Monday, May 30, 2016


I got a new lens!  I recently purchased a Helios 44m, 58mm, f2 lens.  The Helios is one of the most common lenses on the planet.  They were made for over 40 years in Russia during the cold war.  It’s a manual focus, manual aperture, simple, and rugged chunk of metal and glass.  The series is famous for having a defect known as optical vignetting.  Basically the out of focus blobs, called bokeh by photographers, become oblong or football shaped as you move away from the center of the image.  The result makes patterns look like they are swirling around the center.  The bottom line is, I really like this 87mm equivalent $30 lens.  It’s a great focal length for portraits and just about everything else.  

There is something just magical about this lens.  I really really like the colors that it produces.  The photos have this filmy, analog look to them that I feel is just timeless.  Enough of the rambling, here are some photos.  Most of the photos are straight out of the camera.  I processed the black and whites with the Fuji Acros 100 Lightroom preset and just boosted the contrast a smidgen. 


This is a pretty typical get up for the farmers around here.  A simple blanket with gum boots and a beanie.

Ryan Wagner looks at the Senqu River.  He came out the other weekend to hang out.  We hiked to Rob’s village Malubalube (ma-doo-ba-doo-bay, it’s a fun one to say).  We killed and ate a rooster with Rob.  Roosters 0 - 1 Joel

The next large village down the hill from me, Ha Phohla.  I have a lot of students from here.  It’s a 50 minute walk to Sekonyela.  About half of my students walk 2 hours to get to school, uphill both ways.

It’s mating season around here so all of the rams are kept separate.  This guy tried to head butt me just seconds after the photo.  

Aspen?  Anyone can chime in if they know for sure.  I know there are aspen, poplar, and eucalyptus trees around here.

The Senqu footbridge.  You can kind of see the swirl effect in the background rocks.

The spiral aloe is the Lesotho national plant.  They grow some really beautiful flowers around November.  This isn’t the last time you will see one of these guys.  I really like them. 

Here you can see the swirling effect pretty well.  Keep in mind I didn’t use any special effects, this is straight out of the camera.  

This lens just has a ton of character, unlike it’s former communist designers.

Here is a great example of the analog look I was talking about.  It’s also the closest the Russians ever came to reaching the moon (alright I’m done).  The large building is an apartment, which students rent out.  

Just an interesting looking seed pod.

No smiles for you.

This is the 5,353 picture I’ve taken with my Fuji.  

I visited Rachel in Butha-Buthe last weekend.  She often has this puzzled look on her face.  

I really like these colors.  A mosque in Butha-Buthe.

The Helios makes terrible sunstars, which I kind of like.  

Something about this lens / camera combo that the Basotho just love.  I get asked every single time I’m carrying it to take peoples portraits.  It looks like a harmless film camera.  This lady was sitting in a taxi and asked me to take her picture.  I told her “U motle” or you’re beautiful.  

Anyways I hope you enjoyed the blog.  There will be a lot more to come.  I also just ordered a $25 vintage Japanese telephoto lens.  I couldn’t help myself, these old manual focus lenses are just so good.  They are a refreshing relief from the multi thousand dollar DSLR lenses I’m used to using.  

I’ll be traveling to the historical site Thaba Bosiu for peer support network training with Melinda this week.  I can’t wait to see her.  Stay tuned.


- Joel

1 comment:

  1. Digging the new lens! You are capturing some amazing photos. It's awesome to get to follow along with you. Can't wait to meet Melinda! Keep it up kid!