Photography Tips: How to Make Your Own Camera Filters

Camera filters are useful for adding certain effects to photos, but these little pieces of glass and metal can be quite expensive. If you’re looking to get creative with your photos but unsure about your budget, the best solution (and used by many professional photographers) is to make your own camera filters from things such as an inexpensive UV filter, odds and ends and a rubber band.

Fog or Blur Filter

"Beautiful Flowers" with blur.

To add fog to an image, a photographer can smear a little bit of petroleum jelly on a UV filter. The layer should be very thin for the best effect. For different looks, the petroleum jelly can be spread on only the bottom of the filter, on the top, or anywhere that the photographer wants a little fog.

To add an artistic blur to an image, a little more petroleum jelly can be added to the filter. Smearing it on thick works for very blurry images and a little thinner works for softer images.

Colored Filters

Colored filters can be fun to play with to add a certain emotion to a photography shoot. To add a little extra color to photographs, the photographer can simply cover the camera lens with colored cellophane and secure it with a rubber band. For a less intense color, a piece of plastic wrap can be colored with permanent markers and attached to the lens.

Vanity Filter

This filter will give skin a more airbrushed appearance. To create this filter, the photographer can cut a square of fabric from an old pair of pantyhose and stretch it across lens, securing it with a rubber band. The photographer may want to experiment with different hose colors for different looks.

Ultraviolet Filter

Ultraviolet filters tend to make photos a ghostly purplish color depending on the lighting. To make one, the photographer should take a glass cutter and cut a section of glass from a incandescent black-light light bulb. Then, the photographer should make a tube from paper or cardboard that is big enough to slide onto the camera’s lens. The glass should be set on one end of the tube and the edges of the glass and tube wrapped with black electrical tape. To use the ultraviolet filter, the photographer should slide the tube onto the lens.

Light Filter

A photographer can go online or visit a local welding supply shop and buy a glass filter plate that goes in welding helmets for a very unusual filter. These filters come in several different shades, only cost a few dollars and they can create dramatic and spooky images. Glass filter plates filter all of the light in the area except for very strong light. Light coming through a window with silhouettes in front of it, the sun, fires, candles and lightbulbs are all good subjects for this type of filter. The photographer can simply hold the filter in front of the lens while taking pictures.

These homemade filters should give a photographer a wide range of options for creativity in images.

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