The Swiss Cheese Gold Reflector added color, light, and clouds reflected into the water in this image.
The collection of Lensbaby Omni Light Shaping Tools
The original set of Omni wands is used to add flair and color to your images, but this pack has a much larger set of reflective designed sheets in various shapes and sizes which can also add flair, warmth, and reflections in a very surreal way. Included are nine separate pieces which range in shapes and reflective surfaces, easily held by a newly designed universal clamp that has an attached magnet. The reflective pieces are two-sided and range in colors of silver, gold, sheer/partially reflective, and solid. Once you attach your selected Omni reflector to the clamp, it is universally held in place on the Omni metal ring using the figure 8 magnetic piece. Because the pieces are larger, you can also attach two of the new larger clamp arms on each end for stability and even bend one of the flexible reflecting pieces for abstract reflections.
Lensbaby Edge 35 & Omni Gold Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 100 | 1/800 sec | Nikon D750
Considerations and how to get started
After taking a quick look at what’s included in this set, I was really excited and up for the challenge to see what I could create. The first challenge I considered was a decision on which lens to use. Since these creative tools fit the Omni system, you can use them on any lens you have; they are not made specifically for Lensbabies, so you’re free to experiment with what you have. Since I love the ethereal effect that many Lensbabies produce, I knew this set would pair well with any of them and a variety of my favorite photographic concepts: bokeh, flare, reflection overlays, and pretty much bending the light.
I began experimenting with flowers indoors since it was still snowy outside with little sun in the month of March and April in New York. I discovered it even indoors. I could catch the reflections of overhead led lights using the “swiss cheese” silver/gold reflector, which has a pattern of holes in the piece. In this series below, you can see how the holes reflected soft bokeh bubbles surrounding the calla lilies.
Lensbaby Velvet 85 & Omni Silver Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 800 | 1/60 | Nikon D750
But wait, I remembered that because the new universal clamps could hold any reflective piece, I decided to go to my craft stash and cut a piece of glittered cardboard to create my own unique reflector. The thin, flexible reflective pieces included in the set are also designed to be cut into shapes if you desire. The resulting photo shows how the sparkly glitter card reflected the light on my calla lily. So as a bonus, you’re able to create your own reflectors, limited only by your imagination and the thickness that will fit within the new clamps to hold them.
Lensbaby Velvet 85 & Omni Silver Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 800 | 1/40 | Nikon D750
Tips and suggestions to experiment
Experimentation and observation of directional light is my best overall tip to see what works best with your subjects. Shooting in strong sunlight can be an advantage using these tools because you can direct flare and sparkly bokeh into your work. How you place, each reflective piece can determine where and how your effect will blend into your subject.
As an example, when shooting a landscape, be aware of your horizon line; try placing the reflective piece (plain or swiss cheese with holes) near the bottom of your lens edge and tilting it up or down in tiny increments until you see the reflection blend into your horizon line. I found the partially sheer gold reflective colors and gold swiss cheese piece can blend with your subject to produce a beautiful wash of unexpected color. In both of these images, you can see that that results in mixing gold reflections with green grass.
Lensbaby Edge 35 & Omni Gold Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 320 | 1/400 | Nikon D750
Lensbaby Edge 35 & Omni Gold Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 320 | 1/125 | Nikon D750
Lensbaby Edge 35 & Omni Gold Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 100 | 1/125 | Nikon D750
You can choose to handhold each reflective piece by holding the wand or attach it to the Omni ring.
Attaching your reflector to the ring allows you to handhold your camera much more freely and see how the light is interacting with your subject. Because you’re using stronger bright light for reflections, you most likely won’t have slower shutter speeds and the need for a tripod, which also frees up your ability to work more loosely. Usually, shooting at a shallow depth of field with brighter apertures will tend to seamlessly blend your Omni reflector with your subject. However, I did shoot some landscapes with my Lensbaby edge 35 stopped down to f5.6 aperture and still got nice soft reflections. Experiment with apertures on each lens and focal length to see what works best. For a really abstract experiment, I rolled up the thin silver reflector into a half-moon shape and shot my favorite bridge through the middle.
Lensbaby Edge 35 & Omni Flexible Silver Reflector | ISO | 100 | 1/640 | Nikon D750
Another experiment was shooting directly into the setting sun on the part of the bridge architecture, using the gold swiss cheese reflector. Although I liked the golden reflections below the bridge, changing the image to black and white seemed to give it a more cohesive graphic appeal. Many of these images with strong light from reflections look more artistic in black and white, which is another way to push your creativity.
Lensbaby Edge 35 & Omni Gold Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 100 | 1/2000 | Nikon D750
This is another case of using black and white to convey a more ethereal feeling I had when capturing this beautiful old tree. I filled the frame with the tree and used a small portion of the gold swiss cheese reflector at the bottom; it felt like I was seeing the tree rising from a cloud. Shooting with these reflectors is an interactive way to immerse how you see and feel about your subject.
Lensbaby Edge 35 & Omni Gold Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 320 | 1/200 | Nikon D750
On a roll with the flexible piece of silver, I decided to use my Lensbaby soft focus II optic because I knew the results would be soft and dreamy shot wider open and blend reflections in a painterly way. I rolled up the reflector in different positions and placed it touching my lens edge so that I was shooting through and seeing the flower surrounded by its own reflections. Each experiment resulted in different results depending on how the reflector was curved.
Lensbaby Soft Focus II & Omni Flexible Silver Reflector | ISO | 160 | 1/320 | Nikon D750
Lensbaby Soft Focus II & Omni Flexible Silver Reflector | ISP | 160 | 1/320 | Nikon D750
All in fun and in keeping with a theme of combining reflections and patterns, I used the silver side of the swiss cheese reflector to render circles of light. I don’t normally shoot flowers in strong light, but when I popped my reflector on to reflect the sunlight on this tulip, the result was a retro feeling – maybe this could be Minnie Mouse’s flower!
Lensbaby Velvet 85 & Omni Silver Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 160 | 1/1600 | Nikon D750
Using the silver see-through trapezoid reflector with this sunflower made a soft floral composition, a complete opposite and more ethereal effect.
Lensbaby Soft Focus II & Omni See-Through Trapezoid Reflector | ISP | 400 | 1/100 | Nikon D750
Using creative tools like Omni to spark your creativity and imagination
So what subjects might work best for this type of photography? The sky is the limit because you can add a very subtle touch of light or a strong statement to any of your favorite subjects. Seeing this sunset through my lens using the Omni reflections made me think I was up in an airplane and looking down through the clouds in the sky. The results were unexpected, and this is the fun part of shooting without any strict rules attached. This type of interactive photography may push you to think in a more creative way.
Lensbaby Edge 35 & Omni Gold Swiss Cheese Holes | ISO | 320 | 1/1600 | Nikon D750
About the photographer Gerri Jones
Gerri started her journey with her camera in 2000 as a creative outlet. She enjoys photographing all subjects and especially the challenge of new ways to see through the creative use of Lensbaby lenses. Gerri is a Lensbaby Ambassador and has been a featured speaker/instructor at regional camera clubs and conferences