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Tips & Tricks

Save Money and Be Creative with 7 DIY Photography Hacks

By Chris Nachtwey on May 10th 2014

One of the things I love to do in my free time is ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY) projects. I love a good DIY project because many times it saves me some money and I love to find ways to create my own tools to get the job done. Not to mention that most of time, DIY projects are just plain fun. The crew over at COOPH has put together a great video below highlighting seven fun and creative DIY projects you can easily do on your own to help your photography.



All the hacks are great! Below are the four that I thought were the absolute best.

#1 Timelapse Rig




I honestly would have never thought of this idea. It is ingenious! The egg timer creates such a fun and simple timelapse motion controller. I’m totally trying this one out!


#3 Vaseline Vignette




The vaseline vignette is not a new trick, but the guys do a great job of showing you how to do it correctly.


#7 Cardboard Bokeh Shapes





This trick is simple and can really make for some fun and creative bokeh in your portraits.


#5 Welding Glass ND Filter




The welding glass ND filter is such a fun and simple DIY tool. It is inexpensive and allows you to blur water and clouds easily. Only caveat is you will have to convert your image to black and white in post due to the color cast from the welding glass. I explain in depth, in a previous article, how to use welding glass to create long exposure images in the middle of the day.



I personally loved all of these DIY projects. While some of the hacks might not look the prettiest, they sure do get the job done.  I can honestly say I love the egg timer for a cheap timelapse motion controller, I have to try that one out. I also will have to remember to throw some vaseline in my bag for my next portrait session.  Go have fun trying these tricks out – that’s why we all got into photography in the first place, right? To have fun and be creative. You don’t always need to spend a lot of money on gear to create great images!

What DIY hacks do you use? Share them with us in the comments below! We love hearing from our readers!

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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar

    Nice article.

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  2. Jill Schindel

    Super excited to try the diffuser hack as well as the ND filter hack! Hope I can find me some welding glass this week…

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  3. Jeff Lopez

    Awesome creative ideas, thanks.

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  4. Christine Einarsson

    Thank you for these great ideas. I’m definitely going to try the vaseline vignette DIY.

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  5. Kurk Rouse

    It’s articles like this that make me want to try more DIY stuff

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  6. William

    After viewing the video, I bought me some welding glass from amazon for $10 bucks and will see how good it will do as a ND filter. Can’t wait to try it out!

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    • Chris Nachtwey

      Nice! It’s my go to when I want black and white long exposures over 3 minutes! Works great!

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  7. Vim Del Piero

    Nice. Love the eggtimer hack, definitely will come in handy!

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  8. John Paulson

    This is simply awesome! Thanks so much for sharing, Chris! :)

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  9. EJ

    I plasti-dipped my whole camera including lens and managed to get an airtight seal on the whole setup for underwater shots. Only down side is has to be in auto, fixed focal length and the focus ring cant move (must be a high qaulity lens)

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    • William

      Man… That sounds awesome but way too risky to do on my 5D Mark III and with any of my L lenses! Thanks for sharing tho! Does it really work?

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  10. Hanssie

    I’m not really a DIY type person, but I may have to try some of these out. I like the vaseline idea, but it sounds a bit messy.

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  11. Paul Carter

    For an even cheaper light diffuser you could use a half gallon milk carton.

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