10 Inexpensive and Useful Photography Widgets

10 Inexpensive and Useful Photography Widgets

1. Stockings

Stretch one layer over your lens for a dreamy, soft effect ideal for female portraits and early-morning landscapes. Black stockings produce a different effect from white stockings, so keep one of each in your bag. (Gentlemen, be sure to explain in advance to your wife or girlfriend why you have women's stockings in your bag. You know what accidental discoveries can lead to.)

  1.  Adhesive Clay

This is not the same as modeling or polymer clay. Photographers refer to this clay generically as Blu-Tack (a brand name owned by Bostik), and Faber-Castell retails it as Tack-It. Because it has strong adhesive qualities without leaving behind sticky gunk, adhesive clay can be used to attach photos and posters to walls, to position small reflectors and mirrors around a set, to "pose" small objects and, to hold down small cameras at unusual angles without the use of a tripod.

  1.  Duct Tape

Movie sets, which need to move and position a myriad different items around, use tons of duct tape every day. Even if you don't work in a studio or on a set, where light stands and tripods and sets are taped down routinely, you will no doubt find some use for duct tape on the road if you knew you had it handy in your camera bag. Remember, the world won't stand still for you. You need to tape it down yourself.

  1.  Illustration Board

Keep several size handy around the studio to use as reflectors for every subject form people to pencils. Bare or covered with silver foil, these reflectors can be positioned with adhesive clay to place highlights exactly where you want them.

  1.  Tracing Paper

Tracing paper is so inexpensive and so easy to store, you have no reason not to have some around. You can place a layer or two over a studio light or your camera flash to soften its output. For more diffused light, stretch a sheet across two light stands or poles and position your light behind it – the farther the light is from the paper, the more diffused it becomes. In a pinch, you can also assemble a makeshift light tent out of it to shoot reflective and curved objects.

  1.  Paper Clamps

Photographers should be born with eight hands, that's how many we need to conduct a studio shoot. In lieu of expensive photographer's clamps, the medium-size and large paper clamps available at stationery stores are as useful in holding up reflectors, tracing paper, and small objects. You can also glue tow of them together for added versatility.

  1.  Trash Bag

It takes up so little space in your camera bag that you'll forget all about it – until you're caught outdoors in the rain. It's a quick and effective way to protect camera and lens or even the whole camera bag. Nature photographers also lay it, without spreading it open, on damp ground and set down their camera bag on it.

  1.  Clamp Flashlight

A flashlight that comes with a gooseneck clamp is better than one that simply clips on like a pen, because you can clamp it to a tripod or light stand, camera bag, shirt, or laptop and point the light where you need it.

  1.  Paint Brush

You'll want a small brush for dusting off equipment (camera and laptop) and a wide brush for sweeping sets before arranging your objects on them. Really, now, a camera can't tell if you use a photographer's brush or paint brush on it. Warning: not for use on glass elements or on computer display.

  1.  Art Paper or Art Boards

Check out the art supplies at the stationery store for backdrops and props. There are graduated prints and velvet papers which come in many colors, serve well as backdrop for tabletop still lifes. As fill cards, color paper can be used to reflect their color on the subject for creative effects.

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