The Christmas holidays are approaching, and with them, the rise of consumerism. Many people are thinking about gifts and creating lists of gift suggestions. Articles on the APA website are typically read by photographers themselves rather than their loved ones. So, I thought I would create a list of things that we can buy for ourselves to make our work easier and more enjoyable. I wish you all to find something better under the Christmas tree this year.
A tripod is truly a crucial piece of equipment for architectural photographers. We use it extensively, and I’ve written about it in previous articles (check out my reviews of a large tripod and a small one, as well as a head). That’s why I’ll start with small accessories related to it. On my Instagram profile, I often share behind-the-scenes content, and I’ve noticed that I receive the most reactions and questions from around the world regarding my stone bag. It’s a really inexpensive, simple, and lightweight item that has been a tremendous help in my work!
As the name suggests, the bag is designed for holding stones. A fellow architecture photographer recently told me that he was capturing a building on the summit of Śnieżka Mountain in winds reaching 150 km/h! He found the stone bag I recommended to be very useful for him as he could weigh down the tripod with rocks he found on the summit. This prevented the wind from tipping over the camera. However, I often use this bag to carry lenses. The version with three compartments works perfectly for me because I frequently use the LAOWA 20 mm f/4 Zero-D Shift, Canon TS-E 50mm f/2.8L, GF 45-100 mm f/4 R LM OIS WR (waiting for the GF30 shift) so there’s still space for a bottle with something to drink. I can always have these lenses at hand, and in most situations, I can move the tripod with them inside the stone bag. This solution works especially well indoors.
I personally use two Leofoto products: the smaller RB-1 with compartments and the larger, more rugged RB-2. The latter is definitely more suitable for larger tripods and challenging mountain conditions, and additionally, it comes with a hook allowing you to hang extra weight. Of course, there are many other similar products from different companies. It’s not a complicated or expensive product, but I really regret that I’ve only started using it recently.
The umbrella holder
Have you ever had to work in rainy weather? While you likely photograph most often in optimal conditions, sometimes you have to work in the rain. I recently photographed a floating sauna. The designer who built it and commissioned the photos chose an autumn date for the session. The leaves on the trees and the overcast sky created a great atmosphere, combined with the warm light emanating from the heated stove. Additionally, there was a light rain. A handy accessory for me in such situations was the umbrella holder attached to the L bracket. It also has great applications for working in harsh sunlight. A lightweight, small umbrella that won’t be a hindrance when carrying or adjusting the camera can shield the screen from light and make it easier to assess the frame.
If you don’t want to buy a special holder, you can make one yourself, for example, by using A Practical Guide to Making an Umbrella Holder prepared by Holly Gordon…
Leofoto offers various solutions for holding a rain umbrella. However, I opted for a different option. I recommend a small additional holder that you can attach to an L-bracket or another Arca Swiss standard rail or plate. The TetherArca Cable Clamp is theoretically designed for holding cables but can also be used to attach an umbrella dedicated to studio lamps.
You can also screw in a magic arm, which allows you to secure an umbrella or other accessories. Instead of a cable, I simply insert the handle of the umbrella into this holder.
If you have experience working with medium format digital backs and technical cameras, you’re likely familiar with the invaluable feature of Capture One called LCC, which stands for Lens Cast Calibration. This feature can also be useful when shooting with a DSLR or mirrorless camera. It significantly speeds up and facilitates the removal of vignetting and dust from the sensor. Therefore, it’s worth having the appropriate plate to create a reference file.
The plate is simply a piece of semi-transparent white plexiglass that you can buy inexpensively, but if you prefer, you can spend a lot of money on a ready-made photographic product.
Having a pocket-sized multitool is always a good idea, and there are plenty of interesting models out there. Here are a few of my suggestions:
Or maybe you could use a small tripod that hides a screwdriver, or rather a multifunctional screwdriver that can also serve as a tripod extension or a handle when you want to shoot videos with your phone. Check out the LMT-10 produced by Leofoto.
Geared panning head
I am a fan of geared heads, and I believe it’s a great solution for architectural photographers. Unfortunately, practically no model is sold with geared pano as a standard feature. All movements are geared, except for panning. I personally use the Rogeti L-bracket and am very satisfied with it. I also had the opportunity to test their geared pano product CAP-GZA, and I liked it a lot. It’s a small, pocket-sized item that is really well-made.Thanks to the Arca Swiss standard connection, we can attach it to virtually any tripod head.