A few weeks ago I had an underwater photography student who had been telling me about his Lytro Illum camera. He explained to me how you could change the focus of the picture after taking it. This is because the camera uses light field technology, which captures more detail about the direction and intensity of the light entering the lens. To me it was an interesting concept. I had looked into similar techniques during my degree in photography. Four years later I find myself out of touch with the modern cameras.
Once the underwater lessons had finished he offered to show me the camera. We jumped on my bike and went to sunset point to play. Once there we walked around the corner, away from the crowd which was gathering to watch the sun go down. We were passing the camera back and forth as we each saw different opportunities for pictures.
I quickly learnt that to make the most of the camera you needed to think a lot more about the picture. Having multiple subjects at different focal lengths is very important. However if the difference in focal length is too much it doesn’t work because one subject will be too blurry.
I found it a bit tricky setting the focus. Yes you do need to set the focus and now instead of just choosing one focus point, you have to decide on the range that can be in focus. The aperture of the camera is set to f2 and cannot be changed so every image has a shallow depth of field. (this can be changed in post production) On the screen you have a blue and orange chart which tells you the distances which will be in focus. There is a dial to change this but I found it very sensitive to my touch and it would often jump from 3 meters to 10 meters with the slightest movement. I am also not very good at guessing distances so felt like I was often using trial and error methods to get the picture how I wanted it.
Overall the experience was fun, but I don’t feel I got any great pictures. I think a lot more practice is needed. I have stayed in touch with the owner of the camera and we will be meeting again in a couple of weeks so I can experiment some more.
I have now downloaded the lytro desktop app and am spending a lot of free time playing with the pictures I took. There is so much you can do with them, from simply changing the focus to creating 3D images and animations. I will write another blog about the postproduction options once I have got my head around it all.
Note: All of the pictures shown here have not been edited in any way other than to select a focus point. I have selected only two focus points on each picture to give you an idea of what can be done. In most pictures it is possible to select multiple focus points. For more examples and further reading visit www.lytro.com