Tips + Techniques

Creating DIY Photo Gear

September 5, 2012

By RF Staff

When family and portrait photographer Udi Tirosh was starting out as an emerging shooter, he knew he couldn’t afford the top-branded studio gear found at places like B&H or Adorama. Instead, he determined that light is light and acts relatively the same whether it’s going through a $1,000 professional softbox or a handmade one for $10. Thus DIY Photography, Tirosh’s now-popular blog, was born, exploring camera hacks, tips and tricks, and DIY equipment how-tos. On the following pages are excerpts from some of Tirosh’s favorite posts—his own creations as well as projects made by other DIY enthusiasts and featured on his site.. Many are geared toward wedding and portrait photographers, so get out your tool box and start creating. 

Rechargeable Battery Power Pack 

Wedding photographers know that off-camera flashes can be essential to capturing the best moments, especially during receptions. Photographers shooting events, concerts and other situations that require high ISOs and wide apertures know it, too. Bringing in lights to these events is never the hard part; finding the outlets to plug them in is. Add in the fact that wedding parties often switch rooms and halls throughout the night and you have a recipe for a lighting disaster. To combat this problem, many photographers eschew the power grid for portability, but lights of that ilk have a tendency to be far too expensive. The solution for Ron Uriel—who created this particular concept—was to build his own battery pack to supply his flashes with power. Here’s how he did it. 




12V Battery 

Power Inverter (12VDC to 220VAC or 110VAC, depending on equipment)

Thick, low-resistance wires

Heavy-duty tubular ring terminals (available at any electric supply store)

Bent Aluminum Bar

Bungee Balls

Take the low-resistance wires and solder them to the appropriate terminals on the battery. Cover the terminals with gaffer tape to avoid short circuits. Use the heavy-duty tubular ring terminals to connect the wires to the inverter terminals. Fasten the battery pack and inverter together using the two sets of the Bungee Balls (one front and one back). Fit the aluminum bar between the two, then hang from the bottom of your light stand using the bent top of the bar. 

For detailed instructions and how-to photos, visit

Beauty Dish

A perfect portrait requires perfect lighting that accentuates subjects’ best features while keeping them out of the harsh light. Beauty dishes can give you dramatic lighting on a subject that’s something in between a flash and softbox. They’re incredibly useful lighting devices that can give your portraits the pop you’re looking for. Unfortunately, a high-quality one can run for nearly $400. The DIY Photo crew (and creator Eden Gabay) can help you make one for almost nothing.



Metal salad bowl

Electric box

White Round wall guard (12 cm across)

3 machine screws (8 cm long)

6 bolts

3 small springs (8 cm long)

Epoxy glue

Velcro strap

White and black spray paint

Sand the bowl on both sides so that paint will stick. Apply a layer of white paint on both sides and let dry. Next apply a second layer of white on the inside and a layer of black on the external side. Flip the bowl over and mark the hole for the electrical box. Cut it out using a dremel (use safety goggles!). Take your reflector (this is the white wall guard) and drill three holes. Make sure the diameter of the holes matches the screws. Place the reflector on the bowl and mark the three holes from the reflector. Drill holes into these marks. Using a precision knife, cut out the bottom of the electrical box. Apply epoxy on the edges of the hole and attach the box. Let dry. Use some of the epoxy to glue the hook side of the rubber strap to the back end of the box. Glue some of the loop strap to the other side of the box. To attach the reflector, slide the reflectors on the screws and tighten with nuts. Slide the springs on each and thread the entire thing through the holes in the bowl. Lock it with extra nut. 

For pictures and more detailed instructions, visit: 

Red Scale Film

The Instagram and Hipstamatic revolution has every photography enthusiast and social media junkie fancying themselves photographers. The app is addictive fun aided in part by the myriad of photo filters users can add to their photos to mimic many of the vintage looks that have been lost in the shuffle from film to digital. Reclaim the original Instagram with this DIY how-to on turning regular film into red scale film. Red scale film is a technique in which film is exposed through the base of the film instead of the emulsion. It produces an effect similar to a red-orange filter but with a stronger, more unpredictable result. The look brings to mind sepia film that has been over-saturated with reds and oranges, ensuring your clients know that your shots were done the old-fashioned way. 



Two canisters of film

Dark room/Changing bag

Clear tape


Carry out this process in a dark room or in a changing bag. You can substitute a windowless bathroom and blanket if you don’t have the real stuff. To start, remove the film from the first canister and cut the film, leaving about an inch left over. Take the second roll of film and cut the lip of the film so that it has a clean, flat edge. Flip the second film canister over so that the base of the film is facing up. Line up the sprocket holes of the film on the first canister with the newly cut edge of the film on the second canister. Fasten with tape. Now roll the film from the second canister into the first. Cut when the film is almost fully rolled, leaving a lip of film to load into your camera. Now shoot away. Be sure to overexpose by 1 to 2 stops. See the whole process, plus photos, at 


Bokeh is the pattern that appears in the out-of-focus areas of light in your photographs. It’s the blur. There’s good bokeh and bad bokeh, depending on your lenses and the look you are going for. To ensure that you only get the good kind, or let’s say, the kind you want, you should try making DIY Photography’s bokeh.


Large-aperture lens (Canon 50mm f/1.8 or Nikon 50mm f/1.4; both work)

Gaffer tape

Sheet of black paperboard

Precision knife

Cut and shape the sheet to make a fake lens hood. The diameter of the cut sheet should fit snugly on the lens; you can make a lip with a rectangular cut of paper and gaffer’s tape. In the middle of the filter, cut the desired bokeh shape (a circle, a heart, anything). How big the shape can be will depend on the lens, so look through the viewfinder to get a feel for the effect. On the 50mm lens at f/1.8, a 15mm shape gives a metering equal to f/3.2, so adjust as necessary. To see the effect in action, visit