by Paul Sanders
Professional photographers use a lot of gadgets and photo accessories to achieve special visual effects or just avoid common problems with their photos. You don't always need to spend a lot of money to achieve professional results with your digital camera, however. Here are some do-it-yourself camera tricks that will improve your photos without costing you a lot of money.
Create a braided hand strap. The camera strap included with a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera isn't always durable. You can swap it out for one which you can make yourself in a few minutes. Just make a tight braid out of scrap materials; non-fraying fabrics and leather work best.
Make a cheap camera case from cabinet liners. Rubberized cabinet shelf-liners are foldable, which makes it easy to cut and fold them into a padded sleeve for your camera.
Glue a mirror to your camera. Self-portraits are tough when you can't see yourself through the viewfinder. On many point-and-shoot cameras, you can glue a mirror next to the viewfinder window, giving you an approximate reverse-view of what your camera sees so you can better center the shot.
Construct a weather-resistant cover. Outdoor photography exposes your camera and other gear to the elements. Cut out a camera cover from waterproof fabric. Make sure it's big enough to cover the entire length of your camera lens up to telephoto length. You can secure the camera cover with snaps or Velcro.
Diffuse your camera flash. Harsh, direct light from your camera flash can make skin look overly shiny or washed out; soft light from a flash diffuser produces much better photos. A flash diffuser reflects light at your subject indirectly, using reflective materials such as tin foil or non-glossy, white cardstock.
Steady your shot without a tripod. A steady camera means no blurry photos. You can steady your shots without a camera tripod, though. One way is to set your camera on a bag of rice or similar sand-like material. Alternatively, you can use a long strap or cord to create steadying tension between the camera and your foot. This won't be as steady as a real tripod, but it's much more portable.