Where My Freelensing Journey Began

Freelensing was first introduced to me over two years ago on a photography forum I belong to. Someone shared her experience of experimenting with detaching her lens to take pictures, and I marveled at what she came up with. The works were dreamy, flawed, blurry, photographic prose. I immediately grabbed my Nikon to try it out.

But…it didn’t work. I couldn’t see through the viewfinder, and only saw a black screen when I pressed the shutter button. What was going on?

Coming together on the forum, we soon discovered the problem: the aperture on my Nikkor lens was scrunching closed whenever I removed it from the camera. The only solution was to tape it open, or rig it with a piece of folded paper.

Annoyed, I gave it up for a while.

A few months (?) later, everything changed. I discovered the work of Irene Suchocki, and my interest in freelensing bloomed into a full-fledged passion. I rigged my 35mm, and later my 40mm macro, with pieces of paper and tape. I wiped tape residue off my glass. My bag was filled with tiny bits of torn note cards.

But I couldn’t stop. Freelensing was my obsession, the way I wanted myself and the rest of the world to see what was before me. My subject matter became tiny glimpses, what one might see in their mind as they recall a childhood memory or a dream.

That’s what I hoped for, at least.

And then one day something very strange happened to me. I was in the front yard with Goo, bubbles and sidewalk chalk and my rigged 35mm, and a gust of wind blew through the trees and knocked my camera bag over on the deck. My 40mm tumbled out of it onto the concrete and rolled a few feet. Fearing the worst, I winced as I lifted it from the ground. But there wasn’t even a scratch. Everything was fine.

Everything except…my aperture spring.

It had been bent just enough that I could open and close the aperture to let in however much light I wanted. No more tape or paper necessary. And it still worked in the camera! Was this a sign from the universe that I was on the right track? I like to think so.

Two years later and I’m still freelensing, though since then I’ve also gained a passion for black & white photography and for my (attached) 35mm lens. I’m always looking for new ways to share a dreamlike perspective of the world, to pass on the message that life is fleeting. Life is a blink.

And when you look back you may not remember the shape of the rose, or even its color, but instead the way a single leaf on its stem caught a drop of rain.

Click here to see more of my freelensed work.

All images © 2017 Lina Forrester

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5 thoughts on “Where My Freelensing Journey Began

  1. fantastic series of freelensing images. i do a lot of this kind of photography. i just use some (Asahi 50mm 1.4) m42 old lens and because of the distance from the rear glass to the sencore of camera is different in compare to the regular lens – it possible to shoot freelensing with the live view and the focusing is awesome

    Liked by 1 person

    • Awesome! I think I’ll take my (I think mine is Asahi too) film lens out with my Nikon to see what I can come up with. I tinkered around with the really really old lenses my granddad gave me but couldn’t come up with much. I have the most luck with that broken 40mm than any of my other lenses.

      Liked by 1 person

      • The secret of success is very simple – this distance about im talking. With the regular lens its impossible to get these partially focused images because when you unmount the lens its impossible to get any focus anymore but M42 format technically exactly what we need 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • I get good focusing when I have the lens on infinity focusing. It really does depend on the lens (like you’re saying). With my Nikkor 50mm I have better luck when I hold it further out. But when I use the 40mm I just set it to infinity, and then it simply depends on what I’m shooting whether or not I need the lens closer or further away. With the older lenses I think they are simply too small in diameter.

        Liked by 1 person

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