8 DIY photo filter hacks to try at home

Photography
May 13, 2020 by Joy Habib
3 MIN

Our decade might as well be called the “filter age.” Whether you’re a professional photographer or a regular social media user, you can edit your photos almost instantaneously. A myriad of digital tools allow anyone to add special effects to any photograph before uploading it online: whether enhancing the lighting, the color balance, or adding fun shapes and edits. 

While these digital tools are fun to use (and yes, they have saved a dozen of our ruined selfies), we still sometimes wish our photos were more… unique. We mean a filter that hasn’t been seen before all over our friends’ feeds. And with the process of enhancing our photos being entirely digital nowadays, we are left to wonder… is there any other creative way to have fun with photos? 

We’re talking about manual crafts that would awaken the old-school fun of using different fabrics and materials to create something new. With many of us about to spend more time at home for the foreseeable future, these hacks might be a nice way to spend one (or many) afternoon(s). 

So if you’re feeling crafty and you own a camera, just follow our lead and watch the video below! 

1- Use Christmas or outdoors lights

We might be in the middle of spring, but it’s time for you to dust off the Christmas lights stashed away in the attic! Just place them a couple of inches in front of your lens, and it will add subtle and dreamy sparks to your photos... Like a fairytale snapshot. 

2- Draw patterns on a glass 

If you can get your hands on plexiglass, use a marker to draw fun and colorful patterns on it. You could technically use your window too, but be warned: use an erasable marker! Then hold your camera lens a few inches away from the glass and voilà! Cool shapes on your photos. 

3- Use washing wire and and a phone flashlight 

This one’s a bit technical, but all you need is washing wire and the flashlight feature of your phone (or a flashlight…). Use a rubber band to tie the washing wire across the lens of your camera and shine the flashlight directly over the lens. The wire will diffract the light and your photos will seem to be basking in a beautiful diffused light… 

4- Draw patterns on plastic cellophane 

So you’ve looked everywhere and you can’t find a glass surface suitable to perform trick number 2? Worry not! All you need is clingwrap film. Wrap it around your lens with a rubber band and draw patterns on it with a colorful marker. This will add a cool twist to your photos. 

5- Create a reflective surface 

Not trying to get too philosophical here but… taking good photos is all about mastering the light. It doesn’t need to be big: simple hacks can help you direct the light in a certain direction and completely change the look and feel of your pictures. If you haven’t experimented with reflection surfaces yet, we encourage you to do it. All the material you need is your phone screen, placed under the lens of your camera, as shown in the video. 

6- Play with the light through objects

Yes, still with the light! If you have a strong light source (like a lamp), try placing various filters in front of it. A grate or a strainer would do just fine, reflecting their playful shapes onto your models (human or feline!). The result will look more like a professional photoshoot than like photos taken during a crafty afternoon at home. 

7- Design your own playful shapes!

Once you’ve used your grate, your strainer, your ladle, and gotten creative with all your kitchen tools, it’s time to warm up your scissors and glue. Applying the same principle as in hack number 6, you can create your own shapes by cutting cardboard. 

8- Wrap ribbons around your lense

Time to wrap up your afternoon of craft with a nice bow! If you own colorful ribbons, tie them around your camera lens. This will add a colorful touch to your picture. 

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