Low Tech Photo Filters

Friday, April 26th, 2013

30 Days of Pinterest – Day 23

The Pin!

These days, it can be so easy to get caught up in all the fancy schmancy photo editing tools! So today, we thought we would try something a little more low-tech.

At first glance, all I thought this pin did was create a heart shaped frame around whatever you were taking a photo of. Neat, but easily editable with even the simplist photo editing apps available out there. I was really surprised to learn that it actually creates a neat artsy light image of the shape you’ve cut out.



The Project Process:

Providing you already own a SLR style camera, this project doesn’t require too much advanced planning.

Here’s What You’ll Need:

  • Camera with manual focus
  • Dark-coloured cardstock (pattern or colour won’t matter, as long as it’s dark enough to block out additional light)
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Shaped hole punch (or a talent for cutting free-hand shapes)
  • Rubber band
  • Tripod (or in my case, an elegantly stacked pile of books magazines and a granola box for good measure)


To make the filter, trace your lense to create a circle that’s exacty the right size. Some tutorials suggest cutting the circle out and attaching it right to your lense. You can do this, although we’d like to keep the filters to re-use in the future (and we don’t want to cover our lense in tape!). If you’re like us, we recommend adding three wings on to you circle before cutting it out.


Once your cut out your winged circle, it’s time to choose your shape! Since most of my fancy scrapbooking punches are in storage, I thought I would try a circle punch to start. The original poster really stressed the importance of the size of the shape, so whichever shape you choose, make sure it is smaller than a dime!



Attach your filter to your camera lense by placing it front of the lense, and folding the wings back towards the body. Secure with an elastic band and you’re ready for the magic to happen! To start, change your lense to manual focus. Because I’m not used to shooting anything other than automatic on my camera (it’s horrible, I really should finally take a class on it) – setting it up was the scariest part for me. I would suggest not setting your camera up on your tripod right away, and instead spend some time playing around with the different options to find out which you like best.

This is where I started getting into trouble. 

I started in aperture mode, as suggested by the original poster, and lowered my f-stop to as low as it would go (zoomed in, the lowest it would go was 5.6). They say the more out of focus your viewfinder is, the bigger the shapes will be. Unfortunately, after the 100th time, I began to think this just wasn’t going to happen for me.

I played with aperture, learned how to adjust my f-stop and tried a whole bunch of different focusing techniques (if you want to call them that). Although this particular tutorial was a failure overall, I did manage to figure out how to make those neat squiggly light lines. Small victories, right?

Here is what the finished product is supposed to look like:



Here are a few of my attempts:

Bokeh Fail

I heard that chuckle! It’s ok though, after all the stress and frustration I felt while trying to be be successful, I’m even laughing at myself while writing this. The truth is, even though it took me over an hour to admit defeat, it was probably the most educational hour I’ve ever spent with my camera. Granted, I did want to throw it up against the wall a few times, but what great relationship doesn’t have a few tense times along the road to greatness?!

Regardless, I think I’ll stick to www.pickmonkey.com for now :)


Are you a photography buff that has successfully attempted this bokeh-inspired technique? I’d love your input on what my errors may have been! How many of our readers have a DSLR, but still shoot on automatic like me?

One Response to “Low Tech Photo Filters”

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