Lensbaby Composer (Single Glass Optic)

Yes, I’m still on a Lensbaby kick.

Yes, I’m sure all my Facebook friends have unfollowed me at this point because they’re sick of me posting gauzy, dreamy photos of flowers and leaves and grass and my dogs. I actually had an accountant-know-it-all send me a message asking why all my pictures were out of focus. Shouldn’t you be balancing a book, you blasted bean counter!?!.

Today I switched out the Double Glass Optic that comes in the Composer with the optional Single Lens Optic and let me tell you…I’m in LOVE with the gauzy goodness it creates.

Seriously, watercolor or light? You tell me.






As a reference these images were taken with the Composer and the Double Glass Optic:




And just because I covered it in my last post, here are a couple of images made with the 12mm fisheye Optic as opposed to using macro filter accessories:



I’m loving the versatility of the lens and the creativity it affords me. Although I see the center very clearly in my viewfinder I have discovered I have a heavy shutter finger which adds a bit of shake to my shots. My normal lenses are Nikon VR lenses which compensate for the vibration. Obviously this lens does not, so I lose my sweet spot in some photos. I am working on becoming more aware of it and will improve as time goes on.

I took my camera out today and snapped a handful of photos without the macro filters. The results were great and I’m looking forward to incorporating this lens into my portrait photography:






Speaking of portrait photography, I attempted a quick session with Lou but he wouldn’t stay awake beyond 4 shots. Can’t fault the old man, he’ll be 13 in May.




I promise to start blogging about something other than the Lensbaby and photography in the coming week. I have 2 bathrooms to re-decorate and I’m almost committed to paint colors and design schemes.




Lensbaby Fisheye Optic (as opposed to macro filters)

While discussing the Lensbaby Composer with 2 online “friends”  they suggested I ditch the macro filters and use the fisheye optic instead.

Say what?!?

Of course this isn’t going to work for a bee sucking pollen out of a flower but I figure digital film is cheap and if it doesn’t work out I can always hit my trusty delete button.

I had my reservations that this would actually work but I went ahead and switched out the optics and snapped 2 pictures. I have to say I like them both although the second one is my favorite of the duo. Learn something new everyday.



Here is the same cutting with the macro filter accessory for a comparison:



This last photo was taken with the Composer  without any filter or special optic:


Yet again I am taken with the dreamy effect the Lensbaby produces. I am still getting acquainted with how to best focus in what is known as a “sweet spot” surrounded by the gauzy blur. There is so much to learn and so many accessories and different ways to use them that it can be overwhelming to think about it. At this point I think I’ll keep it simple by snapping a few photos and seeing where I can improve or change my perspective.

Until next time,


Lensbaby Composer

I’m not even going to address my absence from this blog, the kids went back to school after the new year and I just kind of went “blah…” and thats about all I’m going to say.

Moving on…last year or the year before (who keeps track of these things) I REALLY REALLY REALLY wanted the Lensbaby Composer even though I really didn’t have a clue what I was going to do with it. I begged my husband for it and being the doll that he is, he gifted it to me for some holiday. I tore open the box, snapped some trial photos, uploaded them to my computer and wa wa wa…every single image looked like ass.


I was so disappointed and felt guilty for having asked for it and even more guilty for having received it that I hid the damn thing. Because that was way easier than taking a deep breath, re-evaluating what went wrong and taking some more photos.

Which brings me to last week, while I was getting the house ready for Easter I opened up the drawer where the Lenbaby is hiding and immediately felt guilty. Instead of shutting the drawer like I have so many times before I pulled it out and popped it on my old D70 and started playing with it. I pulled a weed and a few flowers in from the backyard and snapped some photos. I uploaded them my computer and to my surprise I kind of, sort of…really love them! They have a soft dreamy feel to them that has me coming back for more.

These are straight from the camera, no processing or fiddling. The photographs were taken indoors, no flash, natural light filtering in through a window to the left and an overhead ceiling light bulb. I did utilize the macro attachments with the Lensbaby Composer.

















I hope to be back more often as I have a million projects piled up, including that French sectional that still hasn’t been reupholstered,


Difficult Clients

I’ve been dreading phone calls from a client (photo session and custom designed invitations) this last week. It all started innocently enough: they contacted me because they’d received an invite from a friend this Summer and fell in love with my work. Great, I LOVE when clients know what my aesthetic is and seek me out. I say this because not every photographer and graphic designer is for every client or job.

That’s gospel…just take my word for it.

