10 Money Saving Tips
- Tue, 7 Oct 2008
1 Make your own soft focus filter
Soft-focus filters can be used to create old-fashioned, romantic portraits, dreamy landscapes and so forth. Make your own by smearing a small amount of Vaseline onto an old skylight filter. Use a tiny blob to begin with and increase the amount to increase the softness. Leaving a clear spot in the centre will produce a blurred vignette effect while the centre of the image stays sharp. Alternatively, for a variety of soft-focus effects experiment with cling film, sweet wrappers and, of course the classic black stocking – as used by celebrity portrait photographers of yore.
2 Make your own beanbag
Stitch two small bits of cloth together and fill it with dried beans, lentils, polystyrene balls, marbles, pea shingle or whatever you can find. Seal it up (if you’re really good with a needle and thread, you can even put in a zip!) to produce your very own pocket beanbag. These make excellent, versatile portable camera supports. Position it on a flat surface such as a wall or your car bonnet and put the camera on top. The beanbag will mould around the camera, providing stable support for exposures up to several seconds. If needlecraft isn’t your thing try a soft zip-up pencil case, or nick one off your kids.
3 Rechargeable batteries
Why do some people still buy disposable AA batteries when rechargeables work out so much cheaper and are so much better for the environment? Even if your camera doesn’t use AA’s (some still do) your flashgun certainly will, and various other devices use them too.
Switching to rechargeables will save you a fortune in the long run, and the latest generation are better than ever. Some, such as Uniross’s Hyperio range, even come fully charged so you can use them straight away.
4 Make your own reflector...
Tape some foil to a piece of card, and your home studio has an instant reflector. If it’s too harsh, scrunching the foil and flattening it back will soften the reflected light. Alternatively, white card or a white table cloth or bed sheet makes a good soft reflector, and black card or fabric can be used to cast shadows back onto the subject.
....And make your own flash diffuser
Make your own flash diffuser with nothing more than a light tissue over the flash head. Or tilt the bounce head upwards and tape a piece of white card behind it (like a scoop) to create a bounce diffuser. If you’re a milk drinker those translucent plastic cartons can be adapted to make a great softbox. Cut a small aperture in the top just big enough to insert the head into. Point the head directly forward or tilt it up (though you may want to put some foil or white card on the back to stop light spilling out the back).
5 Use free software
The latest editing software offers amazing features but it’s surprising what you can do with the many free applications that you can download on the web. Software such as Google Picasa, Kodak EasyShare, Gimp, IrfanView and Serif PhotoPlus 6 enable you to perform most of the essential image enhancements and often much more besides. Google them today!