Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Trinkets or Accessories?

Greetings and welcome to Hohenfels Volks, THE place for our place!

The term accessories has come to include a host of photographic gadgets of questionable value...  Ansel Adams

A sucker is born every minute…  PT Barnum

The first accessory we’re going to look at seems to have some merit. At least, for the maker it has merit. It’s the Camera Clip. This is a clip that mounts to your camera’s tripod bushing. The other piece goes on your belt or backpack strap. The 2 pieces clip together to keep your camera in place for easy carrying. It has a quick release button, and when worn on the belt looks kind of like some space alien stun gun thing. I’ve always found the camera strap to work best at carrying the camera, and being slightly free, a painless way to get the shot. No fussing with a clip or having your belt stretched (or worse, your pants falling down) by the weight of your camera.

Then there’s the SLR Pin Hole Lens. This is the cap from an SLR with a pinhole in it. This allows for pinhole photography without a pinhole camera. It’s a good idea, and may have merit if you wish to combine pinhole photography with digital photography. There’s no way to change your aperture, and no way to focus, so auto focus is out the window. This may not be usable with some SLRs, as the focus point has to be acceptably sharp, even in manual focus. This would apply to many DSLRs, therefore check before using!

Next up is a device called the Super-Secret Spy Lens. This gadget has a hole in the side of the lens and uses mirrors to photograph through the side. It allows you to pint your camera one direction, pretending to photograph something, while actually sneaking a photo of something (or someone) unsuspecting. I can see someone getting into trouble with this really quick! By the way, this little lens add on says right on it “Angle Scope!” It even includes in the ad on Amazon a sample use, on the beach…

Last up, my personal favorite for the no merit award goes to the Bottle Cap Tripod. First, there was the tabletop tripod, which allowed folks to shoot their food in fancy restaurants without having to handhold the camera. Then cam the Gorilla-Pod thing that allowed you to mount your camera to leafy tree branches. The final step (I hope!) in this evolution will be this. It’s a standard sized “bottle cap” that mounts to your camera and allows you to put it on a water bottle, juice bottle, cola bottle, whatever bottle, and take a photo, presumably of yourself or your group.

Of course, no list can be complete. Many gadgets may be useful to you, even when no one else finds them to be. This list is only showing a couple money wasters that actually do nothing to help your photography. Who’s to say the bottle cap is bad, if you can get a family shot when you’re out to a special dinner or something similar. There are so many more items that purport to be useful, when they’re actually nothing more than trinkets to make you feel better about your photography.

The best accessory for any camera, of course, is the manual. Read it, learn your camera, learn your style, and you’ll have no need for many of these trinkets. Some good accessories to have include a multicoated circular polarizer, a UV filter, good storage for digital photography, a good camera bag, a good cleaning kit, maybe some black and white filters if you plan to shoot monochrome, a remote release cable, and a flash with a couple mods. These items will flesh a very nice little kit, and have you moving through your scenes with ease after some practice! A very important piece of gear is a meter. Since most cameras today have built in meters, that can come later, and be a life saver in tricky light! Although, whatever accessories you have or use, you have to keep them ready and practice them to get the most from them.

Hohenfels Volks: The Retreat, Hermitage, Bayreuth
ISO 400, f/8, 1/30
One of the buildings at the Hermitage in Bayreuth. The feeling of being away from the world, even in the city, is something one can relate to in this age of stress! The feeling of splendor, yet remote contemplation make this place a winner. Shot with nothing but a Wratten #8, yellow, filter over my lens. No fancy tricks or gadgets were used, other than knowing what my camera would do and how the filter would alter the levels.

I hope that this will give you pause the next time you see that “magic bullet” device that will make all your photos super perfect! As any long time photographer will tell you, there are no magic bullets. Practice and knowing your gear is the closest thing to that magic bullet.

Get out and get making your photos! We’d love for you to share them with us on our Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. We’d love to see your work.

Is there anything you’d like to see here? Do you have a question? Share your thoughts here or at the Hohenfels Volks Facebook page. Of course, commenting on both Facebook and here is always appreciated, too! Don't forget, we're on Google+, too!

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