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.
All images © 2017 Lina Forrester