Shoot Hazy and Ethereal Photos Using a Sandwich Bag and Colored Markers

LU9BCyF copy

Photographer Jesse David McGrady has a super simple trick for adding a hazy, ethereal effect to your photographs: wrap a plastic sandwich bag around your lens. It sounds ridiculous and silly, but the results you get are actually quite nice!

First, find yourself a sandwich bag — those thing plastic bags that you carry sandwiches around in.


On the closed side of the bag, use your hands to tear a hole. Don’t use scissors, since you’ll want the edges to be rough, uneven, and slightly random.


Take the open end of the bag and slide it over your camera lens, with the hole end extending a little past the end of your lens. You want to make sure it can be seen in your viewfinder. Don’t cover up the middle portion of the frame, since you’ll want a clear section to see your subject through.


Voila! You’ve got yourself an instant hazy, retro, light leak look for just pennies:


Okay, a sample photograph of an empty smoothie glass is a bit lame, but check out what McGrady has been able to do using this “hack”:

jwoMMtf copy

kpfTUAC copy

To customize the look you get, you can take a colored pen and draw over the plastic bag, adding color to certain parts. Here are a couple of photos shot by McGrady using a baggie that was marked with purple:

oXAwMnE copy

Zs2VmKX copy

You can find more of McGrady’s photographs shot using this trick/technique/hack here and here.

Image credits: Sample photographs by Jesse David McGrady and used with permission; tutorial photos by Michael Zhang

  • Linda Darlene Stewart-Langlois

    ok so i don’t get it he takes a sandwich bag rips a hole in it puts it over the lens body but no the lens huh how does that work ”””’ not sure because it does not cover the lens at all just the body…..did i miss something here

  • Tony Zhilenkov

    You can point on the plastic bag with a coloured flashlight or the mobile phone, if the screen is bright enough, this will have the same effect as colouring the bag with pens.

  • smithington

    Yes, it’s partially covering the lens. If you look closely from top and bottom it slightly covers the lens, this creates the dreamy effect.

  • DanaButlerAllDay

    Must be nice to be made out of money

  • Moody

    tried it didn’t work for me

  • DanaButlerAllDay

    It still looks cool

  • DanaButlerAllDay

    It doesn’t take an expensive camera to be a great photographer. It’s the person using the camera; and ingenuity like this. Get a life.

  • Jampy Joe

    that’s ok. I already have instagram.

  • Guest

    The 80’s glamor glow.

  • Green Banana

    The 80’s Barbara Walters glamor glow. No thanks!

  • JezSullivan

    I like lots of musicians use the rubber washers off Grolsch bottles to secure my strap to my £1500 electric guitar, if it works, it works. Simple as…

  • Sarmad Berlin

    Love it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Don

    how about a French tickler?

  • Sarah Houston

    didn’t work for me at all..guess my camera is too good lol.i could totally see the zip lock bag when i took the pics

  • Jesse David McGrady

    over a year later and i’m still getting people emailing me about this article. thanks petapixle for the coverage.

  • dorn

    It is funny how much time and effort goes into creating the looks of what we struggled to avoid 20 years ago.

    Fun idea though

  • laurie66bay

    I think you would get a much different shot with the filter, than what the post is suggesting you do with the bag. The bag will deliver different results, which might actually be better, if that is the style you are looking for. Its not just shading or a color change….

  • DSLR Video Studio

    If you like this sandwich bag effect, have a try at using a prism – see artcle on it via search in petapixel.