CIRCLES OF CONFUSION: FAUX FISHEYE WITH A DOOR PEEPHOLE

These images were shot using an extra-wide door peephole, which I picked up at my local Home Depot.   I put the peephole into a lens cap, which I put on a Vivitar Series 1 24-70mm zoom.  To use this combination, it is necessary to use the closest possible focus (using the "macro" setting) on the Vivitar.   

The optical quality of this arrangement is, predictably, absolutely horrible.  Nothing is in good focus, and much is in exceptionally bad focus.  So little light gets through the combination of lens and peephole that slow shutter speeds are required, and thus motion blur can be a problem (I haven't tried a tripod yet).  Flare, and aberrations caused by imperfections in the plastic lenses in the door peephole, are an additional problem.  

Still, there is something about the way these images look that speaks to me.  Perhaps it has to do with the fact that my eyes are slowly going to hell.  Without my glasses, the world that I see is no longer as sharp as it was when I was younger.  Beyond that, the blurring, streaks, flares, and distorted textures,  all create a kind of surreal feeling.   When combined with the linear distortion caused by the "fisheye" effect of the lens, it can make these images seem like snapshots out of a dream.  

Or, at least, that's what I'm trying for. 


The only digital modifications I have made to these images are some adjustment of contrast, brightness and saturation, and a "circular crop" to remove the parts of the frame that are not covered by the image.  The peephole creates a roughly circular image which covers only the middle of the 35mm frame area.  Talk about vignetting! 

The circular image created by my lens+peephole combination is a reminder of the fact that, in actuality, all camera lenses produce a circular image area.  In most cases, though, the circular image is much larger than the rectangular space at the back of the camera body where the film is held, so that the full circle is never shown on the film. This is just as well, since even with good quality lenses, the sharpness drops off at the edges of the circle, and the perspective also becomes distorted.  The rectangular images produced by such cameras are simply the middle of the circle, where the image quality is at its highest. 

"Circles of Confusion"?  Bad pun.  The images are circular, and they're a little confusing.  "Circle of confusion" is also a term used in optics, and is particularly important in the optics of photography.  A description of the concept of the circle of confusion can be found here

 


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BY DAVE NANCE
   

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text and images 2004 by David B. Nance