Journey to the Light
How was I introduced to ZEISS lenses? Well, naturally the brand was familiar to me already, but it was actually my brother – who’s also a professional photographer – who first piqued my interest in ZEISS lenses.
At that time I had just changed my camera to the Sony α7. Initially I was shooting with whatever I got my hands on, but in one discussion (yes, naturally we’ve had a lot of discussions about photography) my brother mentioned the topic which started this all. I mean my life-long journey.
That topic was the legendary ZEISS 3D Pop.
I had already worked with ZEISS optics in other areas for some years, and I knew a lot about the strengths of ZEISS optics. Light transmission, high contrast – also in low light -, overall image clarity etc. This topic was something new to me. Because of my interest in optics I wanted to learn more, so I started doing some research.
The second time I faced this interesting phenomenon was when I had the opportunity to test shoot with Loxia lenses first time. I was again on one of my road trips, this time in the countryside nearby, and I ended up at the old ironworks. You know, over a hundred years of traditions are wrapped up in the scent of smoke and hot iron. It’s a nice, lyrical environment with old stone buildings and tiny rapids and is just a place I like very much. Yes, I have a passion for traditions and history.
In the area there is still a working smithery. I have done some forging myself, so the dark doorway attracted me a lot. I stepped into the shadowy room and found an old blacksmith next to the forge. The only light source inside was the fading embers, but the summer sun still made its way through the dusty windows.
As you can probably guess, the environment looked pretty challenging for photography. But it was also very inspiring. Of course I was feeling quite confident because I had my new Sony α7 with me. Now was a great opportunity to test the camera in challenging conditions. Naturally I was also interested in seeing what the ZEISS Loxia 2/50 lens could do.
I asked permission to shoot inside the smithery, and the gray-haired old man agreed. So I started to shoot. I wanted to do it the hard way, using the contrast of daylight and the dark room as an effect. That was the reason why I also wanted to shoot a lot towards the light. Dusty windows were softening the backlight nicely, so I wanted to use it to highlight the objects.
I saw lot of interesting equipment, old and not so old tools and naturally a lot of wrought iron around me. There was tons to shoot. And I definitely shot. I stood in the middle of the smithery and turned in a new direction after every shot. I was acting like a camera carousel. There was something interesting everywhere. Nice light, nice iron handicrafts and beautiful old tools. I shot hundreds of pictures in a short time. I was just in that mood, acting unconsciously under the effect of intense inspiration.
When I arrived back home I was actually quite exhausted. I had used all my energy during the creative process. Anyway, I wanted to see the results, so I immediately imported the images to my computer.
…and what a blast that was! I had never seen this effect before. For somebody else it might be part of daily life, but in my own development process this was a special moment. I started to finally understand what the ZEISS 3D Pop really is.
Of course I was also lucky. When I analyzed the result more thoroughly, I understood that to create a perfect 3D effect you need certain lighting conditions. This time backlight, the contrast between hard and soft light, helped me. You also need a certain depth of field to create the right illusion. In this case, I mostly used the aperture f/3.5 and quite short distances to create nice slides with an area out of Focus.
There was also something else in the recipe. When I looked at the photos more closely and zoomed in on every detail, I also started to understand the role of optics. There must be a certain level of microcontrast in the lens to render color slides with different shades so perfectly. Only a certain level of quality in rendering gradients can accentuate the shape of the object in the way the ZEISS lens does.
Of course we need to thank Alexander Smakula for developing the method called the ZEISS T* coating process. This 80-year-old innovation is still the key element when creating the special ZEISS look.
Thanks to ZEISS products I also started my journey towards the light. They inspired me to learn more about optics and all light phenomena. You remember that the light is the photographer’s best friend, even inside the lens. It is really interesting to figure out how all the laws of optics can be utilized to help the creative process and produce better photos.
This all is just so…inspiring!!!!!
About Ville Pohjola
Besides working with future innovations as a product designer, Ville Pohjola also has another passion – nature and the outdoors. As a photographer and a writer Ville aims to share this passion with his audience. Producing social media content for companies in the outdoor and fieldsport business enables him to combine his love for modern technology with his passion for Nordic nature. Capturing a special moment – the one that is never repeated – is the most thrilling thing about nature photography. For Ville, the way light travels through the lens all the way to the camera sensor is one of the most interesting natural phenomena.