to the grotesque little critter that flew onto my book below.


For these shots I used a sigma 70-300mm Zoom lens attached and the standard canon kit lens the 18-55 reversed on top. Although for different results any can be used, you could even hold a non-standard lens in front, some of my best shots where taken with my trusty helios 44 2.0.

There are some issues. It will always be a small vignetted image and it would be hard to get a full creature (unless tiny) in one frame. These problems can be got around though with the help of post-production. Adobe, Gimp, Pixelmator heck even MS Paint, whatever tool you use can crop the image getting rid of the black vignette around. By collaging/digitally stitching pictures together you can create whole beings in all their macro magnificence. The shot below was done on Photoshop and is six different images, it is by no means a perfect image but you can see the potential within.


A more pressing issue is the lack of light, I put the ISO to the max (for me 6,400) and the shutter speed right down to its fastest, this is to minimise any shake wich WILL occur. This I’m afraid can not be sorted out in post and the only help I can give is to advise you to take the shoots outside in full daylight or bring as much light onto the subject as possible, that fly shot was taken with a reading lamp, room light and flash, it was also shot on RAW to give me slight control in post.

One final issue that Im sure you’re already shouting at the screen about is the shakiness of holding two lenses together. Well my dears I have come up with a solution,  gasp at the wondrous contraption below:


All you need is one empty Willaim Lawson’s vintage whisky case (and some friends to help you drink it would be beneficial, I suppose any whisky case of your choosing will do as they do not sponsor me…yet) your two lenses and a bit of foam to cushion the lenses in. This can be rested on your knee making a perfectly still(ish) shot. This will also work for moving images- more of wich will apear in a blog hopefully of the very near future.

If you have any queries,  suggestions or shots you would like to share please do get in touch. If you liked this post also say as it will motivate me to do more!  Here is my Flickr Set for all my try-outs, take a look and follow me, it would be brilliant to see others take these ideas and improve on them!