Love the artistic feel achieved by tilt-shift or Lensbaby lens? Love Macro? Not yet ready to commit to new lenses? You need to try out some freelensing! It’s a technique where you detach your lens (50mm +) from your camera and flip-it backwards or tilt the lens (we refer to this technique as Bacro over at PhotogHer – thanks JJ). The result an inexpensive, yet challenging way to test the tilt-shift and/or Macro waters.
Freelensing can give you a tilt-shift effect, filled with light leaks and a super shallow depth of field, or allow you to do Macro photography without a Macro lens. This definitely takes a bit of practice to achieve your desired effect. It does force you to change your perspective, truly understand focal distance and train your hand to become a la la lot steadier.
It’s been three years since stumbling upon this technique on the internet. I still don’t own a dedicated macro or tilt-shift lens.
How to Freelens
Step 1. Lens Set for M (for Manual Focus) before removing the lens.
Step 2. Set your focal point to infinity. If there’s no infinity symbol on your lens (even if there is) you’ll need to physically move closer and adjust until the preferred area comes into focus.
Step 3. Detach Lens
Your aperture will read zero (f/0); however once the lens is detached from frame it will shut down the aperture.
Step 4. Hold your camera in one hand and the lens (still detached) with the other. Experiment by tilting lens at a slight angle to one side for Tilt-Shift or flip the lens around for Macro effect.
Step 5. Play with ISO and shutter speed to get your metering where you want it. Move closer to your subject to get it in focus.
Step 6. HAVE FUN!
Light leaks and insanely shallow depth of field make it fun to get as creative as you wish.
Tilt-Shift Fun – Different looks same technique
**Due to the nature of nature 🙂 You may not want to do this on a windy or super dusty day. The interior of your camera is exposed.
Tip – if while trying to freelens and object is moving, use flash to freeze frame. While photographing the tiny caterpillars above there was a slight breeze and my shutter speed was really slow. Popped open the flash and here they are crystal clear.
Advanced Tip- (from Pam aka Blam over at photogHER) If you have a Nikon lens you can open up the aperture while the lens is detached by gently pressing this little lever (YouTube video) while shooting. This take lots more practice as it’s one more moving part, while trying to keep motionless for the shot.