9 Affordable Gadgets To Transform Your Photography

Photography Kit Which Doesn’t Cost The Earth

1 – Angle Finder – £20 – £200

If you shoot low down, maybe for landscapes or createive atchitecture shots, so see through your camera, you’ll either have to lie fly on the floor or guess your compoisition. This is where your “angle finder” comes into play. It allows you to look “down” through your camera – so you don’t have to get quite so low. It saves your back, knees and I find it makes me more creative.

2 – Cable Release – £10 – £170

Really useful for people doing exposures on tripods – the act of pressing the shutter will cause a little wobble on your camera, blurry shots result. So using a cable is one solution – allowing you to press a button on a lead rather than touching the camera. Ideal for landscape and architecture in the day, and pretty much anything at night. There are affordable “intervalometers” now available which let you do many timed “things”, e.g. wait 1 minute then take 5 photos, each one second apart, each being 5 seconds…. that’s is now do-able for about £20!

3 – Polarising Filter – £20- £200

One of the only filters you can’t “fake” in photoshop, the polariser changes the light before it hits the camera – the physics of how it changes isn’t really that important, but it affects reflections. Cars become a richer and less reflective, you can see straight through water to the river bed, reflections on food can be changed and blue skies go REALLY dark!

Get a “circular” polariser if you are shooting digital – they work with the Auto Focus systems better apparently.

4 – ND Grad Filters

Do you like photos with dramatic skies?

Pretty much every landscape photographer uses ND Grad Filters – the ND stands for “neutral density”. That just means they don’t change the colours in your photo – it doesn’t make it warmer, cooler or purple!

The “Grad” bit means that they change from “clear” to “dark” gradually – so the top bit is dark, you put that over the sky. The bottom bit is clear, you put that over the land.

To use these you will need to buy:-

  • Filter Holder – Cokin P/ZPRO/XPRO or Lee are popular
  • Adaptor rings – screw this into your lens, then the filter slips on to it. One for each lens size you have, so a 77mm one would do for most canon L lenses, maybe a 58mm for the USM range etc.

5 – Tripod – £50 – £1000

Tripods are used to reduce motion blur on your photos – soft, blurry shots happen when the shutter speeds get longer – typically in lower light or indoors.

SO we use tripods to keep the camera perfectly still whilst taking the shot.

But not only that – tripods also force you to take time, to compose the shot more carefully, think more about the photo, take shots lower down, use smaller apertures…. it’s far more than “just reducing blur”.

6 – Ball Head – £70 – £1000

There are a few different head types for your tripod – the “tripod” are the “legs”, the head is the thing you put your camera on and move around.

Many use 3-way heads, which have 3 distinct levers to tweak and move around to compose your work.

I’ve always found these time consuming and restrictive – especially when the sun is setting and you have seconds to shoot before the sun goes down.

Ball heads have one “lock” knob/switch which you slacken off – the camera then becomes loose and you can move it to any angle you like. Portrait, landscape, pointing up or down, tilted…. you name it, you can do it. All this time you look through your camera and compose the shot.

Once you’re happy you just need to tighten that one switch and you’re done. It’s very very quick and easy compared to the alternative.

7 – Yongnuo Flashes and Triggers – £10 – £100

If you are curious about adding flash to photos but are on a budget, these are idea.

There are 2 choices of flash:-

  • Manual – ideal for those using them “off camera” as they are really cheap, powerful and really simple to use
  • ETTL – Lots of clever technology inside which works with your camera to calculate how much power the flash fires. More for “on camera flash”

If you are using manual off camera flashes, then got just £10 get a 603 trigger – these “talk” to the flash and tell it to “flash” when you take a photo. The flash can be 100m away and it still flashes!

8 – Flash Bender – £12 – £30

Pointing your flash straight at a person is a sin – it makes them look terrible! So there are hundreds of “modifiers” available, from humble “stofen diffusers”, gary fong light spheres and little “snoots”.

Flash Benders are a square of vinyl with wire inside – and velcro to strap it to your flash head.

These can be used in so many ways – on camera you can use them as spot lights, diffusers, flags etc. Really handy. Off camera, get one on each flash to stop unwanted light entering the camera, creating spots of light on backgrounds etc. etc.

9 – Flash Gels – £5-£20

Imagine a scene where the background would look amazing in red….

Well that’s where flash gels come in – these are transparent plastic oblongs which you fit over the end of your flash to colour the light which comes out.

They come in many many colours, the simplest are fixed with velcro. You stick little “spots” of velcro on to the gel, and put a little belt of velcro over the flash head. They stick together and that’s it.

There are also colour correction gels – where you can make the flash the same colour as street lights (orange) or maybe fluorescent tubes.

 

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