If you're looking for a project this weekend, grab your camera. Here are a bunch of tips, tricks, hacks and techniques to try out when shooting and editing your photos.
Camera Hacks and DIY Add-Ons
If you have a Canon camera, you are truly missing out if you haven't installed the CHDK custom firmware. It gives you a ton of great extra features. If you've got a DSLR, there is so much you can do to get neat effects with your photos (some of which we'll get to later). You can create neat, custom bokeh effects, modify an old telephoto lens to fit your current DSLR camera, create a cheap pinhole lens out of a camera tin, or even make your DSLR friendly for lefties.
Shooting with a Smartphone
Your smartphone may not be your best camera, but that doesn't mean you can't take advantage of what you've got. We have a great guide on taking better pictures with your smartphone camera, plus a list of excellent photography apps for iPhone and Android. Whether you have a smartphone or your camera is just a piece of crap, you can still get great photos. If you have good lighting and interesting subject matter (more on this later), you'll be in good shape regardless of what your'e shooting with.
Flashes, If You Must
Flashes wash out your photos and really only should be used when necessary. If you have to use a flash, it's best if the light isn't too harsh. One way to make your flash a bit softer and seem a little more natural is to use a diffuser, which you can make on the cheap using craft foam. If you only have paper, you can still make a softbox. If you really want to go all-out, you can create a ring flash out of a recycled a food container.
Tricks When Shooting
Camera are pretty good with colour balance these days, so if you're just going for accurate colour you'll probably get pretty close with your camera's auto white balance function. If you want to step it up a notch, try making and using a grey card. If you're looking to get that vintage-style that's so popular right now, you can try using a little vaseline on your lens (really cheap) or <a href="freelensing">give freelensing a try (free).
Get Creative with Your Subjects and Situations
You can hack to your heart's content, but a boring photo is a boring photo. When deciding what to shoot, go take a walk around your neighbourhood and see what might serve as interesting. Travel somewhere local you've never been and photograph the area. Get together with friends and get some extra use out of your Halloween costumes. You don't necessarily have to have an idea offhand, but go exploring with your camera and you'll surely find interesting subject matter. If you're feeling really adventurous you can build an underwater camera housing. If you really can't find anything interesting around you, come up with some deep, dark secrets and figure out how you can stage them. Secrets tell a story and make for interesting pictures. If you're bored with standard photography and want to take it a bit further, you should try creating a photosynth. It's surprisingly simple.
Edit Your Photos
Editing your photos can bring a whole lot of new life. You'll want to learn basic photo editing in Photoshop before you dive in too deep so you can learn the simpler tasks like correcting exposure using Levels. As you move along, you can try slightly more complex colour techniques to get some really stunning colour effects. If you don't want to mess with all the colours in a photo, here's how to change specific colours or just the colour of a single element. For more ideas, check out our top ten photo fixing and image editing tricks.
Got any great photo tricks, tips, hacks, or ideas? Share 'em in the comments!