Updated: May 4
This period isn’t easy for anyone. Professional photographers are struggling with the implications of being on lockdown and suddenly having to stop all work from one day to the next. Hobbyist photographers may be in a similar situation with jobs, children and household duties all being juggled in an unprecedented dance that is completely new and unknown.
Learning new techniques may be the furthest thing from your mind. But what if we embraced this crazy, blurry, out-of-focus time and created something that perfectly reflects how we feel right now?
Personally, we’ve found this through experimenting with techniques that I didn’t have time for before. I still juggle everything, and worry about what’s to come, but I feel like I’ve tapped into my storytelling soul by experimenting.
Freelensing is when you detach your lens from the camera body and hold it in front of the camera, moving it around slightly to achieve small slices of focus. The images produced this way are dreamy, blurred, soft, and magical—and, in my opinion, they perfectly express this time in history.
Here are some tips on the best way to freelens:
Before removing your lens from the camera, open the aperture as wide as possible and adjust ISO and shutter speed to set a proper exposure, maybe even underexpose slightly.
Make sure you are shooting in RAW as you may need to do a bit of editing.
Put your lens into manual focus, and set the focus to infinity. Carefully remove the lens and turn on live view so you can see what the camera sees.
Hold the lens close to the camera and slightly move it about. Move yourself back and forth until you find the right image then press the shutter.
I find it is best to use a prime lens for this, but that may be because I happen to love them!
Another creative and fun experiment is prisming. Prisming is just as it sounds: you place a prism in front of the lens and take your picture. It is pretty amazing how it turns out. There are different types of prisms out there—the classic triangle prism is great for creating reflections and splitting the image into sections. Circular prisms create stunning rainbow bokeh around the edge of the image. Like many creative photography styles, there is no real “rule” as to how to use a prism in front of your lens. I have found it is just fun to experiment, turning it around, or to the side in different lights – a good trick though is again, to use live view and see the image as the camera does.
The Copper Pipe
This is by far this is the trickiest of them all. Like prisming, you stick a piece of copper pipe in front of your lens, and try and catch the light, hopefully creating the elusive “ring of fire.” I have yet to master the perfect ring of fire, but have come close – sometimes. My tip is to underexpose and shoot in RAW. The highlights are likely to blow from all the reflecting in the pipe. Also, it’s best to shoot into a low sun, at sunrise or sunset, as it is easier to compose your image and get the light into your lens.
I hope this has given you a few ideas to be creative. I love the chaos and imperfection of these techniques, and have decided to embrace them to express myself and how I am feeling at this time.
Stay safe everyone, and take care.
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