By Chris Leonard, APP Artist and Mentor

Shortly before winter break, artists in APP’s intermediate class learned inexpensive ways to incorporate special effects into their photography. Special photographic equipment, such as lens filters and flash filters, can be economically prohibitive. Class mentors presented different avenues and options for students to experiment with.

Beth K. led us in making bokeh filters. Bokehs change the shape of the blurred points of light made by the aperture of the camera. These filters can be made by cutting a small opening of any shape in a circle of black paper that is then held over the lens.

Sandy F. shared her own discoveries in special effects, like using netting or gauze over the lens to partly obscure the photo’s subject. Students also rubber-banded plastic wrap with a bit of oil on it over their lenses, producing a variable blurring effect.

Chris L. demonstrated all sorts of filters and make-do filters, using colored plastic: a vase, bowl, container, old office supplies, and an old car visor, all of which could be used with the flash to create a splash of colored light or simply held over the lens like any commercially available filter. He also provided flash diffusers made old Fuji film cans that, after cutting a rectangular shape out of the side, could be simply slipped over the flash, an item first introduced to the APP by Josh Birnbaum, a former instructor.

Christi H. helped students make an improvised lens hood, which eliminates flare when the camera lens is pointed close to a light source.

Many of the class members went straight to trying out their new-found tools, with some even using two different “effects” on a single photo.

Overall, many improvised pieces of equipment can be made from items around the house or found in thrift stores, flea markets, and yard sales for a low price. Actual used equipment can be found on E-bay or Craigslist. And filters made for other makes of camera can be pressed into duty.

APP class will resume next week, so stay tuned for more updates and news about class activities!