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.