Whether your camera is brand new or an aging holdover, you want to accessorize it, but you don't want to pay. By now, you know the Dealzmodo Hack drill: Paying is for suckers.
For decades, photographers have engineered little tricks to get the most out of their cameras, and most of them have carried just fine over the digital divide. Here are a few, with some newer additions collected by our friends at Lifehacker.
Build your own stabilizer out of string
Shooting long exposures without something to prop your camera on is a pain in the ass, not to mention a blurry mess. So is carrying a tripod. This video shows how to build a pretty effective foot-looping camera stabilizer out of some string, a bolt and a washer. The results are surprisingly good.
Build your own L-bracket, for serious stability, vertical mounting
If you're doing portrait photography, or have a dumpy old tripod that can't accommodate vertically oriented cameras, you can build a sturdy L-bracket for about $30. It's a bit more involved than the piece-o-string stabilizer, but it's also a lot better, and much cheaper than something you'd pick up at Wolf.
The "David Pogue Special": Use a lamp as a tripod
To round out the camera-steadying tools, here's what I call the David Pogue Special, and it's great: Many lampshade mounts share a diameter and thread size with the tripod mount screw on the bottom of your camcorder, point-and-shoot or DSLR, providing quick and dirty stabilization in a bind.
Scrounge up household flash diffusers
Shooting with flash indoors is often necessary, but can wash out your subjects, making them look sheet-white, greasy and demon-eyed. With a diffuser, the light is softened and the photos are dramatically improved. Commercial flash hoods and diffusers cost money, but aren't much more effective than what you can make yourself. A coffee filter held in front of a flash, a translucent film canister with a notch cut into it, a simple piece of A4 paper or even a piece of matte Scotch tape over the flash lens will measurably improve your drunk party photography.
Calibrate color temperature with free flooring samples
Shooting a piece of paper, gray notecard or painted wall can give you OK white balance calibration, but this guy has a better idea: snag some free floor laminate samples and built a proper calibration board.
Make flash deflection umbrellas from actual umbrellas
If you really want to go pro-hobo, you can repurpose old umbrellas into flash-directing photography umbrellas. After all, there are always plenty lying around. Here's how you do it. If you're feeling lazy, you can even get away with just an old sheet and some tape.
Build still-life photography studio for free(ish)
Ever wonder how that creepy old photographer got such a soft, vivid, dreamy picture of you and your prom date all those years ago? This is how. The project doesn't call for much more than large pieces of paper and tape—relying on indirect sunlight for the adequate lighting—but the results are impressive. It is just a small-scale testbed though, so you'll be limited to shooting Lego models, action figures and the like, but what else were you going to shoot anyway?
Snap magazine-style portraits, beautiful macros with a homemade ringlight
Flickr user jedrek has written out a detailed how-to guide for converting your external flash into a ringlighting rig, mostly using kitchen wares. If you've never heard of ringlighting, have a look at this. The technique is usually reserved for professional photographers, because real ringflashes are comically expensive. This one costs a few bucks.
Foam-fit an old bag to hold your gear
If you're packing a DSLR with lenses and accessories, carrying a full-fledged camera bag is usually ideal, but they're expensive and tend to draw attention to your cargo. With some foam, cardboard and a ratty old military-surplus bag, you can put together a stylish, stealthy and highly-functional camera bag that won't make you feel like a snap-happy father of four.
Top image of proto-pro-photo-hobo Miroslav Tichy.
Dealzmodo Hacks are intended to help you sustain your crippling gadget addiction through tighter times. If you come across any on your own that are particularly useful, send it to our tips line (Subject: Dealzmodo Hack). Check back every other Thursday for free DIY tricks to breathe new life into hardware that you already own.
You've got only one father. So this year, create a one-of-a-kind gift: a bottle of Johnnie Walker® Black LabelTM with a personalized label.