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Photo Tips & Tricks
Some little extras you may not think of

I'm going to add more photo tips & tricks here little by little, as I think of things to add and have time to add them. In the meantime, if you have questions, feel free to contact me.

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Scroll down or use these quick-jump links:
Film   Tripod   Lens              


Don't use your film twice
If your camera doesn't fully rewind the film, you may forget later that it was used and reuse it. A double-exposed film is useless unless it was done intentionally. When a film is used, either fully rewind it back into the can, or bend the film leader so you know it was used.

Change your film speed
Have you ever needed a faster film than you have, like a 400 ASA when all you have is a 100 ASA? Have you ever used a film then realized you set the wrong ASA? Film speed, especially for negative film is not etched in stone. Film speed is merely the manufacturers suggested setting, and the setting for proper exposure under normal circumstances.

Film can be under or over exposed 1 or 2 stops and still give printable results with push or pull processing. Put in a 100 film and set the camera to 400 (if it lets you), then fire away. When you get the film processed, let them know what you did and they can adjust the processing so you will get printable results. You may need to take it to a real photo finishing store to do this. If you ever put in a new film of a different speed and forget to change the camera setting, push or pull processing can save your shots.

Film does get a little grainier and the quality isn't quite as good with adjusted processing, but it can be better than the alternative.

Trouble loading the film
With some cameras, it can be tricky getting the film to catch when you first load it in the camera. Try bending the end of the film just a little to help the camera grab it.

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Tripod alternatives
Need to use a longer shutter speed but don't have a tripod with you? There are multiple alternatives.

Brace your camera or yourself against something. If there's something solid you can put the camera on or hold it to, that can work almost as good as a tripod. Even just leaning against a wall yourself can reduce camera shake noticeably.

Make the camera heavier by tying or taping something to it. Most of the camera shake is caused by the pressure on the shutter release when taking the picture, and it's a fact that the heavier the camera, the less shake there will be. Do one step better and tie one end of a string to the camera, then tie the other end to yourself or have it go to the ground and step on it. Adjust so the camera is in the right position when pulling the string taught and you've made yourself something to brace the camera against.

If your camera has a power winder that lets you do continuous shooting, fire 2 or 3 shots. The initial shake from pushing the button will be settled and the 2nd shot will be better.

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Protect your lens
If your lens takes filters, ALWAYS leave a UV filter on to protect the lens from damage. A filter is much cheaper than a lens, and we have lots of them for sale.

Care & Cleaning
Keep your lenses clean. Here are just a few little tips about lens care and cleaning:

  • never wipe the lens if it has foreign matter on it
            (you might scratch it)
  • brush or blow off foreign matter before wiping the lens
            (with a lens brush, air can, or your breath)
  • use lens tissues or clean cotton fabric to wipe a lens clean
            (abrasive tissues can damage the surface)
  • use only lens cleaning fluid or water to clean a lens
            (lenses have a coating that many cleaners will remove)
  • always put lens caps back on when done to protect the lens
            (don't forget to remove it to take pictures)

If your lens has a small scratch, it may not affect the shot because the front of the lens is very out of focus, but depending on various factors, a scratch might cause a little blur to the image. The smaller the aperture (lens opening) is set to, the less effect it will have.
remember: Smaller aperture means larger f-stop number. (f16 is small & f2 is large)

If the scratch is affecting the image, you could temporarily (or permanently) fill it. Filling a scratch with anything clear will reduce its effects. I've even resorted to filling a scratch with Vaseline (petroleum jelly). Remember to remove the excess by taking something flexible and "scraping" the lens surface with it to remove the excess without removing the filler.
remember: If you had a UV filter on that lens, it wouldn't have gotten that scratch.

Macro (close-up) shots
Want to get right in close to a small subject, like a ladybug or a stamp, but don't have a lens that focuses that close? There are a few options. One is close-up filters. They go on the front of the lens and let you focus closer. Another is extension tubes. They go between the camera and lens, also letting you focus closer. For super macro, try reversing the lens. You can buy reversal rings that let you mount a lens backwards. By doing this, you can get VERY close to the subject. Experiment with different focal length lenses. I've done this without the reversal rings by just holding the lens tight against the camera, but you would need a steady hand and any light that gets in between the lens and camera body will cause fogging. Another close-up option is to mount a 2nd lens to the front of the main lens in reverse. You can buy coupling rings to do this, or just tape the 2 lenses together. I use 1 turn of masking tape, then a couple turns of black electrical tape. The electrical tape blocks out light, but its stretchability doesn't hold the lenses tight together very well. That's what the masking tape takes care of.

Need reversal or coupling rings? Check out our store.

Special effects
You can do some special effects without having to buy filters. All you need to do is make your own special effects filters. Here are just a few ideas, but where it says to put something on the lens, I suggest using a UV filter and tampering with that.

  • soft-focus lens - for a softening effect, smear a little Vaseline on the front of the lens
    (more Vaseline = more softening)
  • blur the background - try the Vaseline trick, but only around the outside of the lens
  • star effects filter - take a UV filter and scratch a few lines across the surface
    (experiment a little - UV filters are cheap enough)
  • homemade color filters - use a colored marker to make your own color filters
    (you can be very creative making your own)

Check out our store for some special effects filters.

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