Juxtapose visions of Tokyo at night with the Petzval’s bokeh, and you get pure magic. From a traditional Japanese hearth to busy Tokyo streets, Mance Thompson captured it all with the new Petzval lens and a star-shaped aperture plate, weaving magic into otherwise ordinary everyday scenes.
Name: Mance Thompson
Hello Mance. Please introduce yourself and tell us about your work. How did you start as a photographer?
Hello, I’m a Tokyo-based photographer who specializes in corporate, concert, fashion, and wedding photography. I also enjoy shooting fireworks, landscape, and fine art photography.
I took my first photography class in high school but didn’t get started as a photographer until late 2008. When I found out I could attend President Obama’s first inauguration, I knew I had to buy a good camera to record such a historic event. At the time, I was new to digital, but now it is my main tool. I am interested in going back and shooting more with film, and also trying medium and large format.
How would you describe your photographic style in three words?
West meets East
How was your experience shooting with the Petzval Lens?
I enjoyed shooting with the new Petzval lens. It was hard at first dealing with the focus limitations, as I am trained to think about producing tack sharp images. However, these limitations force you to think outside the box, and take more time setting up images. The options for bokeh with this lens make you rethink mundane objects and approach composition from a different perspective which was an exciting and humbling exercise.
Can you please share your favorite photo from the ones that you shot with Lomography Petzval Lens, and the story behind them?
I enjoyed shooting the traditional Japanese hearth with this lens. It was in a ryokan in Nagano. I had to shoot it at 3am while the guests slept. Due to the small size of the room and the fact that the lens is 85mm, composition was a bit tricky, but it was a lot of fun.
Which photography or video project would you dream of shooting with the Petzval Lens?
I can’t think of a particular project that I would like to try the most. I think the great thing about this lens is that any subject you try to approach would become more creative and artistic by using this lens. Therefore, I could recommend it for an amazing variety of shoots. Thinking of new ways to use the lens outside of traditional portraiture would be most interesting to me, trying to think of projects as versatile in scope as the lens itself.
The lens makes you look at your environment from a different perspective, that alone is more than enough reason to try it out. You will find that instead of limiting, it is quite eye opening.
Do you have any advice for new and future users of the Petzval Lens?
Take your time setting up shots but don’t be afraid to try the unexpected. I had to teach myself to shoot first, compose later; or more precisely to shoot with cropping in mind due to the middle focus constraints of the lens.
Live View was helpful in achieving focus in some situations, but taking advantage of the bokeh of the lens and the interesting aperture shapes makes focus a different undertaking than using a normal lens. If you are used to letting the camera’s autofocus do it for you, learning how to focus with this lens can take a bit of time.