Art Photography | Lensbaby Velvet 56

The other day, I went out on a photography walk with my son. We visited the American River Bike Trail by our house. I brought along my favorite art lens - Lensbaby Velvet 56 - partly as a self-imposed challenge to use only one lens and to (hopefully) take more artsy photos. The landscape is pretty consistent here and I wanted to do something more creative with my photography. It was late afternoon, not quite the golden hour. The sky was pretty cloudy, so the light shifted often during our walk. At times, we were in complete shade, only to be dappled again when the clouds let the sun peek through.

I love taking nature and art photographs with my Lensbaby lenses. The Velvet 56 is my go-to lens for these types of shots because of its versatility. I can use it as a macro lens and if I tighten up the aperture, it can take distance shots as well. To be honest though, I don't use it often as a lens for shooting landscapes. I prefer sharpness and details with landscapes and this lens is much better in making "dreamy" images. Now that I think about it though, I probably should plan a styled shoot with this lens where I can take full advantage of this quality. 

Three of the photos I captured are below. My favorite is the one with the big leaves with water drops. The haze reminded me of that scene in the Lord of the Rings when Frodo and Sam watched the elves walking to the boats that would take them to Valinor (it's on the extended version of the film). So pretty!

Photograph of small flowers taken with Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens at the American River Bike Trail
Waterdrops on green leavees taken with Lensbaby Velvet 56 lens at the American River Bike Trail
New shoots springing up at the American River Bike Trail, Gold River CA

The only drawback is that it doesn't auto focus. I take all of my photographs with this lens using live view. It's the only way I know if I have the correct details in focus. There is also a learning curve, especially if you want to use it wide open at f2. The softness is something I LOVE about this lens, but you have to get used to seeing the details in the haze.

While I would love to use this lens during my child portrait sessions, I find that I am too anal in making sure that I have the right focus point. Someday, though, I might just let that go and see what happens ;) Stay posted, now I have a few ideas mulling in my head =)

Claire Toney is a Lifestyle and family portrait photographer in Northern California. She lives with her husband and 2 children. When she is not taking photos of pretty things, she may be found taking a nap with (her) dog Jax or wishing she were on an exotic photographer adventure. To book her for either a family lifestyle session or portrait session, the best way to contact her is via email at You may also call or text her at (916) 769-5482