Tuesday, April 5, 2016

freelensing photography tutorial

greetings, cheeldren.

technique: hold lens off center, tilt sideways.

let me introduce you to one of my very favorite things.  (half of you say "oh, we've already met." well good for you!)  this thing is called "freelensing"!  it's a special technique for taking pictures with a dslr.

technique: tilt sideways to let in some light on the left side.

unfortunately, this won't work with a point-and-shoot or any kind of camera that doesn't have a detachable lens, but if you do have a dslr, read on!  I have a canon rebel t2i, but it's a comparable process with nikons and whatnot.

technique: hold lens off center and tilt heavily to let in light leak.
the technique is theoretically simple: you just detach your lens, turn your camera back on, switch the setting so that the back screen shows the hypothetical shot, and hold the lens up to the camera body with your left hand (operating the shutter button with your right).

technique: tilt vertically (in this case the bottom of the lens is closer to the camera body).
in reality, there's a bit more work to it.  for example, you're going to want to switch your mode to "manual."  normally, I shoot almost exclusively on the "av" mode, which means aperture-priority, and is quick and easy.  when you're freelensing, you kind of are the aperture*, since you're going to wiggle around the lens, letting in more or less light.  in addition, you have to hold the camera really really still.  the best way to do this is switch to manual so you can dictate the shutter speed you want (that is, fast, to avoid blur) and then brighten the shot as needed by letting in more or less light by moving the lens.

the results of freelensing include nifty faux-tilt-shift effects and artsy light leaks (which come out kind of purple/pink).  with practice, you'll figure out how to tilt and move your lens to get the effect that you're aiming for.  in general, whichever side of your lens is tilted closer to the camera body, the opposite side of the picture will be in sharper focus.  you'll also be zooming with your feet - as in, moving your own dang self closer to your subject in order to get it in focus.  this is also where the holding really still part comes in, because your depth of field** is so short.

technique: reversed lens!

and if you want two lenses for the price of one you can actually turn your lens around and use it backwards to get a super-ultra-macro effect.  examples above and below this paragraph...

*aperture = the hole in the camera lens that light comes through.
**depth of field = the zone in front of the camera that is in-focus.  so if you're taking a picture of a field and it all looks in focus, you have a large depth of field.  if you're taking a close-up shot of a tree branch, and behind it everything is blurry, you have a short depth of field.

so yeah, those are my tips for freelensing, which is the technique I use for a ton of the photos on this blog.  to sum up:

  • switch to manual and set a high shutter speed
  • zoom with your feet and hold still
  • if you want the right side in focus, tilt the left side of the lens closer to the camera body, for example
  • reverse the lens for super-ultra-macro
if you give it a shot (GET IT) share it with me in the comments!