They came into our preliminary meeting stating they wanted a casual Western themed session exactly like the invitation they received over 6 months ago. While viewing samples of previous jobs to choose paper and finish they suddenly switched gears and decided they wanted a white petticoat on a settee in a field instead. OK, I was thrown for a loop considering they were so adamant about their Western themed invitations but I have to admit the casual look of a white petticoat while lounging in a settee in a vast field is pretty darn dreamy and unexpected. She asked if she could borrow a white petticoat. Sure, I do that all the time for clients. She stated she wanted the gold settee and field pictured in one particular sample. OK, I don’t like doing exact repeats of previous sessions but it’s a different season so the field will look entirely different PLUS there is no way a layperson could re-create exact poses or facial expressions. I agreed to take the job and we scheduled a time and date.

Fast forward to the day of the session. She shows up 30 minutes late to a private location where I had pre-arranged with the land owner to use his location for a set period of time. Already our time is cut short. She steps out of the passenger side of the vehicle and out come her mother, which I expected as well as her father, 3 sisters and pet canine, totally not expected. I’ve never had an entire family show up to watch someone take their photos. My experience is that teenage subjects, especially girls, are inhibited around their family members. She asked to change into her top, which we had already agreed would be a white exactly like the sample she fell in love with. She steps out of the dressing room pop-up in a blinged-out peach colored corset top. It had white embroidery on it so even though it wasn’t the understated look of the original invitation it would coordinate with the petticoat. We start taking photos and I noticed her family was hovering over me. So close that at one point I had to ask her father to please step back because his shadow was in my frame.

I edited the top 15 photos, some of which were absolutely stunning, and I chose the ones I felt would work best with the design of the invitations. I submitted them to the client and she and her mother were all  “ooohhhh” and “ahhhhh” and “WE LOVE THEM!” Great. 

Not so fast, the next day I receive a call with a, “We don’t like any of them! We want to see more pictures…” Talk about an about-face from the previous conversation. Her comments regarding the sudden hatred of every image and the invitations was, “My Dad doesn’t like photoshop and the sky looks fake…” I was confused since I hadn’t altered the sky in any way and the only photoshop I had done was to slim her arms and tummy area as well as enhance her eyes. I explained that I had edited the best 15 photos and she would have to choose replacement images from those 15 for the invitation.

Next phone call and replacement image request with this additional comment, “My Dad wants you to make the sky look brighter and maybe add some trees with flowers to the background…” NO JOKE. I couldn’t make this up. How do you go from “the sky looks fake!” on an image where the sky was au-natural to, “add a fake sky and some fake trees?” I was confused…and then came another nonsense request, “The skirt and top aren’t the same color and we don’t like that.” Remember, she chose to wear a peach corset top at the last minute. She hinted that it was my fault since she borrowed the white petticoat from me. Ummm, HUH!?! OK, so I added the fake sky and the fake trees and added an adjustment layer to change the color of the petticoat even though her father hates photoshop.

I tend to have very easy going clients that know exactly what I do and how I do it. I don’t do 100 images on a disk. You get a digital gallery with the top 10 – 20 images, depending on the session, so that you can choose what you want to have printed. Most of my clients want custom designed invitations/announcements and framed prints.

I don’t mind constructive criticism but I was at a loss on this one. I’m glad they “LOVED” the image with their non-photoshop photoshopped elements added.

Cheers…I need a drink,

Photojojo Cell Lenes – Days 1 – 5/365

I purchased 3 Photojojo cellphone lenses after Christmas. A little gift to myself from myself. I’m awesome like that, just ask me.

Here are day 1 – 5 or 365, all taken with my Note 3 and Photojojo macro lens.

Jan 1: This is the first photo I snapped using a Photojojo len. It is a photo of a tiny Santa inside a water globe.


Jan 2:  I snapped this photo of a tiny Mexican Heather flower outdoors in mid afternoon sun. The wind was blowing and the plant was swaying. Not bad considering the conditions in my book.


Jan 3: Remember the Italian creche I posted a horrible cell phone pic of in my last post? Here is a clear photo of Jesus’ tiny face, lint and all.


Jan 4: This 1″ tall Santa came out of a broken water globe. The glazed finish is cracked and faded which you don’t get a sense of just looking at it.


Jan 5: I found this spider in my house earlier today. I posted this photo to Facebook and a friend commented that the spider looks like it has eyelashes, a nose and a smile.


The Photojojo lenses are super easy to use. There is a peel and stick magnetic ring that goes around your cell phone camera and the lenses, being magnetized, stick to it. I haven’t had the opportunity to  try the fisheye or wide-angle lenses yet but given the results of the macro I’m sure I will love them as well.


(c) Ana Grabowski. All Rights Reserved, No Reproduction Without Written Authorization.

Happy New Year and What Happened To The Holidays

Happy 2015! I know…I know…I’ve been gone for quite some time. Like everyone else in the world, the Christmas season is super busy.I decorated and baked and wrapped and threw a tacky Christmas sweater party and fried a turkey and didn’t think about updating this blog on any of it. I should have because the house looked beautiful, the cookies, pies and cakes were delicious, the party was a success and the turkey was something out of a Norman Rockwell painting.

