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Build & Shoot: Sunglasses Filters

Lesson 5 from: DIY Photography: Lens Attachments, Filters & Creative Effects

Mike Hagen

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Lesson Info

5. Build & Shoot: Sunglasses Filters

Lesson Info

Build & Shoot: Sunglasses Filters

- [Mike] The next one is using your sunglasses, okay? So, most people have a pair of sunglasses. Here in Washington State, we have a love-hate relationship with sunglasses. We never get to use them. So, we like owning them. Sometimes we get to use them, but most people end up losing them, right? It's hard to find them. So I've got a few different types of sunglasses here. I've got some traditional-type Ray-Bans, okay? And then I also have these, which I have no idea what brand they are. But the reason why I chose these is because they are colored. They have a hue to them. And that, actually, is pretty fun for your photography. If you have, you know, the big, like, Southern California sunglasses, sometimes those are more better. Like, what's Aviators. Like if you have Aviator-type sunglasses, the bigger lenses actually make it easier to do your photography. This one...when you shoot with sunglasses like these, you're not going to really get a color effect, rather what you're ...

doing is, they're behaving more like a neutral density filter, just cutting out the light. So maybe for this type, for this experiment that we're going to do, find some sunglasses that have gold or silver or orange or some other color on the lenses themself, for the effect. You can kind of get a preview for what this is going to look like by looking through the lenses, okay? But, really, the thing is to do it in live view mode. I like shooting a lot of this in live view, because you can see it in real-time and then you snap your photo. So we'll grab the live view camera, and then try some stuff, see what happens. Now this one, I think what's going to end up happening is we're definitely going to want to end up maybe more on this side, to get more of the flare and the look from the windows. We'll go back to our fun 50-millimeter lens. Pull that off. Go over here. And, let's see. Back to live view. Yeah. Groovy. So this is total experimental. I mean, it's just kind of way fun. There's no rules to this. I'm going to focus manually. There we go. Got it. Okay. So, how does this work? Well, you just put it in front of the lens. It's quite as simple as that. So you can kind of see the colors shifting. We're getting double images, you know, depending on where I shoot and where this is positioned. Some of that flare. It's interesting how much time and effort and money we spend to eliminate flare, but in this case I'm trying to induce the flare because I like it. It's a cool look. Another thing, see that purple that shows up there on the top? You know what that purple is, the light from back there is shining on to the back side of the lens, and causing that purple effect. Again, it's because the lens has a special coating that we're getting that. Kind of half down below, half above. Let's shoot from the other way. So now this just warms it up. We're getting this really warm effect, kind of this Southern California look to it. I like it. So we're going to try a bunch of things here. This is at f/1.8, by the way. Let me turn it this way. So my lens is basically wide open. Let's see what happens. That's yucky. That's good. Let's see what happens when I go to something like f/5.6. Okay. So there's f/5.6. And you can see if you get the edge of the lens basically crossing the frame it shows up versus f/1.8. It's just much more blurry. So a smaller aperture means that the thing in front of the lens is going to become more in focus. You may like that, you may not like that. It's up to you. So now I'm going to go to f...let's go to f/11. Now the actual sunglasses are actually in fairly sharp focus. Okay. So, let's just start taking some shots here in a minute, now that you've seen what I'm looking at. I'll grab my other camera that's connected to Lightroom and we'll just start snapping away. See what we like. And then we'll take some pictures that direction as well. You know, I'm a mountaineer, I'm a climber, and I was reading a couple of weeks ago about this guy who was doing some photography, and he wanted to get some long exposures when he was up on the mountain. But it's in the middle of the sunny...bright, sunny day, and he couldn't get any motion blur. He wanted to make motion blur happen with the skier, and he had, basically, just his camera and a lens. So, to do that, he took his really dark mountaineering glasses and put them over the lens, and it cut out a bunch of light. So now he'd get a blurry shot of his buddy skiing by. So he actually used it for a really practical use. A neutral density filter. That's cool. And then one more thing, if you have polarized sunglasses, you can actually use it as an impromptu polarize filter to kind of get those clouds to pop. Especially if you have like a little point-and-shoot camera, like a little Canon, or a Nikon, or a little Fuji point-and-shoot, put it right in front of the lens, just rotate this left and right, and now you've got a little polarizing filter. Cool. It's all cool. Oh, yeah, I need a lens. Okay. All right. Your job is just to look beautiful. And then my job is to make you look Southern California tan. All righty. Let's see how this works. I'm just going put in my face right up here, to the camera, and I'll just start taking some shots. One. Let me get this fine-tuned. All right, cool. And if you have some sunglasses that you don't want anymore like these...actually, I've never worn these in my entire life. They're pretty much garbage. You might just break off this part of it and just shoot. It makes it a lot easier to move around the camera. All right, cool. Nice. It's going to be a double image on that one. Let's try and get some purple in there. Oh, yeah. Fantastic. Work it. Work those sunglasses. Cool. Hey, just because I'm having fun, put these sunglasses on, okay? - [Woman] Oh my God. - Yeah. Oh, yeah! - Tan and (inaudible). - That's right. Oh, yeah. Cool. It looks really cool with the windows behind me. Get some of this sparkly in there. Cool. I'm just moving around, just getting different effects. Right on. We'll take a look at some of those. It's fun. Look at the double image. And, again, you're not going to necessarily use these for, what I would call, high-end fashion or fine art, but it's all