11 Really Useful Photo Accessories For Amazing Photography
Useful photo accessories, do you need any? If you’re serious about photography and have a camera system, you probably do.
In order to be a photographer, all you need is a camera. That’s all you need to take photographs.
If you have a Point and Shoot Camera, a Bridge Camera, or a Camera Phone, you can take photos.
They will require a charged battery and a memory card. These can be regarded as part of the camera. Now they’re that essential.
Obviously if you’re using a film camera, you need some film, and batteries.
That set up will suffice if you only want casual and occasional images. Say snaps taken on holidays, on social occasions, or of family.
Many people only want these photographs. Some people never want more from a camera.
These all in one, rather basic cameras sell. Serious photographers don’t buy them much, but somebody does.
People who get bitten by the photography bug want more. They wont be satisfied by this set up for very long.
An interchangeable lens camera will become the centre of a photographers set up. They’ll want a DSLR or a CSC that they will build into a camera system.
In all probability they will add some or of of these useful accessories.
Useful photo Accessories a photographer needs
From the moment you buy a DSLR or CSC you’re going to want add ons. These are some useful photo accessories that add to your photographers gear.
While these are not essential accessories to take a photograph, they are, to be a serious photographer.
When initially purchasing an interchangeable lens camera, it will usually be boxed. As well as the camera it will include one lens, known as a kit lens.
It is possible to buy a camera with two lenses, but most people will start with a standard kit lens.
This is generally a mid range zoom lens. With this set up your able to start taking photographs.
You will want to add some useful accessories in time. When and in what order is a personal choice.
Some extra lenses are a given. How many, when, and in what order is again a personal decision.
Here I’m going to look at some other useful accessories you can add to your camera system.
A Ring Light is a useful lighting accessory
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Sometimes you want a photograph where there are no shadows to be seen.
Product photography used for advertising is one such occasion. Still Life photos of all sorts generally look better without visible shadows.
To achieve this, you can use a Ring Light. These are circular lights that fit around a lens and cast an even light. The light surrounds the subject from all sides.
The light can be either a flash or constant light.
They work on close subjects, where the lens is directly in front of what’s being photographed.
The images look better when the subject is small enough for the light to totally surround it.
With an even light coming from all directions if completely eliminates shadows.
Ring Lights will not be needed by all photographers. Landscape and wildlife photographers are two that would probably never use them.
The subject must be close to the lens. Then the Ring Light will totally dominate any other light source.
If the subject is too far away, another light source will cast shadows.
Take a number of shots with the subject a various distances and see where it works.
Adding a Speedlight or Flashgun
Most cameras come with a built in flash light. They’re useful in some situations, but are limited in what they do.
Basically they light the subject directly in front of the camera. This isn’t always what’s required from an extra light.
A https://www.amazon.com/s?k=speedlight&ref=nb_sb_noss_1 and a Flashgun is the same thing. They’re an extra flash light that’s added to the hot shoe on top of the camera.
These lights are generally more powerful than the built in flash. You can also do much more with them.
Firstly you can swivel them around and aim the light at a ceiling or wall. This will bounce the light for a softer effect.
It’s important when doing this that the surface the light bounces of is white. Otherwise there will be a colourcast of the colour of the surface used on the subject photographed.
You can also use these lights off the camera. They must still be connected either by a cable or by an electronic signal.
If it’s by cable, it extends from the light, and fits to the hot shoe, where the Flashgun normally goes. This can only extend the light as far as the cable reaches.
In the second method the light and camera communicate electronically.
There’s a paired transmitter and receiver. One is attached to the camera hot shoe, the other to the base of the light unit.
Speedlights, or Flashguns, if you prefer, give greater lighting options. They’re mainly used indoors.
Get a Tripod, a very useful photo accessory
It’s very easy to get a blurry photograph when you shoot holding the camera with your hands.
A slight movement while the shutter is open and it’s blurry.
The movement was so slight you never felt it. You can’t believe the photo looks the way it does.
Off course you can say you meant to do it, that it’s an artistic interpretation. That’s not going to take away the blur, or make you feel better.
Even if your photos are mostly perfect, shooting handheld can lead to pointing and shooting. You can be shooting everything spontaneously, particularly with a digital camera.
Using a Tripod can sort out these problems.
