“There is only one sun. We can’t all claim to only have one way to use the light, but we can REDEFINE how we choose to express it. ”
Why are you passionate about freelensing?
There is just something about freelensing that gives me a creative drive. I’m always up for challenges when it comes to photography and freelensing is one of those things that gives me that. As nerve-racking as it sounds to take photos with your lens detached from your camera, it’s also very liberating to know that you are creating unique images that require dexterity in the hands, a sharp eye for focus, steady hands, patience, and finesse. Of course, with time and much practice, these skills will come. As a bokeh enthusiast and a wide-open shooter, I love the extra blur and added “creaminess” (and sometimes even light leaks!) that is achieved when freelensing. I also personally prefer the look of freelensed versus tilt-shift/lensbaby photos because of the added light in the sensor (and even vignetting) which can give the images more depth, making them unique because it’s more controlled.
When did you first learn this technique? Or, when did you first realize you liked freelensing?
I first heard about freelensing about a year ago when I learned that you can manually change the plane of focus and control more blur by detaching your lens from your camera and tilting it in any direction. I was very intrigued by this and wanted to try it myself. I started out with taking photos of my daughter blowing bubbles (which you can view in my personal hashtag of freelensed collections under #freelensedbyanna on my Instagram) and after seeing the neat effects of freelensing, I started to do this technique more often. My absolute favorite things to photograph while freelensing are bubbles and anything that reflects light.
What are the tips you would share with anyone trying to achieve this technique or subject/topic?
I only freelens with my Canon 50mm f/1.8 II lens which is a very inexpensive lens. It’s compact, very lightweight, and easy to hold and float over my camera lens mount when freelensing. Many people worry about potentially dropping their lens while doing this technique which is why I would recommend using an inexpensive lens as mentioned above. There is some extra work involved using some lenses such as Nikon lenses from what I’ve heard. I don’t know too much in detail how this is done since I use Canon, but some lenses require you to modify them by using tape or glue to hold the aperature ring open since it stays closed. You would also have to set your lens to infinity to freelens. If you have a Canon lens, you won’t have to worry about this part. If you don’t, I would strongly advise you to do your research first and look up a video tutorial on how to do any modifications (if necessary) on your lens if you are attempting to freelens. If you’re set, here are a few tips on freelensing:
1. Get your settings ready on your camera first and if you’re shooting on autofocus on your lens, set it to manual focus, then detach your lens.
2. You will want to manual focus while tilting your lens to get your desired plane of focus and blur in your photo.
3. Get creative and take advantage of direct sunlight or any light source to get some light leaks in your photos. Find something that reflects light like water and tilt your lens to get it blurred. You can also have fun with artifical light from a distance and stretch out bokeh lights by blurring that area when freelensing.
4. One of the great things about freelensing is that you can get more closer to your subject, especially when trying to take macro shots. You can take some beautiful soft close-up shots of flowers this way.
5. When freelensing with fast moving subjects like kids, get your plane of focus ready and follow them with your camera, but keep your lens still. You don’t always have to keep tilting your lens to try and find focus; just simply move your camera or shift your position intil you find what you want in focus.
6. Try not to feelens in dusty/windy atmospheres and surroundings with debris floating around as they might end up in your camera sensor. It is natural for any dust to get inside, but since your sensor is exposed, you could let more dust in.
7. Try to keep your hands and arms steady while keeping your lens close to your lens mount on your camera so you’re always ready to mount your lens back on whenever you’re done freelensing.
8. Embrace the blur and any imperfections you have on your freelensed photos. Missing the focus can be frustrating, but imperfections can be beautiful!
About the photographer:
Anna Aromin-Papaia lives in Washington State with her husband and two children. Her art has evolved from drawing at the age of nine and throughout her teens and early twenties, to nature and macro photography as well as photographing her two children. She is passionate about documenting their everyday lives and outdoor explorations through photos expressing artistic imagery and childhood wonder. She loves iced coffee, scary movies, beautiful light, and exploring the outdoors.