9 Weird Photography Tricks That Actually Work!

1. NO TRIPOD?  USE A LAMP!

Want to take a group photo but don’t have a place to set the camera?  Just whip the lamp shade off a lamp and screw your camera onto the lampshade-holder.

The thread size of the bolt on a lamp shade is exactly the same size as the filter thread used on tripods, so your camera will easily attach.

Not only will your party and indoor pictures look better, but you’ll look like MacGyver in front of the group.  Not bad.  This tip doesn’t come in handy every day, but you’ll like the coolest photography nerd on the planet when the situation arises.

2. HOTSHOE PEZ DISPENSER FOR KIDS

Shooting photos of kids can be quite the feat.  It seems like they are interested in looking at everything BUT the camera.  I have two kids of my own, and I know that the only way to get them to smile and look at the camera is with a good bribe.

The perfect solution is to buy a simple PEZ dispenser on the hotshoe of your camera!  The base of the PEZ dispenser is a tiny bit wider than a standard hotshoe, so you’ll have to trim it just slightly with a kitchen knife before the shoot.

Then, when the kids are being good and looking at the PEZ dispenser, you can have them come up and grab a little candy periodically during the shoot.  It’s pure genius.

3. DAY TO NIGHT IN A FLASH

Sometimes you’re out shooting  portraits on a bright sunny day and the light just looks too… natural.  I often find this is the case when shooting a wedding or engagement when I’m shooting at a park or other outdoor location and I get bored with the same lighting in every shot.

One trick that I really enjoy is to turn up the power on my flash to the max.  This will, obviously, make the subject extremely bright.  If you change your camera settings to expose for the subject, it will make the background look extremely dark because the flash didn’t hit it.

This makes it look like it’s night time even if it’s the middle of the day.

4. REMOVE THE LENS FOR MACRO

This is the coolest camera trick I’ve seen in a long time.  If you take off your lens and hold it in front of the camera, you get a macro lens!  I was really skeptical about this, but I just tried it and it worked like a charm.

There are four things you need to know about using this trick: (1) Your camera won’t take a picture with the lens off unless you’re in manual mode.  (2) The best focal length seems to be around 50mm, so either a 50mm prime or an 18-55mm kit lens would be perfect! (3) Obviously, you lose autofocus since your lens isn’t attached to the camera.  Focus is achieved by simply moving closer to or further away from the subject, and (4) The camera can’t open up the aperture, so you’ll do it with your hand.  On the back of the lens (the side you mount on the camera), move the little plastic slider piece that controls the aperture.  If you look in the lens while doing it, you’ll see the hole open up.

If you want to take this a step further, you can buy a reverse lens mount for $5 or $10 which should sharpen up the images quite a bit since it will hold the lens more solidly.  Also, be sure to use a tripod when doing this or any other macro photography.  With such fine detail, even a tiny movement can destroy the sharpness.

5. DELETE TOURISTS FROM TRAVEL PHOTOS

This is an awesome trick for travel photographers.  Sometimes you’re at an amazing location, but there are people in the way of your shot.  If you want to take a picture of a landmark and people are in your shot, you will likely spend the rest of your adult life cloning people out of the shot unless you try this technique.

Step 1: Set your camera on a tripod.

Step 2: Take a picture about every 10 seconds until you have about 15 shots, depending on how fast people are walking around.

Step 3: Open all the images in Photoshop by going to File > Scripts > Statistics.   Choose “median” and select the files you took.

Step 4: Bam!  Photoshop finds what is different in the photos and simply removes it!  Since the people moved around, it fills the area where someone was standing with part of another photo where no one was there.

UPDATE: The “statistics” script mentioned here is only available in Photoshop Extended or in the Creative Cloud version of Photoshop; however, as someone mentioned in the comments, you can get a somewhat similar effect in recent versions of Photoshop Elements by going to Enhance > Photomerge > Scene Cleaner.

6. SHAPED BOKEH OUT OF PAPER

We all love to see beautiful bokeh in the background of our photos, but what you may not know is there is a really simple way that you can change the shape of the light bursts in your bokeh.

All you have to do is cut out a piece of black paper the size of the front element on your lens.  Then, use a sharp kitchen knife or razor blade to cut a shape on in the middle of the paper.  The shape should be slightly larger than a thumbnail or about the size of a U.S. nickel.

