Master Class
Accessories Can Make A Big Difference

Master Class

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.

Memory Storage
I have, of course, long ago replaced film with Delkin's 640MB eFilm Memory Card ( 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.

Photos © 2002, Monte Zucker, All Rights Reserved

Blowin' In The Wind
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.

Portable Background
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.

Solid Support
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 The reason for the "20/20" is that his main business is supplying incredibly sharp focusing screens for most of the name brand cameras.

Flower Fancy
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 a shoot!

Posing Stool
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 Photo (

FreeWire System
All my lights are "connected" to my camera by means of Quantum's FreeWire ( 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.

Extension Arms
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 ( 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 (

Posing Table
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 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 this way.

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 (

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 and/or