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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Gadgets That Work: McClamp

Move over Plamp, the McClamp's in town and he's takin' over...... Seriously, I have been a longtime user of the Wimberly Plamp for taking photographs of plants and flowers in the great outdoors, where the wait for the wind to die down can seem interminable while you develop lower back spasms from being bent over and looking into the viewfinder for the little buggers to just hold still for a second. The Plamp certainly helps. But there have always been a few things that I have found very frustrating with it:

1) It seems absurd to attach the one end of the Plamp to your tripod. The whole point is to hold the flower still while the photographer does what is necessary to get a good shot. In my mind this means the optimum function would be to not only hold the flower still during a gentle wind but to also hold it still while making adjustments with the camera. While the Plamp does an amirable job with the former it fails miserably with the latter.

To attach the end of the device to your tripod leg is totally counterintuitive. Why? Every time you want to adjust the tripod the least little bit to get the flower in the frame just the way you want it....well, you know what happens, the flower moves as well. You can't move one without moving the other and a frustrating battle ensues. To say just move the Plamp and not the tripod is not the answer because the Plamp movements tend to have to be fairly coarse ones. Sure, if there is a sturdy tree or plant nearby that is not too fat and not too skinny you can clamp your Plamp to that, but how often does that happen...repeat after me N-E-V-E-R.

2) The Plamp always seems to apply too much pressure to the plant or flower in its jaws than I would like. When I am done, I always have this sneaking suspician that the holding process is not quite as benign as I would like to believe. True, you can put the stalk in the larger open portion of the Plamp jaw, but then it still holds it either too firmly or too loosely, depending on the size of the plant or flower.

Enter McClamp-The Stick. I bought one on a lark, mainly because of the two issues above, just to see if it could improve on the Plamp. McClamp-The Stick......in, Plamp out!

For one thing, no more clamping the darn thing to the tripod. It is very similar to the Plamp but has a pointed plastic stake attached to one end that you just shove into the ground. Presto, no more plant movement every time you adjust the position of the tripod.

On to problem number two. This part is a bit tough to describe, but the area within the central part of the jaw that holds the plant is filled with a foam that has a good bit of give. Put the stalk of your fragile plant in there and it is held firmly, but not so tightly that you feel guilty as you walk away. Have something sturdier or heavier that you want to grip? No problem. The ends of the jaws have hard plastic that holds more tightly, similar to the Plamp.

One warning, since the stake on the McClamp needs to be pushed into the ground, the McClamp-The Stick won't work if the terrain is extremely rocky or 'solid as a rock'. Then you're back to the Plamp, or the McClamp-The Clamp, which, like the Plamp, attaches to your tripod but still has the foam for a kinder, gentler plant hold.

I am really pleased with the gadget. B&H sells them. I should mention that I have no connection to the company that make the McClamp.

By the way, I was using my McClamp to hold trillium in place this weekend and you know what that means, stay tuned......