After a fully booked 2015, photographer Chloé Vollmer-Lo found time to test the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens. She brought it to the Natural History Museum and the Paris business district, an endeavor that resulted in quite a few stunning, bokeh-rich images.
Name: Chloé Vollmer-Lo
Camera: Canon 5D Mark III
Lens: Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Lens
First impression of the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens
Well first, I felt much more comfortable than with the 85, as the 50mm is my favorite lens of all times and as the 58 is quite close to it. The framing came much more easily and instinctively. And I really enjoyed the bokeh control, it changes everything ! The final picture is more powerful and often closer to what I had imagined before I triggering the camera.
On shooting with the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens
I really suck at manual focusing, that’s for sure ! And that was my main issue here… Especially when I forgot, many times, to put the aperture card in the slit : resulting in a super maximal aperture. But nothing insuperable, though, it forced me to work on this issue I have !
Apart from that, I rediscovered the very ceremonial side I had already experienced with the 85. It took me some time to prepare the shootings, to think about my framings, look for the light.Such a pleasant feeling, accepting to take time ! Moreover, this lens definitely has some kind of magic, with its peculiar rendering. Frankly, it’s always mesmerizing.
Last but not least : this time, I shot “in public” and became aware that the Petzval really attracts gazes, curiosity and admiration from the people passing by. It creates a dialogue and a kind of benevolence towards the camera. Nowadays, one often has two differents kinds of reaction when seeing somebody with a DSLR in the street : either one absolutely doesn’t care and doesn’t pay attention to it, either one tends to be kind of suspicious (“Is he going to shoot me without my consent ?”). Here, it was totally different, similar to what happens when you go shooting in the street with and old medium-format camera, for example.
About the photos
The pictures of Jack Parker are quite close to what I did last time, except the fact that it’s even more uncanny, especially with the multi-expositions (a great tool that appears on Mark III and that I didn’t have on Mark II). I really love Jack’s strong and hieratic aspect (and her funky hair, but that’s a different stroy), that’s why I wanted to go against clichés and pictures who very often depict women as feeble or too delicate and fragile. We agreed on the location (Parc de Belleville) instinctively : we needed space, a beautiful yet raw place, and I craved for drained fountains.
For Alix’s pictures (by the way I had already shot her with Petzval 85), when you think about it, it deals with the same logic. Alix has been my friend since high school and I have followed – full of admiration – her professional reorientation as a yoga teacher. Here poses stand against all gravity (and joints) laws ! I find it beautiful and powerful. That’s why I chose to shoot her in three places which, I think, say something about this mutation of the body.
First, the Museum of Natural History that conveys a peculiar picture of anatomy, its evolutions and inter-species similarities. Then, the big tropical greenhouses of the Plants Garden, with their lush giant vegetation. Finally, La Défense, a city which embodies the ridig and the rational and provides a good counterpoint to the torsions of the body and the freedom they’re expressing.
Favorite feature of the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens
Obviously, the bokeh control ! By the way, it also has an effect on sharpness and micro-contrasts, it is very obvious on the dedicated microsite, and this helped me to think before the shooting about the rendering I was interested in.
Team 85 or 58?
Definitely team 58 ! I could even be tempted to create a new hashtag #teampetzval58 or #petzval58isgr8.
Perfect Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens photo opportunities
Same as last time, I’d like to shoot a series of portraits with cobra flashes in exterior during daylight… I didn’t take the time to do so this time, but I’m sure it would be pretty interesting. On the « one can always dream » side, I’d love to make a reportage in Paris Natural History Museum’s or Evolution Gallery’s reserves…
Advice to new owners of the Petzval 58 Bokeh Control Art Lens
Same as last time : take your time ! Don’t hesitate to lower the bokeh a bit to allow yourself to choose less centered compositions.
Don’t be afraid of the blur, learn how to accept it : here, we’re not dealing with pure digital, that’s why the rules are different. Roughness and imperfection are allowed, they can both carry very interesting things. By the way, this is also an advice to myself…
New 2016 projects
My first comic book, with the talented cartoonist Carole Maurel, was released on January 27th and I really want to make more of them! And to eventually find a way to link photography to writing. I also still have a top secret collaborative photo project on my mind, but TIME, I need more time !
Any last words?
Thank you Lomo, thank you Morgane, thank you Petzval, thank you Alix, thank you Jack, and a handful of analog kisses for everybody!