If you’re an aspiring photographer with no experience in Photoshop, you’re in luck! Turns out, you don’t need a pricey photo editor to give your pictures some pizzazz.

Just take a look at some of Hayden Pedersen’s shots. Using his Sony a7S II and DSLR Nikon D500, Pedersen shows some cheap camera hacks to offset the arm and leg he paid for his cameras.

YouTube video

Most of his tricks involve putting different materials in front or on his camera lens, resulting in some interesting filters.

Fish Wire Lens Flares

camera hacks

Who knew tying fishing wire to the front of your camera could add a natural lens flare effect to your shots? Thanks to the see-through nature of the wire, you can’t even see it in the photographs. Michael Bay, eat your heart out!

Towel Slider

camera hacks

Don’t have a slider for moving shots? No worries.

Just lay your expensive camera on a towel and drag it along for some steady shots or videos. You can do this horizontally for wide shots, or pull the towel along the z-axis to create shots that pan closer or further away from your point of interest.

Rolling Chair Dolly

camera hacks

Similarly, if you lack a camera dolly for moving shots, you can prop your camera on a desk chair and push it around. If you happen to be one of the few people in the world blessed with steady hands, you can sit on the chair yourself and adjust the camera angle as you whiz around the room.

Bags, Vaseline, and Reflective Filters

camera hacks

Pedersen uses a bunch of materials to give his shots different effects.

In one example, he used some markers to color the edges of the ziplock bag. He then wrapped the bag around the lens of his camera, creating a tropical-looking filter perfect for outdoor shots.

camera hacks

Another object Pedersen used is the reflective cap of a protein powder container. With the gold color reflecting off the lens, you can take some clean, almost regal-looking pictures with a cheap plastic cap.

camera hacks

If you don’t mind destroying your very expensive camera lens, one questionable technique is smearing Vaseline on the outlines of your lens to create a blurred filter. By no means do I condone this, as you’ll be spending hours trying to remove the stuff afterward. But if you happen to have 50 spare camera lenses hanging about, then by all means try this out.

Lighting and Covering

camera hacks

It goes without saying, but lighting really helps set the mood for every shot you take.

So get creative! Use matches, lamps – any illuminating object to create a centered light source for your shots. You can then play with the light source by covering it with different materials.

Want a rippling light effect? Pour some water in a glass and prop it atop your light source. How about a disco-looking background? Cover your light source with a colander or strainer and see what happens.

Play With Your Camera Equipment

camera hacks

If you’re not feeling very creative, messing around with your stock camera equipment works wonders, too! You can detach your camera lens and hold it in front of your camera for some blurred shots. You can even prop your camera tripod horizontally on a chair and use it to take top-down shots.

These are just a few of Hayden Pedersen’s camera hacks. You can find more of his camera tricks and tips over on his YouTube channel.


Carlos wrestles gators, and by gators, we mean words. He also loves good design, good books, and good coffee.