With so many affordable SLR and mirrorless ones like the Olympus OM-D, Panasonic and Fuji to name a few, on the market now, everyone is a photographer. The majority are enthusiastic amateurs who love taking images that please themselves and their family and friends. Sometimes though, we all wish we could have all the latest gadgets and accessories to help us take better pictures. Unfortunately, most of the time they are very expensive and might be out of reach of some people.
It’s not always necessary to have the latest gadgets, accessories and twiddly bits and pay huge amounts of money for them. Some accessories can be made relatively cheaply and still do the same job. I’ve listed below some helpful alternatives which may give you a little edge on your friends and family when it comes to taking images.
On-Camera Flash – We’ve all done it! Took a great picture with our little pop-up flash and everyone looks really white!! If your flash is facing the subject this will always happen. There are flashguns we can buy to bounce our light and soften it but if we don’t have one of these and rely on our pop-up flash, being able to soften the light would be very helpful. There are gadgets you can buy to do this like mini diffusers but if you want a quick fix that doesn’t cost a penny, covering the flash with a tissue and holding it on with a rubber band will do as good a job as any!! Alternatively, the end of a tights / popsock with the inevitable rubber band will also do the trick! Try it and see!
Reflectors – These are great for directing light back to the subject and can be a life-saver on a dull day or when you only have a small amount of light. Buying a reflector is one option but you can easily make your own very cheaply. Either use a large piece of rectangular cardboard and paint one side black or buy a piece of black foamboard (from most good art and craft stores) and cover one side in aluminium foil using the not-so-shiny side (it’s not just for cooking!!). Only covering one side will give you a reflector to gain light and a deflector to stop light and they work great!! Now you have a double-sided reflector. Try it and see!
Off-Camera Flash with a Flashgun – If you do have a flashgun for your camera, it’s so liberating to be able to get it off the camera and use it independently to create different lighting. There are lots of accessories for flashguns but sometimes these can be expensive. One way to make a modifier called a snoot for your flashgun is to buy some “blackwrap”. This is essentially black bendable aluminium foil and can be used to make a snoot for your flashgun which will direct the light in a narrow field. It can be used again and again. With a bit more creativity you could make yourself a larger reflector for your flashgun by cutting a large circle from your blackwrap, cut a hole in the middle for your flash to sit through and make a larger beauty-style dish. Now you have a snoot and a beauty dish.
Photography Beanbag – These are sometimes used if you’re out and about and need to rest your camera on something to steady it. Specific photographic ones are also quite expensive but you may already have a perfectly good alternative in your own home. If you have one of those wheatbags that are used for aches and pains (the ones you put in the microwave sometimes to heat up), it will double up as a perfectly good beanbag to steady your camera. Now you have a photographic beanbag.
It doesn’t have to be expensive to enjoy your hobby. Thinking a little outside the box can help you to make all sorts of gadgets, accessories and twiddly bits to help you take better and better pictures. If you’d like to learn more and improve your photography skills, please get in touch. I run regular studio experience sessions, along with beginners sessions covering basic camera techniques. I hope you’ve found this helpful and please feel free to share it with others. Comment, share & enjoy!!
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