Everyone loves a good photography hack, don’t they? Hacks help us be creative on a budget, which allows us to spend our money on other goodies.

7 Tricks  Everyone With a Camera Should Know

This fun video shows us some tricks for stabilizing your camera with some string, creating professional- looking dolly shots with some household items, and creating custom shaped bokeh all using inexpensive items like scotch tape and coffee cups. Check out the video below and if you love the DIY photography hacks, check out our previous article with 7 more creative photography hacks you should try for fun!

Here are some of my favorite tricks from the video:

1. The String Tripod

Just thread a string through the neck strap rings. Then place the string under your feet for a less shaky photo.


2. Furniture Mover Dolly

Simply place furniture movers under the feet of your tripod to get some sweet-looking dolly shots!


3. DIY Anamorphic Lens Flare

Paint a piece of clear tape blue and stick it over the front of your lens. If you now point your camera in a bright light source, you’ll get a cinematic lens flare.

4. DIY Smartphone Tripod

Cut a slit in the bottom of a paper cup. It should be roughly as wide as your smartphone. Then you can just put your phone in the slit for instant stabilization.


More Camera Tricks!

1. Bracketing

Bracketing is a function I used to use in my old film days when I wasn’t quite sure which shutter speed to use for a proper exposure. Basically, the camera automatically takes three different photos with three different f/stops. This is also the concept behind creating HDR (high dynamic range) images. Pye explains the bracketing process in this excerpt from the SLR Lounge HDR Workshop.

2. Back Button Focus

I recently started using back button focus and, while it took a couple weeks to get used to, I’m now wondering how I ever got along without it! I found this video by wildlife photographer Steve Perry to be very helpful. You may have to check your owners manual for info about how to set the back button focus function on your particular camera.

3. Picture Styles

I shoot primarily in the RAW format, so I never really paid much attention to the picture style options on my Canon 5D Mark III. But, in this video, Matthew Saville explains why you might want to experiment with picture styles (picture controls, for Nikon users) when shooting in RAW. Using Adobe Lightroom and the SLR Lounge Preset System, Matt shows how to capture an ideal exposure and edit a landscape, using in camera picture styles as a guide.

4. In-Camera HDR

The In-Camera HDR function in newer DSLRs is designed to save you some post processing time when creating HDR images. Here’s another excerpt from our SLR Lounge HDR Workshop, with tips for using this function.

5. Double Exposures

This is another function harkening back to film photography. With a film camera you can achieve a double exposure by simply not advancing the film after taking a picture. Then you expose that same frame once again for some funky effects. The great thing about creating an in-camera double exposure digitally, is that you can view your first exposure on your LCD screen while composing your overlapping exposure. It’s really fun! Here’s a tutorial by Sara K Byrne, creating a multiple in-camera exposure using the Canon 5D Mark III.

6. Advanced Focusing Modes

Cameras these days can have some pretty high tech, specific focusing modes designed for various shooting situations. Check out your users manual (or consult Google) for an explanation of the different modes on your particular camera. If you’re struggling with nailing the focus on your images, I highly recommend you read SIX TIPS FOR BETTER DSLR AUTOFOCUS AND SHARPER IMAGES and for some helpful tips on mastering focus.

7. Lens Calibration

Honestly, I’ve never calibrated a lens and don’t know much about it, but I think I need to do this for at least one of my lenses. You’ll need a calibration tool like the LensAlign MkII Focus Calibration System, which is basically a ruler used to test the focus. Here’s an explanation of the whole process by Matt Granger.

8. Image Lock System

This feature is pretty self explanatory. Basically, the image lock system allows you to lock images to prevent them from being accidentally deleted from your memory card. Check your manual for instructions.

9. Rating Images

On the newest Canon cameras you can rate your images with a 1-5 star rating, in-camera. I suppose this might come in handy if you’re filtering through your images with a client right after you shoot, but I personally don’t like culling my photos while viewing on a tiny LCD. I’d rather load them into Lightroom 5 and rate them while viewing on a larger monitor.

10. Rear Curtain Flash Sync

Using rear curtain sync with a flash will allow you to capture motion blur and freeze motion in the same frame of a photograph. This is a pretty advanced technique, which I didn’t realize was available in the camera settings of some DSLRs with built in flash units. Whether you have a built in flash or use an external unit, this is a fun technique to play with. Here’s an easy to understand tutorial from Adorama.

What are some hidden functions of your camera that have changed the way you shoot? Do you have a question about a particular function? Leave a comment and I’ll we’ll answer it for you. Happy shooting!