Here are 9 simple DIY photography hacks
Everybody loves quick tips and in this video, we bring you nine of our favourites. They’re all pretty straightforward and even beginners shouldn’t have a problem giving these a go. While they might be simple they can offer some great effects.
Fake water drops
Portraits behind wet rainy glass always look cool. But it’s easy to fake a wet rainy window in a more controlled environment like a studio. Just hang up a sheet of clear acrylic, plexiglass, or even actual glass, and then mist it with a spray bottle. Once it’s covered, just wipe out a small clear spot so that the camera can see your subject.
Fairy lights, especially multicoloured ones, can add some nice vibrance to your images. It’s quite common to put them behind your subject to create some nice bokeh, but bringing them in front of your subject, close to the lens, can add some great depth to your images.
Flare is often an unwanted side effect of using flash, especially when it’s pointed straight towards your camera. But sometimes you want that lens flare. On a dull day, just grab a speedlight, pop a gel over the end, position it just out of shot and point it towards the lens. You’ll want to remove the lens hood for best results. If you’re not quite getting the flare you want, try putting a UV filter over the lens and spraying that to increase the effect.
Sometimes, when shooting on location, the ground isn’t always that pleasing. Use your phone like a mirror at the bottom of your lens to get a nice streaky vertical reflection.
Gobos and Cookies (Cucoloris) are common for helping you project patterns with light. If you want to go for a more commercial solution that offers a lot of possibilities, check out the Light Blaster. But if you’re just starting out and want to have a play, a pasta strainer between your light and your subject can produce some cool patterns and shadows on your subject.
Free lensing can be a difficult trick to master, but it can also offer some very unexpected but cool results. simply detach your lens from its mount and hold it in front of your camera. As you reposition the lens, you’ll see the plane of focus shifting in your viewfinder. When you get something you like, hit the shutter. Do be careful to not do this in dusty environments or where there’s a lot of water spraying up, though.
Trees can make for a fantastic backdrop to surround your subject. Going wide lets you get a lot of negative space to frame your subject, but getting close really lets you focus on your subject without a distracting background. You can find trees and bushes that your subject can back into all over the place, and you’d be amazed at the kinds of places this opens up as potential shooting locations. This was a pretty common tactic used in the Hobby Lobby shoot craze earlier in the year.
This is a fairly simple trick which involves holding small leaves up in front of your lens and letting them go out of focus. Like the fairy lights trick above, this can add some depth to your shot, with foreground elements partially obscuring your view of the subject. It can add a slight voyeuristic or documentary look to your images.
Also like the fairy lights, fireworks can add a lot of colour to your images, but also a lot of random patterns. Having them in the foreground can again add depth, and as they’re essentially super bright light sources, they can help to throw some interesting light on your subject. Even sparklers can be dangerous, though, so be sure to follow the usual safety procedures.
huge kudos for Tom Saimon for making this video.
John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.