Lens Explorations

  • For about 10 years I have been experimenting with photo lenses. 
    Not going too far in theory, I just use everything that comes to hand. 
    Any transparent and semi-transparent things are used:  glass, film, 
    candy wrappers, the remains of broken cameras, garbage underfoot and so on.
    If the result is not outrageously ugly, I try to make a photo project out of it.

    Here is some of my techniques with brief descriptions and links to the projects.
  • 2007 - Peephole Fisheye.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.

    As soon as I started using a compact digital camera, I wondered: how to make its viewing angle wider? After trying several different glasses, I stopped at the most simple: the peephole. Luckily, my camera was good at macro focusing, because it was required to focus very closely, in a few millimeters in front of the camera lens. I quickly attached the glass from the peephole to the camera and started to shoot everything around, listening to people's displeased comments about the mutilation of the camera and photographs. But it was really wider.

    + Quite wide viewing angle.
    ‒ Not full-frame image.
    ‒ Loss in detail.
  • 2008 - Peephole Fisheye (Modified).
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.

    The next step was to improve the existing technology. I liked the pincushion distortion much more than the barrel-shaped one, and I tried to get it on my simple fisheye. Must admit, with the lenses available under my hands, I managed to fix the curvature just a little bit, but it was a good experiment and it seemed to me that I could experiment further. It became quite interesting.

    + Slightly barrel distortion compensation.
    ‒ Smaller view angle.

  • 2008 - Red Film.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.

    Finding on the Internet information about the use of red photo filters, I tried to make one of them from the used photo-film, which I stacked in several layers and glue on the lens. Of course, the result was not quite infra-red (it requires disassembly of the entire camera), but quite stylized and giving scope for creativity with colors. And, yes, it allows you to make snow-white greens during a summer shoot.

    + Stunning colors of green plants.
    + Well detailed sky.
    ‒ Extreme digital noise.
    ‒ Tripod is necessary.
  • 2009 - Blue Cinema Film.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.
    Lens: original, modified for a wide angle.

    In one of the cinemas (maybe it was a "Avatar" movie) I received paper glasses with a polarizing film. Cutting and combining the eyepieces of these glasses, I got a nice filter. In addition to pleasant colors and unexpected dark areas wandering through the photo, it creates merry yellow glare that can brighten up even the most dull shot.

    + Beautiful bronze-n-blue colors.
    + Bright funky dots.
    ‒ Strong digital noise.
  • 2009 - Polaroid Viewfinder.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.

    I bought the old Polaroid 636, but the cassette to it were more expensive than the camera itself. In addition, I wanted to get digital Polaroids, not just analog ones. Trying to understand how a square frame is formed and how it can be repeated in a compact digital camera, I decided not to bother and pulled out a square lens from the Polaroid viewfinder, attaching it to my camera. The result gave me not just a square frame -- these "Polaroid-like" stylings with square crop of pictures made by ordinary optics seemed to me very inconclusive -- it gave me a square distortion and the most beautiful of the viewing angles, which one can only imagine. This lens was damn good for shooting everything from portraits to landscapes.

    + Stylish viewing angle and cropping.
    ‒ Loss in detail.
  • 2009 - Blue Polarized Film.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.
    Lens: original, modified with Polaroid Viewfinder.

    I was given a couple of small plates of a polarizing film, I do not know from where, but this time not from the cinema. Experimenting with a square lens I decided to supplement it with this film, and as a result I got one more interesting technique. The pictures turn out to be gentle, but juicy, with soft color overflows, which are just waiting for them to be processed through the Hue/Saturation adjustment.

    + Beautiful red and blue colors.
    ‒ Tripod recommended.

    Featured in projects:
                   ► Autobahn Fusion.
                   ► Teenage Hyperspace.
                   ► Zdravushka.
  • 2009 - Meltdown Filter.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.

