5 Camera Hacks for Better Photos

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A big part of photography - perhaps the biggest part - is working hard to improve the quality of your photos.

There are tons of ways to do this, from working on the manner in which you compose your shots to learning how to use your camera's settings to get a spot-on exposure.

You can learn about lighting and how to use both artificial and natural light to enhance your photos. You can also learn how to use things like leading lines, textures, and a frame within a frame to give your photos more visual interest and depth.

Those are the more traditional means of getting better photos...

There are a few unique photography hacks you can use as well that will have a positive impact on the images you take.

In the video above, Sheldon Evans gives us a quick overview of some pretty crazy photography hacks. They might not seem like things that would help you all that much, but as you'll see in the video, they're quite effective!

Check out the video, and for a step-by-step overview of each hack, continue reading below!

Plastic Bag Softbox

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans

If there's one universal truth in photography, it's that the light emitted by the pop-up flash is terrible.

As you can see in the screenshot above, the bare flash produces light that's very white, bright, and intense.

That gives the model a washed out look with harsh shadows that make his chin look bulky and heavy. Those shadows on the wall behind him aren't exactly great, either.

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans

But all you need to do to get rid of those unsightly features is to wrap a plastic back around your flash to act like a softbox.

The bag will diffuse the light emitted by the flash and result in an image like the one below, with much more even, soft, and warm lighting.

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans

I think you'll agree that this image is a much better portrait of this young man.

Notice that the harsh shadows are gone under his chin and that his shadow on the wall behind him is gone as well.

Not bad for a simple plastic bag!

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Towel Video Slider

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans 

You know how when you're watching videos on YouTube and there's an awesome slow-motion panning movement to the camera that gives the video a professional look?

Well, that is usually achieved by using a bunch of expensive equipment that allows you to move the camera in a smooth motion without causing vibration.

But if you're on a budget, you can achieve a similar effect by using nothing more than a towel.

It sounds crazy, but it works!

Check out the video at the beginning of this article to see a sample of the kind of results you can get with this technique.

Fake Macro Bokeh

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans

Bokeh refers to the quality of the blur of the background of a photo.

It also refers to the manner in which a lens renders light that's out of focus.

Typically, more expensive lenses are better at creating beautiful bokeh. But not everyone has the budget to get a high-dollar lens.

Fortunately, there's a hack for that if you're shooting macro...

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans 

Just hop on your computer, search for a bokeh background, set your subject in front of your computer screen, and boom! You've got bokeh.

Granted, this technique won't work if you're photographing your cat or your kids (unless you have a really big computer screen).

But hey, for fun shots of small objects, it's a great way - and a cheap one - to get a cool background.

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Lens Flare With a CD

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans

You can use programs like Photoshop or Lightroom to add artistic touches to your images like lens flares.

Heck, you can do the same with apps on your smartphone, for that matter.

But if you don't have post-processing software on your computer, you can get interesting lens flares by using a CD.

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans

Just hold the CD below your lens and adjust the angle of the CD to get different lens flare effects.

As you can see in the image above, you can get some pretty cool effects from doing so!

It's also a lot easier and less time consuming than adding lens flare in post-processing, though as time goes by CDs are sure to become harder and harder to find!

Matchstick Film Burn

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans

Another artistic technique that's been used for decades is film burn.

Back in the days of film, this technique required some work in the darkroom to achieve the desired look.

But in modern photography, you can add a film burn look in post-processing, just like lens flare.

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YouTube Screenshot/Sheldon Evans

Of course, you can use a matchstick and hold it in front of your lens to achieve the same effect.

As you can see in the image above, it creates a really cool look, and this hack helps you achieve it without a lot of work, either.

Just be sure you hold the match far enough in front of the camera so the flame doesn't damage anything!

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