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Shooting Portraits Through a Broken Filter

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If you managed to break your filter, perhaps give it one last outing before you throw it away; you never know what might be possible.

Shooting through broken filters isn’t really new, but this is perhaps one of the best examples of the effects it can create. Pierre Lambert takes to the city, at night (which is a great start in my book) and sticks a broken filter on the front of his lens. Depending on what type of image you’re trying to create, this will usually ruin the shot. However, in certain circumstances, it can help to create pleasing and unusual results.

The trick of using a broken or filter or partially obscuring the front element of your lens with a prism (etc.) is light. While you don’t necessarily need artificial lighting — though that works well — you do need bright lights usually beaming at or very near the front of your lens. What the cracks in the filter do is diffract and distort the light, creating artifacts in your image. Lambert’s use of this incorporates both bright artificial lights, and vibrant colors, which work well with the imperfections of the filter. Another effective use of a broken filter (or, again, some sort of light prism) is golden hour portraits where it can create strange flares and bokeh.

Have you ever shot through a broken filter? Share your images in the comment section below.

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