5 Creative Filters with Everyday Objects to Keep You Inspired

with Liz DeVinny

As an artists, there comes a point where each one of us yearns to look outside of our usual subjects to fill our creative souls and simply enjoy the process of creating beautiful art. Here are a few tips, tricks and techniques that you can try with everyday objects around your house to keep you feeling inspired and creative during your next photo session.

1. Plastic Bag Filter

For this trick, you’ll simply need a Ziplock bag and a rubber band. All you need to do is rip a hole in the bottom of the bag and place the bag around the camera lens so that the edges of the bag filter in front of the lens. Then, attach the bag to the lens with a rubber band. Use a wide open aperture (f/2.8 or larger) to ensure that the plastic bag is out of focus in the foreground. This will create a stylized blur around the edges of your shot and additional lens flares around the edges in a sundrenched, backlit shot. Bonus tip: use a washable marker to color around the edges of the plastic bag to get a colorized blur.

2. Cell Phone Reflections

For this technique, all you’ll need is your cell phone. When shooting, simply place your cell phone underneath the bottom edge of your lens and tilt it until you see the reflection of your subject around the bottom of the frame. This will reflect your subject and their surroundings into the bottom of your shot as if they are standing next to a puddle of water. This technique works great for dramatic skies and in architecturally interesting settings.

2. Fishing Line

For this technique, I simply had to raid my husband’s tackle box before a sunset shoot. Grab a spool of clear fishing line and cut a long enough piece so that you can hold it on each side of the lens. When shooting a backlit subject, this will create an extra line of gold or a rainbow lens flare along the side of your frame opposite from where the sun is placed. The fishing line can be hard to hold onto, so you may want to tape it on each side of the lens to ensure that it stays in place. Once you feel comfortable, you’ll likely want to hold it instead so that you can have more control over where it’s placed in relation to your subject.

4. Glass Cup

Got an extra pint glass in your cabinet? Shooting through a glass object like a cup will give the effect of a crystal on the edges of your frame. Try shooting in all kinds of light – this works differently in open shade, back light, and blue hour light. Move the cup around the frame and practice using the sides, the top and the bottom of the cup and see how the different colors reflect in your shot using the different kinds of light. Be sure to use a wide open aperture (f/2.8 or larger) to keep the glass out of focus and hold it close to your lens along the edges so that it doesn’t look like you’ve put a cup in your shot. Don’t have an extra piece of barware you’re willing to part with? Head down to the Dollar Store and pick one up for $1.25.

5. Natural Elements

As an outdoor, unposed photographer, I am usually shooting in beautiful locations with nature and interesting architectural designs all around me that can be used for creative filters. Shooting in the spring? Use wildflowers to pick up and shoot through from your location. Shooting in the summer? Use long tall grasses in the foreground of your shot. Want to stretch yourself even further? Try shooting in harsh light and using architectural elements like fences, buildings, or even piers by the ocean to play with shadow and light. Using natural elements around you as filters can result in beautiful, creative shots.

Show off what you came up with by entering the BEC Magazine Summer Photo Contest!!!