If you’re anything like me, you take great delight in getting new photography accessories. The bad news about getting caught up in the hoopla of outdoor photography is that purchasing all that alluring new photographic equipment can leave you a little light in the wallet, to say the least. The good news is that there are some alternatives to buying some of that expensive gear by using items commonly found in the home or at the local hardware store.
Here are a few items that have worked well for me and will save you a bit of money. I’ve added a very low-end price of each “real deal” item if you were to buy it from a photo supplier.
Aluminum foil and cardboard: If you enjoy shooting close-ups of flowers or insects, a little aluminum foil wrapped around a piece of cardboard makes a sturdy reflector. This simple trick provides a neat way to lighten the shadows on your subject. The real deal will cost in the $40 range.
Garbage bag: Plastic garbage bags can be used to cover your camera and lens in the rain. They come in many sizes so it won’t be hard to find one to suit your needs. I carry a large one so I can lay it down to stay relatively clean while shooting at ground level. In a pinch, a big bag serves as a raincoat as well. The real deal will cost you $20 at the very least.
Umbrella: A small compact umbrella can be used to diffuse harsh light. A white or clear umbrella works best. The real deal will cost you approximately $95.
Pipe insulation and duct tape: Wrap the legs of your tripod in foam pipe insulation and secure it with duct tape. These days duct tape is available in many different colours and patterns. This will help when handling your tripod on cold days and will provide a cushion while walking with the tripod slung over your shoulder. The real deal will usually cost between $50 and $65, or even more.
Beans, cloth and velcro: A homemade bean bag can be made from these items combined with a few sewing skills. Use it to support your lens when shooting from your car window. The real deal will cost you $50 at least.
If you’re lucky, you may have everything on this list kicking around your home. If you have any tips of your own to share please do.