Homemade Camera Filters


Your camera's lens should always be protected by a UV filter, something to reduce glare and increase clarity, or simply to keep off dust and provide fewer opportunities for scratching. Filters can also alter other variables like color and light, and allow you to stretch your pallet of effects. In fact, there are a lot of materials around the house that can be applied to clear camera filters to produce new and unusual images. That can be a great help if you need a certain filter now, and you just don't have it on hand.

Things You'll Need

  • Lens filters
  • Pantyhose or nylon footies from shoe store
  • Sheer fabric
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Cloth
  • Cellophane paper or footlight or photography cells
  • Highlighter marker

Vanity Filter

  • Get a nylon fabric such that of an old pair of pantyhose or a sheer blouse and cut a square out of the nylon material. The square should be larger than the camera lens. Footies from shoe stores are a really handy size and shape to use for this project.

  • Stretch the nylon over the lens tightly--a loose material will just make everything look out of focus, although you can use more than one layer. Keep in mind that the color of the fabric will influence the picture.

  • Secure the nylon onto the camera with an elastic band. Look through the lens at your subject to be sure that the effect you're getting is to blur tiny lines in the skin and produce an overall healthy glow.

Diffusion Filter

  • Smear a very thin layer of petroleum jelly over an old UV filter to add a general fog to the image.

  • Spread layers of jelly over selected areas of the lens to fog or soften just part of the picture.

  • Dab some jelly on your finger or on a piece of cloth and draw swirls or streaks on the camera lens to produce interesting flared areas. Wipe the excess petroleum jelly with a cloth.

Colored Filters

  • Wrap colored cellophane around the lens and hold it onto the camera with an elastic band; strong reds and blues, or soft sepia tones, will add emotion to the shot.

  • Draw on clear plastic wrap using highlighter markers. Then wrap the plastic around the lens and hold it on with an elastic band--this effect will decrease the power of the color.

  • Vary the possibilities by cutting colored theater cells into circles that fit the inside of the lens, and just laying them in the filter's frame. Stack them for mixed effects.

Tips & Warnings

  • Petroleum jelly is useful to add to your camera bag, because it can create so many effects.
  • Pantyhose also shields the lens from baby oil and hand lotion.
  • Avoid applying anything on your lens that you can't remove. Experiment on old lens filters.

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  • Photo Credit camera lens filter image by David Ng from Fotolia.com
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