Welcome to the Family


my new lensbaby

You need a mama? I’ll be yours indeed.

One of the many highlights of the BlogHer trip was hanging out in the Shutter Sisters Suite. The Shutter Sisters were sponsored by Lensbaby and Aurora, which—in a genius bit of marketing—let masses of bloggers test their products at the convention.

Aurora is a photo-editing program with a simple and sleek user interface aimed at matching your images to what you saw as you snapped the shutter.  Aurora’s feature-set sidesteps Photoshop by ignoring the fancier—and sometimes horrific—editing techniques that Photoshop users tend to abuse. Instead, the focus is on fixing common problems like saturation, color balance and exposure that tend to plague the entire photoshoot.  In addition to fixing photos, Aurora connects with websites like Facebook and Picasa to make uploading and sharing your photos a one application process. You can even edit the photos you’ve already uploaded! I’m anxious to get my hands on a copy to reduce my time in Photoshop and hopefully process all of my photos instead of just those destined for public consumption.  They’re only charging $20, so it’s a slam dunk.

Lensbaby stands for crazy lenses and crazier photos.  It’s Aurora’s doppleganger, kicking dirt at realism with the same impressionist attitude that makes old Holgas, Dianas and pinhole cameras so intriguing. These lenses have pivot points!

I’ve drooled over the concept since I first saw it on Shutter Sisters, so I leapt at the chance to test drive one of the ‘babies.  Image fidelity is not on the menu. The results are as distorted, fringed, and horribly out of focus as you want to make them. They’ve got three untamed lenses, all of which are customizable with optical inserts; there’s a standard glass lens, a plastic version for Dianaesque effects, and a pinhole insert.  Other accessories include telephoto, macro, wide- and super-wide-angle attachments. My personal favorite is the super-wide.

lensbaby 1

This image was done with the super wide attachment and plastic optic (check out the fringe!).

lensbaby 2

Lensbaby straight up. Double plated glass and no lens attachments.

lensbaby 3

Double plated glass optic and macro +4 and +10 filters on. This bug was about 1 cm long in real life! The macro would be perfect for capturing wedding ring details.

dsc_0467I can’t remember what accessories I had on for this photo, but I think it was just the plain old lens. This was taken right outside the Sheraton along the river.

Star LensbabyAnd then there are the novelty heart- and star-shaped aperture packages. Nice.

I’m a sucker for camera equipment, especially when I get to try it out for free. I went on two Lensbaby test-walks and called my husband Chris to see if it was ok to buy one.  He wasn’t too hot on dropping $270 on an impulse buy, which I can’t really fault considering how unemployed our family is right now. Like a good blogger, I entered to win a free one instead and kept my fingers crossed. I must have crossed them extra hard or cashed in some Karma Chips from my saintly elementary school days. Penelope was napping, Chris was looking for jobs online and I was checking my email on his iPhone when I found out that lightning had struck again!  I started squealing and shaking violently until Chris turned around and asked what had happened. He was overjoyed as well, if only because he might have saved some cash on my Christmas present.

I actually won the single piece of camera equipment that I was in the process of coveting. My only comparable experience so far in 24 years is—ironically—winning the BlogHer tickets from Whrrl! and Social Luxe Lounge. Blogging has been good to me. Time to go play with the ‘baby.

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    1. Alison says:

      Those lenses are really fascinating. Congratulations on the win, that is incredible luck!

    2. lovesfool says:

      This is the second post I’ve read about Lensbaby and it looks awesome. I’ll def. have to buy one soon.

      (I love the stars photo)

    3. Marissa says:

      Melissa, you are always such an inspiration! I’m going to have to go through the garage to bring my Holga back out. :)

      I missed your blog when you were gone but was so happy seeing all your BlogHer updates and how much fun you were having. Congratulations!

      p.s. What kind of camera do you use?

      • Melissa says:


        Are you looking to buy a camera? I have a Nikon D200 and it’s perfect for me. My husband and father-in-law were nice enough to upgrade my camera body from the D40 to the D200 last Christmas. It was the most welcome upgrade!!

        You should know that if you have a D80 or lower that you have to manually set your shutter speed every time when using a lensbaby. Since I have the 200, it meters just fine in aperture priority.

    4. ANG* says:

      what an awesome toy!
      i’m such a sucker for those little gadgets. $270 is steep though. congrats on the big win :)

    5. Lisa says:

      Melissa ~ Congrats on winning the Lensbaby lens – I am so happy for you! It was great to meet you and go on the Lensbaby walk about with you on Saturday morning. I love your site! Lisa

    6. Renee says:

      Congratulations on your new addition! You are the luckiest! I love the pictures.

    7. Mary Clark says:

      Melissa–do you remember me? I linked here from somewhere and saw a picture of you and I was like-hey I know her! Oh yeah this is Mary Shaffer, now Clark. I’m pretty sure we had some art classes together and didn’t we live in the same ward…hmm…everything about details from the past escape me now. I do photography now here’s my blog http://www.photographybydmc.blogspot.com

      Stop by sometime! And look at my pic to see if you even remember me–haha! Great stuff! Keep up the good work!

    8. Allison says:

      I’m SOOO happy you won! No one could have deserved, loved, or appreciated it more. THANK YOU for all the hard work, you’re fabulous and we’re going to BBQ soon, I promise.

    9. The one place I wanted to go (the Shutter Suite) was the only place I could never make it to. :( Bummer of bummers.

      I covet the Lensbaby!!

    10. Deb says:

      I have heard such wonderful things about Lensbaby. I am going to have to add them to my Christmas list. Seriously awesome effects. Love your site, your energy & creativity!!

    11. Ashley says:

      Congrats on the lensbaby! Lenses/attachments that mess with perspective are so much fun. I hope you enjoy it–you must have done some good deeds to get this one!

    12. Camille says:

      Hi melissa,
      I met you at the ssr09 (I was lurking around the cupcake table with my sister). I linked to your blog from Marie’s. What an amazing photographer you are – and such cute designs! It was fun to meet you! I’ll have to check back every once in a while. :)

    13. traceyclark says:

      awesome! my new fav is the super wide too! it’s so much fun. I am thrilled you won the lenbaby. too cool!

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