The transcendental art of Freelensing
Anyone with a DSLR can try freelensing. It doesn’t require fancified lenses, a ton of technical knowledge or Photoshop skills. It does require a big old heaping helping of patience and a willingness to spend hours taking hundreds of photos with maybe 10% of them looking like you didn’t sneeze on your lens.
Freelensing is basically a shift/tilt technique on the cheap. I have a Lensbaby and I know how to fake it with Photoshop but as a wedding photographer I’m all about the guerrilla tactics. It is pretty simple. Set your camera to about f/11 in aperture priority and your lens to about 70mm. You’ll need f/11 for the depth of field and anything wider than 70mm will never be in focus. Take your lens off of the camera body but hold it where the lens would usually be then start tilting the lens all around until you get something you like. Then fine tune the focus manually. After about 15 minutes give up in disgust at not being able to get ANYTHING in focus. Come back in ten minutes after eating some candy and try again. Unless you have more than two working hands this is amazingly hard (I mean focusing is hard, not eating sweet wonderful candy). It helps a lot to have the camera body on a tripod so that you have a free hand to focus the lens with and it helps if your DSLR has Liveview on the LCD screen. Once you master (I use the word loosely) the basic technique try moving the lens farther away from the body of the camera, make the tilts wilder, flip the lens around and shoot through it backwards. The light getting in between the lens and the body make for some awesome light leaks and funky color. Working with a single light source (like a window) makes for a really moody atmosphere. It is such an untechnical technique that nothing can ever be wrong.
I would not recommend doing this anywhere that is dusty, dirty or bug infested. Just a little bit of schmutz getting into your camera body will ruin it. If I get my hands on an old, crappy camera body I would love to give this a try outside in downtown Durham. These pictures were my first go at freelensing so please don’t judge them too harshly. A few of them have been cropped, two were darkened slightly, one was obviously turned to black and white (which also has a black border on it cause the giant face was freaking me out), but other than that these haven’t had any post-capture color changes. Everything was done in-camera.
If anyone else gives this a try I’d love to see your results!