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Photographers are a resourceful and crafty bunch. They have particular needs which, in the absence of money or availability, they will search for alternative solutions or create their own. If you're finding yourself in the same situation, but having trouble figuring out a way to solve your problems, check out these commonly used low-tech photography gear alternatives.
Want to shoot macro images but can't afford a macro lens? Then a reversing ring is just what you're looking for. This $5 piece of metal allows you to mount your lens backwards onto your camera. This is referred to as the poor man's macro lens. Despite its low cost, this alternative method can actually produce some very high quality results and several professional macro photographers use this method to get into ultra macro ranges not possible with most real macro lenses.
No one wants to carry a tripod around everywhere they go, but sometimes you're in need of one in a pinch. The easiest and cheapest solution is to find a nearby stationary object such as a bench, trash can, car hood, tree stump, or door frame and use it to steady your camera. However, these things are not always in a convenient place for your composition. One alternative is a little gadget you can make at home. Tie a string to your tripod screw on one end, and tie a washer to the other end. In the field, attach the screw to the base of your camera, let the washer fall to the ground, and then stand on the string so that it is tight. This will eliminate the majority of vertical camera shake, and it allows you to move around and recompose your scene. Unfortunately, this won't work well if you're using a lengthy shutter speed as horizontal camera shake will still be present.
Reflectors are great to have for outdoor portraiture without flash and in many other situations. But you don't need to spend a lot of money on large reflectors of different colors with fancy reflective surfaces. Instead, you can buy a simple white poster board as a mobile reflector. Or, if you need a large reflector in the studio, a big sheet of foam core will work well. You can also buy black version of both of these if you need to block light off.
These little things are great for cutting down the harshness of you flashes and studio lights. Large diffusion boxes can run pretty high, but they're not something you can't create on your own. Try browsing your local fabric store for a good translucent material that can be used. If you're making a small diffusion box, paper towels or regular paper can be used. Just make sure that you're not overheating these materials, as they could potentially catch fire. As long as they are placed at an appropriate length from the bulb, you should be fine.
A DIY set of rain gear is possibly one of the easiest and most important things you can carry with you. A simple trash bag is all you need to keep your gear completely dry should a thunderstorm occur while you're outside shooting. Without it, you may find yourself running for cover before you camera becomes a useless digital brick. Bringing a trash bag for yourself may not be a bad idea either.
Lens Cap Holder
There are many, many lens cap saver gadgets that you can buy online, and many of them work very well. But as a quick and easy solution, all you need is a strip of velcro. Just place one piece on the bottom of your camera, and one on the front of your lens cap. With this, you'll never lose your lens cap again...hopefully.
Written by Spencer Seastrom