Lensbaby in London

I’m a member of a Facebook group called Lensbaby Blog Circle. The idea is that we all write a blog post once every month that documents a day or project shooting with a Lensbaby lens. This is my post for June.

So, we recently spent a few days relaxing in London. Well – if you can actually relax in this bustling metropolis. 🙂 I knew that the camera would travel with me but as usual, it’s a quandary trying to decide what lens/lenses to bring. In the end, I stuck with the Nikon D800 coupled with the workhorse lens that is the Nikkor 24-70mm, F2.8.
However, I also packed the Lensbaby Edge 80 and a Lee six-stop filter for any “creative” moments that may occur. I’m not one to bring lots of gear or a tripod when travelling. It’s too much hassle and the purpose of this trip was a few days away for my me, my wife and son, so any serious photography was taking a back seat.

red london bus
To be honest, I struggled to get some proper shots with the Dslr. I actually ended up taking more photos with my phone – a HuaweiP10. This phone sports a pretty good camera, albeit not nearly as good as the D800. In busy London, there’s just so much happening, and deciding where to point the camera became a bit of a chore. I guess I’m too used to the more sedate west of Ireland lifestyle. 🙂 I did get some “proper” pictures but they were more a record of the places we visited. However, all the images in this article were taken with the Edge 80.
The shot of the red London bus was taken using burst mode – again, fast-moving objects, coupled with a very shallow depth of field required this.

On our second day there, we took the tube to Hyde Park Corner and sauntered down Constitution Hill towards Buckingham Palace. It was about the only time we “sauntered”. 🙂 This was a chance to swap out the Nikkor 24-70 for the Edge 80 – so I did and took a few shots. As with any of the Lensbaby range, it is not so much about capturing the scene before us accurately, but more about capturing, an essence of the location and time, maybe even, an essence of yourself. That’s my thinking anyway.

In most cities, much of your time is spent waiting, rushing, standing, before waiting and rushing again. We waited on platforms, in queues, at traffic lights. We rushed down escalators, across roads, and onto the tube. We didn’t have to, but you kinda get caught up in the crowd, and the hustle and bustle of the city. When in Rome, I guess …

To be honest, I find the Edge 80 tricky to use. At its widest aperture of F2.8 and with the composer tilted to the maximum, the depth of field and “slice of the scene in sharp focus” is very small. It can be difficult to get “in focus”, what you actually want in focus. This is especially so, when used as a walkaround, street lens. On the street, situations present themselves quickly and disappear in the blink of an eye.

I know I could stop down to a “safer” aperture, but I’ve always liked pushing the equipment as far as it is designed to go. I have a Sigma Art, 85mm, F1.4 and I love to use it at its widest. Although it’s a tricky lens to use, it’s enjoyable at the same time.

As you’d expect, outside Buckingham Palace was full of tourists. Camera phones and regular cameras abounded. Everyone was getting the selfie with the palace in the background.
I noticed a lot of gold colouring on the railings and statues around this area and decided to use this in the colour scheme. It would help to keep some consistency in the series of photos and bring the whole story together. I’ve also processed the pictures using the letterbox format and a slight orange and teal colour grade.

We wandered a little down The Mall before crossing and going into St. James’s Park, where we fed and took pictures of the squirrels. The area around here is beautiful and obviously, a must see when you visit this city. I used the yellow cones to fit in with my colour scheme. Once I had made my mind up about the colours I wanted, it was simply a matter of watching out for them.

When you decide what look or what theme you want your pictures to have, you’ll see many photos opportunities. I think it helps to narrow your photo criteria down like this. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The yellowy steps in the fountain played into the overall look I wanted to achieve.

Walking back towards the tube, there were many opportunities to capture some of the local architecture and all of the greenery in this part of London. And of course, a little of the many historical monuments in the city. London was really lovely and I will definitely visit again.

London war memorial

Feel free to share or comment. Thanks for reading this far.


  1. Melita says

    I love the sharp focus and the variety John, from the pedestrains sitting or scooting to the beauty of the architecture. A great enjoyment!

    1. johnmee says

      Thanks Melita.

  2. Seonaid Teal says

    Love this set of photos.

  3. Katrin says

    I totally agrre with your summary for the Lensbabies of not capturing the scene but the essence! The Edge was quite a challence for street photography but you reallyx mastered it in those shots – my favourites are the one with the golden statue and the one of the fountain.

    1. johnmee says

      Thanks for your kind words Katrin.

  4. Ute says

    It can be tricky to photograph moving objects with a Lensbaby. But once you’re successful the effect is magic, isn’t it? I recently visited Amsterdam and totally felt like you did about the hustle. I love your pictures and agree with Katrin about the one with the golden statue.

    1. johnmee says

      Thanks, Ute. It’s definitely a learning curve anytime you bring this lens into a new environment. But isn’t that all part of the enjoyment.

    2. johnmee says

      Hi Ute. I loved your post from Bonn and tried to leave a comment. Despite entering a website url in the “Website” field, it wouldn’t allow me tp post. Maybe, you need to look into this.
      Anyway loved the post and glad that you got to meet up with a fellow Lensbaby blogger.

  5. Birgit says

    I just love the way you think about photography, as in “doing a mini project” for the day, what with the colour assignment and the thought through focus plane and post processing. Very inspiring! I would claim that the Edge series optics are by far the easiest to use, but then I would cheat (by your standards), putting them in neutral position with a stopped down aperture. I do see what you mean about pushing the equipment to the max, though – and this would most often be the reason for getting that lens in the first place. But, yeah, it’s easy to be lazy, and LB Edge 50/80 will allow you to be. I will definitely take your sentiment along with me in my future photo adventures. Push, push, it’s the only way to grow as a photographer, even if it’s just a hobby.

    1. johnmee says

      Thanks for your kind words Birgit.

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