Hartblei 65mm f3.5 Super-Rotator lens.

I had some fun today. It was a beautiful spring morning, and the parking lot at my building was mostly empty. I decided to play with my new car and my Hartblei Super-Rotator lens. I picked up this lens on eBay last year, but haven’t used it a lot. The Hartblei is an f/3.5 65mm tilt-shift lens that can rotate both tilt and shift segments 360 degrees. What does this mean? It basically means you can put together some pretty crazy focal planes.

Tilt-shift lenses are great at creating a “miniature” effect. It’s the perfect effect to make a fun statement about how small Pepper, my little MINI Cooper S is. I parked Pepper rakishly in the middle of the lot, and climbed the metal ladder to the roof of my building, because the tilt-shift miniature effect only really works if you’re shooting from a high angle.

Because the Hartblei is a completely manual lens, it doesn’t communicate with your camera body at all. The camera’s display told me that my aperture was f/00. I dialed in f/3.5 on the barrel of the lens, and then used the camera’s meter to determine the right shutter speed.

I shot a few different angles, experimenting with different combinations of tilt, shift, and rotation. I have to admit, it’s a bit hard for me to predict how the different tilts and shifts will affect the final image, but half the fun is in the trying.

In the end, I found the miniature effect to be pretty convincing. The unexpected planes of focus and unusual depth of field created some fascinating results, and made Pepper look like a die-cast metal toy.

I have some more examples of this miniature effect in my photos from the bell tower in Xi’an, China.