DIY: Bubblewrap Softening Filter | Good Light Magazine

DIY: Bubblewrap Softening Filter

Gradually, as you shoot more and more various images and tap into different creative techniques, you will end up with a formidable battery of lens filters for every purpose imaginable: polarizers, warming/cooling filters, neutral density filters and many others. This is to be expected, because, let’s face it, filters are cool!

They can help you put a new spin on an otherwise unremarkable photo – and the best part is, you don’t even have to do anything! All you need to do is install it and then start taking pictures. For artists who don’t enjoy post-production or simply want to add a stroke of novelty to an image this is a godsend and a must-have.

But you know what’s even better? Instead of buying a manufactured lens filter, why not make one yourself? Now, don’t fret – We’re not going to force you to blow glass and then coat it in various substances. You know, it would probably be hilarious for all of us, but we can only teach you the things we know and have tried ourselves.

We want to show you how to make a super-simple filter out of bubblewrap that you can put on the lens hood of your camera and use in beauty photography shoots. Everyone has a bit of bubblewrap left over – and even if you enjoy popping it (a pretty soothing activity, isn’t it?), it will still make a perfectly decent filter!

Everything you need for making a bubblewrap softening filter
Everything you need for making a bubblewrap softening filter

The diy bubblewrap filter for soft photographs
Ready for softening your photos: Your Bubblewrap Filter

Let’s get to it, shall we? Here’s what you are going to need for this particular DIY extravaganza:


  • some bubblewrap;
  • a rubber band;
  • a lens hood;
  • scissors.

Once you’ve got everything necessary for making a bubblewrap filter, follow these three simple steps:

One. Place a piece of bubblewrap over and around the lens hood.
Two. Fix it in place with a rubber band.
Three. Cut an odd-shaped hole in the middle of the wrap. The magnitude of “oddness” is up to you – the hole should be fairly large though.

It’s pretty much impossible to mess up, so after step three you should end up with a perfectly usable bubblewrap filter. Now it’s time for that awkward moment when you look in bewilderment at the masterpiece of your making and ask, “What do I need it for again?”

Let’s see how this nifty little filter can add to your arsenal of photography techniques and make your pool of shooting ideas that much deeper!

With a bubblewrap filter, you can give those pictures a softer, more romantic touch, which have a dark background. Transparent bubblewrap acts as a really blurry foreground, mimicking the way sunbeams often bounce off the glass. In fact, those blurry dots you see are indeed sunbeams, caught by the wrap and focused into the lens. That’s also the reason why this filter needs a dark background to be effective: adding a few more light beams into an already very bright picuture would make not so much of a difference.
“But what can a few faint beads of light add to my pictures?” you might ask. Sometimes an image benefits from a blurry foreground – for instance, if there is a lot of empty space around your model that you would like to fill, but at the same time feel reluctant to do. That’s when an innocent trick of light comes into play.

Or you may find yourself struggling to shoot a tender scene, a display of softness and affection, and all required is a subtle touch... of something you don’t have. Seriously, there is nothing remotely romantic or soft lying around on set, a model or models can’t figure out exactly what you want, and the background and lighting alone won’t cut it. In this situation, using a bubblewrap filter can be a perfectly valid way to add to the picture’s mood.
As with any other technique that is meant to enhance photos, don’t overdo it. A filter should be used as a finishing stroke, a cherry on top of a solid “lighting + composition” combo, just to make things more interesting. Occasionally it can be used to salvage otherwise unimpressive images... but not very often.

Also, it goes without saying that a bubblewrap filter is, in a way, a lighting effect – so please don’t pile it on a photo that already features a distinctive and imposing lighting pattern. It will look out of place in it.
Other than that, feel free to experiment – see how far this DIY piece of equipment will get you. We think you will be surprised at how much you can do with such a deceptively simple instrument!

Oleg Starko

Models: Nathalia Leeana and Martin Urbanek

All Images


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