Soft Focus in Car Photography? Why Not.

Today’s Guest Post by Mark Toal

lensbaby.copperIn today’s post, Mark uses a lens often and mostly used to make portraits to goof effect photography cars and parts of cars. For an in-depth review of the Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens, you can read my Shutterbug magazine review here. The lens is compatible with Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Sony, Samsung and Micro Four Thirds cameras.  And now, here’s Mark…

Whenever I try a new piece of camera gear that is recommended to be used for a certain purpose, I can’t help but try it for everything else. In this case I took the Lensbaby Velvet 56 on my Panasonic Micro Four-thirds camera to the World of Speed automobile museum in Wilsonville, Oregon. The museum encompasses many aspects of motorsports, including drag racing, road racing, land speed racing, motorcycle racing, open wheel, NASCAR and hydroplanes.

Velvet 56 car 1

The Lensbaby Velvet 56 is typically used for portraits since it provides a beautiful glow and soft focus. If you read this blog regularly you know that Joe and I can’t stay away from photographing cars for very long. When Lensbaby asked me to try out the lens it seemed like a great opportunity to head to the World of Speed; my favorite new museum just south of where I live in Portland, Oregon.

Velvet 56 6

The first thing I noticed is that at the widest apertures the lens was too soft for focus peaking to work on my camera. I quickly figured out that if I stopped down to f/8 or so focus peaking would kick in. Then I opened to the aperture that I thought provided the soft focus that I was looking for. I ended up shooting most of the images at f/2.8 on the 56mm f/1.6 Velvet 56. Since the focal length is effectively doubled on the MFT sensor the lens acts like it’s 112mm. In Lightroom I added some sharpness and clarity to make the in focus point pop.