The fascination with degrading the performance of our gear is interesting. On the one hand, why does a person spend thousands of dollars on equipment to want to do that? On the other, it can have some neat visual effects, even if that’s sometimes down to luck. Regardless of the reasons, or what kit is being used, it’s quite popular. Even if just to play and experiment with. In this video, the guys at the Cooperative of Photography (COOPH) show us 8 ways to make our own DIY lens filters to get some of these effects.
For me, there’s maybe 2 of these I might like to try at some point. For the rest, not so much. But that’s largely down to personal taste. They’re just not my thing.
1. Droplet filter
This one is one of those times I might actually recommend people use a UV filter. It’s not great to spray water straight into your front lens element. Even lens cleaning solutions specifically tell you “Don’t spray directly onto your front element”. They tell you to spray onto a microfiber lens cleaning cloth and then wipe the lens. So, yeah, if you’re going to try this one, I’d probably pop on a UV filter.
2. Lens Flare Filter
I actually quite like this one. Not necessarily the results they show in the video, but I like the idea of this one. It’s similar to another method commonly used to try to get anamorphic style lens flares with regular photography lenses.
Essentially, you just tape some short pieces of fishing line over the front of your lens. The sun and other light sources will hit it, reflect off it and refract through it, offering a unique look. Like I said, I’m not necessarily all that keen on the example shown in the video. But, it could be fun to experiment with.
3. Fake Tilt-Shift
This is one of those that first makes you think “Huh?” and then “oh, cool, yeah, I can see how that would work” ending with “Well, it’s not tilt-shift, but it’s kinda cool”. This is made by cutting a circular disc the shape of your lens out of a ring binder wallet. The slightly textured one used for holding sheets of paper together in a folder. Then you cut out a slot in the middle.
Tape it over your lens, and shoot as normal. The main subject that’s in the cut out part of the lens will appear sharp. The other areas will appear diffused as the light passes through the plastic. It’s a neat effect. It’s not tilt-shift, but it’s still pretty neat. It would be cool to try this idea out with various Rosco or Lee gel filters to see what effect different types of filter have.
4. Plastic Filter
This is similar to the one above, except instead of cutting out a nice neat circle with a hole through which to see, you’re simply crumpling up sheets of clear plastic. You could also use cling film for this, too.
5. Wooly Filters
On the subject of hanging things in front of your lens, wool’s a colourful idea that could have some very interesting effects. If you’re going for a colour scheme, or want to add some complementary colours in the foreground out of focus, this could be a good way to do it.
6. Tinsel Filter
Like the last two, this involves hanging something in front of your lens. Like the wool it can be a great way to introduce out of focus colour into the foreground of your shot. But it also sparkles and reflects light back into your lens, too. I’m sure all of us still have some leftover tinsel laying around somewhere. This is one I might have to have a go at.
7. Foggy Filter
This is one I can’t say that I really recommend. In fact, it’s something we actively recommend not doing when it comes to cleaning your lenses, and that’s breathing on the glass. Our breath contains all kinds of things that can end up stuck on the front of our lenses, and personally, I don’t think this look is that great. So, if you are going to try it, make sure you have some proper lens cleaning solution and cloths nearby.
8. Bubble Filter
This one might need a little help from a friend. Or, a tripod and a remote trigger. For me, I think if I were going to try this, I’d want the subject much further back so the bubbles in the foreground were much more out of focus. But your tastes may differ. And I did say “if”. Chances are, I won’t be rushing to try this one.
Out of these, I think the tinsel & lens flare effects will have to go on my list for future possible experimentation.
What things do you put between your lens and subject to help create interesting looks?