The handed to you, but pricey way
Lensbaby is a popular photography company that makes more unique photographic lenses and gadgets. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan. I have one of their, now discontinued, Control Freak tilt shift lenses. However, they recently released an OMNI creative filter system, and while it’s a clever idea, the price point, in my opion is way too high for what you get. Considering you can make all those effects with stuf fyou have around your house, instead of paying their $100 price point.
The OMNI filter comes with a screw on ring, similar to a filter ring, and 3 effect wands that attach on the ring. You can also get a 3 additional wand expansion pack for another $50.
They do make sure to note that these are repeatable effects. And I do have to slightly concede there, as having a plastic effect piece mounted in front of your lens, without moving it, focused the same way toward your light source, will possibly have a more easily repeatable effect than the more hand held options I outline below. But I’m going to save you $150 so that vague chance of reputability is a wash in my book.
The takes a bit of DIY, but mostly free way
We can hate on 5 Minute Crafts all we want, but they’ve been touting these techniques for a good long while now, but here’s the breakdown of some of the simplest ways. If these don’t quite work for you, seriously just google “rainbow effect photo” or something of the sort and you’ll find a slew of other options.
LENS FLARE & LIGHT REDIRECTION
Reflect light away from or toward your photo subject. Light will bounce off anything, so this truly depends on how much reflected light you’re after. The lighter/more reflective, the more light bounce. Use a piece of white paper, tin foil, a mirror, etc.
Reflect the light source with the underside of a CD up at your photo subject.
STREAKS OF LIGHT & COLOR GLOW
Reflect light into the side or bottom of your lens, whether of a specific color object or a reflection of that color object. Do this simply by holding something up to very slightly block your lens.
If the orange-y fire glow is what you’re after, you can even wave an actual flame from a lighter or match in front of your lens. Just be careful to keep the open flame far enough away to not burn anything.
Stretch pantyhose over your lens or put vaseline over a portion of your lens. I don’t recommend putting vaseline on your lens directly, but rather onto a UV filter you don’t intend to use again, or on a piece of a ziploc bag or cling film taped over part of your lens.
Gather up some stuff, go to your photo spot, and experiment. If you really want to buy and work with the OMNI filter system, do that. It honestly looks pretty cool and well thought out. But in either case I truly encourage you to get a mirror, CD, lighter, panty hose, etc, and just see what you can make.
The goal with all of these lens add ons is to emulate the errors of vintage lenses and camera bodies. These lenses and cameras often weren’t sealed well and had light leaks. Pinhole and plastic body cameras (like the holga) often have light leaks, streaks and vignetting effects. Plastic cameras, that don’t have precise ways of focusing also often lead to blurred images. These extra things we do to our stable, fully sealed cameras now, are a way to get back to that look. So, if you’re up for it, maybe even try a vintage film camera or a vintage lens on your current DSLR instead and get some of these things as a sort of accident.