And I’m Free (Freelensing!)

November 9, 2010

I’ve recently become aware of the photographic technique known as “freelensing.” This is done in lieu of owning a $2,000 tilt-shift lens for your dSLR and it’s pretty effective if you can get the hang of it.

In theory, it sounds easy peasy – take your lens off your camera, hold it up to your mount and tilt it around to create the blur. But in reality it takes some getting used to (or maybe I’m just dense). I spent about 20 minutes sitting on my kitchen floor today photographing my new jacket (pictured above) and it was only towards the end that I started to grasp the real mechanics of it all.

And yes, that is a real light leak in the photo on the right! To achieve light leaks while freelensing, simply tilt the lens away from a light source, so that you open up a crevice for light to spill in. For example, in the photo above I tilted my lens to the left, and to the right of me was my kitchen window.

I’m definitely going to spend more time experimenting with this technique but, in all honesty? I’d rather drop a couple thou on a tilt-shift lens and spend less time fiddling around with my camera guts exposed.

Here’s some photos from folks that actually know what they’re doing when it comes to freelensing.

1. toastyoats 2. PIERREPOX 3. Amanda Flinn-Simmons 4. rogvon 5. GregPierceImages 6. SvenMarck 7. kronick_ 8. IsabellAndersson

Perhaps I just need to get outside and give it a go. Sometimes a change of environment and some good natural light can make all the difference.

For anyone who wants to attempt this, Photojojo has an in-depth article explaining how to go about it. Luke Roberts also has some visual guides that made the lightbulb go on for me.


[…] some reason I decided to give freelensing another go. I still don’t completely “get it” but I did get some shots that I […]

[…] I tried freelensing, but as I noted in an earlier post, it freaked me out to have my camera exposed to the elements (pet dander is an element, […]

I love this! thank you so much, I don’t know if I will be brave enough to try it out though :/

Oooh I’ve been hearing about this but haven’t tried it myself yet…may have to give it a go, as I love the tilt-shift look.

It is tricky! its awkward and kind of scary to just be holding and focusing your lens with one hand..but it is a lot of fun, and this looks amazing! hope you enjoyed trying it out!

It’s a nice shot. Like ur work. thnx for sharing.
see some new shots in my stream

What an excellent technique. I’ve got to try this!

I discovered freelensing some time early last year – never garnered enough courage to try it myself. I’ve got shaky hands and ehh, I love my sensor too much. Ahe. Perhaps I should try this with one of my analogues. Analogues are much easier to clean.

You did a grand job for a first timer. And I got jealous.

the blur and bokeh <3…and even though it’s blurry…that color of the jacket is making me want one for mysef.:)

I keep getting reminders like these to try it! But I’m scared of dust and so have this whole saran wrap thing planned out in my head. :p

I Adore that blur… and the shades, there are two of my favorite colours.

you are not a ding dong, because i have had the same challenge.
or perhaps that just means that i am a ding dong as well :P

this is nifty neat-o!

You got that right – I wouldn’t want to have the shutter open without the lens tight on there. Wasn’t there a new Lensbaby that has that sort of effect? I have an older Canon T/S sitting here at the house but it doesn’t work with DSLR’s… kills me because I’d love to try it out.

Yeah, that’s the Tilt Transformer – looks really cool, but (from what I’ve seen) I don’t think the bokeh quality is as good. Plus, it’s only available for EVIL cameras. Boooo!