Sand on an ND Filter Made a Nice Bokeh Effect on This Long Exposure Photo

Who knew an accidental sprinkling of sand could work some bokeh magic on a long exposure shot?

During one of our routine rounds on Reddit’s photography threads, we spotted a post by Brandon Nguyen on r/photocritique asking for thoughts on one of his long exposures taken at Lake Tahoe. There doesn’t seem to anything out of the ordinary about that at first, except for the bit about sand making a “neato bokeh effect” on his shot.

“Some sand got on my Cokin ND filter while doing some long exposures at Lake Tahoe and it kinda made a neato bokeh effect. Thoughts? Too cliché?” he wrote on the thread. “Shot on a Canon 5D Mk III with a Canon 35mm f1.4L and knock off Cokin ND Square filters all stacked @ 6 sec, f22, and ISO 50.”

While there was an understandable fear on Brandon’s part that the effect would look like “cheesy fairy sparkles,” many of those who responded to his call for critique actually liked how the photo turned out. The responses may not have been positive if it was added in the shot with a hipster-ish filter, but it’s all good because of the cool story behind it.

“It’s an awesome shot, especially since it’s a natural effect. I have a couple shots where water drops ended up on my filter and gave a similar effect. It’s not situations like that which make the effect cliche it’s the filter packs that do,” Redditor such_chris pointed out; something which I think we can all agree to.

“It was funny cause I’m not sure if I love the photo or not but I’m crazy happy that a lot of people do. I was pretty much teaching a friend the basics of photography and she took me out to Lake Tahoe to mainly to teach basic exposure, balancing ISO, Shutter, Aperture, and a little bit of insight to composition,” Brandon replied when I asked him to share more of his thoughts about the photo.

“I don’t really have a crazy interesting story but I took some long exposures for myself and noticed these tiny bokeh effects; didn’t even notice there was sand on my knockoff ND filters until after the fact. Thought it was kinda cool but was unsure if it was cliche since I thought they looked like some silly overlay put into Photoshop, hence posting on r/photocritique to get some different opinions.”

Well, congratulations on your happy accident, Brandon! It’s only a matter of time before people start not-so-accidentally sprinkling sand over their filters to get the same effect!

Image used with permission.