One of the first Petzval Lens Kickstarter backers, talented photographer Sandravo has filled her Lomohome with an amazing selection of shots using the brass lens. We spoke to the Belgium based Lomographer about her and the Petzval!
LOCATION: Beveren, Belgium
CAMERA: Nikon FE2
How did you get into photography and Lomography?
Ever since I was a kid I have loved photography. Even on family holidays I was the one holding the camera instead of my parents. Needless to say I used analogue cameras growing up, as it was just before the digital era. At some point in time I moved on to digital, but it never held the same excitement. Until early last year, when by a stroke of luck, I came across Lomography’s smartphone scanner campaign on Kickstarter. At first I backed the project thinking it would be a handy way to finally digitize all those negatives I still had laying around. But then I got curious and found my way to the Lomography website. Finding out so many people were still using film was quite a shock! The avalanche of colorful pics made it a very easy to move back to analog.
You’ve done a lot of great shoots with the Petzval, specifically using plants/trees – why do you think this works so well?
Regardless of the subject you want in focus, it is the background that will swirl. And the more structure that background has, the more swirls you get. In this respect, plants are perfect, especially when plenty of light shines through. Also, I find that there is a sweet spot, like a perfect distance between your focus point and your background to create the typical Petzval bokeh. If that distance is too large or too short, there is hardly any swirling going on. But when shooting a flower on a tree, there will always be some branches at that perfect distance. And even though you can’t tell a flower to move a bit back or forth like you would a model, the advantage is there are plenty of flowers to pick from!
What attracted to you to the Petzval in the first place?
By the time the Petzval Lens was first announced I was already hooked on Lomography. And the images that were shown were simply stunning! To me it was a bit of a no-brainer to jump in and make a pledge. Having used a lot of other higher-end Lomography gear, I trusted this lens was going to be a piece of art. On top of that, I was secretly hoping that owning such a beautiful lens would spice up my appetite to shoot more 35mm film. And it certainly did! Pre-Petzval I would use 120 film about 90% of the time, mostly with my Lubitel 166+. But now the tables have turned, and my Nikon FE2 with the Petzval are my favorites.
And what do you think of the lens now?
I love it! What else can I say?! It is an amazing feeling to look through that lens and see the world change in front of your eyes. Every time I push a freshly developed roll through my scanner I am stunned. I love the way the lens handles, the way it feels working with it. Not to forget the looks of disbelief on people’s faces, when they stand next to me, holding some very expensive digital gear!
Any special advice or tips for using the Petzval? Do you use any special filters/equipment to get the best results using the Petzval
I have tried working with close-up filters, but I must say I love the Petzval best as it is. That’s not to say it doesn’t work, because it does work fairly well. Attaching a close-up filter to the front of the lens makes it a great macro lens. Obviously, the closer you get to your subject, the more you exclude the background and as such the swirls. Some time ago I shot a roll of Rollei Infrared 400S film with a 720nm IR filter. It worked well and I like the results. The only minor disappointment is that because of the bokeh it is hard to recognize the images were made on IR film.
We loved your LomoChrome Purple x Petzval shoot – what was your experience of using this film and the Petzval?
They worked very well together and I definitely plan on giving it another go. I just need to restock on Lomochrome purple! As special as the Petzval shots are on a normal color negative film, xpro color-shifts adds to the magic. And Lomochrome Purple is the undefeated master when it comes to crossing colours!
What’s next for you and the Petzval?
I honestly don’t know, but with close to 1.000 rolls of film in the freezer and a creative mind, there are plenty of chances to experiment. Truth is I like what has come out so far, I love the nature shots. But I do realize that at some point I probably should move and start using the lens for what it was created: portraits. Whatever the future brings, I hope we’ll have a long career together! How’s that for a cheesy ending?!
Pre-order your Petzval Lens here in time for June delivery!