Keep in mind that you’ll only see this effect work if you are shooting with a large aperture, so a 50mm f/1.8 would be a great choice for this project.  If you’re shooting at f/5.6 on a kit lens, you likely won’t see the effect at all.

7. REFLECTOR AS STUDIO BACKDROP

Sometimes when I’m shooting outdoor portraits, I see a pose or an expression for the model that makes me wish we were in the studio so I could photograph them on a white background.  Sometimes a white background is the best way to focus all attention in the photo on the model, and it gives the photo a bright and clean look.  When I’m in this situation, I often grab a simple $25 reflector and use it as a studio backdrop on the spot!

The trick for making this technique work is to use positive exposure compensation.  The camera will try and dim down the white background to a dull gray because it thinks the white is overexposed.  About 1 stop of exposure compensation will make the reflector background look bright white.

8. CAMERA STRAP GND FILTER

This is my all-time favorite landscape photography tip because I use it all the time and most people have never heard it before.  When shooting landscapes, the sky is often much brighter than the rest of the landscape so you need something to darken down just that top part of the photo.  A graduated neutral density filter does exactly that.

A GND filter is a piece of glass that is darkened at the top and which gradually tapers off to clear.  The photographer simply holds this filter in front of the lens to cover the sky and it darkens the sky without affecting the landscape underneath.

Call me forgetful, but I often forget to bring my GND filter with me when I’m shooting landscapes, and it can ruin the shoot if I can’t darken down the sky to balance the exposure.  One trick I’ve learned is that you can simply use anything dark (a black piece of paper, a camera strap, etc) to hold in front of the lens for part of the exposure and the same thing is accomplished.

This makes it so the top half of the picture only sees light for half of the time, so it is much darker.  And no, you won’t see the camera strap in the photo since it’s black.

9.  INSULATION REFLECTOR BOARD

I debated whether or not this counts as a “camera trick” or if it’s really just a super-awesome reflector that costs basically nothing.  Call it what you will, but it works so well that I have to share this tip.

Circular reflectors are excellent for improving the lighting in your outdoor portraits.  By holding them to reflect the sun’s light, you can fill in shadows and put beautiful highlights on the face of the person you’re shooting.  However, most circular reflectors only work for a head-and-shoulders shot and only for one person.  You can purchase a large full-body reflector, but they usually cost around $70.

One trick I learned from a photographer who shoots celebrities is to simply purchase insulation board for $5 and then cover the back and edges with white duct tape.  You’ll find insulation board with reflective silver backing at any home improvement store.  It comes in several sizes.  I chose one that is 4 feet (1.2 meters) in height.

This simple solution gives you a very large reflector that is lightweight, and you can use one side to reflect silver and the other side to reflect white.

Thanks to ImprovePhotography for the tips.

How To Type Accents On a Mac

If you ever need to add text to your photos or are writing a document and need to type an Accent, here’s how easy it is to do on your Mac.

 

  • Press and hold on the letter you wish to accent, continue holding the letter until a menu with character accents are displayed.
  • Choose the character accent with the mouse, or press the number corresponding below the accent in the menu.

You can leave the accent menu on the Mac keyboard by hitting the “ESCAPE” key.

Typing Diacritical Marks and Accents

ó – Acute: Hold down OPTION key and then press “e”, then type the letter you want to accent, like é

ò – Grave: Hold down OPTION key and then press “`”, then type the letter to accent, like ù

ô – Circumflex: Hold down OPTION key and then press “i”, then press the letter, like ô

ñ – Hold down OPTION key and then press “n”, then type the letter, like ñ

ö – Trema: Hold down OPTION key and then press “u”, then type the letter, like ë

ç – Cedilla: Hold down OPTION key and then press “c”, like ç or Ç

ø – Hold down OPTION key and then press “o”, like ø or Ø

å Å – Hold down OPTION key and then press “a”, like å or Å

Æ – AE Ligature: Hold down OPTION key and then press “‘” like æ Æ

œ – OE Ligature: Hold down OPTION key and then press “q”, like œ or Œ

¿ – Hold down OPTION key and SHIFT key and then press “?” like ¿

¡ – Hold down OPTION key and then press “1”, like ¡ 

Four of the best casual photography and filter apps for iPhone

If you’re a seasoned iPhone pro, or a new user, the vast amount of simple photography apps can be staggering — we pick out four cheap or free ones for you to try.

