Buying an illuminated white background for high-key lighting (or to use as a giant softbox) can set you back hundreds of dollars. Fortunately, you can create something similar on the cheap using simple white bedsheets, some PVC pipes, and some lights. Assemble the PVC pipes into a square frame, stretch the bedsheet over the frame, and illuminate the bedsheet from behind. You’ll want to blow out the white area on the street for evenly white lighting. Check out the full build tutorial over on DIYPhotography.
A Light Wall Of Light From Bed Sheets And PVC [DIYPhotography]
P.S. You can also try sticking a bedsheet over a window or doorway to get a sunlit softbox. Thanks Jeremiah!.
Image credit: Photograph by David Dicarlo
If you have some translucent film canisters lying around, you can turn them into DIY glow sticks for light painting photography. Fuse three of them together into one translucent tube, stick a small flashlight into it, wrap it with a colored translucent sheet, and voilà, you have yourself a cheap and simple glow stick. It’s a way to add some thickness to your light painting “brush”.
DIY Glow Sticks From Film Canisters [Lomography]
Photographer Zack Arias has an interesting piece on why he doesn’t think photographers should feel threatened by others who offer their services for absurdly low prices:
Think of the brides out there who don’t have a budget but want some photos of their weddings. Maybe there are young couples getting married who don’t have the parents to pay for a big event or they don’t want to start their young family in debt but they would like someone to come take some pictures. Are you saying that if they can’t afford a $3,000+ photographer then they don’t deserve photos? Are you saying that if they can’t afford a Mercedes then they shouldn’t be allowed to drive? Shame on you. Not everyone can afford pro level prices. That doesn’t mean they can’t have some level of photographic services available to them.
[...] I’ve laid this all out to make the point that cheap photography has its place. It has its place for clients who can’t afford much and it has its place for photographers trying to build something from nothing. It’s part of becoming a full time working photographer in an age when so many want to become a photographer.
Cheap Photographers Only Kill Themselves, Not The Industry [Zack Arias]
Videographer Joel Loukus created a continuous ring light source — which he calls the “WreathLight” — using a wreath frame and two strings of Christmas lights. The total cost came out to $24. It’s a cheap and easy way of adding some soft lighting to your portraits.
Bits of Everything has a great tutorial on how you can make a large and beautiful picture collage for your wall on the cheap: the entire project costs less than $20. Mod Podge glue, which dries clear, is painted over the entire thing to give board a matte finish. This could definitely make for a fun and photographic weekend project.
Wall Picture Collage [Bits of Everything]
Deal alert: you can buy a 16GB Kingston 266x CompactFlash card over at Buy.com for just $23 with shipping included. Just for comparison, these cards are listed for $33 everywhere else. Not sure how long this deal is good for.
Kingston 16GB Ultimate CompactFlash Card (via Photography Bay)
Update: Reader Benjamin Watson points out that the deal involves a mail-in rebate, and that your checkout price will be $33.
If you have a GoPro or any other compact camera with a constantly exposed lens, you can protect the lens from scratches when it’s not in use by making a cheap DIY lens cap out of a ping pong ball and a rubber band.
Protection for GoPro Camera Lens [Instructables]
Buying large frames for displaying your prints can be expensive. For those of you who are rich in time but short on money, Oh Happy Day has an awesome tutorial on how you can create nice-looking picture frames for just $5. The main ingredients are plexiglass, mat board, cardboard, and paper tape. Buying all the supplies will set you back around $50, but you should have enough material for around 10 frames.
DIY Make Your Own Picture Frame (via Lifehacker)
Some photographers prefer using ordinary bags with padded inserts to carry their camera gear, both for aesthetic reason and to prevent theft. Instead of buying an insert, you can also make a custom one with some foam, fabric, and velcro. Abi over at vanilla & lace made one to turn her purse into a camera bag after finding that purse-style camera bags can cost up to $300. She also wrote up a helpful tutorial on how you can do the same.
DIY camera purse/bag [vanilla & lace]
Want a DSLR viewfinder but don’t want to pay big bucks for a professional one? Photojojo has a tutorial on how you can build your own DIY version using a lens from a pair of magnifying reading glasses and some plastic/foam board. It’ll definitely draw some weird looks but hey, it works!
How to Make Your Own DSLR Viewfinder [Photojojo]