For those that have followed my work for a while, you’ll know that I love to show a sense of depth to my images. Sure we can all shoot wide-open (f/2.8 for example) to get that shallow depth of field, but nothing beats the depth of showing not only a separation between subject and background, but a foreground element to your image too.
Whenever I’m on location or even in the studio, I am always looking for elements around me that might be introduced into the foreground of my image. Plants, widow reflections and even a metallic chair leg have all been clever ways to add a sense of depth to my images, but they are far from consistent and reliable choices.
To combat this issue of unreliable foreground elements, I’ve often resorted to holding all manner of objects in front of my lens. Items like crystals, wine glasses, keys… the list goes on, but again, these are often inconsistent and nearly always inconvenient due to me having to hold them with one hand and shoot with the other. That was until Lensbaby introduced me to the Omni.
If you’re not familiar with what the Omni is, then by all means check out my previous review on it here.
In short, the Omni is a metal disk that screws onto the front of your lens. On that metal disc you place moveable magnets and onto those movable magnets, you place all manner of creative elements (filters) that can moved and supported unaided in front of your lens. As a result, you get consistent and hands-free foreground elements with each and every shot.
The original Omni was released by Lensbaby last year in 2019. It quickly saw huge success and demand for more variety in elements to hold in front of your lens soon followed. As a result, Lensbaby answered the call with their latest offering, Omni – Colour Expansion Pack.
The Omni Colour Expansion Pack
This year however, Lensbaby released a brand new pack of additional elements to play with and that pack is called the ‘Colour Expansion’ pack. As you may well assume from the name, these new elements are designed to add a splash of colour to your shots. But what do we get with this latest edition?
What’s in the box?
So what do we have in the add-on pack?
In the box we have:
- Two multicolor crystal effect wands
- A bunch rainbow diffraction film
- A set of colored films & gels
As the image above shows, we have 4 new magnet stalks that attach to the original Omni metal ring and on these new stalks, we have a whole host of new items to play with. First and foremost we have two brand new crystal elements, both of which have a rainbow coating that add a variety of additional colours to the shots. One of these crystals is straight and the other is curved and cut so that you can get more of a shape in front of the lens. This is handy if you are after a more subtle effect.
In addition to the two crystals, we also have a bunch of coloured films to play with and they break down into three sets.
First we have the coloured gel films. These are simple swatches of colour that can be held in front of the lens.
Next we have the almost quilted diffraction films. These films are highly reflective but also let a little light through them. The quilted surface is producing just enough shape so as to catch some highlights across its surface if you have lights going back into the lens.
And lastly we have a set of flat diffraction films. These are thinner and let more light through them, plus they are flat and won’t catch the light as much as the quilted versions.
What Effects Do They Produce?
But of course, the real question is, what results do they produce?
Below you’ll see me playing with a bunch of the different filters from this Omni Colour Expansion pack during a model shoot. Take a look and see for yourself. See anything you like?
Of course, as with many reviews I do, I tend to shoot a lot of example images so that you guys can make your own decisions from what you see. But I do also like to share my personal thoughts with regards to things I like or any concerns I might have.
Essentially this ‘Colour Expansion Pack’ is more of the same from the Lensbaby Omni. If you are familiar with the base product and what that entails, this whole process and look probably makes a lot more sense to you than if you’re seeing this idea for the fist time. The Omni product allows you to maintain a more consistent look with your foreground elements as it literally keeps everything in place so that you can get the same look with each shot you take.
If you shoot any video, you may immediately appreciate the power and value of this. Having a video with something wobbling about in the foreground of the shot will be extremely distracting. Having this effect locked down with the Omni however is huge.
The base Omni pack contains a solid selection of creative tools for you to play with, but ultimately they are all fairly clean and crisp looking. This new ‘Colour Expansion’ pack does kick the creativity up a good few gears as every item in this pack will add colour to your images. Yes this colour can be managed, but I did find it tricky to keep a consistent look throughout a range of shots due to how much variety in colour each of these items add. The crystals (which although my favourite) did add the most variation due to their rainbow coating. Any minor adjustment made huge changes in the final shot, and although I loved that level of variation in images, some may find it frustrating to recreate one look from a previous shoot.
Personally I think the sheer variety in looks this new pack adds is it’s selling point and like I said, it’s a lot more creative than the base pack. In short, if you already have the base Omni pack and you’re not afraid of adding a little bit of colour to your images, then this is a must-buy for you. If you prefer a slightly subtler and cleaner effect to your images, maybe stick with the base pack for now.
About the author: Jake Hicks is an editorial and fashion photographer based in Reading, UK. He specializes in keeping the skill in the camera and not just on the screen. If you’d like to learn more about his incredibly popular gelled lighting and post-pro techniques, visit this link for more info. Also be sure to download Jake’s brand new, 50 page studio lighting book here: Studio Lighting Books — Jake Hicks Photography.