Camera+

We’re not going to blow the lid off of any secret App Store finds with this first one, but we couldn’t start off a camera app list without mentioning Camera+, which is currently on version 9 and has been downloaded over 10 million times.

Camera+ is pretty much the gold standard when it comes to third party iPhone cameras. While your iPhone will never replace a DSLR, Camera+ does emulate some of those high-end camera features.

Anyone who owns an iPhone 6s or higher can shoot in RAW, and all iPhone users have the ability to change exposure, utilize an image stabilizer, change the shutter speed, and easily focus the image with the touch of a finger. It is absolutely geared toward the beginner, but has enough features jammed into it that more seasoned photographers will love it as well.

Even the post-production editing suite feels quite a bit like specialty photo editing software, which isn’t something that most apps can say.

Camera+ is a $2.99 app, which we think is more than fair for something that has basically set the standard in third party iPhone photography apps.

Hipstamatic

Hipstamatic used to be one of the most popular iPhone camera apps, but fell out of favour sometime around iPhone 4s. Somewhere along the line, the developers of the app have given Hipstamatic a complete overhaul to make the app better than ever.

If you’ve never used Hipstamatic, it’s a bit different as far as camera apps go. Unlike a traditional filter app where you add after you take the picture, Hipstamatic allows you to pick films, lenses, and flashes and layer them together before the picture is taken.

Hipstamatic is designed to emulate the feeling of using a traditional camera with specialty lenses and films. However, the apps more modern incarnations actually let you change the filters in case you’re not a big fan of the result.

The filters are expertly curated and paired together as film and lens in “HipstaPacks,” usually centered around some sort of classic vintage film and camera combo. And, in the new Pro mode, you’ve got the ability to set shutter speed, shoot multi-exposed photos, and there’s a full darkroom suite to edit the images before you share them with others.

If you didn’t get it in its heyday, there’s a price to be paid for Hipstamatic, though, and if you’re not the type to spend money on a camera app, you might want to pass on it. Hipstamatic itself is $2.99, but HipstaPacks range anywhere from $0.99 to $4.99, but many include a large amount of filters for the money you spend.

Darkr

Darkr is designed to emulate black and white large format cameras, the first wave of “modern” cameras that were popular up until the 1950s. Our first few times using Darkr, we wound up with wildly out-of-focus images, images that were overexposed, underexposed, and framed very poorly.

However, with practice, we found that Darkr actually taught us how to frame pictures better, how to compose shots that we might have not thought of otherwise. You’ll snap images with one of three cameras, either a point-and-shoot, a simple manual camera, or a traditional old, large-format camera which shoots pictures “upside-down.”

All three cameras in the app have their own pros and cons, but we think that there’s certainly good reason to use the large format camera when learning how to use Darkr. Darkr also allows you to tone images, change exposure, and manually burn and dodge parts in a simple post-production part of the app referred to as the Darkroom.

If you’re having trouble using the app, developers have included some tutorials that can have you straightened out in no time.

We feel like we need to stress this: Darkr isn’t for everyone, but for those who want to experience something similar to an old large format camera, Darkr’s worth grabbing. We highly suggest that you grab the $2.99 pro package, which unlocks all cameras, the option to work in layers, and the ability to tone the images as well.

April

While April isn’t a camera app per se, it is a good choice for anyone who likes quickly editing and composing pictures they’ve taken with their iPhone. Collage maker April is an incredibly simple app, stark and minimalist, but presents many different layouts for anywhere from one to nine images.

April is split into two separate sections, a standard collage section and a section that is designed to make photos feel more like graphic design pieces or promotional posters. We appreciate the layouts that both sides give, though we’re more inclined to recommend using the graphic design based layouts.

As with the rest of the photo apps we’ve mentioned, April also has a collection of filters that can help edit pictures at the last minute in case something isn’t quite working out.

April isn’t an app you’d use to take pictures, but if you get the urge to shoot images in a series and would like to share them as one image file, this is the app you should be using. April is free, so there’s no reason you shouldn’t snag this one as soon as you can.