I first imported Kirk products about 5 years ago after getting a recommendation from a fellow professional in the US. Since then I have built up a good collection of Kirk products, which include plates, window mounts and teleflash adaptors. All are beautifully made and carefully thought out, with solid construction providing good value for money. The only problem with Kirk products was the wait to have them shipped from the US; now that is a thing of the past as wex photographic is distributing their products in the UK.

Kirk Custom Fit L-Brackets

Kirk Custom Fit L-BracketsWow, if there were an award for the simplest, yet smartest, camera accessory then this would be a major contender. Tripod heads are all designed to shoot in the horizontal (landscape) format; they are at their most stable and the centre of gravity is down the centre of the tripod. I have lost count of the number of times that I have lost a portrait shot trying to force the head in the right position. Well no more with the Kirk L-bracket. After setting up the head for your horizontal, it is just a quick few second’s work to switch it to portrait position. I have already used the Kirk L-Bracket on a professional job and it worked wonders. I now have them for all my camera bodies, including the medium format. A must for all forms of photography.

Kirk BH-1 Ball Head

Kirk BH-1 Ball HeadMy old faithful Arca-Swiss ball head has now given up and gone to meet its maker due to my extreme usage of it. For the past few weeks I have been looking at ball heads, both from the weight point of view and their ability to hold a range of lenses up to 500mm. I have now settled on the Kirk BH-1 ball head for my standard daily use; it is tough enough to withstand my daily abuse and light enough to create no problems when traveling. Quality for me is an important issue, especially with the ball component, and the BH-1 has a nice free movement, good quick locking capabilities and is made to last. Made from non-corrosive components, the BH-1 is sure to outlast its predecessors in the harsh environments that I will expose it to.

Kirk BH-3 Ball Head

Kirk BH-3 Ball HeadThe smaller cousin of the BH-1, this head is designed for those of you that generally use a 35mm / 645 camera body with a small lens. Perfect for landscape photography, this head is small yet tough, living up to the usual Kirk design principles.

Ball Head Snap Collars

Ball Head Snap CollarsThere are times when I need to quickly move from one place to another and just carry the tripod with the lens attached. It usually takes 2 minutes or so for the weight of the lens to pull it down onto my head, resulting in a nice collection of bumps. Ball heads are notorious for doing this, as it is easy to forget to lock them tightly in a rush. The Kirk Snap Collar is another great little accessory that locks the ball head into place during transport. This prevents painful bumps on the head, damage to equipment and also reduces the wear and tear on the ball head (which will prolong its life).

Kirk King Cobra

Kirk King CobraFollowing the Wimberley style of tripod head, The KIng Cobra offers a few refinements to this design. Self-lubricating bearings allow a really smooth motion, perfect for following a bird in flight or Joe Cole heading for goal (notice I did not mention West Ham actually scoring). This is the only kind of head suitable for fast action work, with its 3/4" screw thread it can be mounted on a variety of supports, including the Kirk Window Mount. I have found that when using this kind of head it is best to leave it completely unlocked and free to move; if your subject sits still then simply tighten the main locking bolt a little to introduce some more drag.

Kirk Window Mount

Kirk Window MountThose of you who have read my "Life In The Wild" book will know that I use the Kirk Car Mount extensively. It fits on the side of the car and locks onto the window, which must be raised an inch or so. Using a car mount is so much less restrictive than a beanbag; I can pan and tilt more easily to follow a moving subject, then lock the whole assembly up to focus on a subject sitting still. The 3/4" thread will take any tripod head, such as the Kirk Ball head or the King Cobra. By the way if you are precious about your car and polish it every week then don't worry, the car mount has rubber pads where it touches the car so you wont see any damage. Don't forget the Kirk Car Mount has more usages than just for photography, it is perfect for supporting a Digi or Spotting Scope too - and will always be focused where you need it.

Kirk Low Pod

Kirk Low PodDesigned for low angle work, the Kirk Low Pod allows you to support the camera right next to the ground. I wish that this accessory had been available to me earlier this year in Namibia. I had set up several remote cameras on trails where a leopard regularly patrolled, but had to use cheap, flimsy mini tripods. The Kirk Low Pod is very stable by design, takes a standard ball head and has a carry handle to easily attach it to a rucksack for a day in the field. I will be using it in South Africa in January for several shots that I need to get on my next commissioned trip.

Kirk Mounting Plates

Kirk Mounting PlatesI could count the number of shots I have missed screwing cameras / lenses into tripods on several of my alien hands. These days I use the Kirk Quick Release system, which means that I can swap equipment on and off my tripod with the minimum of fuss and delay. I have Arca-Swiss compatible Kirk plates attached to every lens and camera that I use; it is a waste of time just buying one or two, you need to have all your gear mounted up and ready for action Tonto. Plates come in all shapes and sizes, so check out the buying guide to see which one suits your needs.

Mounting Platforms

Mounting PlatformsDon't despair if you do not have a mount on your tripod, Kirk make a series of mounting platforms to match their plates. Just attach one of these to the top of your tripod head and rejoice out loud as fiddling with the tripod screw (as opposed to fiddling the electric meter) will be a thing of the past.

Using Flash with a telephoto lens

There are many occasions in the field when it is necessary to add some flash to the subject - perhaps to lighten an eye or to give some detail to dark fur. When using a telephoto lens (above 200mm) there are a number of considerations:

  1. Putting your flash on the cameras hot shoe will create red eye. The solution is to take the flash as far from the lens as possible by using an angled bracket. These normally fit to the camera’s tripod socket, which means that any rotation of the camera (from horizontal to vertical) will cause the flash to rotate too. This will unbalance the whole set-up, which I tell you from personal experience as it has happened to me many times.
  2. The range of most flash units is not sufficient in daylight to put the required amount of light on the subject, particularly when using a 400mm lens or greater.

Fortunately Kirk has thought about this and makes the following three accessories to address these problems:

Telephoto Flashbracket

Telephoto FlashbracketThe Kirk Telephoto Flashbracket fits on the lens collar hence does not suffer from the rotation problems mentioned above. It mounts the flash well above the lens path, which reduces the effect of red eye. The bracket is small and light, yet sturdy so will stand up to the rigours of being stuffed in a LowePro rucksack.

Extension Arm

Extension ArmSometimes it is nicer to put the flash unit in an elevated position to give a more natural light on the subject. The Kirk Extension Arm does just that, mounting directly on top of the telephoto flash bracket. Again it packs small.

Flash X-Tender

Flash X-TenderThis is the most utilised piece of Kirk equipment that I have - in fact it is fantastic. It extends the range of a flash unit by an incredible amount and most of the time I have to dial the power of the flash unit right down to compensate for it. With my Canon D60 digital I have used this extensively in Africa to light up subjects that were several hundred metres away. It packs flat, is incredibly light and is an essential accessory for anyone with a flash.


ToolkitI have lost count of the number of times I have needed a Phillips, or an Allen key of a certain size. Normally I carry around a plastic bag of assorted tools, which is a pretty sloppy practise for a professional. Now I use this nifty little toolkit, which has adaptors for everything that I currently use. They are all stored in one place, in this tough little case, even I would struggle to lose them!