5 Easy & Unusual Photography Hacks

I have always wanted to made a "photography tips" or hacks article, and I thought it would be awesome to do it in a video format instead.  Do not worry, the article form is still here, and not going anywhere soon. The strange thing about YouTube, some of my videos now are starting to reach out to wider audience than what I can do on this blogging platform. It is indeed interesting to study how times have changed and the way people consume media has evolved too, video has been the mainstream media for years now, and I am extremely late to the party. So here you go, for those who love to watch video (and people talking non-stop on screen) than reading articles while imagining their own voice-over the words in mind.



TIP 1 - WALLET WITH DEDICATED SD CARD SLOTS

I have been using this really cool wallet that has dedicated SD card slots inside. The special design allow storage up to two SD cards, but I only carry one spare 64GB (95Mb/s) card, which serves as a back up in case I forgot to bring any other cards. This will not happen for commercial jobs of course (which I checked the items  on my bags like a hundred times before leaving the house) but for casual outings and also my personal shutter therapy sessions, I go minimalist, carrying one camera and one lens, and as I quickly run out of the door, sometimes the SD card may be left behind unintentionally. It has happened before of course, to me and to my friends. Nothing can be more frustrating as we are so pumped up for a shoot or a session with fellow photogs and arriving on location early, powering the camera on, to find out the SD card is missing!


It is not about how much we prevent ourselves from forgetting to bring an SD card, we are humans, and it will happen even to the best of us. I learned this from my high school guidance and counselling teacher - she said: "it is not about what we do to avoid forgetting, but how we prepare ourselves in the event that we forget". There should be a contingency plan in place, hence having a spare SD card in the wallet which I carry with me everywhere I go to every day, is a reliable fail safe. As a bonus, if your friend forgets an SD card, you can loan him, and you can impress some photographers with this neat trick! Pulling out an SD card from your wallet. It also gives a strong impression that you are always prepared and you are serious about what you are doing in photography.

TIP 2- CHAIR SOCKS FOR BATTERY STORAGE

This is a weird one, but I found that it worked like a charm. I bought chair/table leg covers, in the form of fabric tiny socks to store my batteries. I carry MANY batteries out for a shoot. And the mini socks I bought from Daiso costs RM5.90 or two pairs. Why use the socks? First and obvious reason, to prevent scratching when the batteries got out of place into the bag in contact with other items, eg camera body or lenses. The fabric provided soft padding and prevent these scratches from happening. Reason number two is more functional - to identify which batteries have been used up! So when I am replacing a battery after it is depleted, I will store the empty battery unit into a "reversed" mini sock. The reversed mini-sock clearly indicated the status of the used battery, so that when I am replacing the battery next, I won't mistakenly slot the used battery into the camera. This is a practical solution for heavy, all day extensive shoots that require changes of multiple batteries. Such a simple, yet colorful and elegant solution to battery management in the camera bag. And trust me, those tiny little colorful socks are conversation starters!\




TIP 3 - CARRY A MACRO CONVERTER

I understand that not everyone will go deep into macro photography, hence the suggestion of spending unnecessary budget to purchase a dedicated macro lens is out of the question. However, that does not mean that we cannot do close up shooting, or pseudo-macro photography from time to time without digging deep into the wallet. A good solution is to get a macro converter - low in cost, good compromise between convenience and quality and it gets the job done. I have the Raynox DCR-250 which I bought for about RM300, and it is so small it fits anywhere in the bag, and there is no excuse to leave this behind. When the opportunity presents itself, the option to shoot macro is there.

 Raynox DCR-250

 Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 closest shooting distance, without macro converter. 

Olympus M.Zuiko 45mm F1.8 with Raynox DCR-250 Macro Converter

It is also important to take note whether the converter that you bought fits the filter thread of your lens. I had a step up ring to ensure perfect fit. Also, not all macro converters are built equal. I find the Raynox performing incredibly well for the price point. 

TIP 4 - PORTABLE LED LIGHT

Lighting is crucial in photography and we don't get the luxury of having great light conditions at all times. In very difficult situations, having that additional boost of light can make a huge difference. It is helpful to carry a compact and portable LED light. I have a cheap LED Ringlight, which is battery operated and is powerful enough to light up a table, or a person if placed close enough. Also, having an LED light can encourage more interesting and creative photography execution, placing the light at the back of the subject can create "rimlight" effect that can add drama to the image. 



TIP 5 - PRINT A MINI PHOTOBOOK

We consume photography mostly through screens. Either on our smartphones, tablets, laptop and computer screens or TV.  I still believe that photography comes alive in prints. Therefore, having a mini, easy to carry about photobook to showcase your work when you meet people can set you apart from other photographers. There is something magical about being able to feel the photographs in hand, something tangible rather than a digital image seen on screen. I think that makes photography more real, and less "virtual". It also shows that you take your photography seriously, as you curate your own shots to a limited number and took the effort to make a print and be proud to show them off to people. 


Do you have any other tips to share? I would love to hear from you! 

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