It often takes only a bit of creativity and some household items to make something awesome for your photo or video work. After all, that’s what probably brought you to this blog in the first place, right? In this video, Kyle and Jamie of Field of View and Michael Lohrum of DIYCameraGuy team up to bring you 11 simple DIY tricks you can do to improve your photos and videos.
You already have most of these items and home, and if you don’t: they’re cheap and easy to find. So, it’s practically effortless to pull these tricks off, yet you can achieve some pretty creative effects. Take a look.
Although the guys focus mainly on the video, most of these tricks are perfectly applicable to photography, too. You may have already tried some of them, but you’ll still definitely discover a few new ones as well.
If you have switched from paper books to a Kindle, you may have a little LED book light collecting dust somewhere. Well, you can repurpose it: just snap it onto the camera rig to illuminate follow focus marks.
You can place a good ol’ lighter in front of your lens to get some interesting flares or a film burning effect. Be careful, however, not to bring the lighter too close to the lens!
3. Aluminum foil
Aluminum foil is quite versatile material for photographers and filmmakers. For example, it makes a great reflector. Actually, the very first DIY reflector I made was from aluminum foil. It was utterly improvised, but it did the trick. The aluminum foil can also make a great DIY cookie, just poke holes in it the way you need them.
Your smartphone can fit plenty of apps that make your filmmaking or photography easier. But this time we’re not talking about apps, but the camera. Filmmakers, use your phone camera for continuity in the scene: take a photo so you can make sure that everything is in the same place for the subsequent take.
Also, before you do the setup, take a picture of your location. This way you can leave it the way you found it when the shooting is done.
This is an old trick you’ve most likely already used, or at least heard about: smudge some ChapStick or Vaseline on your lens to get a soft, dreamy effect. I’d like to add something though: don’t apply it directly to the lens, but on a UV filter.
6. Trash bags
Trash bags are definitely something to always have with you when you go out shooting. Michael of DIYCameraGuy advises you to always keep a couple of construction trash bags with your camera gear. Place one of these on the ground so you don’t get all dirty when you get down to capture low-angle shots. They also come in handy if you and your gear get caught up in the rain.
Other than these black plastic bags, have a few of the white ones with you, too – they can do the trick as DIY diffusion.
7. Shower curtains
Shower curtain is also pretty versatile. First of all, they can make a great diffusion. Just like a plastic bag, a shower curtain can do as the tarp if you need to get down on the ground.
8. Bags of rice
A simple bag of rice can do the trick for getting low-angle shots. Just put the rice in a Ziploc bag, put the bag on the ground and it will hold your camera in place. Michael notes that rice works best, but you can do this with lentils, beans or anything similar, really. And if you also bring a DIY low-angle frying pan – perhaps you can improvise dinner after the shoot, too.
9. A screwdriver trick
Another way to get low-angle shots is with a screwdriver and a Gear Tie. Note that it works with smaller cameras or smartphones, it won’t hold your DSRL. The build is simple: tie the camera to the screwdriver using a Gear Tie, poke the screwdriver into the ground, and take your low-angle shots as much as you like.
10. 1/4 20 bolt
A 1/4 20 bolt with its head cut off can be quite versatile. Place it into a tripod ball head with a camera holder. This way, you can mount it onto a camera stand or wherever you need it. Also, you can jam it in the ground like in the previous screwdriver trick.
Yet another method for low-angle shots is by using a piece of plywood. Simply drill a hole in it and mount your tripod head on there. Attach your camera, place it on the ground, and add one of those rice bags or your camera bag to the other end. You can also strap it to something to get top-down shots.
Other than turning your piece of plywood into a camera stand, it can also be used as a light stand. Michael explains more about it here, and this simple build lets you place the light practically anywhere.
I like videos like this because they serve as a great inspiration for cheap and simple DIY projects. Most of us have these items at home. Furthermore, we even bring some of them along when we go out shooting, so we can improvise on the spot.
Personally, I always have some plastic bags with me when I’m out shooting, plus I always keep a lip balm and a lighter in my purse (although I don’t use them for photography). Not to mention that I have all of the other items from ths video at home at all times. What are the everyday items you always have around, and how do you use them for photography? Any tricks you’d like to share?
[11 More DIY Production Hacks – Film Tips & Tricks feat. DIYCameraGuy! | Field of View]