How to Create Your Own Natural Photo Filters

Nature can supply you with gorgeous photo filters… learn how to use one of our favorites!

Back in the day, a filter was not something to be added to a photo after it was taken. If one wished to see a certain image with seven filter options, one would have to physically place seven different filters in front of the camera lens, and try to snap the same photo seven different times.

Now, don’t get me wrong: I love editing my photos after they’ve been shot. It’s so much fun to play around with color and shadows and contrast and see what comes of it. But there’s something so beautiful about enhancing a photo before you take it… and seeing what magic you create.

I recently spent a gorgeous day outside, camera in hand, and somehow found myself holding a leaf in front of the lens, marveling over the images it led me to capture. As hard as it was to restrain myself from further editing these photos after they were shot… the following images have not been touched. Totally unedited. #Nofilter, one might even say. But, nay, there is a filter… this one is nature’s very own.


All I did was take a decent-sized green leaf and tear a few small holes in it. Then, I held the leaf in front of my 50mm lens and played around with various locations of it to see what it would let through. I found that sometimes it’s clear where the leaf ends and the hole begins…


…other times you’re left with a somewhat vibrational effect…


…And other times you get more of just a gorgeous green hue overall.




For this last photo, I took a little bit of moss, sprinkled it on my lens and shot towards the sky.


It’s really incredible to see how natural elements can be used to enhance images of nature. But the filters don’t end with leaves and moss – the possibilities are truly infinite.

+What have you used to create your own filter? Let us know!
Follow Brigette on Instagram, and have a look at her blog Hummusbird!

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5 years ago

I think I’ll be trying the leaf idea this weekend. Thank you!

5 years ago

Oh this is so cool! I am definitely going to try this soon! Much more dynamic than post-editing.

5 years ago

Wow this is so cool! Can’t wait to try this out :)

5 years ago

Such great ideas! I love playing around with lens effects, and one of my favorite strategies is to use a crystal. Placing it in front of the lens does an incredible job at scattering light and bring in different effects. Thanks for the post!

5 years ago

I really must try this. Thank you.

5 years ago

It appears that you are playing with the depth of field and compatible colors.

5 years ago

Very Cool. I love photography and using filters to enhance the drama of the shot. Thank you for sharing your creative ideas!

The Weaver Of Words…..give me 15 words and I’ll tell you a tale

5 years ago

LOVED this, photography is such a magical tool.

5 years ago

Wow. In high school I took lots of photography classes. It was all film and the filters were done with a lens. Now that I only take pictures with my phone and do so much with apps like Afterlight I never think to experiment when taking the pictures. Super inspired! Thanks for sharing!

5 years ago

Love your creative mind Brigette!

5 years ago

The way your pictures look, are very close to how expired film looks after processing. Nice.
(35mm film/chemical processing)

5 years ago

I can’t wait to try this idea! It’s so cool to create your own effects; I rely way too much on apps!

5 years ago

Love the effect. It adds a stunning softness