10 Wacky Photography Hacks That Work

Most of us are always on the lookout for new, inventive ways to get amazing results with photography. While we all love new gear, sometimes you just can’t justify a $150 fisheye for a one time shot. In cases like this, there’s usually an alternative: photography equipment that you can make yourself.

Usually DIY photography gear is perfectly adequate for temporary use – or for testing out a piece of equipment before you buy. As a bonus, you also get a chance to be creative and come up with your own version of the project; and something cool to post on your blog!

Read on for ten photography gear hacks – see if there are a couple ideas for you to stash in your toolkit.

#1: Instant Macro Lens

Looking for an inexpensive macro lens? You probably have one already. A little known tip is that turning a lens backwards creates high magnification! Of course, there is the issue of the lens not attaching to the camera in the backwards position, but that’s easily solved with a gadget called a “reverse mount adaptor”, sold on Amazon for less than $15 – an inexpensive alternative to a macro lens.

Instant Macro Lens
image by Pelle Sten

Perfect for testing the waters with macro, and finding out whether close up photography is for you. Credit to Josh Johnson for this idea. Check out some of the amazing photos taken using this reverse mounting technique!

#2: DIY Bokeh Kit

You probably know what bokeh is: out of focus points of light that appear as soft, circle shaped blurs in the background, or foreground of shots. While bokeh is usually circular in shape, with a few modifications you can create star shaped bokeh, heart shaped bokeh, or any other shape that you can think up! See how here.

DIY Bokeh Kit

#3: Flash Diffusers

There’s tons of improv that you can use when it comes to the flash. The built-in flash that comes with your camera isn’t ideal for most situation, unless of course you want subjects bathed in bright white light and a “deer in the headlights” look!

Flash Diffuser
image by Jeff Vier

With a few tricks though, you can take your built-in flash from an unused and unloved addition on your camera, to a professionally performing piece of kit. Try bouncing the flash off of a white business card or index card. This allows you to bounce the light off the ceiling while diffusing the light going forward. In situations where you have nothing to bounce the flash off of, try putting a piece of clear tape over the flash. Alternatively, there are tons of DIY projects to create your own diffusers – check out this DIY speedlight diffuser that is made from a plastic flask.

#4: Studio Quality Light From Your Pop-Up Flash

Speaking of flash, if you’re looking for a readymade hack for your camera, check out Flekt – a Kickstarter idea that’s designed to create high-quality light from your humble pop-up flash.


Flekt is a device that attaches to your DSLR camera’s hot-shoe, redirecting the light from your pop-up flash 180 degrees back into whichever attachment is on your system. 650+ Kickstarter backers!

#5: Underwater Photography

While I’ve always loved the idea of underwater photography, I’ve never felt right about putting my DSLR into a makeshift underwater case. But recently I learned that you can use a fish tank as an underwater case. Problem solved. Now I just need a fish tank!

image by Rafae|

This idea is leak proof, just make sure the fish tank is free from leaks, and ensure that you have a very firm grip on the fish tank when you venture into the water. Learn more about the fish tank underwater camera case.

#6: DIY Tilt Shift Lens

Lensbaby lenses are fun! But a bit costly too. While I love my tilt shift lens, there’s nothing wrong with making your own if you don’t want to shell out the cash for one just yet.

Tilt Shift
image by Jose Maria Miñarro Vivancos|

Here’s how you can make your own DIY tilt shift lens using an ordinary optic and a few other components that you may have laying around the house.

#7: Soft Focus Effects

Using unlikely materials is part of the fun when it comes to camera hacks. Did you know that you can create cool soft focus effects using nothing more than a rubber band and a pair of tights? Just cut the tights into a shape that covers the lens and extends down the barrel, then attach using a rubber band.

Soft Focus
image by brx0

#8: Photo Studio Photography – Without a Studio

Here’s a tip from Jim Harmer of Improve Photography. While most of us don’t have a full-fledged photography studio at home, you can take studio-quality photos with minimal setup.

Window Light
image by Νick Perrone

Jim outlines a few different methods that you can use to get studio quality light, one of his tips is as simple as using a large window as a light source. Tack a bed sheet on the wall for a background and take your pictures! It’s that easy.

#9: Full-Body Reflector From Insulation Board

Another tip from Jim Harmer; circular reflectors are inexpensive, and are perfect for reflecting the light back onto your subject, filling in unwanted shadows and highlighting your subject’s face.

Circular Reflector
image by Laurel F

But what if you want a full-body reflector? Those are much more expensive. Improvise by using a large insulation board with reflective silver backing – available at any home improvement store. It’s a simple and inexpensive way to reflect the light back onto your subject.

# 10: DIY Fisheye Lens

Most of us have wanted a fisheye lens at some point. Whether it’s an interest in taking artistic shots, or a moment of sheer impulsiveness, the urge to rush out and buy one of these lenses hits me every so often.

Fish Eye
image by Kain Kalju

But did you know that you can make your own fisheye? Out of a door peephole! Here’s how. While you may want to invest in an actual fisheye eventually if you’re serious about this type of photography, for some of us, fisheye photography is pure curiosity more than anything.

To Conclude

So there you have it – ten ways to hack your photography! The possibilities for creating modifications for your camera extend to the limits of your imagination – or to the ends of the internet, depending where you get your inspiration!

Interested in more DIY hacks? Check out Creating Your Own Photography Gear: 5 Easy Projects. If you have any photography tips to share with us, just post them via Twitter or Facebook, we’d love to hear them!

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