Once you see that the Tripod is totally stable before you shoot, you will get sharp shots. You will need to use a remote shutter release, or set the self timer.
If the Tripod moves slightly the photo will also blur.
Do things correctly and it won’t move. You can never be sure when shooting handheld.
Placing the camera on the Tripod will slow you down. This will make you will consider the image you about to take more than if you hadn’t a Tripod.
You will check the camera settings and consider the composition instead of pointing and clicking.
It should improve your photography. You should get a greater percentage of good shots, and less blurred shots.
A Tripod is a very useful photo accessory.
You may like a Monopod instead, or as well
A Monopod is a slimmed down version of a Tripod in essence.
Instead of three legs the Monopod has only one.
The camera is fixed to the top in the same way as a Tripod. The Monopod is also used to steady the camera when shooting.
As the Monopod has only one leg, it has to be held by one of your hands. The other is used to operate the camera.
It’s quicker and easier to assemble and get ready for use than a Tripod.
You can swing it about easier than a Tripod, to respond to something to the side of where’s it presently aimed.
Monopods are used by sports photographers a lot. The action they’re covering can swing from one side to another rapidly.
Bird or wildlife photographers can find them useful also. Again they might need to re-aim their camera quickly.
Some Tripods incorporate a Monopod. One of the Tripod legs can be removed, and used on their own as a Monopod.
Not all photographers will use Monopods, but those who do will find them almost indispensable.
Another useful photo accessary is a Remote Release
When you use a Tripod to steady your camera, you can ruin it by pressing the shutter and creating movement.
It only takes a slight movement to ruin a photograph.
There are two ways of avoiding movement when shooting using a Tripod.
One is to use the self-timer. Set it to two seconds. When the two seconds has elapsed, the movement caused while setting it will have subsided.
The other method is to use a Remote Release to fire the shutter.
Their are two types. One attaches to the camera with a cable. The other uses an electronic communication.
While the self-timer gets the job done perfectly, it gets tedious setting it every time.
There’s much more comfort using the Remote Release. You just press the button without touching the camera.
Now with the cable Remote Release, it’s attached to the camera, physically.
This means that you can tug the camera when operating the cable Remote Release.
To avoid this happening, take the Release in your hand and wait before pressing it. Also keep the cable as long as possible.
That way if you jerk it, it will be long enough not to jerk the camera as well.
If you use a Tripod a Remote Release will be an invaluable, useful photo accessory.
There are different kinds of Filter
There are several different filters that are useful to photographers.
First there’s U V Filters, which blocks Ultra Violet light.
They used to be useful for that reason in film photography. Film has improved over the years so they’re not necessary anymore.
They can be useful for protecting lenses from dust and dirt while shooting in dusty places.
Polarising Filters cut reflections and glare, and can make colours more vibrant.
These filters can cut down reflection from water allowing you to photograph into the water. Without one a photograph of water will have more glare.
They can bring out more blue in skies, and add vibrance to a shot.
Graduated Neutral Density Filters, or N D Filters, are another photographic filter.
These are most useful for landscape photography to balance sky and land.
Often in landscape photographs the sky has little or no colour.
An N D Filter can balance the light entering the lens, and retain colour in the sky.
Half the filter has clear glass while the other half is darkened.
Placing the darkened glass over the sky helps retain some detail there that’s lost otherwise.
Photographers may not always use filters but they’re useful photo accessories to have when needed.
They must be the correct size to fit the lenses a photographer has.
That size is the diameter of the lens, it’s marked on the front of the lens.
Always have some Cleaning Gear
Some cleaning gear is certainly not the most exciting photographic accessory, but it’s certainly useful.
A little dust on the camera body isn’t going to do much harm. However if it gets on the sensor, it can do a lot.
It will show up on the photos taken while it’s there, and spoil, if not ruin them.
The same result can be expected if there’s dust on a lens when shooting.
A spec or two on a photograph can be cleaned off with software, but too many will be a challenge.
Things will be much better if there isn’t any dust there.
Dust on the sensor can be avoided in the main, by being careful when changing lenses.
It’s much harder to avoid ever getting a spec on the front of a lens. Dealing with it is easier though.
Having some Cleaning Gear to hand is definitely useful when dust becomes a problem.
