About a month ago I came across an article on Twitter about some new arty filters (pictured below) that were going to be for sale for US$195 (or around US$75 each sold through PrismLensFX). Firstly I lol'd but then I cringed. The last big trend in camera filters were prisms which look cool but were expensive (and also hard to get in Australia because customs think they're weapons) but everyone who uses them basically has similar looking photos...which is what's going to happen here.
So why is this a problem? I guess it isn't but I've known plenty of people who smash a filter and their first thought is to toss it, not see if they can use it creatively in any way. UV filters are generally used just to prevent scratches on the lens itself. For the past 12 months I've been shooting gigs with filters I've altered which give me some pretty cool effects. I loved the fact that my photos didn't look like everyone else's and depending on the lighting to what kind of effects I was getting. For the most part though I was getting some pretty intense lens flare. The downside to this though was how many times I had some guy look at me like I don't know how to use my camera because it's "broken", or like maybe I didn't know and would just stand their pointing at it until my attention was on them and not the band I'm trying to take photos of. I even had some guy in the city during the week lean forward looking at my camera strangely while I tried to test mine out.
Basically I was bored and one day and took a hammer to filter #1 which did a good job shattering it. Filter #2 I can't remember if I used the hammer or just threw it at the ground but I ended up gluing the 2nd piece of glass in place. Filter #3 I decided to create after seeing the filters above. I just couldn't fathom who would pay $75 for a filter that would take you less than 2 minutes to create at home. My suburb is pretty much covered in broken glass, so on one of my walks to the shops I just collected a bunch of different coloured glass shards, bought some super glue and took it all home. That filter I haven't used at a gig but it's super subtle so it really needs glass to be more central to be effective.
I took them into the city during the week thinking that would be a good spot for street lights but I really overestimated Perth's brightness on a Thursday night. Northbridge may have been better but after walking around Perth I'd had enough and got the train home. These have the same exposures and have been edited identically to show the difference between each one.
Filter #1 lens flare love
Filter #2 almost looks foggy. It really blows out the lighting.
Filter #3 this one is hit and miss to if it works in it's current state. You can see the effects along the bottom of the photo and around the street lights though.
I decided I'd try them out on my skeleton model Frank too and got some cool effects so I decided I wanted to try this with a person and roped in Bec (model Lamia Emilia) and Nicola (makeup artist Quinn.tessential Effects) for some randomness at my place. We had to wait for it to be dark before I could take any photos so the afternoon ended with us playing Cards Against Disney and I have to say there is just way too much emphasis on Ariel's ladyparts for my liking. When it came to the shoot part itself I got frustrated pretty fast because it wasn't working out like it did with the skeleton and blamed Bec for not being see-through. That's the kind of photographer I am. In hindsight I think I had the kitchen light turned on when I shot Frank, but I didn't take notes. This was all purely experimental though so I could see what would happen with the string lights and my filters and I have a much better idea of what to do next time! It will involve a studio because my place is ridiculously tiny and more lights.
First up - let's all applaud Nicola's amazing makeup work here because you won't see it in the rest of the photos!
I was certain I used all three filters during this exercise but filter 3 had zero effect and for the most part it seems I only used the first filter. Another note for next time is to photograph the filter before I use it to make sure I DID actually use it.
So that's it. My next trick is to use sparklers. Watch this space!