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Modified Lens (Helios 44M)

During lockdown I've been trying new techniques and different types of photography. I've always loved my lensbaby lenses which add the most beautiful softness to images but I have been using an old Russian lens called a Helios 44m. These lenses were traditionally put on Zenit film cameras and are basically built like tanks!

More recently they have become part of a collection of traditional fine art lenses that photographers buy them from places like Ebay for the swirly bokeh that they produce. I took mine a step further and took it apart (as per instructions on Youtube) and inverted the front element. This is not as scary as it sounds, its a bit fiddly but the end result is quite amazing. What inverting the lens does is take that swirly bokeh and make it way more pronounced. Focusing is a bit of a nightmare as it is only sharp in the middle of the frame.

I've been working on getting as much sharpness in the middle as I can and the extreme softness round the edges. It seems to work best in very strong sunlight but obviously that can cause exposure problems as you are shooting directly into the light. Pretty much every photography rule ever written is broken by using this lens!

I'm now getting some interesting results and these will be available for sale in August 2020. Meanwhile I'm still working on my cyanotypes on glass and a million other projects! Im reading books from a writer called Austin Kleon (look him up on Amazon). His books talk about influence, how to get noticed as an artist and how to keep your work alive. I cannot recommend them enough.

Stay safe everyone and keep washing those hands!

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