Sorry, you’ll just have to take my word for the majority of it but here are a few crappy cellphone snap shots of what it looked like around here:


Just a candid of the Pound Pup watching me add bead-garland to a spray.


Our old man looking adorable in his Christmas necklace. He doesn’t do sweaters


The totally kick ass vintage feather pill hat I wore to the Christmas Carol. The beauty seated next to me is my niece, JBird.


Had strep throat and decided to use the down time to learn how to knit. It was a disaster until my husband bought me a loom. SUCCESS!

Vintage creche given to my husband by his Grandmother over 20 years ago. Stamped "Italy" on the bottom.

Vintage creche given to my husband by his Grandmother over 20 years ago. Stamped “Italy” on the bottom.


Vintage creche given to my husband by his Grandmother over 20 years ago. Stamped “Italy” on the bottom.

Last year my kids told me they were terrified of this ornament when they were little. I think it is lovely!

Last year my kids told me they were terrified of this ornament when they were little. I think it is lovely!

This Santa talks and moves...I hated it when my husband brought it home some 18 + years ago but I absolutely love it now!

This Santa talks and moves…I hated it when my husband brought it home some 18 + years ago but I absolutely love it now!


Ornament in dining table centerpiece. Sweet home…Chicago. Who am I kidding? I don’t miss the cold or the snow!


Yes, I have way too many Santa Clause figures! This one was placed on a vintage sofa table in the foyer. I love the deer head accent on his walking stick.


A few of my husband’s Coca-Cola Christmas chackies. I didn’t set these out for a few years after we were married but they’ve slowly made their way into the “traditional decor” I set out year after year.


Peacock topper for a trio of skinny whimsical trees. The trees were a tacky bright gold so I wrapped garland around them before decorating and they went from tacky to fabulous.


Santa topper on the foyer tree. I just LOVE the face on this one.


Made in Germany, lovely large Santa in sleigh.


My daughter collected nutcrackers as a kid and stopped once she realized she couldn’t really crack nuts with them. This was the first year I set them out. And yes, that is the lower half of another Santa you see!


My husband brought home this tall angel which I used in the living room. What’s that in the background? Ho…ho…ho!


Toppers on the other 2 whimsical trees. These are old and in bad shape so I concealed the damage on one with peacock feathers to tie into the peacock I used as a topper on the 3rd tree.


I use this mailbox to store the Christmas cards I’ve received this year.


Monkey centerpiece for the “young adults” table.


This pair of skating snow people was given to my by my girls when they were little. They saved their good behavior points to purchase them at the school Christmas fair. I adore them.


The sweater I made for the Tacky Christmas Sweater Party I hosted. I took it up a notch with these totally kick-ass pair of palazzo pants. There was a whole lot of pattern going on.

Vintage c.1960 Christian Dior Chapeau profile draped turban hat I wore on New Year's Eve. Pardon the fuzzy bathrobe. I paired it with a black H&M long sleeved circle skirt dress and a vintage silver vest.

Vintage c.1960 Christian Dior Chapeau profile draped turban hat I wore on New Year’s Eve. Pardon the fuzzy bathrobe. I paired it with a black H&M long sleeved circle skirt dress and a vintage silver vest.

Well folks, there you have it: a taste of what you’d see walking through my house last month. I’m just now getting around to taking it all down, which is a chore and a half I keep putting off.


All photos and content ©Ana Grabowski.  All Rights Reserved. Do not use without permission.

Toy Story Cake Topper

It was T’s (my step-grandbaby) 3rd birthday a week ago but we celebrate his birthday on Thanksgiving since the family is together on that day and he’s still too young for a “friend party.”

I introduced him to Toy Story a couple months ago and since Woody is MY favorite character I decided it would be the perfect theme for his cake and the cake table area.

Finding a topper proved easier than I thought when I went upstairs and looked in the girl’s toy closet. Not quite vintage but a 1999 McDonald’s toy in perfect condition. Hello!


Old McDonald's toy used as a cake topper

Love using what I already have,


I’v been “away” for a bit but before you think its something scandalous like  prison or a sanitarium I should mention I’ve been visiting with my girls, not novel worthy but defiantly a tonic.  So I log on and happen to look at my comments which are at 0 with a big fat several thousand in the spam bin.

Seriously, who are these people that have nothing better to do that scan the internets for tiny little blogs that none reads and make super formal sounding comments about site design and goggle analytics and gosh knows what else? What am I missing here? The spam bin never gets reviewed and I just trash it so how do they benefit?

OK – now how to arrange seating for 20+ sit down and eat at the same time guests for Thanksgiving? Gah – you people with tiny families and perfect tables make me want to drink a whole bottle of wine,