Using Professional Digital Photography Lighting Gadgets
External Flash Techniques for Your Digital SLR
Using Your Digital Camera’s Fill Flash to Light a Photo

Make Your Own Photo Equipment

When you have a photograph you absolutely have to take, but don’t have all the necessary gear, you can make your own photo equipment that will help you get a great shot.

Create your own reflector

Many photographers carry reflectors with them. A reflector is used to bounce light back into shadow areas when photographing nature objects like flowers. Portrait photographers also use reflectors to bounce light onto backlit subjects.

But what do you do if you don’t have a reflector? Or you do have one, but it’s at home in a closet? Improvise! Here are a couple of things you can use to bounce light into the shadows:

  • A windshield sunshade: These are handy because they’re wide (as wide as the inside of a car windshield) and very reflective. They’re typically silver on one side and gold on the other. Have a friend hold the sunshade and angle it until light bounces into the shadow areas of the object you’re photographing.

    You can direct your friend while you compose the scene through your viewfinder or LCD monitor. Use the silver side to bounce neutral-colored light into the shadows, or use the gold side to bounce warm light into the shadows.

  • A large, white shirt: Ask a friend with a white shirt to move toward your subject, but out of frame. Have him move around until you see the shadows start to brighten.

  • A white sheet or blanket: Have a friend place a white sheet on the ground near your subject in a position where it will bounce light back into the shadows.

Create makeshift equipment

When you break a piece of equipment, need something that isn’t available, or need something that’s available but out of your budget, put your ingenuity to work and create what you need.

When something is needed to carry your Joby GorillaPod, for example, when traveling light, how about a trip to the hardware store? Look through the bins until you find some things you could assemble into a makeshift device to hang the GorillaPod from your smallest camera bag or hang it on a belt loop. See an example in the figure.

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Lens caps are easy to lose when you’re on a photo shoot. If you lose the lens cap for your camera, you can order a new one, but you need something to protect the lens before the new lens cap arrives.

Look through the kitchen cabinets and you might find a spice bottle that has a lid about the right size. Try that, and if it's a tad loose, you might fix the problem by cutting a rubber band and then attaching it to the circumference of the spice jar lid with Super Glue.

If the new one works well, you might use it full time and keep the factory cap in your camera bag for a spare.

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