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Tutorial: How to Reverse Free-lens with Bex Maini

Bex shares how she uses her 35mm Sigma Art 1.4 Lens detached and flipped around backwards to capture gorgeous macro images using a wide angle lens. You may have already seen this on our IGTV on Instagram but Bex's lovely husband filmed it twice (this one's landscape format) so we could post it here too.

Macro photography is a really fun and therapeutic genre of photography for me, I do own a macro lens but sometimes I like to play with my other lenses in reverse to get some extreme close-ups with a softer, more abstract approach. It's a great way to get into this and have a play without having to invest in another expensive lens!

Here are some examples I took on the IGTV video...

Straight out of camera (unedited), one taken with my lens attached normally, the other flipped around. Settings = 1/1600, ISO 100, f3.5 and then f0 (it can't be recorded when it's reversed and opened manually), both taken with my 35mm Sigma Art lens.


I didn't do much to this, I used one of my new favourite pre-sets by Ashley Marston, "Clean Up", brought down the greens a touch, added some contrast and tweaked the exposure, highlights & shadows a little. You can see it's not dramatically different from the SOOC shot above.

Here's another one from the video above where I closed the aperture slightly with my finger to try to get a deeper DOF (depth of field), I slowed my shutter to 1/500 to compensate. I added the exact same edit except to boost exposure quite a bit more as this was still underexposed and I cloned out the bruised areas of petal as the detail was visible this time. (This is also a different flower as the one above had fallen into shade by the time I took the next video.)

As I said in the video, I prefer the more abstract, softer look personally but you can fiddle about with it to get different results, it's all trial and error.

There were a couple of questions on IGTV about this technique so I'll answer them here too.

Regarding which lens to use, you can do it with longer (or indeed, wider) lenses but you'll find you need to be at a greater (or closer) distance to achieve focus. You can also tilt your lens as with regular free-lensing to get a different angle of that focus area - experiment and have fun with it.

I don't worry too much about dust getting in but this can and does happen, I've had many a dust bunny in my time, even before my free-lensing days but I get my sensor cleaned when I notice they are bad (and I don't want to spend too long removing them in Lightroom!) The closer you keep your lens to the camera body when it's not attached, the lower the risk of dust getting in and try to avoid particularly windy/dusty/sandy conditions. Put your lens back on the body properly as soon as you're done.

I've loved seeing so many of you trying this technique out already! Here are a few examples shared on Instagram after being inspired by this tutorial:

So tell us, will you be trying out this technique? Be sure to use our the special hashtag specifically for this tutorial: #TDL_reverse so we can see all of your results!

Find Bex here:

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