about experimenting. It's all about learning. It's all about trying something new and something different. You know, most professional photographers, we all have our, you know, what I would call professional shots, with the studio lighting, with a great-looking model, with a great-looking this and that, but this gives you something different, something fun to do. - [Woman] All right. I have a couple of great suggestions. One from Photo Maker, who says,"There are those visors with the plastic brims," and how that would work really well because you'd have even bigger space there for that filter, alternative to the sunglasses. And then a couple of folks were asking...Michelle was asking about what kind of white balance you're using in this scenario. Are you considering that or are you just going auto? - Good. I'm happy she asked that question because I actually...that thought went into my brain and right back out because I got so excited shooting. White balance matters for sure. Right now I'm using auto white balance. And what auto white balance does is it tries to neutralize the color cast, you know. So, we can kind of see here in this photograph that where the sunglasses aren't is a little blue, and where the sunglasses are is definitely warmer. Auto white balance is trying to fix all that and make it neutralize. So if I really wanted to get this golden effect from the sunglasses, I would fix my white balance at a set value. I'm just going to say I would fix it maybe at Cloudy, something like that. So why don't we try a couple of shots, and I'll fix it at Cloudy, and you'll see how it really warms it up. In fact, it's dramatic. So what do you think, sunglasses or none? - I...we can do both, you know. - You want to wear them again? - I'll wear them again. - Okay, let's wear them again. Okay. So, again, I'm in auto white balance now, so I'm going to change that and set it for Cloudy white balance. And I'm just pushing my white balance button, and rotating my thumb dial until I see the little cloud symbol. And here we go. I'll take one without the filter so you can see the color shift, and then I'll add the filter on there. Okay, there's our test shot. Not that much different, is it? Not that much different at all. Auto did a pretty good job of neutralizing the ambient color. All right, let's do it again. Throw those sunglasses back on. Now, though, the difference is, is when I put this on, auto white balance won't be won't be trying to neutralize the color. It'll just...the color filter that the sunglasses apply will actually be applied to the photo. If that makes sense. All righty. Here we go. Nice. Serious look. Or a smile. I like the serious look. Mean. That's a good mean smile. You're like, "I can't do mean. Can't do it." Cool. That was nice. I like that one. All right, let's see what that looks like. So now you're seeing the colors are a little bit more pronounced, a little bit warmer, I think. If you wanted to really make this warm, then you would go to Shady white balance. Shady. And actually, that might be a good move to do. Shady adds a lot of amber, a lot of, kind of, a red tint to your photographs, so...loved that suggestion. Oh, yeah, I wanted to shoot over here as well with the sunglasses...with these. You don't have to wear those again. So I'm going to have you stand kind of in our other home spot, and let's just see what happens when the light changes. Cool. Got to be really careful about this cable, make sure that it doesn't disconnect. Real quick. Tech check, gee, says we're still connected. Excellent. All right. So we'll try this same thing again. And this time, we got a little bit of light from the left-hand side. Let's see if that impacts things much. Got to frame it up. And I'm back to shooting at ISO 1600. I'm at f/1.8. Oh, yeah, good. Here we go, trying some stuff out. Well, that's a blurry one. In this case, the flare from the windows causes much more of a sunglass effect. Okay, cool. Hang out there for one second. Let me pull this away so the studio audience can see it a little better. So in this case, the sunglasses became much more flare-y. That's a technical term, flare-y. So the flare-y-ness...although, you know, that's kind of cool. Actually, I was looking at that in the camera and I though, "Oh, that's going to be terrible." Actually, that's kind of cool. It's a neat, old style, old-time looky photo. Again, always being surprised with this do-it-yourself stuff. And here, I purposely got the sunglasses to move around so I got some of that purple hue on the image. That's a nice look. It's soft, that's okay. And here I'm shooting basically directly through, so I'm not tilting the lenses on this one, and I'm actually shooting straight through the sunglass lens. A little purple flare there. Nice. And that one's just all lens. Look at that golden glow. Ah... Southern California. Summer time. Oh, this one, not so much. That was a...I call that one a failure. - A little ghosty. - Yeah, a little ghosty. Got four eyes, or three and a half. I got three and a half eyes on that one. You look good with three eyes. - Thank you. - And then I'm just going through here, some of the previous shots we took against the wall. I kind of like it. Really this old style, old film camera look. It's just fun. I'm enjoying this. I'm having a great time. Okay. Right on? - Right on. - All right. Let's head back to your... to the stool.

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Ratings and Reviews

a Creativelive Student

It's a fun course, with a lot of interesting ideas presented in a way to help spark the creative juices in anyone wanting to branch out and experiment with different ideas. Mike's presentation style is fun and easygoing - perfect for this type of discussion. If you're not afraid to color outside the lines and see where the road takes you, this is a very enjoyable bit of inspiration.


Love it!! Very creative and full of inspiration. Mike Hagen explains the different effects in a great way, he is precise yet easy-going so he makes learning fun. I recommend this class to all who wants to take their creative photography to the next level without spending money on expensive accessories.


Mike has an easy-going, pleasant & fun personality. He explains things clearly. Rolls with whatever happens. And, he's very good about answering audience questions in an understandable, positively reinforcing and non-judgemental way (which can be rare for some established pro photographers...).

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