Low Budget Photo Tips –
Create amazing photo effects with
simple household items
Today I want to show you how to create amazing photo effects – just with simple household items. After my photography tips articles best portrait tips, 12 genius photo tips, Photo Tips – The Colours and Free Colour Looks Ups I’m pretty sure that most of the items we’re using, you already have at home and I am sure that after reading this article you’ll be bubbling over with ideas! At least I hope so! The great thing about creative jobs is, that you have unlimited possibilities: You can let the imagination run wild and arrange things in a combination, that has never been seen before. Today I want to introduce you to my awesome ideas that will help you pimping up your photos easily, without having to pay through the nose. In my article a little bit truth in a world full of illusions I’ve worked with some pics that I show you today. 🙂
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Low Budget Photography Tips:
For my bokeh fetishists:
A fascinating bokeh with cling film
You already know: I’m also in the club of the bokeh fetishists and I love extraordinary bokeh above all. On the following photos you might discover a slight difference of the bokeh: on the left side we can see the „classic“ bokeh with circular dots in the background. On the right, however, the bokeh looks rather „swirly“ in half-moon shape.
Many people still think, that you only get this effect with a specific lens, but I tell you this is nonsense! To get this effect, I just tightened a big piece of cling film in front of my lens. The bokeh varies according to how close you tighten the film at the front of the lens. Looks absolutely great, doesn’t it? This effect works particularly great when shooting portraits, but I think it works for all shooting scenario.
Even for food or product shoots the cling film turns out to be an insiders‘ tip: For this setting I crumpled a piece of cling film and held it in front of the lens. Thus you get this wonderful blurry effect, as I like to call it, completely without using Photoshop. This not only saves you time but also it looks better from my point of view. The size oft he bokeh changes according to how strong you crumple the cling film. This household item is my personal favourite when it comes to great photo effects as this film is just super versatile. In summary the effect looks fantastic when used for portraits and gives every photo a super cool and special touch. After using you can just put the film back into the cupboard and next time you’re shooting, you can use it again, so it’s not wasted.
The good, old tea strainer for thrilling shadow effects
This household item might be found in everybody‘s home. The good, old tea strainer is perfect to create thrilling shadow effects, whether for portrait or product shoots. Especially in hard light, e.g. direct sunlight from above or flash light, this item works very well. In soft light the shadow gets too „muddy“, so it doesn’t work well for this scenery.
Again you can vary in the type of usage. When you hold the strainer very close to your lens you get a wonderful analogue look of the image, as you can see on the left picture. Of course: the bigger your strainer the more possibilities and the more „creative area“ you get. If you want to catch a face with artful shadows like on the picture above you need a bigger strainer.
For close-up views you do not need a macro objective!
Hush-hush! Please keep the following tip for you! To make a macro shot you do not need a special macro lens necessarily. Just take your objective from your camera and hold it the other way round: you will see that all of a sudden you get really close and that almost in „turning the object“ you get a macro lens.
Sure, to take really sharp pictures you have to concentrate deeply, as there are only little areas that are perfectly sharp. But after a few shots it will work quite well. Simply bear in mind: practice makes perfection! To sharpen you can just push the object closer or further away from the lens. But please be careful: as your camera is quasi open dust particles can super easily reach the body of your camera and these are the nemesis number 1 of your camera! By the way I recommend you to get a bellows which you can use to clean your camera from dust particles. Nevertheless if dust particles are in your camera just bring it to a professional cleaning service. In the photo in the right I have used two tricks at once: first the inverted lens and second the tea strainer. Looks super interesting or what do you think about the photograph?
Use vaseline for beautiful gloss effects
In order to create glossy highlights on cheeks or nose bridges, all you need is a little Vaseline. You can buy this beauty product in every drugstore for little money and you can definitely use this for photo shootings as well. I love using this product for beauty shootings an mostly apply it on skin and hair. As you can see on the left picture we applied some Vaseline to the hair to fix them like „baby hair“ to the skin. Additionally the Vaseline was applied to cheeks, the nose bridge and her lips to create the glossy look. With this cosmetic product you can add super easily a beautiful gloss effect – which is an essential component when it comes to beauty photography.
Vaseline can also be used to brighten up various food items. But since you no longer can eat the products thereafter, I recommend using sunflower oil as this is harmless unlike Vaseline. Thus the food can still be consumed afterwards and doesn’t have to be thrown away. If you want to add a fresher look to fruits with the help of water drops, I recommend to rub them with sunflower oil at first. Thus the beautiful water drops will stick better to the object. Let’s take a look at the photo story with Christina Raphaella Dirr: Here, we also used Vaseline on her arms to make the sand stick to her skin. In this way, the grains of sand always remain in position, whether the model is moving or not. Additionally we added highlights on the nose, cheeks and lips with the help of Vaseline. Simply a favourable freshener from the can.
