Squeezerlens: a lens like a jello shot

What do you associate with “jello shots”? Wobbling neon-colored jelly containing mostly alcohol? Well, I can provide you with a photographic jello shot: the blurriness, the strange visual side-effects and the wobbly feeling whilst taking these pictures. It’s called “Squeezerlens”.

Frank Baeseler is an Ex-advertising-manager, who devotes himself to experimental photography and the so-called “pictorialism”. Whilst experimenting with tilt-shift lenses and vintage Squeezerlens in Actionphotographic gear, the idea for theSqueezerlens was born. Basically, it is a Volna-3 lens (a russian replica of a legendary Zeiss Biometar) mounted on a squeezable rubber tube. Focus is set by pushing and pulling the tube, the desired blur-effect by shifting and tilting the lens. That and the very “personality” of the Volna-3 give the pictures a very unique look. And because the whole thing is as wobbly as can be, pictures never look the same – settings are just not reproducible. Do you understand now, why I call shooting with the Squeezerlens a “jello shot”?

I’d like to provide you with the first sample shots, that I took from my kitchen window into the backyard, after the Squeezerlens arrived. The Volna-3 is a lens made for medium-format cameras (6×6 cm). On my Nikon D5300, the Volna’s focal length of 80mm resulted in a quite narrow angle of view – it IS a pretty long tele lens on my crop camera.

Low evening sun: 1/4000 sec exposure time and still overexposed

Low evening sun: 1/4000 sec exposure time

1:1 Crop: 1/4000 sec exposure time and still overexposed

1:1 Crop: 1/4000 sec and still overexposed

Next issue I had to deal with: the Volna is a pretty fast lens – it has a maximum aperture of 2.8. In the vanishing evening sun, I still got overexposed pictures even with shutter speeds of 1/4000 sec.! I am no technical expert in lens construction, but it looks, as if the lens is even faster than the numbers suggest. Majorly stepping down the lens is no solution, since then you loose the character of the lens and the bigger depth of field works against the desired effects for the type of photography, the Squeezerlens is thought for. So during bright daylight, you might consider to equip yourselves with ND-filters. Since I am writing this blog-entry after just having received the lens and taken a few experimental shots, I do not have a big “real world experience” how it behaves in the field. And I can’t tell for now, how it behaves on a full frame camera – it should do better, when the “side-effects” aren’t cropped… I’ll eventually update this post some time later, once I have more info.

Speaking of experimental shots: as the Volna presented me with a narrow angle of view, I was wondering, what happened, if I tried to get around that by mounting two pictures as a vertical “panorama”. I was curious about the outcome because of the tilt-shift effect – a panorama normally would call for a perfectly sharp picture in any region of the frame. But see for yourselves: the results of that experiment are posted in the second and third row of the gallery. In the third row, I also added a comparison picture taken with the Zeiss Biometar 80mm/f2.8 – the original lens, the Russians based their Volna-3 replica upon. No tilt-shifting applied there – but I just love the way, the Biometar renders colors, its out-of-focus bokeh and the whole character of this lens. Gonna have to do some portrait- and landscape-photography with it pretty soon…