I recently grew interested in constructing my own, homemade lenses. Having always relied on purchased lenses to fuel my photographic journey, I began to grow bored with the limitations that a ready-made lens mechanism imposed on photography. The brilliant, defined sharpness to which almost all lens manufacturers strive, paradoxically, fails to meet my ambition of creating dream-like images. (that is - without having the need to rely on some fancy photo editing software). I wanted to create an image organically, from first principles. I wanted to feel how the founding fathers of photography created their images. I wanted to feel how it was like to understand the process of image-making. (merely clicking a shutter and twisting a zoom ring isn't sufficiently understanding!) And hopefully, I can successfully devise a unique and creative method of image-making in the future. It must be this desire of mine to go 'back to basics', and to obtain full control over my photography, that brought me to the decision to create a lens of my own. After reading some materials online, and borrowing some lens pieces from my Physics teacher, I relived my primary school days of art and craft by constructing a homemade lens!
This is one of the first results I obtained with my homemade lens. I cannot contain my excitement! It was a single-element lens, comprising of a biconvex lens piece of diameter 50mm and focal length 20mm. In the upcoming series I hope to share with you photographs taken with other multi-element lens assemblies.
I am Ziren Wang, a student from Raffles Institution, Singapore. I picked up a camera in January 2009 in my school's photographic society, and I have never looked back. Years later, I have explored various different forms of photography, from event coverage, to fashion, to documentary, to photography using DIY lenses, and most recently, to film.