Special Effects with a Basic Camera

By Andrew Hudson

By Andrew Hudson Published: May 25, 2011 Updated: August 22, 2013


What are some tricks and special effects I can try with my basic camera?


Even if you have the cheapest, most basic camera, you can still do many of the special-effects that professionals do with more expensive cameras.


You can use any filter (colored or distorted glass or plastic that camera shops sell for about $10-$20) but make sure it covers the lens and, if you have one, the exposure window (a small window near the lens) so that your pictures get exposed correctly. Red, orange and blue filters can make striking images while a soft-focus or fog filter adds a romantic touch to faces and water. You can even make you own filter with a colored plastic bag or glass.

Colored Flash

You can also use colored filters over the flash instead of the lens (professionals call these “gels”). For a Halloween party, try using a red filter over the flash to make people look even more scary!

Old World

One of my favorites effects uses a sepia filter. The light-brown color makes your pictures look old and classic.


Magicians use mirrors and you can too. Take a photo of yourself by pointing into a window. Or include both halves of a room by using a mirror in half of the shot.

Shoot Underwater

If you’re on vacation at the beach, take an underwater shot while swimming. Place your camera in a clear plastic bag, remove most of the air, and seal well. Now you can photograph underwater! (Be careful, any water entering the bag will damage the camera).

Copyright 1998–2007 Andrew Hudson for PhotoSecrets / Photo Tour Books, Inc. You may reproduce this article for personal, educational, non-commercial and non-Internet use, such as in a local photo club newsletter or school project. No Internet publishing is permitted. For commercial use, please email me for permission. This article was edited by Matt Wiseman and first appeared in Postcards Magazine, a publication for Carlson Leisure Group by Cowles Creative Publishing. Tips | photography books | Email

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