Thrifty Thursdays feature photographs taken with equipment costing less than $500.

[taken with an Apple iPhone 3G & $20 macro lens]

There's a cliché in photography that the best camera is the one you have with you. Recently, the camera most people have with them is a cell phone.

By stacking a small magnifying lens on top of the iPhone's existing lens, I can focus as close as a centimeter. Perfect for small subjects like this spiny Micrathena orb weaver.

The optics of both the iPhone and the add-on lens are cheap, and the phone's sensor is small & noisy, so this simple hack won't by itself launch a glamorous career as a nature photographer. But photos for a blog? This works just fine.

The key to solid camera phone images is the same as for any kind of photography- look for a strong composition. To make the top photo, I moved the camera around until I found an angle where the spider's body was framed nicely by the evening sky filtering through the trees. For the bottom photo, I opted for a high impact head-on shot.