Sometimes clear focus isn’t what you actually want in a photo. Maybe you’re trying to create an impressionistic scene that evokes something other than literal reality. And one way to completely change your photos is to make your own soft-focus lens.
There are a variety of places you can buy an intentionally distorted lens, the most prominent best sellers are a little under a hundred bucks, though, so it’s a little pricey if you’re just looking to experiment. In this video from Randy Snook, though, we see how he makes a rough and ready lens for under $US15 ($20) that he nicknames the Pipe Dream.
There are just a few elements that go into Snook’s lens: a 1 1/4″ PVC joint union, the lens itself (specifically, a 65mm single element positive meniscus lens), and a Canon to 55m reverse adaptor ring so that the pipe can actually attach to the camera. All the items are just a few dollars each but the trickiest item to find is the lens.
The assembly is pretty simple: Snook paints the PVC parts black to minimise light leaks, carefully screws in the adaptor ring to the pipe (with a little glue, since the pipe doesn’t actually have threads for the ring), and uses a few dabs of hot glue around the perimeter of the lens to hold it in place. The he screws the disassembled pipe parts back together.
Remember that if you use a different lens, it will likely have a different focal length so this exact pipe configuration may need adjustment. Then you’re ready to try it out and take some dreamy shots.