Useful accessories: 2) Extra support

There are some accessories available online which can be very helpful for a photographer. Some are good for holding pieces of equipment in place, while others will hold the subject being photographed in position – but they do help the photographer to get that special shot. I have found these items below to be helpful for shooting flowers, but some of these could easily be adapted for other types of photography.

Here are just some accessories I have found helpful.

1) Oasis Cupcakes floral foam (£4.99 for twin pack from Hobbycraft, UK). This when soaked with water allows for the flowers to stay fresh for much longer ( I top up the water every 2 days or so). Flowers I leave sitting in a container with water will last at most 5 to 7 days (sometimes only 1 to 2 days), whereas with this holder they seem to stay fresh for longer, sometimes up to a further 7 to 10 days depending on the flower.

Cupcake flower holder
Cupcake flower holder

2) Metz FH-100 flexible holders – costs £8.95 for a pair. Each measures about 24cm in length and weigh just under 70 grams. This comes with 1/4″ male threads on both ends, but also comes with 2 x 1/4″ female thread adapters for each flexible holder. It is fairly sturdy and will easily hold the UV torch I have and is especially useful for UV-induced visible fluorescence where I use 2 UV torches to light the flowers (maintains fixed consistent lighting of images for stacking).

Metz FH-100 flexible holder arms
Metz FH-100 flexible holder arms

3) Manfrotto Magic arm, flexible arm and Manfrotto super clamps. These weigh much more and cost a lot more but are very useful for holding much heavier pieces of equipment such as a larger flash. My Manfrotto flexible arm is used to hold my Quantum X2D Xenon flash in place. The Manfrotto Magic arm is holding the Magic Ball (see below) in place with my two UV torches.

Manfrotto magic arm, flexible arm with 2 super clamps
Manfrotto magic arm, Manfrotto flexible arm each mounted on a super clamp

4) Small adjustable ball head with cold shoe & 1/4″ female thread on one end and 1/4″ male thread on the other end. This is mounted to the Metz flexible holder and holds my UV torch in place. These can still be found on eBay but costs about £8.99 now (I paid much less for mine). It can also be used to mount items onto the hotshoe of the camera e.g. UV-torch or other LED light source.

Metz flexible arm with ballhead to hold UV torch
Metz flexible arm with ballhead to hold UV torch

5) Magic ball bought from eBay which has 14 3/8″ female threads to mount different items to. This allows for many different accessories to be mounted together in different ways/angles. The one I bought cost about £13 on eBay and came with a thick flexible arm (useless as not flexible or sturdy), 1 x 1/4″ male to 1/4″ male adapter and 1 x 3/8″ male  to 1/4″ male adapter. I would recommend  buying the magic ball without the flexible arm though – get the other adapters as they will come in handy.

Magic Ball
Magic Ball

6) Novoflex Flower stalk holder weighs just over 35 grams and cost me £12. It  has 1/4″ female thread for mounting to items such as the Metz FH-100 flexible holders, or to a ballhead. I have used this with two Metz FH-100 joined end to end to try and stabilise the flower stalk and reduce wind-induced movement when shooting outdoors. It does work but I am a little lazy to use it; especially as the two FH-100 flexible holders are permanently in use.

Novoflex Flower holder clip
Novoflex Flower holder clip

7) Novoflex Ground spike weighs about 70 grams and costs £11. It has 1/4″ male thread on one end to mount to flexible arms such as the Metz FH-100. This is pushed into the ground to stabilise the whole support. This can then be used with the Novoflex flower stalk holder to support a flower to reduce swaying in the wind.

Novoflex Ground spike
Novoflex Ground spike

With all that extra support you can get, photography should get a whole lot easier.

Boon