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De-fishing the Fisheye

So if you have been reading this blog over the last couple of weeks – you will have seen that I have permanently fixed a Zodiak 8 onto the front of my Kiev 88 and so now have the heaviest MF camera possible and whether I thought I liked the full frame Fisheye look or not – I am now looking for where this lens works and where it just doesn’t.

A couple of weeks ago I started in the obvious place of close up portraiture with my Dad, who was visiting from the UK and then using the lens to wrap as much of a scene into one picture as possible – at the Big Buddha on Lantau. Scroll down and you will see these a few posts before this one.

Both give good results but both also look really Fisheye.

No one is ever going to look at these pictures and ask what you used as there is no question about the circular nature of the image.

So last week I thought I would think a little more about the lens and carried it to Sri Lanka for the week to try and take some pictures that used the full frame and were not obviously Fisheye.

As I was thinking about how to do this I thought of a few ideas I would try to reduce the wrapping effect of the lens.

Some worked, some didn’t – but they all give me ideas about direction of where to go next and how to take the ultimate non-Fisheye Fisheye picture.

So here are the images and the ideas I was looking to use;

1. Use an already curved image that can take the extra curvature of the lens.

Very limited success on this as this is a bit like a fat person wearing horizontal stripes – two positives never make a negative…

2. Use a straight line running vertically through the image to distract from the curvature.

I think this one almost looks like I pulled it off – especially if I reframed the picture to drop the buildings on the left. I decided to keep them in however to both balance the image and give some context. One good lesson on this lens is to use perspective as you would on a wide angle to remove curvature.

3. Use lens flare deliberately to obscure the curved image as much as possible.

I have always been a big fan of shooting into the sun and with 180 diagonal field of view it is easy to bring the sun into most images.

The flare on such a massive lens (and without any sort of hood) is not to everyones taste but on the below image I kept to the use of vertical lines and perspective and then kept the sun out of frame to stop everything turning to shadow.

Unfortunately I couldn’t get far enough forward on the wall where I was stood for this photograph to stop the white post from intruding into the bottom right hand corner of the frame. Again a lesson for the future as framing is much more critical with this field of view.

4. Use long exposure to make the time line image the key focus for the observer.

I like what I managed to capture here at sunset in the middle of the city – but think a colour film would have worked much better than the B/W did.

The image should be all about the slow moving train on the right hand track – which is bright blue. In this B/W image it isn’t obvious as should be the focus of the image.

The stupa on the right hand of the image tips over the train – but I wanted the viewer to be draw into the long line of movement that I thought this would matter less than perhaps it does.

5. Shoot without context a subject with no straight lines.

This is a rather obvious use of this method and will get refined after a few more films.

So, these are only early attempts and probably involve too much perspective over all.

They do help me see the Fisheye as less restrictive than I thought and also they show me that apart from the horrendous weight of the combination of Kiev and Zodiak; that it is a camera that you can travel with and come back with a range of shots.

At the end of June this is going to be more critical as we are moving house here in Hong Kong and between the contracts we are going to take a three week holiday to Ko Samui.

Taking a family and all of the necessary paraphernalia with us means that my camera choice is going to have to be limited to what will fit into my LowPro backpack – one MF and a couple of 35mm only.

So far the Bessa L with the 15mm Heliar is a front runner.

The other 35mm is a race between the Nikon F2A (with a 50/1.4, 24/2.8 and T/S 80/2.8) and a Voigtlander R2A with 40/1.4.

The MF is one of three so far – Kiev 60 with Mir 65/3.5; Kiev 88 with Zodiak 30/2.8 or the Rolleiflex TLR.

I am tempted to just go light and simple with the two Voigtlanders and the Rolleiflex, as at least they will all work for the three weeks.

I know I will miss my Ukrainian tractors though as these beasts constantly punch above their not inconsiderable weight.

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Posted by simon on May 17, 2011
2 Comments Post a comment
  1. 05/17/2011

    I would go light and just bring the 135mm gear.

    Reply
    • 05/17/2011

      I know that this makes sense – especially as carrying film is easier.

      Reply

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