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

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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”:

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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:

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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

  • Daniel Lowe

    Or, you could buy filters from Formatt. Just as good as a plastic bag for “creative” shots.

  • Ollie Williams

    inb4 people start whining. I think whilst it’s a bit of a silly idea, the picture come out relatively nice, and I’ve been wondering how I can recreate a light leak for a while so this is interesting!

  • Frank McKenna

    great idea!

  • Mike

    BUY?! For THAT?!
    Maybe they should start selling air, too.

  • Tam Nguyen Photography

    So you drop a few hundreds to a few thousand bucks on your expensive glass and then you cover it with plastic bag. Sounds like a genius idea!

  • canonfanboy

    I wonder what effect will it have if you use a condom instead of a plastic bag

  • brob

    I like it.
    this is no different then shooting through something, like tree branches

  • Gregor_Albrecht

    Does he have enormous hands or is this the new ultra portable Canon?

  • Joe Shaffer

    So we pull things from Reddit and don’t give them credit now?

  • Chase Douthit

    Its just a tool like everything else. If it takes a bag to get the images that he wants, who cares?

  • MelD

    I’m still a newbie with having fun with photography…so thank you for a quick and easy tool!

  • Jake

    It will keep the lens better protected.

  • terencegbh

    gigantic face too

  • Antonio Carrasco

    this is a good tip. Also, you can do some pretty neat things by putting a prism, light bulb or just about anything else that’s semi-translucent in front of your lens and throwing it out of focus

  • Mike

    Reduce the chance of catching dust by 99%.

  • Mike

    OK, so I will pay a few hundred more just to achieve the same effect using more expensive glass.

  • 11

    so you haven’t tried using a condom yet? how’s it going using the plastic bag?

  • Andrew Iverson

    You’d have to use a Magnum condom though. ;)

  • *✩‿✩*

    lol. I had to laugh because its so true – the , erm, jerks with the elitist mentality just can’t help but share their supposed vastly superior (yet, rude) opinions and criticisms. I personally love to see what people DIY.

  • nikonian

    Back in the old days it was a clear filter and vasoline that we used..

  • Mauricio Andres Ramirez Lozada

    you made me lel

  • Mark G

    This. Is. Awesome!

  • Marc Tobolski

    Waiting for the Instagram filter…

  • Mindthebudgetbutgettheshot

    Thanks Mr. McGrady! Sometimes in the field you have to be resourceful. Some of these posts sound like sour grapes.

  • Ariel Caudis

    hobo ideas

  • Daniel Thomassin

    Merci beaucoup pour se post Simple et efficace

  • Tom Waugh

    True. I remember using Vaseline smeared around the edges of a skylight filter to produce a “dreamy” effect.

  • MrRocking

    Shoots and scores!

  • justthatgirl

    Let me guess, you’re OBVIOUSLY one of those people who prefer to flash around your expensive gear to prove how big your dick is instead of ACTUALLY take good photos.

  • blablabla

    how to ruin a photo in a simple step: follow this article. POC! (Piece Of _rap)

  • Sita Carolina

    Wow this is so cool! I will try this sometime!

  • Jolene Garnett

    Can’t wait to try this!

  • Nick

    But if you look at light leaks, these don’t look anything like light leaks. They look like lens flare or lens fog.

  • Fred

    Yeah Tam because Creativity should cost lots of money. You do not have to spend money to get the effect you want. You sound like someone who buys the most expensive stuff you can find and then call yourself a photographer. .

  • Peng Tuck Kwok

    Instead of a colored pen, you can substitute colored plastic bags.

  • Peng Tuck Kwok

    Lens won’t get pregnant if you fap on it.

  • Bewar3them00n

    This works because it evokes memories and feelings, memories are hazy, not pin sharp HD quality. Let the HDR crowd do their thing, but those who like to experiment, do theirs. The director of the recent film “A Field in England” used a body cap with a drilled hole, then superglued a kids plastic toy lens over it, it produced amazing close focus dreamy footage, which was used in film!
    Personally, it’s a great idea if you need something quick without filters handy.

  • Amanda Leigh Davidson

    thats pretty neat idea thanks for sharing

  • whisky

    this look isn’t for everybody, but if it tingles your fancy, a more non-destructive way to alter your hi-fidelity data is to build a set of actions in photoshop and apply until the original image is degraded to like this.

    if you can describe this carnage, you can also build it.

  • Paul Aguilar

    I agree, photoshop filters are your friend but to easy to go from glamor to garish but at least your original is still pristine. I struggle with getting just the right look. I can see it in other photogs work but hard to create and be satisfied in my own.

  • realpigasus

    Yeah! Only expensive stuff should ever touch expensive stuff!

  • superduckz

    I imagine someone out there is now working on a $150 “tupperware” version of this and it will soon be all the rage.

  • Sam

    Well…yeah. That way you don’t have to spend more money, I don’t get why that’s bad.

  • anthonybrown0917

    my Aunty Nevaeh recently got a nearly new silver Mitsubishi Outlander SUV from only workin on a pc at home… read what he said ►►►►►►PORT60.COM

  • Mimi

    I actually discovered a nice trick and took a dreamy photo by accident; basically breathing on your lens to get some steam on them does the job nicely; this is easy to try, only thing the steam won’t last long :) especially in the summer; i did that in December so got a chance to play with it :) but will definitely try this trick too

  • Sophie`

    I’m using a Nikon Coolpix P500 (no removable lens) and when I tried this, the camera kept focusing on the plastic bag, or it didn’t focus on any part of the image. Is there a particular setting that works best, or should I just toy around with it till it works?

  • Eli Bishop

    In some cases, in other cases, it looks exactly like Holga or Diana light leaks.

  • Eli Bishop

    Then you will have a greasy film over your lens. Better use some glass over the glass, aka protection for your protection. On the plus side, you get that nice Vaseline look.

  • Eli Bishop

    Yes, a camera with manual focus.

  • Eli Bishop

    Not to be that guy, but just to save you some possible innuendo embarrassment in social settings, it’s ‘tickle’ your fancy.