    This is the most mysterious of my filters. I do not remember exactly where I took this piece of thin gray film and where I put it, perhaps I got it from the LCD screen of some broken camera. It creates a terrible, destructive picture that melts and spreads across the screen -- so good. This filter has disappeared somewhere, and I still can't find a suitable replacement for it... If you see it somewhere under your feet on the streets, please let me know.

    + Terrifying optical distortion.
    + Strong chromatic aberrations.
    ‒ The result is too abstract.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Measure the Extent of a Dizzying Descent.
  • 2010 - Frosted Glass System.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.
    Camera Lens: original.
    External Lens: Helios 44.

    Despite all the advantages of a compact camera, I really wanted to work with lenses from other cameras. In addition, I liked the grainy effect of old film cameras, which was difficult to stylize in Photoshop (I mean to stylize well). In the end, I decided to make the following design: in front of the compact camera lens -- within its macro focus -- is fixed frosted glass, in front of which an external lens is mounted -- any lens from any camera. The external lens projects the image onto the frosted glass, from which it enters the compact camera -- in the inverted form. The whole design looks like an ordinary large lens and is easily installed on my Canon. The result is simply gorgeous: clear focus, beautiful and soft vignetting, film grain, dust particles on the glass. However, using such a system is not easy at all, because the image is inverted, and you need to control the focus of the two lenses. The beauty of this lens can only be compared with the complexity of its use.

    + Excellent effect of old film shots.
    + It is possible to use different external lenses.
    ‒ It's hard to arrange a composition and focus, image is rotated by 180 degrees.
    ‒ Too much vignetting sometimes.

    Featured in projects:
                   ► Walk Alone on Your Own (photo project).
                   ► Walkalone Onyourown (short film).
                   ► Analogical.
  • 2010 - Obscure Shoebox.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.
    External Lens: Helios 44.

    A small frosted glass did not allow the external lens to unfold the full picture, and I decided that something was required for the projection of a larger size. I took a box from the shoes, on one side of it I made a hole for a compact camera, on the opposite side there was an hole for the external lens, and a sheet of paper was placed between them. The result turned out to be larger, but rather pale, the material and the form of paper also affect the final picture. And, as you already guessed, it was very difficult to use this system.

    + Wider angle.
    + Possibilities for experiments with lenses and materials.
    ‒ It takes an incredibly long exposure.
    ‒ Arranging the composition and focus is very difficult.
  • 2011 - Liquid Filter.
    Camera: Canon PowerShot A610.

    One day I wanted to make a filter with a liquid inside. For this, I bought two identical transparent filters, and connected them together, pouring water inside. As a result, nothing interesting happened -- just a muddy picture. Then I decided to add liquid soap (and then oil) to the water, to get interesting spots and bubbles. Having received such a lens with bubbles, I began to photograph abstract underwater worlds, using only the light from a table lamp. Perfect entertainment in order to pass the winter night.

    + Extensive opportunities for abstract images.
    ‒ Behind a layer of water, the surrounding world is almost invisible.

    Featured in project:
                   ► War Days.
  • 2015 - Plexiglas.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    I liked the image of a monocle lens, but I didn't want to pull out the original glass from my compact camera to turn it into a one-lens monocle. To get a similar effect, I broke off a piece from my old shabby school ruler of transparent plastic, and attached it in front of the lens. It turned out a murky, but soft and light image, as if immersing the viewer on a warm spring day.

    + A soft and dreamy effect of a monocle.
    ‒ Sometimes the image is too blurry.
    ‒ Loss of detail in the shadows.

    Featured in project:
                   ► How Smoke Comes Out of Stack.
  • 2015 - Wolf's Eye.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    This is one of my most favorite lenses of all time. Judge for yourself: it is compact, easy to install on the optics of any pocket device, does not require macro focusing, supports optical zoom (and full-frame picture!), gives a very wide viewing angle with almost no distortion, and a beautiful radial blur. It's a predator's sight in search of prey. I made this lens from the remains of some old camera, accidentally finding a unique combination of glass. I fell into addiction on this dope lens for a long time, shooting with it over and over again and experimenting with the modifications (as you will see below).

