Of all the brand new photo gear that's available on the market, if I were trapped on a deserted island with my camera and could only choose one lens to document my isolation, I'd pick a cheap, manual focus lens made from 1958 until 1992, in the U.S.S.R. (yes, it actually says U.S.S.R. on the lens itself). I'd pick it for all of the lush and beautiful backgrounds it renders through my viewfinder. I'd choose to bring it with me because it's light and easy to carry around. I'd probably even say that I'd pack it along in my waterproof case -- how else did I get to this island with an electronic camera?? -- because it is old, built like a tiny little tank, and if it's held up for all these decades, what's to say it's going to break down on me now? A little sand isn't going to mess up the optics on this piece of work.
But for all the things I've mentioned up to this point, I'd take this lens above all others, because it teaches me a little bit about life with each meticulously composed photograph that I take with it. Yep. Life.
At it's best, this lens is like a Carly Rae Jepsen song from her newest album. It has a methodical sharpness and a dreamy softness that exist on two different planets from each other, but when melded together in a photograph, to me, it produces a beauty that no modern lens can come close to. Beyond that blurry fall out is a hard to focus lens that has taught me a whole lot of patience. You can't just rattle off photos with this. The slightest of movements by your subject will throw off the focus, causing the photo to come out soft, but in a not so pleasing way. I have to really fine tune my eye and my focus point so that the image draws the eye in, rather than hurting the eye when you look at the image. This isn't instant gratification photography. You have to know your camera to set and even more, this lens. You have to stretch your patience because if you don't, you won't learn to appreciate all the best qualities that this gem can give you. Much like life itself. We don't always get what we want, but if we are patient and wait, while putting in the right effort, things start to pay off.
Which brings me to this photo. I wasn't trapped on a deserted island, but much like my favorite photos from this past week, it was shot with the Helios 44-2m 58mm f/2 lens. For Catty's Senior Photo Session, I rattled off a bunch of photos with my other modern lenses / cameras, before switching it up for this shot (above). The Helios is a dream machine and I took the original image of her, before firing the second shot into the tall grass, creating this subtle double exposure. Layering the grass on grass effect made this image a less obvious double exposure and that was my exact purpose.
Image details: ISO 640. Shutter Speed 1/500th of a second. Aperture f/2.8.