iPhone Fisheye In The Garden

Japanese Bridge

One of the most peaceful places I know is the Chicago Botanic Garden. I spent an entire day there last summer, walking slowly through the palatial grounds trying to take in all the wonderful designs, colors and smells around me. I had a Sony A7R II and some nice vintage glass with me, but I found myself having way more fun shooting with my iPhone 6s and a little snap-on fisheye lens my friend had recently given me.

Rose Garden Framed

The Japanese section of the Garden has some lovely little pathways in it, and the fisheye lens I was shooting with created some very weird lens flare. Together they made for a pretty cool image.

Japanese Garden Path

The Garden also has some beautiful indoor exhibits, including rain forest and desert plants that require careful climate control.

I call this one “ATTACK OF THE GIANT TOPIARY KIWI!”

Attack of the Giant Topiary Kiwi!

I found that the fisheye lens attachment gives iPhone panorama shots a very unique look.

More and more I’m realizing how unimportant the quality of a lens is to me when compared to it’s character. In my book, a lens with a quirky or strange character will always trump an optically pristine lens with none, even when that means I end up keeping the $3000 camera in its case and shooting with my phone most of the day. If you’re looking for a way to spice up your phone photography, I’d definitely recommend trying out a fisheye adapter!

Fisheye In The Bog

Bog Boardwalk

I grew up going on hikes with my family at Volo Bog State Natural Area, and it’s still one of my favorite places to visit in Illinois. A bog, especially in the vanilla Midwest, is a magical place, and when you get out in the middle of it, after crossing acres of quaking ground and floating dwarf trees on a narrow boardwalk, you feel like you’re in another world. This January we had an unseasonably warm stretch that felt just like Spring, and one Saturday I couldn’t help but grab a camera and head out to Volo to check up on an old friend.

To keep things simple I generally take just one camera and one lens when I go on a photo walk, and this time I decided to go with an unconventional pairing: my Rokinon 7.5mm Fisheye, which I just recently discovered I could mount on my work’s Sony A7S with the help of a Fotodiox MFT to E-mount lens adapter. Here’s what the camera/lens combo looks like.

My Rokinon 7.5mm is made to cover a Micro Four Thirds sensor, so I had to use the APS-C crop mode on the Sony A7S plus do a little cropping in post to remove the vignette caused by the len’s built-in tulip hood. I love working with wide angle and fisheye lenses because they give me such a unique, dramatic view of the world. Here are some of the photos I captured during my day at the bog.

Big Blue Winter Sky

Dock on Frozen Pond

January Leaf

I also shot video on my walk, and here’s a short film I made with the footage, trying to capture the essence of the day. I had shot footage of other hikers and my own feet walking along different parts of the boardwalk, but I realized that the strongest elements of my footage were shots of the sky and the bog’s relationship to it, so that’s the direction I took with the final edit. You can check out the video below.

Here’s an additional video I made for Fotodiox about the adapter I used.

Limiting myself to a fisheye lens for an entire day of shooting was a rewarding challenge, and I definitely plan on using this lens on a full frame camera again. Volo Bog is even more beautiful in the Spring and Summer, so I may be heading back to capture more images soon.