Photographer Will Tee Yang was one of the supporters of our Petzval Kickstarter project. Wildly impressed, we featured his maiden Petzval shots in a recent article, and just couldn’t let him off the hook without an interview.
If you loved the photos we showcased in this post, then you would definitely want to hear from the man who worked magic with the Petzval lens to create such stunning portraits. Moreover, you would definitely want to see the rest of that lensman’s work.
Luckily, we were able to get in touch with Los Angeles-based photographer Will Tee Yang, who told us a little about himself and shared his first-hand experience with the Lomography X Zenit Petzval Lens.
Hi Will, Tell us about yourself and what you do.
Hello, My name is Will Tee Yang. I currently work in the photography industry shooting fashion, live music, and weddings.
How long have you been a photographer? How did you get into it?
I grew up in Taipei, Taiwan, then moved to California in my early teens. Imagery and photography have always been my passion growing up with my father who is also interested in photography. I also truly enjoy meeting people through photography; it is perhaps the greatest benefit of being a photographer.
What milestones in your career or projects are you most proud of?
I always like to aim for my next project to be my best work. I’m always looking for the chance to get a better shot. In terms of my past work, I’m pretty happy overall where I am today, considering all the people I have been lucky enough to work with.
What are your favorite weapons (gear/equipment) as a photographer?
My favorite weapons? I assume you are talking about the tools I use. When I was first starting out, I was more focused on understanding the techniques and learning the important skill sets rather than the tools I used. I even made a light modifier on my own to get better photos. It wasn’t until later in my career that I started to acquire higher quality gear.
In terms of lighting, most of my favorite fashion portraits are created during the golden hour in natural light. While staging a shot can be amazing, sometimes when events occur naturally the results are astonishing. Right now, I really enjoy shooting film on manual bodies. There is something about the unknown that excites me. I am also a big fan of shallow depth of fields, so I love shooting with fast primes. Such as the 50 1.4, which is my go-to lens.
Why did you decide to get the Lomography Petzval lens?
I first came across the Lomography Petzval lens on the Kickstarter campaign, and was blown away by the bokeh this lens creates. The fact it has been redesigned to fit on digital mounts was a plus.
Can you recall what your first reaction was when you first received and opened the package? Please share if you do remember.
The package felt a lot heavier than I expected. I was very impressed with the amount of details and quality that were put into the box, book, and all the bonus materials. The lens itself was beautifully made and solidly constructed.
Please share with us your first experience with the new Petzval lens. Any difficulties or memorable incidents you experienced?
I actually lost one of the aperture disks the very first day using it. It probably fell out of the lens when I was wearing the camera while walking in the park. Luckily, I was able to find it again before sunset in the grass and leaves by tracking back where I was. I now make sure to pay attention to the aperture disk in the lens when I’m not operating the camera.
Please share with us your favorite photo so far amongst your Petzval shots. And tell us the story behind it.
I was so excited about the lens I called my friend Clare-Alana the very next day and asked her to come test the lens with me. We were planning to get to the top of Griffith Park, but the traffic going up to the Observatory was extremely bad that afternoon. Since we were racing against sunlight, we ended up shooting at a random park in Los Feliz. Amazingly, I got this shot within the first 5 five minutes of testing.
What do you like best about the new Petzval lens?
My love for the swirly bokeh is undeniable.
What is most challenging about using the new Petzval lens? How were you able to work around it?
Due to the lack of autofocus and the shallow depth of field, achieving a sharp focus is a little difficult. Thanks to the preview button on modern digital camera systems, I was able to double check the focus right away. Also shifting my body a little back and forth while shooting in burst mode is a good way to ensure a sharper photo.
What is your favorite Petzval and camera set-up?
So far, I’ve only used the Petzval lens with the 5D Mk3. I plan on using the Petzval lens on a crop sensor body next.
What photo opportunities or projects would you like to use the Petzval lens for?
I’m excited to use the Petzval lens at night with some creative aperture disks.
I also plan on using the Petzval lens for more agency tests and even shooting live music or weddings. I think the effect it creates will be very cool.
If you haven’t used the Petzval lens with an analogue camera, do you think you’d ever use a film camera with it?
I would definitely give it a try. It will be difficult without the LCD screen to confirm the focus, but I think sometimes the fun of shooting on film is not knowing what you are going to get… kind of like a box of chocolates.
Any tips or advice for current and future Lomography Petzval lens users?
If anyone can get a hold of this lens, play with it! It’s a really fun lens to shoot. If manual focusing is still hard for you, just shoot more! There is definitely a learning curve for manual focusing on this lens, as on any manual focus lenses. It’s already easier for me to focus just by using this lens more.
The Lomography x Zenit Petzval Lens is now available for pre-order in the Lomography Online Shop! They will be delivered on a first come, first served basis; so don’t miss out on securing your piece of photographic history and your place in the pre-order queue! You can find out about the lens on the Petzval Microsite.