DIY: Photography Hacks

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Inexpensive tricks for creative photo effects

As a full-time photographer, I really enjoy finding inexpensive or alternative tricks to enhance or play around with my photography techniques. It’s fun to keep things feeling new and creative. Sometimes it’s even fun to find out what doesn’t work. Here are three simple photography tricks you can experiment with:

DIY Color Filter

Photo by Lauryn Hottinger
Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

Make your own color filter, or gel, by cutting out a large swath of plastic wrap and coloring a portion of it blue and another portion of it red. Make a small hole in the plastic wrap, in the center of the two colors, and attach it to your lens with an elastic band. The effect: A colorful vignette around the subject. A mini filter can also be created for the camera on your smartphone.

Sidehack: Create different colors at night by attaching the same filter to the pop-up flash on your DSLR.

A Dreamy Look

Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

Apply a tiny bit of petroleum jelly to the outer edge of your UV filter (do NOT apply directly to the camera lens) you can play around with a tilt shift effect or cover the whole thing for a soft dreamy look.

Side hack: You can use this trick on the lens of your iPhone for the same effect.

Even Light

Before. Photo by Lauryn Hottinger
After. Photo by Lauryn Hottinger

This hack is totally free and doesn’t require any filters or tools, aside from what you find in nature. If you’re shooting on a sunny day, you can avoid harsh highlights on your subject often simply by moving them under the shade of the nearest tree. You can see the difference between the harsh sun and shadows in the first photo versus the even light in the second.

Lauryn Hottinger is the visuals editor for Maine Women Magazine.

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