Warmer flash light with the help of a yellow garbage bag
In order that the flash light is optimally adjusted to the ambient light outside, I like to use a yellow garbage bag. Thus you get – depending on the sunlight irradiation or rather the colour temperature – a warmer light colour. To get this effect, simply grab a piece of the bag and fix it with sticky tape directly on the flash. On the picture below you can see what a beautiful warm light you can create with this simple but ingenious trick!
DIY reflector made of aluminium foil
Many newcomer photographers think that they need the finest equipment to create great photos. I think this is absolute rubbish! At home you have so many items that can be diverted from their intended use to receive extraordinary effects you can’t imagine in your wildest dreams. You can buy reflectors to brighten up shadows and to set highlights starting at 30 Euro. To those, who do not have the possibility to make such investments I recommend the following idea: Take a large piece of aluminium foil and tighten it on a big carton and fix it with some sticky tape. The next time you’re shooting portraits you will see that the aluminium foil creates the same effects the reflector does – but at a much cheaper price.
Especially in my early stages I always took my self-made reflector with me an when I saw the result I was thrilled: You get really good results with this DIY-item. You can also use a piece of crumpled aluminium foil as a background. Thus, you get a wonderful bokeh as you can see on the right picture. When creating this effect the most important thing is to crumple the aluminium foil strongly.
When you look at the images with the sunglasses you can see the differences: The picture on the left side was taken without the aluminium foil reflector and the picture on the right side was taken with the self-made reflector. As you can see the shadows decrease significantly and both sides are illuminated equally. The aluminium foil also creates amazing reflections on the glasses. Even with a simple sheet of white paper or a white cloth you can build yourself a reflector. Especially a white curtain is particularly suitable to shadow locations. Thus, you can self confidently break the rule „never shoot in the midday sun“.
Use a spray bottle to create beautiful water drops & cutting boards used as undergrounds and backgrounds
With a simple spray bottle you can conjure the coolest water drops. Before you start it is important that you prepare the area that you want to spray by rubbing on some oil. In this way you create a repellent surface so that the water droplets stick beautifully. This trick can be used both for sports, potrait and fashion shootings as well as for the food photography.
If you have nice cutting boards at home I recommend you divert them from their intended use and take them as a underground or background. Furthermore you can take a wax tablecloth or the laminate floor as a photographic background. All these items can be bought for peanuts and you can easily store them space-saving after using them. Basically you can just lay your hands on every item you can find. There are no limits to your creativity. Well, but hands off your lovely pet!
White cloth as a shading and brightening tool as well as to create fascinating blurry effects
With a simple, white curtain you can build beautiful blurry effects in your photographs. For example we took a piece of white curtain and held it in front of the lens to create a blurry effect as you can see on the portrait below on the left. As already mentioned above you can use the white cloth also as a background, underground or as a brightener. If you have a lace curtain you can use this to create beautiful shadow plays. To do this you need harsh sunlight or flash light so that an artful shadow of the laces‘ pattern appears, for example on the face of your model. For my article illusion I’ve used this trick!
Create cool bokeh effects with self-made patterns
Now that you know that I’m in the club of the bokeh fetishists you might not be surprised when I’m telling you that I simply love extraordinary bokehs! Especially the heart shape appeals to me. To get this cool bokeh effect it takes no more than a piece of paper, scissors and some sticky tape. Simply cut the shape in the paper that your bokeh shall have. I chose a tacky, small heart. Then you form the paper to a kind of lens cap and place the surface with the heart directly in front of the lens. Make sure that around the „cap“ no light falls into the objective, otherwise the effect will not work. You can make a sort of shading around your self-made lens cap with the shape of your choice. To arrange this just stick a 3 cm wide piece around the area of your bokeh effect pattern.
Laundry rack for creative blurriness
A laundry rack is perfectly suitable to make creative blurry effects. This household item creates especially cool effects when you use it to divide the image. Thus you can take the golden ratio literally and divide the image visibly into sections. But also for portraits you can divert this item from its intended use. Also you can use the laundry rack as stand, for example to hold the self-made reflector. Covered with a white cloth the laundry rack turns out to be a helpful assistant. For example you can put the laundry rack outside in the midday sund and shoot beautiful portraits. This might sound a bit strange at the beginning, but this this is an absolute brilliant trick!
Artful shadow effects with jalousies, plants
and lace curtains
The hint that you can misuse your lace curtain to create beautiful shadow effects I already mentioned in the chaptor above. But basically you can use any kind of curtain or shading artistically. Thus I simply pulled down my shutters to receive this circular highlights in my self-portrait on the right. When I made the portrait of my sister that you can see on the left I decided to take a big plant as a shading item to shield the midday sun. In general, plants can be perfectly used to create beautiful blurry effects. Especially when you use tropical plants. These often have a very special form and in my opinion they conjure the most beautiful shadows ever.
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