11 Cheap And Fast Photography Hacks To Give Your Images Amazing Effects


Hacking gets a bad name. This is mainly because we keep hearing about our personal details being exposed in website hacks. But hacking is a much broader term and in photography, it used to mean a way of creating an effect using cheap household items.

While the quality may not always match that of a manufacturer item, hacks are fun to try and easy to make. Today we are going to give you 11 simple photographic hacks. 

1. Soft Filter.

This trick has been around for a long long time and is very effective. The easiest way to create it is to take an old skylight or UV filter that you no longer use.

You then carefully apply a thin coating of vaseline around the edges of the filter, leaving a small clear section in the centre. You can vary the effect according to the thickness of the vaseline.

Get the soft dreamy look with a smear of vaseline. By Anne Worner

2. Instant Soft Box

This tip is great for shooting indoor still life. Set your subject up beside a large bright window. Take a large piece of plain white paper and tape it to the window beside your subject. Shoot towards the paper and use a little fill-in flash if required. Your subject will now be softly lit with a plain white background. See more on this over at TechRadar

3. Instant Macro

This incredibly simple tip might just get you out of a hole if you need a macro shot and have no access to a macro lens.

Quite simply you hold your lens in reverse against the mount. Its easier to do with simple prime lenses and you will lose focus and aperture capabilities. However, you can focus by moving in and out and compensate the lack of aperture by adjusting shutter speed. You may need to set your camera to shoot without lens via the menu for this tip to work. 

Go macro by handholding the lens backwards. By NeilsPhotography

4. DIY Flash Diffuser

Another very simple hack is to create a flash diffuser from a plastic bottle or an old film canister if you have one lying around. Translucent Fuji film canisters work well on inbuilt camera flashes. To do this cut a slot in the canister to match the width of the camera’s flash and place it over the top.

For larger flashguns, you can cut a matching section of white plastic from something like a milk bottle. Then place it over the flash and secure with elastic bands

5. The Pantyhose Filter

Another way to achieve a soft dreamy effect to your images is to use pantyhose or tights as a filter. To create this, you simply cut an area large enough to cover the lens and part of the body, then stretch it over that lens and secure with an elastic band. You can vary the effect by using different types of denier

6. Pin Hole Body Cap

The quick and simple route to pinhole photography is to use a camera body cap. You will need to drill a small hole in the dead centre of the cap making sure to clear away all the debris. Then cut a square of aluminium foil to fit inside the body cap and tape it securely to the inside. From the front of the body cap,  push through a sewing needle to create the actual pinhole. 

Create a pinhole camera from a spare body cap. By George Redgrave

7. Tin Foil Bokeh

If you are looking for a nice Bokeh effect to your indoor images this hack is for you. To create it take a square of tin/aluminium foil and scrunch it up. Then on a flat surface carefully flatten it out making sure not to make it too smooth. Then place it around 6-8ft behind your subject and shoot with a wide aperture. 

A dreamy Bokeh effect using nothing but tin foil. By N Adey Photography

8. Sifter On Flash

This very simple portrait lighting hack involves using a sieve or sifter over the front of your flashgun to create an interesting shadow over your models face.

9. The String Tripod

If you do not want to carry a tripod with you all day, this simple technique will allow you to shoot at slower shutter speeds than normal. You will need a 1/4 bolt or hook screwed into your tripod socket and a several of meters of strong nylon string. You tie both ends of the string securely to the bolt or hook. To use the string tripod you create a triangle by placing the string under one or both of your feet and then tensioning the camera against it.

10. Hanging Camera Bag

If your tripod is not up to the job or the wind is causing stability problems this is a simple hack. Put a 1/4in hook at the lower end of the tripod centre column and then hang your camera bag from it. You have instantly added weight and stability to your tripod. 

Hang that heavy bag under the tripod for extra stability. By Mike Baird

11. Simple Bounce Flash

On-camera flashes are known to produce harsh unforgiving light. This simple hack will allow you to bounce the flash from the ceiling and get a softer more diffused light. All you need is a small piece of stiff white card and a pair of scissors. Cut two slots into the card at the point where the flashes hinges are. Then attach the card to the flash hinges at an angle of 45 degrees.

The photography hacks are simple and fun ideas to help you create more interesting shots. They might not always give you professional results but they can improve your creativity or get you out of a hole when you are missing a piece of equipment.

Let us know in the comments, your own favourite hacks. 

About Author

Jason has more than 35 years of experience as a professional photographer, videographer and stock shooter. You can get to know him better here.

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