Whether they are for your
camera or for your subjects, small accessories can make a huge difference.
I've always been aware of it. Recently, however, I've become
so dependent on them, I don't know how I could do without them.
I have, of course, long ago replaced film with Delkin's 640MB
eFilm Memory Card (www.delkin.com).
That was a no-brainer for me. I saw how capable it was for speed and
accurate rendition of color and adapted it immediately as my "film
of choice." What I hadn't done until recently, however,
was to also take on Delkin's eFilm Picture Pad. With this little
pocket-sized storage device I've been able to transfer and save
my images to a temporary storage system with which I could view, edit,
and show my digital images on the small screen or transfer them to a
TV screen and/or a projector. It comes in different storage capacities.
It's a great way to save, edit, show, and sell right there on
the spot when you're creating the images.
© 2002, Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved
Blowin' In The
A technique that I recently learned from Doug Kirkland and Jack Reznicki
at PMA was the use of a wind machine. A great one is made by Elinchrom
I've been using it recently and loving the results. With all the
accessories that go along with the machine you can create various degrees
of blowing power and width of how great an area you want to affect. I
watched the two of them using it and tried it out myself.
All accessories don't have to be mechanical in nature, you know.
For a long time now I've been carrying pieces of fabric that I could
wrap my subjects in and/or have someone hold up behind my subjects for
a background. That's what I did when this model came to me in a
red satin blouse. I just found a similar color fabric and blended her
clothing with the background. To hide the wrinkles in the fabric I softened
them in Photoshop by creating a layer in which I blurred the background
with Gaussian Blur.
All the time I had my camera on my favorite brand-new tripod. It's
extremely lightweight and solid as a rock. It's a Manfrotto 3443D,
distributed by Bogen. I found the perfect ball head for me, too. It's
the Manfrotto #488. You can check them both out on Bogen's web site:
The tripod has a locking device that keeps its legs from opening up while
moving it around. First-class all the way! What I also love about it is
that it's easily adjustable for when I want to raise or lower my
camera. The legs drop down easily and lock in position with a simple flip
of a lever. No loosening and tightening of screw joints. One person can
do whatever adjustments are necessary in seconds.
Crop In The Finder
As you probably can see from some of my cropped photographs, I don't
always conform to a standard 5x7 or 8x10 size. I have, however, had some
of my eyepieces in my cameras replaced with marked guidelines for these
crops. They're available through AccurFocus. Jim Lakey is the man
you want to talk to there. His e-mail is 2020@bright
screen.com. The reason for the "20/20" is that his main
business is supplying incredibly sharp focusing screens for most of the
name brand cameras.
Of course, when you're thinking "accessories" that you
just can't do without, you can always dream of having models in
front of your camera like I've been showing you here. Well, some
of us have it lucky, don't we? Anyhow, when you've got beauties
like this, there's nothing wrong with occasionally adding a few
live flowers when you have them available. I saw the colors of her dress
and thought that the flowers somehow picked up those colors. I often add
flowers--even to the point of having flowers brought in just for
All the models are seated, by the way, on ALM posing stools (also known
as "Monte Posing Stools") that I could never be without. I
always have a minimum of two of them with me wherever I go! They adjust
to whatever height I need when I'm posing individuals or groups.
Plus, the second stool can also be used as a posing table on which subjects
can rest their arms for more comfort. They're available from Unique
All my lights are "connected" to my camera by means of Quantum's
It's been absolutely successful for me. I can turn up to four lights
on or off directly from my camera using this FreeWire system. Quantum
makes another control that can adapt off-camera lights to through the
lens metering. Now, I can modify the lights from minus 2 f/stops to plus
2 f/stops over what the camera's automatic eye is reading.
You know, there are a few accessories that you and I may have been taking
for granted. And now that I'm writing this I realize that I couldn't
possibly do without the two boom arms from Westcott (www.fjwestcott.com)
that allow me to put my lights in place without having to worry about
getting the stands in the pictures. Where would my portraits be without
the hairlight that I use regularly?
Hard Drive Back-Up
By the way, with all the super-huge files I've been generating out
of my various Canon cameras I've had to have an accessory storage
device. Even with all the memory that I have in my computers, it's
never enough. Fortunately, I found two external hard drives that I could
never do without. I always carry a 30GB drive with me and have a similar
120GB hard drive at home. They're called Fire-n-Ice, manufactured
by Think Computer Products (www.thinkmemory.com).
Let's not forget the one prop that I've been using for years
and would never want to be without. It's the Photogenic Posing Table
Sometimes, it's included in the portraits I create, but more often
it's used just to help position arms for composition. Here, I've
included it in my portrait. I've tried to do without when it's
just too difficult to fly with all my "necessities," but I've
always missed having it at my disposal. If you want to make your life
easy for portraits, this posing table is a must!
Other accessories that I could absolutely never do without are my two
carrying cases. For years now I've been living with my Porter Case
These are hard cases on wheels in which you can partition the entire contents
to house whatever equipment you're carrying. The absolute best and
most unique feature of these cases is the fact that in seconds you can
convert the cases to a wheeled carrying cart that can support hundreds
of pounds of other things that you're carrying with you. Do I have
to tell you how much this means to me as I'm traveling the world
over? I would have retired long ago had it not been for these cases.
And now I've just found
another wheeled case that fills another desperate need for me. I have
so much camera equipment that I need to carry with me--and not check
with airline baggage. I don't have enough room to carry it all and
my laptop computer that I could never be without. Well, this Pelican soft-sided
case (model PCS 172) holds a combination of camera gear and a laptop computer.
It's distributed through BKA (www.bka
photo.com). Between the two cases, I figure that I can easily fly
around the world in comfort for at least another few years...and carry
everything I need with me with just the two cases that you're allowed
to carry on board a plane now.
Monte Illuminator, Of Course!
While I'm thinking of accessories that I could never get along without,
let me not forget the one item that I've been using for years. As
a matter of fact, I helped to design it and it even has my name attached
to it. It's my silver/black reflector. The Monte Illuminator, made
by Westcott, too. I used to use it to open up shadows or block light.
Now, I'm using it for a main light. Take a look at this portrait
and see how I've got it reflecting window light onto the right side
of this gentleman's face. It becomes the main light when I use it
Power To Go
And now, for my final surprise. Just a short time ago I purchased from
a flight attendant on a plane an accessory that I never knew existed.
It's called Juice. It's a little travel kit with which you
can power up a laptop, a handheld, or a mobile phone as you're traveling.
It can plug into AC (of course), a car's cigarette lighter, and/or
an airplane armrest. It's manufactured by iGo and distributed by
Mobility Products (www.igo.com).
You know, my mother (who lived to be 105) once said to me that everything
that could be invented had been invented. There's nothing left!
Boy, was she ever wrong. She also often told me that she had a dream.
"What did you dream, ma?"
"I dreamed you called me on the telephone!"
"Aw, ma, gimme a break!"
Had she lived long enough she could have seen me whenever she wanted to
live--and on any computer--just by tuning into www.zugaphoto.tv