    + Very wide angle.
    + Fascinating radial blur.
    + Well detailed center.
    + Ability to zoom in to get a full frame.
    ‒ Distortion in the corners.

    Featured in project:
                   ► The Code Words Of Spring.
  • Zoomed view.

    These are several examples of pictures shot with optical zoom. Here you can see the excellent work of aberrations, creating soft and warm glowing areas around the objects.
  • 2015 - Wolf's Eye 1M.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    First modification of the Wolf's Eye creates an absolutely crazy picture. With its help, I can split the image into parts and sew it anew. High-speed blur along with dizzying distortion creates a very dynamic effect. To create this optics, I just added one extra lens to the original model, and the effect changed a lot. It's the only lens I've ever seen that allows to deconstruct objects in a frame.

    + Destructive distortion and blurring.
    ‒ Hard to control.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Untouched Digital.
  • 2015 - Wolf's Eye 2M.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    I couldn't even dream of such an effect. By combining the lens of a Wolf's Eye with a small prism with a dichroic coating, I saw a real miracle: from one image, the overlay made three, four, five of them. The photo burst into bright colors, glare, incomprehensible and unexpected objects located on the side of the camera. A cocktail's intoxicating effect.

    + Amazing and unpredictable distortions and colors.
    + Composition mixing with the multi-exposure effect.
    ‒ Hard to control.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Untouched Digital.
  • 2015 - Wolf's Eye 3M.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    The third modification probably should be called "bee eye", because it breaks the image into honeycombs. In the office shop I found a souvenir in the form of a plastic heart, and immediately attached it to my lens. The center of the image remains almost intact, while the edges are scattered and duplicated by a glass mosaic, sometimes illuminated by a random ray of the sun in blue and vicious pink.

    + Splitting a picture into a mosaic made of honeycombs.
    + Beautiful bright glare.
    ‒ Hard to control.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Untouched Digital.
  • 2016 - Plexiglas Heart.
    Camera: iPad Air.

    Once I had experiments with a panoramic shooting mode, soon turned out with a heart of glass. Seemed like the real thing, but create a panorama became more difficult: the glass faces often broke it ahead of time. Anyhow, if the panorama turned out -- the result was amazing and unpredictable. The usual panorama turned into a psychedelic collage of reproduced objects, it teasing like it do.

    + Unpredictable effect for panoramas.
    ‒ The result is too uncontrollable.

    Featured in project:
                   ► The Wall of Sound.
  • 2016 - Pentaprism.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    For a long time I didn't want to work with prisms because of too bizarre cropping of shots. But this pentaprism from Zenit camera gave me result in form of a diamond, so I decided to shoot in this technique. In addition to the unusual cropping, it turned out that the prism reflects and refracts the light inside itself, creating an interesting environment for the diamond. Quite brilliant effect.

    + Interesting crop in the form of a diamond.
    + Good glare inside the prism.
    ‒ The technique is too specific.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Ordinary Diamonds.
  • 2015 - Wolf's Eye 4M.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    I wanted to make a modification of the lens from plastic box, like a pipe, a tunnel, to create an mirror effect at the edges. I took a small transparent box from the earphones and fixed it over the Wolf's Eye lens. This helped me protect the lens from rain drops, and create an unusual drop atmosphere on the mirror surface of the plastic. Of course, this is not a full frame as a result, but the surroundings turns out wonderful.

    + Elegant reflections, blur and water drops.
    ‒ The technique is too specific.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Liquid Strings.
  • 2015 - Ice Filter.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    Walking through the spring city, I wanted to use thin layers of ice directly from the street puddles to get new optical effects. The result turned out to be interesting: smooth distortions and random defocus areas looks as if a light spring wind whirled and blurred the pictures. Unfortunately the thin ice melted quickly in the sun, and I had to constantly look for new fragments. Only for outdoor use.

