Flames. Condoms. String cheese. Black lace panties. You guys came up with some really strange ideas for lens filters for last week's Shooting Challenge...but I'll hand it to you...many actually of worked.

Winner - Bottled Palm

I used the cutout bottom of a plastic water bottle with a hole punched out of the center. The photo is of a sago palm (I think) in my backyard. I used my Canon Rebel XTi, Lens EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 and even though it was pretty sunny out I had to use the flash. I manually focused the palm and then I held the water bottle filter ove the lens. Even with the flash the histogram was weighted way toward the right, so I calibrated the levels to make it much more vibrant, other than that it is untouched. The white halo effect is caused by the build up of plastic from around the hole I put in the water bottle. Hope you like it.
- David Oliver

UFO Glass

I found myself sitting on the couch one night, fiddling around with a blue tinted drinking glass. When I noticed the base of the glass was a similar diameter to my camera lens, I knew this was going to be the most grotesque filter and lens hood I will ever use. While this contraption has not seen the light of actual day... yet, it did get a few test shots pointed up at the ceiling fan. The view around the room made everything look a little small, blue and very dark. But pointed directly at a light source focused light down the sides and dispersed around the bottom of the glass. It looked kind of like a UFO. It kind of looked awesome. I filed this idea in the back of my mind and almost sent it in for the cheesy filter contest last week. Low and behold, this week's contest wants a physical filter and it's an idea I don't mind sharing. Nikon D80, Tamron XR Di-II lens at 18mm. 1/10 second exposure at ISO-800.
- Josh Trautman

Red Gel

This was shot by taping a stack of two lenses to my iPhone 4's camera: a red filter intended for a night-vision-friendly pocket flashlight (i.e. a cheap red translucent piece of plastic) and a small magnifying lens cannibalized from a busted pair of binoculars. The red filter, side lighting and monochrome nature of the coins made for a very contrasty black-and-red look (I happen to love that aesthetic and have used it occasionally in the past, although I'd always faked it before by messing with the colors in Photoshop... it was cool to see the shot come out like this "naturally" this time). The bino lens of course allowed me to get much closer to the coin and still stay in focus. All in all I'm pretty happy with the result and I'll definitely be trying it again with more interesting subjects (giant blood-red spider anyone?). Shot details: iPhone 4 with one red "gel" and one small magnifying lens taped to the camera, no flash, Straight out of the camera save for a crop and resize in Photoshop
- Frank Poulin

Backyard Beerbottle Bokeh

I made three different types of filters for this challenge - a ND filter, a glass fiilter, and this bokeh filter. I cut the bokeh filter out of black construction paper, by hand, and taped it to my cheapo UV filter. At first I couldn't get it to work on my 18mm-55mm lens because I was too far away from my subjects, so I switched over to my 55mm-250mm telephoto, and that gave me alot more room to play with. My subjects are some beer bottles my friend and I emptied one night in my backyard. The vingetting is from the filter and was not added in photoshop, so I kept it in. In fact there is absolutely no photo editing done to this work. As for the other filters, they didn't work out as much as I'd hoped.
- R.J. Barrett

Optimus Panty

The power was cut to my street for several hours on Saturday night, so I had to break out the tea light candles. I decided to play around with Optimus Prime and the candles with several homemade analog filters. I knew that I wanted a gradient filter to make the edges very dark, and the best filter I could find in the house was black lace panties over the lens. Sony DSC-W220, f/3.2, ISO-400, EV +0.7
- Jeannie Moulton


Always wear protection when you shoot. I used a condom... Pretty self explanatory. First I had to wash the lubricant off with soap and water. Then I just wrapped it around the lens hood in the privacy of my home. Had to stretch it around a bit so it would be flat. Then took a pretty picture. Unfortunately I didn't have a studded, ribbed or color one handy. f /5.6, ISO 200, 1/30th Sec, 35mm, Condom Filter.
- Tim Drivas

The String Cheese Incident

I spent a lot of time this week trying to find the perfect "filter" for my camera. I experimented with different forms of liquids, wax paper, etc... Nothing quite turned out exactly how I planned until Sunday night. I was having dinner with the family and my 1 year old was still acting hungry so my wife asked her if she wanted some cheese...I present to you the filter that I call "The String Cheese Incident".

Basically I took a clear lens filter and applied the string cheese. It created two dominate effects. The first was a nice burst filter for bright lights when the shot is centered on it. The second was a nice filter that you see here. It added a nice foggy effect that I would only use when shooting towards sunlight. Sony Alpha DSLR-A560, DT 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 SAM, f/9, 1/160 sec, ISO: 320. Keeping with the theme of this week's challenge I limited my Photoshop work to just cropping the picture.
- Jeremy Martin

Holiday Specs

I used one of the lenses from "Holiday Specs", which are novelty eye-ware. The cardboard-frame specs proclaim "Snowflake in every point of light!" "Let it snow" and "look at lights". They work great when looking at many points of light. With just the sun the effect is less pronounced, but it created some cool artifacts. I tried to shoot the rose with sunlight shining through the leaves. Canon 7D, 100mm macro lens, aperture mode at f/16 to get a lot in focus. 1/160 second and ISO 2500.
- David Lee


I will say, it's pretty remarkable that so many random object filters actually create a unique (and pleasant) aesthetic. Of couse, some of this could be recreated in post production, but I do like to think there's an element of randomness and imperfection that you just can't duplicate in post. The full gallery is below, wallpapers on flickr.

Mark Wilson is the founder of Philanthroper, a daily deal site for nonprofits.