Free-Lensing Photography

Free-lensing is a fun technique to try if you have a camera with a removable lens. It’s a method of shooting with your lens detached from the camera – but held very closely. Holding your lens up to the camera (instead of attaching it) allows you to create a tilt-shift effect in your photos. With a lot of practice, you can even learn how to selectively focus on one thing, while everything else becomes blurred.

But don’t be discouraged if you feel like nothing is focusing how you would like at first. It really does take a lot of practice. Practice photographing objects around your house before you try this on people – it’s much harder to focus when your subject is a moving object. For more inspiration and examples, read more about “free-lensing” here.

Tips for Trying it Yourself

1. Select your lens. Free-lensing isn’t as effective with a wide-angle lens, because it’s much harder to get anything in focus. If you have several lenses to choose from, start with a 50mm or higher. If you have a zoom lens that came with your camera, you might want to make sure the lens is zoomed in to at least a 50mm range, if possible.

2. Before you detach your lens from your camera, set your exposure. Auto-exposure won’t work correctly if your lens isn’t connected to your camera.

3. Take off your lens, hold it very closely to your camera, and move it around a little. You get some really beautiful effects the more angles you try to hold it at. For instance, if the left side of your lens is touching your camera still, angle it so that the right side of your lens is pulled away from the camera. Try taking a few photos, and see how you like them! It’s pretty exciting, right? (Note: Nikon users will need to set their camera to manual mode before removing the lens)

4. Practice! Practice, practice, I can not overemphasize this! This might not be something you will pick up right away, but if you love the effect, then it’s definitely worth the time to shoot 100 photos before you like one.

5. Set the focus ring to “infinity” before you take your lens off.

Photo credit to eat.sleep.cuddle.

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Basic Photo Editing on your iPhone

I previously wrote a post about how to take better photos on your phone about the tips & tricks I’ve learned for getting the most out of my camera app. Today’s post is all about editing those photos. That means moving beyond the point and click and into the exciting world of editing and beyond! And the best part is: you can do this all on your phone! With the help of a few adjustments and apps you can make your photos really pop.


My primary goal when taking photos is to capture the best picture I can using the photo tips I’ve learned so that I can keep editing to a minimum. If a photo is poor to begin with often times no amount of editing can save it. With that said, I usually only ever adjust three settings: brightness, contrast, and saturation. That’s it. I find adjusting any more than that can quickly make the photo look “fake” or, frankly, edited. [Gasp!] The goal is to bring out the natural beauty of the photograph, not change it completely.

Filters & Apps

My absolute favorite photo editing app is VSCO. It offers some of the best filters (mostly free), customizable adjustments, and user-friendliness around. I don’t always apply filters to my photos, but if I do its typically N1 or N3 from the VSCO app (the photo at the top of this post uses the N3 filter). And I always apply them lightly. I like to keep the filter’s opacity at 40% or below. Other photo apps I like are Snapseed for blur effects like tilt-shifts, and A Beautiful Mess for fun add-ons like text or borders.


Lastly, but still important, is the art of photo cropping. The tip that always stuck with me is to avoid chopping off limbs (i.e. hands and feet) if at all possible. If you must crop out either, do it at just above or below the elbow or knee. Never at awkward places like the wrist or ankle. Again, this is just a guideline and I’ve definitely chopped off hands and feet before, but following this rule of thumb helps the photo feel more professional and less amateur.

Do you have any tips for editing photos on your phone? I’d love to hear them in the comment section below!


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iPhone Photo Tips & Tricks

Taking photos on my phone is a daily task around here, and for the longest time I thought my iPhone’s capabilities were limited to opening the camera app and clicking. My photos would turn out okay but nothing compared to my DSLR with all it’s adjustable settings and options.

Then I started learning more and more about my phone’s camera. I learned about the flexibility and customization it has, and in the process I learned how to take better pictures in general. It was a game-changer. And it can be for you too. So without further ado, here are some of the top tips I’ve learned for taking photos and making the most out of your iPhone’s camera app.

Find the Right Light

The best light of the day for taking photos happens at sunset and sunrise – it is called the “golden hour.” This is when the sun casts a warm glow and highlights your photo’s details.

Also, you always want to make sure the sun is facing your subject. This will make a huge difference. If the light is too harsh (think severe shadows) try placing your subject under full shade. These tweaks will literally highlight your subject and get rid of shadows and blowouts. If you only follow one tip, this is the one to try!

Focus, Focus, Focus

It is so important to take the time to manual focus (or tap) on your photo’s subject and give the phone a second to adjust before snapping the picture. This is especially important when taking close-up photos so you can achieve a blurred background effect. Your pictures will continually turn out sharper and less grainy.

Brightening your Photos

This is one of the coolest tricks I have found! On the iPhone, after you tap focus, a little sun icon appears next to the focus box. From there, you can vertically scroll to adjust the picture’s exposure. Scrolling up will allow more light in, and vice versa. This is especially wonderful to try in low light settings where pictures can become dark and gritty.

Selfies 101

I am by no means a selfie expert but I have learned a thing or two about getting the best shot. Always hold the camera extended at arms length and above your face – this will really slim things and prevent double chins (hoorah!). As for lighting, make sure the sun is in front of you or stand in the shade to prevent any harsh shadows or squinting.

If you want a full body shot, set the camera upright on a sturdy surface, like a table, and use the timer. If you have trouble keeping your phone upright, try placing a book behind it. This works great.

Action Shots

Yes, they’re possible! And not difficult at all. To take an action shot (read: rapid succession shots) on your iPhone simply hold down the shutter button. Seriously, that’s it. You’ll be left with lots of photos saved as a group. Then just pick your favorite. This trick is also perfect for capturing candid shots.


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