Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.


Over the years there has been considerable debate on the issue of photographic process and the role it plays in artwork. Most recently this has been exemplified by the now old and very tired question “Is digital photography really photography?”. Several years back this question engendered serious debate….now it is hard to understand why, as nearly every photographer would answer “yes, it is….it is just that some fine art photographers choose to use film and others a digital sensor as their method of ‘capturing the light”.

I recently discovered the new LensBaby Composer with the “Optic Swap System” that allows one to swap different optical components in and out of the basic LensBaby format, which is basically a tilt/shift type of apparatus. One of the very neat swappable components is a ‘lens’ that lets you place a pinhole or zone plate on the camera instead of a glass or plastic lens. I have found experimenting with the zone plate to be quite enthralling.

However, I hesitate to post images made with it on forums that specialize in this sort of imaging. Why? The reason is that the tired debate about digital vs film does not yet seem to be dead when it comes to ‘alternative’ processes such as pinhole and zone plate imaging.

In the past I had written about such processes, which I had found quite intriguing (see here and scroll down to the pinhole posts). However, I have had limited opportunity to pursue pinhole photography because of limitations in time, and time is what is required to process film and scan negatives. However, with the advent of the LensBaby Optic Swap System I see an opportunity to explore this type of imaging. I am particularly intrigued in utilizing the zone plate, as it is something completely new to me, something very fresh.

Personally, I don’t think it should matter if the zone plate image was made on film or a digital sensor. But that’s just me, and a lot of people seem to disagree.