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Shooting Tips

How to Create a Dreamy Image Effect in Your Photographs

By Leujay Cruz on April 3rd 2014


Have you ever wondered how photographers achieve that dreamy image look? Much like everything else with photography, it’s all about light. I’ll explain two ways you can produce the effect. One way is affordable and available on Kickstarter for only 24 hours! The other, is (almost) free!

Fractical Filters

Nikk Wong recently introduced his new product, Fractical Filters, currently available on Kickstarter. This new tool allows you to create stunning effects that are easy to produce. By using one of the 3 filters (although a 4th might be announced depending on the success of the campaign), the images you capture can render a dreamy kaleidoscope look. With interesting patterns and delicious bokeh opportunities, this tool can add an interesting look to your style of photography.

Check out more samples below:


Filter A; f/2, 1/640, iso800


Filter A; f/2.8, 1/50, iso400

Here’s what the final product will look like: fractical-filters The ‘Almost Free’ Option

In our studio here at Lin & Jirsa, one of the partners and fellow SLR Lounge writer and co-founder Christopher Lin uses a Prism. He keeps it in his Pelican case and occasionally holds it in front of his lens to create a similar effect. Personally, I find the technique extremely useful. Besides utilizing it as a special visual effect it can be applied as a tool to isolate your subjects from busy backgrounds.



The Fractal Filters and the Prism technique work because of the manipulation of light. Much like everything in photography controlling the light allows you to shape, bend and transform the viewer’s perspective on a particular image. When light passes through these objects it is refracted, reflected and manipulated in a way that it can produce extraordinary visuals.

During the course of a wedding, there are many objects that are shiny, reflective, and translucent. Take advantage of these objects as shoot-through items. It might be a transparent colored lamp, some crystal-like beads hanging from an ornate setup, water from a fountain or even, a colored beer bottle. Now, I’d like to caution you before asking the bartender for empty alcohol bottles then preceding to walk through the reception to setup your shot. You might catch some awkward looks! If you do, make sure you explain yourself or maybe even show them the final shot to avoid any confusion. It’s happened to me quite a few times in my moments of creative meditation.

Check out some of our shoot-through examples below:


Shooting through the flower arrangement


Using the water falling from a fountain for foreground bokeh


Shooting through crystal beads dangling from a tall centerpiece

If you’re liking this effect make sure to check out Fractical Filters since it will only available for another 24 hours. Or grab the nearest Prism and shoot away!

via Kickstarter / FStoppers

This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links, however, this does not impact accuracy or integrity of our content.

Leujay is a full time wedding photographer with Lin & Jirsa Photography and a freelance runway fashion photographer. He currently lives in Palm Desert with his wife and two dogs. When he’s not enjoying quality family time he fancies himself as a work-in-progress world traveler.

Connect with Leujay on Facebook and follow him on Instagram.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Jay

    These effects are just fads and will be considered so cheesy later.

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    • Hanssie

      Isn’t that how all trends work?

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    • Pye

      Meh, I agree and disagree. I think trends work so long as they work as a part of the composition. I think they look cheesy when it has nothing to do with the image. I.E. a vintage fade over a modern photo of a modern car might look cheesy when the trend of vintage filters goes away. But a tasteful vintage effect over an image with a vintage subject and story would have longevity. But yes, if you were to deliver 500 shots to a client and every one had this effect, it might get a little strange ;)

      What I love about Leujay’s article, and our overall style of doing shoot throughs at weddings is that we are using actual elements at the wedding to do it. We are using their decor, their lighting, their everything to create the shot. So the effect is very much related to the look/styling of the event itself.

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  2. Juha Sompinmäki

    These are great effects. But if you are doing work for a paying customer, make sure they understand your style. This kind of effects are not “undoable” as most customers might think.

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    • Pye

      Great point Juha. I agree. With any of these cool “effects” I think it is important to grab the same shot just as a standard shot, in case it is needed or turns out better.

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    • Leujay Cruz

      Thanks, Juha. I completely agree. I always grab the standard must-have shots first then if there’s opportunity I’ll work at creative shots like these. Thats why I love second shooting and even 3rd shooting. Without the pressure of making sure to snap the must-haves I can think of different ways to approach the situation and thats when the most creative shots are found.

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  3. Tanya Smith

    Great tips! Since I live in the Pacific Northwest and we’re surrounded by pine trees, I often shoot through those for a cool effect. I never even thought of carrying a prism with me or using a drinking glass. Going to have to try that.

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  4. Michelle Ford

    dude! those look sweet! i have the prism. i’m terrible about remembering it. i also use water bottles, glasses, champagne (which i’m always tempted to drink when i’m done) and whatever else i can shoot thru.

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