Taking good photos doesn’t only require a certain degree of know-how, but also requires a bit of money for equipment and other accessories. In order to take brilliant photos, however, you don’t necessarily need steeply priced professional camera equipment. Besides the typical DIY camera equipment like a flash diffusor made from paper or a reflector made from aluminium foil, there is a range of other equipment that you can make yourself in order to save some dough.
We’ll show you 5 photo hacks with which you’ll be able to simply and cost-effectively make your own professional equipment to take brilliant photos.
Photo Hack 1: Create a vignette using Vaseline on the borders to enhance the blur
Using a vignette will create a nice retro effect for your photo. A vignette was originally considered an unwanted effect in a photo since it appeared when the lens was unable to illuminate the entire negative in low lighting conditions. These kinds of photos become blurrier and darker towards the edges.
This effect mostly appears in older photos. These days, photographers purposefully use a vignette to achieve a retro look similar to these older photos. Many photo-editing programs make it possible to add a vignette effect to the photo later, but this effect looks much better if it’s created while photographing.
You’ll just need to pick up a few simple materials from a craft or chemist’s shop: a piece of Plexiglas, a circle cutter, and some Vaseline or some other kind of petroleum jelly. Then, using the circle cutter cut out a circle in the Plexiglas that has at least the same diameter of the lens. After that use your finger to smear some Vaseline around the edges of the glass and affix the glass plate to the camera. Using masking tape is recommended to provide an optimal grip and is easy to remove. After all of this you’re ready to take photos with a brilliant retro effect around the edges of the photo. A good alternative to Plexiglas is an older UV filter that you can simply attach to the front of the lens.
Photo Hack 2: Create your own bokeh aperture
In photography, a bokeh effect is created when blurry circles appear due to adjusting the sharpness level and when focusing on an object to make the background appear blurry. The bokeh effect is usually specifically used as a special effect when photographing collections of light or to create blurry cityscapes. This effect can also be created by separating the object from its background.
With a self-made bokeh aperture, you can create blurry circles in the form of a flower, heart, or star and give your photos a special touch.
First you’ll need to cut out a circle from a piece of cardboard. Using a circle cutter can make this task easier. With the help of a stencil, such as those found in craft stores, or a special pair of scissors you can cut a special shape out of the circle. Now just attach your self-made bokeh aperture to the camera with masking tape and you’re ready to go!
Photo Hack 3: DIY filters for your camera
In order to give pictures a special mood or to create a special effect, it’s very popular amongst photographers to employ the use of various kinds of filters. There are all kinds of filters available for different cameras that make it possible to create special effects in your photos. But for those of you who are unsure if it’s really worth the money to invest in a professional-grade filter, it’s possible to create your own filter using some craft supplies and putting in a little effort. To create photos with eye-catching colour effects you only need a transparency and a couple of waterproof pens with which you can make your own designs. You can affix the transparency to your camera easily with a rubber band. Even if you don’t draw anything, just the transparency itself can be used to create photos that appear a bit blurry or with slightly distorted sections.
Photo Hack 4: Using a beanbag as a tripod
Not everyone has a steady hand to ensure taking photos free of camera shake. Using a tripod can be very helpful in order to make sure the camera doesn’t move while shooting. However, just as with other photography accessories, these can be quite expensive and large tripods take up a lot of space in your bag. You can use a beanbag as a special kind of camera stand to replace a tripod in places where a normal camera stand might not fit or places with uneven surfaces, such as on hand railings, on windowsills, or in front of windshields. This practical and portable accessory is available in various shapes, sizes, and colours and has a wide price range.
The simplest and quickest way to create your own beanbag is to take a sealable freezer bag and fill it with dried beans, sand, or something similar. The appropriate size of the beanbag will of course depend on the size of your camera as well as the surface on which you’ll be placing it. It’s also possible to have a little fun crafting your own beanbag out of fabric or leather by following some guides available on the internet.
Photo Hack 5: Using a DSLR as a pinhole camera
Similar to the first photo hack, you can use a pinhole lens to give your photos a retro effect that is sure to catch people’s attention. When doing this, a darker and round border is created around the object being photographed, a vignette. Due to this effect, the viewer’s attention is automatically caught by the central motif while the background appears slightly blurry and dark. Pinhole cameras are normally made out of cardboard or some kind of wooden housing. There are, of course, special pinhole lenses available on the market. However, since you can also make your own pinhole lens with a bit of elbow grease, why not save some money and stay on budget?
In order to create a pinhole camera effect, there’s a simple trick you can use with your DSLR camera: simply use your camera’s lens cap. First you’ll need to drill out a small hole in the middle of the cap. The hole in a manufactured pinhole lens has a diameter similar to that of a needle. Thus, you’ll need to cover up the hole with a piece of aluminium foil or the thin base of a tee light and then puncture it with a needle. Just affix your self-made pinhole lens to your camera and off you go!