Shooting Through a Detached Lens.

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 10.32.00 AM

Here’s another destructive photographic technique that’ll give you super shallow focus, lovely bokeh and light leaks – take your lens off and shoot while holding it to the camera body.

Commonly referred to as freelensing, it’s essentially a poorman’s tilt-shift, letting you manually adjust the angle of the focal plane by tilting the lens slightly in every direction. It’s also a great way to get dirt and dust on your sensor, so please try this at your own risk. For the unwilling / faint of heart, the safer alternative is to pick up a trusty Lensbaby.

Screen Shot 2013-01-25 at 8.33.18 AMScreen Shot 2013-01-25 at 8.32.22 AMScreen Shot 2013-01-25 at 8.29.16 AMScreen Shot 2013-01-25 at 8.25.50 AM

Photos via Flickr.

14 Comments Leave A Comment


smudgeon says:

January 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Ah, I haven’t tried this, but I did spend a bit of time testing out reverse-lens macro. Much fun! Although I did it on my old Minolta X-GM, which is dustier-than-thou anyway!


James says:

January 25, 2013 at 2:51 pm

I actually planned on trying this this weekend! I’m also experimenting with a very basic and cheap glass prism by holding it in front of the lens. The results are pretty stunning as it grabs / mirrors other elements from around where you are shooting.


Emman says:

January 25, 2013 at 3:39 pm

While it’s nice, the diagram isn’t really accurate: tilting the lens to an angle which differs from the capture surface’s will result in a rotated focal plane rather than an oversimplified left to right focal transition. This means you can obtain multiple subjects in focus even if their distances form the camera differs one another, as long as they are aligned on the focal plane.


zenzanon says:

January 25, 2013 at 4:40 pm

I’ve done this before using my 6×6 camera’s lenses on my DSLR. Definitely can get some cool results, link attached. I recommend everyone give it a shot at least a few times.


Alex says:

January 25, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Love posts like this. It introduces a new technique to play with without being a tutorial. Thanks!


Justin Mullet says:

January 27, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I used this technique fairly often, but I have a hard time getting any part of my photo in focus. I’m wondering if an 85mm would work better for this than my 50mm? What lenses do other people use for this?


8hsdf8h says:

January 28, 2013 at 12:36 pm

For people who want to achieve this effect in a more controlled way; take a look at the Lensbaby.


Josh G says:

April 9, 2013 at 4:44 pm

Not sure how many people know about it, but reversing your camera lens can result in a DIY macro. SMUDGEON said a little about it, but basically you’ll need to keep your camera very steady (tripod pretty much essential) and you’ll need to be in a well lit environment. You’ll just have to keep experimenting until you get something worthwhile, it is so worth it.

(Grab a friend and try and take a photo of their eye using this method, it’s totally amazing)