Armed with a Canon 6D and our very own Lomography x Zenit New Petzval Art Lens, videographer Shawn Engler documented a recent interview with Petzval collector Geoffrey Berliner. After the said interview, the NYC team went to Central Station with photographer Coco Alexander for a shoot. Shawn was there to capture the behind-the-scenes, again with the Petzval lens. He tells us of the experience in this short one-on-one.
Hello Shawn! Please tell us about yourself.
Growing up in the south was great. Life flows at a different pace. Gives you more time to travel, ponder and generally learn more about yourself. Mind you some very closed minded individuals live in the south but all in all this self-discovery is where I grew to love images and composition moving or not. I am very much a camera and process nerd. If you put me in a room with a mechanical engineer, an optics designer and a 3D designer I would just assume that I have died and gone to heaven. Haha. Oh the ridiculous imaging inventions we could create together would be amazing. Art is very important to me. I do not necessarily want to talk about art history or derive deep meanings from artist works but just staring at a piece of art is soothing to my perpetually pondering brain. I love what I do and ask that everyone follow their dreams or at least part of their dreams since flying is off the table. Wahooo!!!
As someone working in New York, are there any secret destinations, other than tourist spots, which you’d like to recommend to videographers?
As hard as it is to get away from camera schlepping, baby strolling, oh no I might be a… Tourist! It is possible and to put it simply, very easy. First, I will tell you what not to do and honestly it is pretty simple. STAY AWAY FROM MIDTOWN!!! Haha. Now that we have that rule out of the way I will merely give a few suggestions that pop into my head. Start with a long subway ride. Subways are great people watching and give me inspiration. Mind you that your long subway ride should include getting off at many random stops, especially if you hear subway performers gettin’ it on for your ears. Go to Brooklyn and Queens… Go far… Why not? Could change your life. Next idea would be go out in the city between the hours of midnight and sunrise. Check out the West Village down the creepy dim lit residential streets OR Chinatown. Most of the really touristy spots are 100% different if you go in the wee hours of the morning. Have fun. That’s why you are doing this in the first place. No complaining, which I also like to refer to as “A Waste of Time.” Last idea that I would recommend even if everyone and their forefathers have done this, is to see the sunset from Brooklyn or Queens. You will not be disappointed. See it for yourself and not from pictures online. The city on “fire” is breathtaking on the right day. Lastly, if you cannot figure out what to shoot and are wondering aimlessly to no end I recommend just shooting and shooting and shooting. Inspiration will come.
How did you become an artist using video as a medium?
I have always enjoyed shooting pics and video but the defining point in my life when I became an “artist” would be when I dropped out of School and pursued my own future, which I am still doing to this day. Lots of hard work and self-motivation. That being said “DON’T BE A FOOL STAY IN SCHOOL!”
Describe the Petzval lens in five words.
Altering History for the Future.
How did you like shooting with the Petzval lens?
It was a great honor and opportunity to have this lens in my possession before its release. I won’t say it was easy at first. There was a learning curve. Once you have all the characteristics figured out and find the sweet spot coupled with the proper background you are immediately blown away by the results. Truly amazing to have a lens that could only be found in this condition from a collector fit directly to your camera. Even if you were to retrofit a historical Petzval you would be losing the swirly bokeh by shooting it on such a small format like 35mm. Love it.
Any funny or strange encounters you’ve had with it?
In a roundabout way I would say that this lens led me to my best and strangest encounter in New York. This lens led me to the Penumbra Foundation where I met and interviewed Geoffrey Berliner. Never would I have ever expected to See such Glorious things like the Foundation’s Northern Light studio where as they basically cut the roof of the building and replaced it with glass. The Lens Collection!!! Really… Where did that come from? When I walked into Geoffrey’s basement workshop/storage level, I instantly turned into a 12 year old school girl watching Justin Bieber live in Concert. Haha. Also, it was amazing to spend some time talking with and learning from the man himself, Geoffrey. The knowledge he possesses is truly amazing and I am jealous of anyone who gets to work in this environment. If you come to NY and can set up some type of tour or visit to the Penumbra Foundation then you would be a fool not to try your little heart out.
Please share some advice to future Petzval users.
SHOOT FULL FRAME 35mm. Only way to get the full effect you paid for.