7 Steps to Master Freelensing
I am so honored that Erin asked me to write another blog so soon! But I have to say, when she asked me to write the first post on birth photography, I was ecstatic and knew I would be able to come up with some good tips to throw at you all. This time, however, though still excited, I spent a long time this week racking my brain. Not beacause I didn’t know how, but because I’m a very hands on and visual learner, which also means that’s how I prefer to teach. So trying to teach you how to freelense using only words has proven very difficult. I hope, though, that I have finally managed to provide you all with some good info. You’re always more than welcome to comment below or email me with any other questions you may be left with!
First off, you might be sitting there saying, “Please stop rambling! I don’t even know what freelensing is!” When I first heard the term it was like Greek to me and it very well may be for you also…unless you speak Greek, in which case, feel free to insert your own foreign language here!
Freelensing: Educate YOURSELF!
So, freelensing is super awesome! It’s a technique in which your lens is actually detached from your camera body. Yes, you really can still take photos that way! Trust me, I was surprised too! Not only can you can take photos, you end up with gorgeous shots that are unlike any others. You see by detaching your lens and holding it up to your camera body, you are creating what is called a “tilt-shift” effect. You are allowing little light leaks, and beautiful distortion into your pictures!
Freelensing is so much fun to play around with. It becomes an addiction. Trust me. If you decide to try it out, just be prepared to start thinking, “Oh, that’s a nice shot but……I wonder how it would look freelensed!” about every single photo you take! It will happen.
Moving right along.
Freelensing: THE PROCESS
I am going to try to explain this process to you in a few very simple steps, but first I must preface this by mentioning that I am a Canon-shooter. Canon has made freelensing very easy for us. Nikon users, however, might struggle a tad more. But if you shoot Nikon, never fear! You can still enjoy the freelense addiction with me!
Then head back here to join me again!
So now that you’re prepped with excitement and anticipation over this new concept, it’s time to learn how!
Freelensing: LEARN HOW
STEP 1- Adjust your manual settings where they need to be.
STEP 2- Once your lens is detached you won’t be able to adjust your aperture, so that is why your exposure pretty much needs to be set where you want it before you remove the lens.
STEP 3- Set your lens to manual focus (MF) and set the focus ring to infinity.
The first few times I tried freelensing, I didn’t know about the infinity step and I struggled a lot more than I after I figured it out!
STEP 4-Turn your camera off and detach your lens.
Honestly, I really don’t know that this is an important step to follow. Some photographers say It doesn’t matter, and others swear you will destory your camera by removing your lens while the camera is still on. I choose to err on the side of I-prefer-my-camera-not-get-destroyed-so-just-in-case-I’ll-take-another-tenth-of-a-second-to-flip-the-switch.
STEP 5- Turn camera back on.
Pretty sure this is self-explanatory, but as I learned in school, when writing a “how-to” you must not leave out any step, no matter how simple and I excelled in English class.
STEP 6- Hold your lens up to the camera and focus manually by moving lens around.
You like that very professional and descritive step don’t you? Ok, so basically this is where I can’t give you a whole lot of help You kind of just have to try it for yourself to understand what I mean. But here’s the jist: Your camera can no longer use it’s focusing functions because the lens is detached. Obvious right? That means you are in complete control of what you focus on. Totally awesome, but also difficult to learn how to control. By keeping your lens close to the camera body, you are better able to focus on subjects at a farther distance. If you want to focus on something real close, for example, your sweet newborn baby’s beautiful lips, get close to your subject and pull the lens farther away from the camera. This creates a macro type photo! You can also create even cooler effects by tilting your lens to one side or the other, or even up and down. By doing this you are able to shift where your focus lands.
Now you know the basic steps to get you started freelensing. The biggest step you can take, though, is this last one!
STEP 7- Practice. A lot.
When I started freelensing, as I said, I quickly became addicted.
“Oh look, a grapefruit! This will look awesome freelensed!”
“My dog looks so stoic right now. He would look even better freelensed!”
I just shot everything I saw first as a regular, auto-focused photo, and then I detached that lens and it was on! I have now gotten to the point where I can incorporate freelensing into each client session I shoot. This technique is no longer reserved for my dog and my breakfast. Oh no, freelensing needs to be appreciated by all!
I feel like I could keep writing about the super awesomeness that is freelensing, but I really want you guys to get off your computers and go try it for yourselves!!
I want to leave you with a couple more helpful tips and then I shall set you free. I shoot with a crop sensor camera…oh how I dream of (hopefully very soon!) owning a full frame! Full frames are much easier to freelense with, though as you see I still manage to make it work. So it’s definitely doable, but if you struggle don’t give up! Keep practicing and I promise you’ll figure it out!
My last tip is, I think it can be done with a zoom lens, however primes work better. I primarily use my Canon 35mm, but have also used the Canon 50mm. One cool thing about the 50mm is if you turn it around backward it becomes a makeshift macro lens! These snowflake pictures were done with a backwards 50mm last winter when I was first learning how to freelense!
So there ya have it! Now go out into the world and discover the power of a good free lensed photo! I would absolutely love to see some of your free lensing work when you try it out!