If someone you know—loved one, co-worker, odd relative—has been seriously bitten by the photography bug and you find yourself stumped for a gift for the holidays, I’ve got some suggestions for you. . All but two are products that I use on a regular basis and would have been thrilled to receive as gifts (feel free to send me the two I don’t have if you’re feeling unusually generous this holiday season… especially the XV-LT).
Photograph America Newsletter
This monthly newsletter focuses on a different landscape shooting location every month and provides details like the best time to visit a location and how to plan your trip to make the most of your photography options. It includes maps of the area and will usually give you advice about how many days to spend and where to be shooting during sunrise and sunset. The best gift would be to buy the full archive on DVD. That way your loved one will have photo-savvy information about over 100 locations at their fingertips.
Photographing the Southwest Book Series
This three-volume set of full-color books is essential reading if you plan to explore Utah, Arizona, or Colorado. It features full-color photographs and great advice for finding unique landscapes to shoot. When purchasing these books, make sure you get the second edition since they feature expanded information and full-color photographs.
This little gray card can be inserted into a scene and used to color correct just about any photograph. The key is to get the light that is falling on the subject you are shooting to fall on the WhiBal card. Then, once you get the image into Camera Raw, click on the gray part of the card with the White Balance eyedropper an you’ve color corrected the image. I prefer this white balance aid because it’s made of plastic and therefore isn’t as fragile as most of the other white balance aids and I don’t mind if it gets rained on.
Think Tank Photo Bags
I’ve been using Think Tank’s Modulus belt-based system for over a year now and absolutely love it. I also use their Airport International roller bag and Artificial Intelligence laptop bag and have nothing bad to say about them. Be sure to follow the links above for more info on how I use each of these products.
Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx GPS
This hand held GPS can show you exactly where and when the sun will raise and set, even if you don’t know what time zone you’re in. It can also be loaded with topo maps which can help you find your way back to your car after shooting in a remote location or remind you of the spots you found while scouting for locations.
Veraclock Dashboard widget
I use this inexpensive software to plan for future shoots by looking up what the moon phase will be at any particular day and to find out what time sunrise or sunset will be at different locations. It also features a nifty bar thingie that indicates when the sun will rise/fall, when the moon will be visible, and when the three types of twilight will begin and end. That way you can tell exactly when the stars will be visible and when the sky will go from blue to black. Sorry Windows people, this software is for Mac only.
Canon G9 Camera
This is one of only two items on this list that I don’t actually own. That’s because it’s not shipping yet. This smallish camera has a great point and shoot camera for the serious photographer. It can shoot in RAW mode, offers complete control over exposure and even features Auto Exposure Bracketing, which makes it possible to shoot hand held HDR shots. If you know of someone who has an expensive SLR camera, but is always complaining that they don’t have a camera on them every moment of the day, then get them this one. I plan to purchase one along with Canon’s underwater housing to use while snorkeling.
Really Right Stuff L Brackets
I absolutely love the combination on a Really Right Stuff L-bracket on my camera and their quick-release clamp on the top of my tripod. This combination gives you the most stable and solid camera/tripod connection while allowing you to switch from horizontal to vertical orientation in about one second.
Lens Baby 3G
If you know of a creative shooter who doesn’t already have a Lens Baby, then consider adding one to their camera bag. The Lens Baby allows you to shift the plane of focus on an image to create selective focus effects. I use this lens midday when the light isn’t great. It keeps me shooting when many other people have given up.
This $99 software allows you to create some amazing images by taking a three-shot bracket of exposures and merging them into one. You can either create a normal looking photograph or one that looks more like an illustration. For an ideal setup also consider including a pass to my new on-line HDR class where I show how to select good subject matter, setup your camera to shoot HDR, merge the shots and process them into the type of image I often feature on this blog (see example above).
Why not send your loved one off to a photography workshop to improve their skills and unwind for a while. There a quite a few workshops available around the country. If you want them to attend one of my workshops, then check out the LEPP Institute in Los Osos, CA, or the Institute for Visual Arts in Maui, HI.
Earth Roamer XV-LT
Here’s the ultimate gift for the photographer who has everything and the gift giver who has a big bank account. The Earth Roamer XV-LT is a four wheel drive RV that would be the perfect vehicle for extended photography trips. Everything in this vehicle runs on either solar or diesel, which means you can survive in a remote area for weeks on end. It has plenty of space for photo gear and even has a roof hatch and two good shooting locations on the roof. If you buy one, be sure to tell Cindy at Earth Roamer that I sent you 🙂 I don’t actually own one of these–yet!
I have negotiated discounts on many of these products, so be sure to check my new Equipment Discount page before purchasing anything.