How often does something come along that really ‘chucks you a flanker’ ?…Makes you completely rethink something you’ve been doing forever ?
Well it happened to me this morning, and consequently I’ve had a very illuminating few hours.
It started with a throwaway phrase on an American photographic sales site…..Some very annoying dude with remarkably bad hair and no chin, was trying to sell us all the latest, all singing, all dancing, state of the art, you simply can’t live without, mega bucks, Tilt-Shift lens… and, while glossing over the cost, mentioned how hit and miss ‘Free-Lensing’ was in comparison…
‘Now just hold on’ thinks Mr Shpics, (as is his want), ‘This unpleasant looking gentleman is obviously a total tool but he knows something I don’t…It’s simply not good enough…Totally unacceptable !…What the f**k is ‘Free-lensing’?
Well, I didn’t know then but I do now, and, because here in ‘Shpics World’ it’s all about spreading the joy, you Dear Reader are about to get the lowdown. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, let’s begin:
So….Lets say I turn up on your doorstep and tell you to go get your very expensive DSLR, bung on a Prime lens (not too wide), and follow me into the garden to find something to photograph, you wouldn’t be so surprised…Right?…Right !
Suppose I then told you to either get the camera to meter the exposure if your lens is auto, or, if your lens doesn’t support auto exposure, work out an exposure manually, you still wouldn’t think I was some sort of weirdo would you?…Course you wouldn’t !
How about if I then said ‘Right turn your camera to fully manual, now remove the lens and, gripping it tightly in your left hand, wave it around in front of the body while you click the shutter’……….
You’d think I was totally f**kin’ bonkers wouldn’t you?
Well, amazingly I’m not….Coz that’s exactly what ‘Free-Lensing’ is all about.
From what I can make out there are very few hard and fast rules… One no-brainer is to use a neck strap….That way the worst that can happen is you’ll drop the lens, not the whole shebang…Mid length primes seem to work best. Given how cheaply you can buy ‘nifty fifties. that’s probably where to start, (though I did get a few shots using a 28 mm)…I found that shooting with aperture fairly wide and the lens focussed on infinity enabled you to move the unattached lens in small tilt /rake movements, while maintaining areas of focus and throwing other parts of the image into very satisfying blurs. Movements need to be slight, and shutter speeds not too slow. Light flares are impossible to control, but add to the feel, so don’t be scared of side on light sources and the closer you keep the lens to camera the more controlled is any light bleed. Dust is another thing entirely ! Don’t forget your camera is open to the elements so probably best not to use free-lens techniques when shooting sand storms in the Sahara. You have been warned !
This is definitely a technique I’m going to be returning to…I’ve had a smile on my face for the whole day.
All Images Copyright Stuart Allan Hyde