Photographer Allen Mowery has a step-by-step tutorial on how to build a useful DIY flash mounting accessory using a ratcheting hand clamp and standard 1/4-inch threaded screw. It’s a cheap DIY version of the Super Clamp or Nasty Clamp, and can help you place your flash in places that are inaccessible to light stands or traditional equipment.
Photography enthusiast Kris Robinson used to handhold a flash above his subjects for macro photographs, but then he got tired of doing that and ran out of hands. He then came up with the brilliant idea of making a do-it-yourself contraption that attaches to his flash when it’s mounted to the hotshoe. The light travels down a tube lined with reflective aluminum tape, and is bounced downward onto the subject through a diffused lightbox. For a couple sample shots, see here and here.
P.S. Robinson also offers a tip for shooting macro photos of insects: if you place them into your freezer for a minute or two, they’ll sit nice and still for a while before warming up and scurrying away.
Image credit: IMG_0495 by Kris Robinson and used with permission
Want to shoot professional-looking shots of smaller objects. You can build your own tabletop studio using a collapsible clothes hamper, a white plastic sheet (e.g. a table cover), and a sheet of white posterboard. Stick the posterboard inside the hamper for your infinite white backdrop, and then use the plastic sheets on the sides to diffuse your light. Total cost? Less than 10 bucks!
Want to improve the quality of the photos captured using your DSLR’s popup flash? Tina (AKA synthetic_meat) discovered that the cardboard box that came with a particular brand of chocolate had a nice silver lining on the inside — perfect for making a mirrored bounce reflector! After some cutting, scoring, and folding, she came up with a DIY Lightscoop clone that lets you bounce your onboard flash off the ceiling or wall for softer and more appealing images. You can download the free template to make your own in both A4 and Letter formats. Read more…
If you have an old mount for attaching a GPS or cell phone to your windshield, you can upcycle it into a suction cup tripod for your camera (just make sure it’s not the flimsy kind that falls off on its own). What you’ll need to do is flatten the mount surface and then install a tripod screw. Nano_Burger has a step-by-step tutorial on how he did this conversion over on Instructables. The resulting tripod allows you to fix your camera in locations that aren’t accessible to tripods that don’t suck (hah, get it?).
Heavier tripods are generally more stable than lighter ones — wind doesn’t affect them as much — but hauling them around can be a pain. Instructables user Andrew Axley came up with the brilliant idea of making his simple tripod more stable by adding his own weight hook. The tripod is light when not in use and when you need extra stability you simply hang your camera bag onto the hook. All you need to do is figure out a way to attach a hook securely at the center — Axley chose to drill a hole through the side of the center column and attach an S-hook using a bolt and nut.
You can make yourself a quick and simple snoot by cutting off the upper portion of a soda bottle and covering it with gaffer tape. While it’s definitely not the most elegant solution, it’s a cheap way to isolate your subject when shooting with a flash unit.
If you’re in the market for a new digital camera this year, buying it in January or February might get you the best deal. Lifehacker has published a comprehensive list of when to buy things based on when you’re most likely to see low prices:
January: After the big trade shows like CES come around in mid-January, you’ll see that older model cameras drop in price to prepare for the newly-announced ones.
February: Since the newest cameras will have just come out post-CES, you can grab last year’s models for less.