Last Updated on 08/11/2021 by Chris Gampat
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If you shoot with a lens of any sort, there’s a strong chance that you’re not using a UV filter. In fact, you’re probably not using a filter at all. But lens filters can be amusing. Specifically, plastic lens filters can be enjoyable. Lots of photographers try to use glass lens filters because it doesn’t muddy their lens image quality. At least, that’s what most photographers have done in the past decade. But in recent years, they’ve been using a lot more plastic lens filters and embracing the looks that they get. I really have to say that I love what they can do.
Taking Out Excessive Sharpness with the Haze Effect
You’ve probably heard of and use Pro-Mist filters. But truthfully, lots of different lens filters can do this. I’ve used Pro-Mist filters before. I’ve also used a lot of the PrismFX filters. Those are great too. Any lens that’s too clinical and sharp can have that look removed easily with these filters. You can also get weird, crazy, funky effects too.
Some of the favorites that I’ve used are the Neewer graduated ND filters. I’ve also used things like the PrismFX Radiant filter. The important thing here is to take all the notions of sharpness and throw them out the window. You need to just creatively embrace what you see and get from the camera. So that means even using experimental methods. If you’re getting softness, try embracing it with the painter effect. Here’s a quote on how to do that:
- A Low ISO: Ideally, you’ll shoot at the lowest ISO setting your camera has. But this all greatly varies. If you’re shooting at night, you might want to go for ISO 400 instead. That will let you speed the shutter up just a bit.
- A narrow aperture: you need to have the scene mostly in focus anyway. You’re going to create your own blur.
- A slow shutter speed: The best thing to do is to shoot at 1/15th and below.
Now you’re ready to shoot.
- Start out by using autofocus and focusing on your subject. You’re probably choosing a landscape, a cityscape, a building, a still life, or a portrait subject.
- With the focus locked, tilt your camera upward, changing the composition.
- Slowly swing the camera downward. And when you think you’re about to get the composition, shoot while still swinging the camera down.
- Observe the results. This is what it’s like to make paintings using your camera.
Before I go on, I should clarify a bit more. This idea works very well for specifically creating images, not capturing them. Capturing photos requires you to use autofocus to the best of your ability. But most of the time, these photos don’t need autofocus. They just need you to embrace creative freedom and to think differently. It’s one of the reasons why Lensbaby products are just so entertaining.
Blooming, Fingerprints, Smudges, and All
With plastic lens filters, you can do a lot more without feeling guilty. Here are some ideas:
- Put oil on the front of the filter
- Get fingerprints all over it
- Put vaseline on the filter in certain spots
- Scratch the filter up. Sometimes it can affect the quality.
No Need for Extra Post-Production
Best of all, you don’t need to sit there in front of a computer for hours and hours trying to hone the look. It’s much better to get the look with three hours of work than 17 hours of work. You get a lot of shooting time and sanity back.