Things We Love: Photography edition

By Columbus Alive
From the September 12, 2013 edition

Every photographer has a few tools in his or her bag to help out when in a bind, but most have their own custom stash based on what they photograph. Here are some photography tools that are in my camera bag at all times, and why I absolutely love them.

5-way reflector

Oh man, talk about a multi-tool! The one I use is a Promaster 5-in-1 ReflectaDisc. It's got a silver side, a gold side, a silver and gold striped side (it approximates sunlight, which is a mixture of the two), a white side, and finally a slightly translucent white center panel. This lets you bounce light into the shadowy corners of your photos without adding another flash. It's also great to use outside in the sun, as it makes a lightweight and highly portable light source. And it makes for a great tarp when you need to lie down on super hot metal or pavement to get your shot. 

Pocket Wizards

Let me tell you, these things are aptly named. They literally changed the way that I shoot. Using radio frequency transmitters, these little babies let all my flashes run wirelessly, in sync and without effort. Cords that used to tether me to my lights and pesky, unreliable infrared transmitters are gone! All hail to the Wizards of Pockets!

Westcott's 43-inch Apollo Orb Softbox

I'm a big fan of Westcott's softboxes. They're lightweight, very portable and are extremely effective at directing the light of my flash the way I want. I've been using their square softboxes for the last four years or so, but I just got their new Orb softbox. It's amazing how the light coming out of this is gentle, soft and just wraps around the subject in a beautiful, yet even, way. It's like the square softboxes, but better, and with a fairly reasonable price tag. And for the photo nerds out there who have used the square boxes, these new orbs are built on a plastic frame, not a metal one. I'm hoping this will make for a more durable, less breakable softbox experience. I'll let you know how that works out.

Rechargeable Batteries

This might not seem like a big deal, but it really is. To have all of my gear powered up at once, I use 25 AA batteries. Granted, I rarely need to have all my gear on, but the price for going through just 12 batteries a day starts to add up. Rechargeable is the best way to go, financially and environmentally. 

On-site Gear Kit

This is simple stuff that you don't think you need until you really need it. So, I've made a little bundle of a few tools that I keep with me at all times. It's mainly some Gaff tape, a small first aid kit, a miniature but high-powered LED flashlight and a Leatherman tool. I also carry around a couple of wooden clothespins for clipping things, as well as for re-foaming beer. Turns out that there's a chemical in wood that makes it an easy foaming tool when used on beer. So there, you learned something today.