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DIY Portable Photography Equipment and Lighting

written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Amy Carson•updated: 7/12/2011

We all need photography equipment when we are on the go. You can't, however, pack up your entire studio and take it with you. And, cost is often prohibitive for buying portable equipment. You can make your own portable equipment for any occasion.

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    Making Your Own Equipment

    Photography equipment is expensive, and you usually need plenty of it. Most of your equipment, however, is designed to work only in the studio. So, what do you do when you need to go out into the field?

    You don’t want to buy all new equipment especially for the field. You probably want to know how to make portable photography equipment that you can use when you are on the go.

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    Camera Mount

    Creating your own portable equipment not only saves you on equipment expenses, it also allows you to create equipment that you can specifically use for your particular camera or needs. One of the most valuable pieces of portable equipment that you can make is a portable camera mount.

    Camera mounts allow you to set up your camera anywhere that you need it. You simply have to press the shutter release button. Camera mounts keep your camera steady, and it allows you to raise the camera up to the optimum location.

    You have many options for creating portable camera mounts. One of the easiest ways to make a camera mount is to take a piece of plexiglass, and solder it to three or four PVC pipes. You need to flatten both ends of the PVC piping so that it sits correctly on the ground DIY Camera Mount and so that they fit snugly against the platform.

    You can shave the ends using a piece of sandpaper or an electric sander. If the piping won’t stand up correctly, cut out round sections of the plexiglass itself, and hot glue these bases to the feet of the piping. While you can simply place your camera on the plexiglass itself, you can also add suction cups to the plexiglass, which ensures that your camera won’t slide off of your mount.

    You can use a similar type of plexiglass camera mount, and secure it to the dashboard of your car. This is a great way to capture video images, especially if you plan on taking any type of high-speed chase photography. You will need to clamp the camera securely to the plexiglass plate so you may want to invest in some type of C or Bogen clamp for this job.

    Generally, these projects will cost you between $20 and $30, which is a whole lot less than standard camera mounts.

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    Lighting

    You often need lighting even if you are outside, and the sun is still bright in the sky. Lighting allows you to illuminate a subject, especially the face where you often find harsh shadows in sunlight. You don’t, however, want to lug every single piece of photography lighting equipment that you have in your studio. You can make your own portable photography lighting from simple everyday objects.

    We all know that sometimes your flash is too bright, causing your subject to be washed out. In certain situations, however, you need your flash to lightly illuminate an object. Instead of using the flash at full force, use a DIY diffuser to lessen the effect. A funnel works nicely for this purpose.

    Most cameras have a popup flash. The idea is that you take the funnel (you can also use cardboard or cloth for this as well), and you cut out a large hole in the base of it. Place the funnel all the way around the popup flash. Be careful not to cover up the viewfinder.

    If you had to cut the funnel to get it around the flash, staple or table it together, and tape the diffuser to the camera so it doesn’t fall off.

    When you take a photograph, the light should diffuse and bounce off of different objects in the area. Or, the flash will just look larger than it normally does. If the latter is the case, try using a different type of material.

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    Faux Photography Room

    Unlike in the studio, your light may not have walls or ceilings to bounce off of, which defeats the purpose of the diffuser. You can, however, create your own faux walls and ceilings, using cardboard or similar material.

    Cut a box into four sections, and remove the lips of the boxes. Staple or tape these lips to the back of the cardboard until the cardboard stands up on its own. Then, you can place these box pieces around your subject, creating areas for the light to bounce off of. If you need more powerful bounces, use mirrors with a light cloth over them.

    You can learn how to make portable photography equipment from a variety of items. You just need a little imagination and some skills. Always use precautions if you plan on handling any type of power equipment. Wear safety glasses, long-sleeved shirts and gloves if necessary.

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    References

    Image Source: smaedli

    Stormtrack

    DIY Photography