    + Smooth distortions and blur created by nature itself.
    ‒ Inconvenient to use: thin ice melts quickly and breaks in hands.
  • 2016 - Diffraction Glass.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    It was one of the glasses I found on the street. I think that it was from the LCD screen of some device. When I installed it on my camera, I was amazed at the bright streams of light and the spectrum, beating from the sun. It seems that this glass is based on a fine diffraction grating. I have not yet filmed individual projects for this glass, but I used it to supplement the next gold technique.

    + Excellent decomposition of light into a spectrum.
  • 2016 - Golden Glass.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.
    Lens: modified with Diffraction Glass.

    I found a glass with a thin gold coating, which plays with different colors on the skylight. Having installed it on the camera, I found that this lens gives an excellent black and white result in the blue channel, and in color allows me to achieve bright red, orange and blue effects.

    + Nice colorful vignetting.
    + Good contrast result in b&w.
    ‒ Lots of noise.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Blackwave.
  • 2016 - Wolf's Eye 5M.
    Camera: Nikon Coolpix L29.

    Continuing the modification of the Wolf's Eye lens, I attached it to the dichroic cube. The result exceeded all my expectations, this design gives a multi-colored composition of the objects in front, left and right of the lens, mixed with radial blurring and aberrations. This construction is very simple and allows me to mount it to any small lens: a compact camera, a tablet, a smartphone, and the result is so sweet that sometimes I want to print these photos on a food printer and eat them.

    + Stunning rainbow color, distortion and multiexposition effect all in one.
    + Easy to use.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Pure State.
  • This short video is filmed on GoPro and demonstrates the using of dichroic cube mounted on the bicycle.
  • 2016 - Dichroic Helios.
    Camera: Canon 550D.
    Base lens: Helios 44.

    I always liked the reflections in the windows and glass cases for soft distortions and color variations, and I wanted to create a similar effect using optics. Thanks to the dichromatic cube placed in Helios I got soft contours, gradients and glare, preserving all the features of the original optics. 

    + Soft and colorful gradients.
    + Beautiful blur vignetting.

    Featured in project:
                   ► The Autumn Air.
  • This short video is filmed on iPad and demonstrates the dichroic cube in conjunction with the slit-scan technique.
  • 2016 - Diamond Helios.
    Camera: Canon 550D.
    Base lens: Helios 44.

    I made this interesting lens by putting a diamond-shaped glass figure in Helios.This lens deconstructs and splits the image into a ghostly mosaic. Thanks to the edges of the diamond, bright light sources are connected by luminous lines. The diamond rotates inside the lens, creating different effects.

    + Decomposition of the image with a kaleidoscopic effect.
    + Light sources are connected in the web.
    ‒ Loss in detail.

    Featured in project:
                   ► Lost in Lyrics.
  • 2017 - The Mirror Grid.
    Camera: Canon 550D.
    Lens Base: Canon 18-55 IS.

    I can not talk much about this lens, because the project is still going on. This lens plays with the image reflecting and breaking it. Previously, to achieve this effect, I had to use digital filters, and now I'm very glad that I can do it right through the optics.

    + Unpredictable mirroring with a color tint.
    + Starlight and spiderweb effects for flares.
    ‒ Jitter in details.

    Featured in project:
                   ► ongoing project
  • 2017 - The Handshake.
    Camera: Canon 550D.
    Lens Base: Canon 18-55 IS modified with the Mirror Grid.

    This is my edge now. I think that in the future I need to go to modular filters, consisting of different quickly replaced parts, and this is the beginning of the process. Modified Mirror Grid creates the effect of shaking hands, but not simple: jitter is unpredictable and occurs in different directions for parts of the picture. Playing with the light, it can get such glare that I've never seen before. This is a very strange and promising technique, and I will work on its development further.

    + Earthquake-curved patterns and wild glare.
    + Sharp details.
    ‒ Low contrast in origin.

    Featured in project:
                   ► ongoing project
  • Here are the most of the techniques that I have used over the years.
    Try yourself experimenting with the camera lens and you will like it!
    If you want to discuss interesting techniques, feel free to contact me :)