In recent years it has been all the craze to see who can create the coolest lens effects. From fairy lights, to crystals and lens balls, these effects have dominated the creative space on instagram; for good reason! Instead of going to buy these tried and true items, I decided I wanted to challenge myself to make up 5 different lens effects. The twist? Using only household items.

My goal was the create some unique effects, that cost next to nothing, since you likely already own the items! In this article I break down how I utilized each effect and what you can do to make it work best. Before we jump into it, let’s just talk about one thing…

Before You Begin…

These 5 amazing lens effects are super easy to create, but there are some things you should know. When you are putting these effects to use it’s good practice not to stick anything to the actual element of your lens. To work around this, I use a lens hood to tape different materials to or use as a barrier from items hitting the glass. If you don’t already own a lens hood, there’s no need to worry! Lens hoods are extremely cheap and you can find them for any lens on the market. Simply type in the element size of your lens and you’ll find tons of options to choose from. These effects all will work without a lens hood, just be extra cautious about the glass of your lens!

To make these effects look best, you need to get them as blurred out and obscure as possible. Be sure to shoot these photos at a lens size of 35mm and above for the best look! The longer the lens the more compressed and obscure the materials in front will become.

The next trick to remember is shooting at a wide open aperture. Anywhere from f/5.6 to f/2.8 works great and totally blurs out the foreground. Shooting wide open makes for much “milky” light catches and bokeh that really enhances the effects!

Not familiar with aperture or lens compression? Click here to brush up your knowledge!

Model: @lifeofkiera   |    Photographer: @brnwills

Parchment Paper

The first effect is made with parchment paper. Parchment paper is traditionally used for baking but in our world… it’s our first lens effect! Here’s how I made the effect work:

  1. Take a bit of parchment paper off the roll and rip a long piece off. Split this piece in two.

2. Take the two pieces and position them on either side of your lens hood. Tape on these pieces to the lens making sure to leave a gap in the middle for your lens to see through.

3. Attach your lens hood and rotate the hood until the effect sits right where you need. Start shooting!

 

Tip: I found this effect looked best when the parchment paper was being lit up by the sun. In my photos I was shooting directly into the sun, backlighting Kiera and illuminating the white glow of the parchment paper.

 

Clear Tape And Markers

Time to take it back to arts and crafts time of elementary school. Bust out that clear tape and coloured markers and start creating an awesome lens effect! Here’s how I made it work:

  1. Rip a few pieces of clear tape and put them across either side of your lens hood. Be sure to leave a gap in the middle for your lens to see through!

2. Pick any coloured marker and colour over the tape thoroughly until it is completely filled in. You may get a slightly patchy look if you do not add enough!

3. Place your now coloured tape onto your lens and position it in the perfect spot for your photo!

Tip: This effect works best when the tape is thoroughly coloured. Make sure to keep your markers nearby to continue to touch up the colour as it dries. This effect looks a little better at a longer focal length and a wider aperture.

Cling Wrap

Great for wrapping up sandwiches or covering up left overs… and creating lens effects! Here’s how I made it work.

  1. Take a generous piece off the roll that can comfortably cover over the entire lens hood or front element.

2. Poke a hole through the middle of the cling wrap with your finger. Position it in the centre to keep that area of your image sharp!

3. Put the wrap on your lens and position the hole in the area of your subject. This way your subject will remain sharp against the distorted effects around them! Hold or tape the cling wrap to your lens.

Tip: Try to crumple up the cling wrap in certain edges of your frame to add cool light effects. Make sure your lens and cling wrap are exposed to a light source to get the best glimmering light effects!

Glass Cup

A daily used item that we all use… but likely not for lens effects! Here’s how I made it work:

  1. Find a glass cup, preferably a wide mouth cup to easily put it around the front of your lens.

2. Put the mouth of the cup around your lens and move it around to find the best look.

Tip: You can use any glass cup for this, even a coloured one! Depending which cup you use it will offer a different effect. Just like the other effects, this one looks a little nicer when the cup is exposed to a bit of light. It will add a great sparkle to your effect!

 

Cell Phone Screen

Many of us have these sitting in our pockets at all times of the day. Why not start using it for a cool mirrored lens effect? Here’s how I made it work:

  1. Remove your lens hood so you can put the phone as close to your lens as possible.

2. Position the phone on the edge of your lens and angle it until you start to see a cool mirrored reflection

3. Try moving the phone in different areas of the frame to get different reflections!

Tip: Try not to catch any light directly in the reflection of your screen. This would cause a flare that may ruin the effect. The closer you put the phone to the lens, the more obscure it becomes and it really enhances the reflection!

 

So thats 5 amazing lens effects using household items! These lens effects are tons of fun to play around with. The best part about them is they will leave your audience wondering what camera trickery you used to pull it all off!

What lens effects have you tried using before? Let me know in the comments below!

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Happy Shooting! 🙂

-Brendan

 

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