Mark Heuss is a full-time photographer, media artist, color grader, and self-declared camera nerd, who has tested the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens for us. In this interview, he shares his experience with us.
Could you tell us a little bit about your work? How long have you been doing it?
My work is a well-balanced mix of private pictures and my professional videos and photos for my daily job. For my job, I shoot 99% skate related stuff. It fits my personal interests most of the time, so that makes it really fun.
I guess I started filming in elementary school, putting all my savings and communion money in a fancy Super8 camcorder. As the years went on, I started playing with the Canon AE1. Thanks to my hobby as an inline skater, I documented me and my friends growing up, so I got deeper and deeper into the media wormhole. Alongside my studies, I started working for a German Television station. That was around eleven years ago. Seven years ago, I finished my diploma and by accident got a full-time job at a skate company as their in-house video producer, which was like a teenage dream come true. Today, I still work at that company, producing and organizing their media content. Besides that, I am mainly messing around with different types of photography and video, nothing serious, just trying to improve while having fun.
Most of the time though, I try to be a good father and take care of my wonderful family.
What excites you about photography?
I love to be able to create something that lasts. It´s just a great feeling to capture specific moments and help your lousy brain to remember them for years to come. I also enjoy the role you take on as a photographer, you kind of analyze your surroundings a bit more than anybody else. Others lead the show, you just try to take a step back and see what happens.
This lens has a fascinating history, so let's play the association game. What came to mind when you first saw the Daguerreotype Art Lens? What is special about its build?
Lomography really surprised me with the lens, I had no idea what to expect at all. So I was quite surprised by the physical presence of it! I mean it's shiny, golden, really long and heavy. The aperture plates make it so much fun to play with. It´s the complete opposite of a plastic lightweight DSLR lens, where you are scared of breaking the smallest part accidentally. With the Daguerreotype, it feels like I could play baseball with it without being afraid of something getting broken. Okay, maybe only softball.
What did you take pictures of? What camera did you use?
I started taking some family shots but had some issues at first because I wasn't used to the lens. The Daguerreotype is not perfect for every type of shooting, so of course, I messed up in the first few weeks. But after getting to know it a bit more and finding the right moments for its special qualities, I really started to like the golden thing. I use the Daguerreotype Art Lens on my D750 and it is a pretty nice combo. That vintage special effect look on full-frame, mixed with a sensor that allows so much post cheating feels great.
Did the Daguerreotype Art Lens impart a special look to your photos? Tell us about your first photo session.
Tough question. The look with the Daguerreotype Art Lens is quite unique, so yes, of course, it did. Especially with those star filters, every picture you take looks and feels different. My first session was after weeks of rain on a short winter walk with the kids in the fields. I was pretty impressed that the lens, when stopped down to f8 or f11, the images turned out super crisp, even in the corners. So this showed me that it is not only an effect but it's also a really sharp lens.
The lens is a continuation of Lomography's experimental tradition. What special effects have you done using the lens?
I tried to take it slow on the special aperture plates, but couldn´t get myself to do so. It was just too tempting to get that playful bokeh dancing all around the pictures. Besides that, I really liked the close focal distance, so it was macro sessions, mixed with chaotic star bokeh backgrounds.
In terms of your own photography needs, what is the best feature of the Daguerreotype Art Lens?
As I said above, I think the versatile use of this lens is one of its biggest benefits. You want to take a super sharp image of your beautiful surroundings, the Daguerreotype Achromat Art Lens is capable of this when stopped down. Dreamy portraits, easy! Macro close-ups of unknown structures in your garden, check. Want to go all crazy with star filters and a super soft look, there you go!
How does Daguerreotype Art Lens differ from other Lomography Art Lenses?
It´s heavier and longer hahaha! I would say the main difference might be that once you stop it down, you also have the ability to take pictures like with a normal lens, wherewith most of the other Art Lenses, the special look always stays the same in every picture. But I might be wrong about that, I am not an expert on all Lomography Lenses, to be honest.
Why use a special lens at all?
Why not? Every tool needs its chance. It could be your favorite lens, who knows. Trying it out is always better than just neglecting it.
Let's get technical. What tip would you give to a first-time user?
Slow down and give it a little time. Like with every piece of equipment, there is a learning curve and your first days usually are not the best ones. Do not over-do the special aperture plates. Instead of only photographing in a dreamy soft way, try stopping it down, too. Get close. Impress your local photo nerds with your newly learned all manual focusing skills.
Do you want to see more of Mark's work? You can stop by his website!