It’s not too hard to learn how to clean a lens. The process is a delicate rather than a complicated one.
Cleaning a sensor is much harder. You can learn it.
It’s better to be taught it by an experienced practitioner rather than figuring it out for yourself.
Choose the right Camera Bag for your needs
You can stick a small Point and Shoot camera, or a Smartphone in your pocket.
Once your camera gear grows beyond that you need to think about getting a Camera Bag.
It keeps your gear together, protects it, and makes it easier to carry.
Camera Bags start small enough to house one of those fit-in-the-pocket Point and Shoots.
They grow to one that will accommodate two camera bodies, several lenses, and various other bits.
You can carry some by handle, some on your shoulder, as a backpack or pull along on wheels.
Most are soft, but strong bags. Some are made from rigid material and are a case rather than a bag.
The variety available caters for different camera set ups, and different photographic needs.
Some photographers don’t have much gear and don’t need a big bag.
Others have a lot of gear and like to house it all together.
There are photographers who only bring little gear when they go on a shoot.
Off course there are others who travel with enough gear to fill a studio.
Then there are those who have a lot of gear, but don’t bring it all on a shoot. These might need two bag, a big one at home, and a smaller one for shoots.
Work out what you need before you choose.
Photo Editing Software
Photographs don’t always look their best straight out of a camera.
If you shoot jpegs you can leave them as is. Most of them might be O K. You might be pleased with how they look.
However if you shoot RAW, you will need to work on them.
RAW files have much more information stored in them and are a more durable format. It’s worth getting comfortable with shooting in that format.
You will absolutely need a RAW editor when you do.
There are a number of them on the market. Most upgrade and add new features every year.
Some are subscription only, where you effectively rent their use.
Most are ones you buy and own for ever. You can choose to upgrade these every year, some years, or never.
If you never upgrade, the software will eventually be un-useable, as hardware and system software move on.
No matter how good Photo Editing Software seems to be, it’s always improving.
While some years the improvements are merely cosmetic, every few years brings really useful new or enhanced features.
Photo editing software is not so much a useful accessory, it’s a necessity.
Some situations benefit from using a Reflector
Reflectors are used to turn back light into the shaded side of a subject. This gives a more even light overall.
They’re used mostly in portrait photography.
When shooting portraits out of doors using just natural light, a reflector can make a great difference.
Usually the light comes from one side of the subject. This leaves one side well lit and the other side mostly in shadow.
Placing a reflector on the shaded side of the subject, bounces some light back and softens the shadow.
It can also make a difference if the subject is inside being lit through a window. The side of the person facing the window gets all the light.
Place a reflector to the side of the subject facing into the room, to bounce the light back.
A reflector can also help with a still life being shot just using ambient light.
Without using artificial light, using a reflector is a good way of avoiding strong shadows.
They usually come with a choice of colours to get different effects.
A white one is always included to give a natural or neutral colour.
Silver, and sometimes gold are often present to give a slightly different tone.
This can be a very useful accessory particularly to a portrait photographer.
An External Hard Drive is almost essential
Digital photographs need to be stored in digital format.
Film photographs were printed on to paper, or as slides, and stored in that form.
The negatives were also kept to print other copies of if and when required.
There’s nothing stopping you from printing all your digital photographs also. We accumulate so many digital images that I expect very few people do print them all.
The equivalent of the negative in digital is the jpeg, tiff or RAW file. They need to be stored on a Hard Drive..
All computers have a Herd Drive at their heart. While it’s only one part of the set up, it’s one users are very aware of.
An extra External Hard Drive has two uses for a photographer.
First it stores a second copy of their digital files. This is necessary in case the main Hard Drive malfunctions.
Secondly it extends the capacity of the storage.
A Hard Drive that once seemed to have too much capacity to ever fill, does fill too easily.
An External Hard Drive is not only a useful photo accessory, it’s fast becoming an essential one.
Other accessories and photographs
There are other useful photo accessories available to photographers, but these are among the most useful.
All of these will add to your photographic experience.
If you don’t have any of these accessories yet, then perhaps you starting them gradually.
The photographs I’ve used in this article are just to brighten it up.
They’re not to illustrate the use of any accessories. The photos were all taken in 2014 and 2015 and I can’t remember what accessories I used.