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I get emails and comments from people who ask me for suggestions on everything from which lens to buy, to which restaurant to eat at when they come to the Tampa Bay area. So, for the past few months I’ve been putting together a “top 5″ list of all this type of stuff—from my favorite Photoshop books, to great places to get an amazing steak, to five things you probably didn’t know about me, to…well, just a load of different stuff—all over the board, on all different kinds of stuff.

I share the same recommendations I’d give to a friend, so you might actually find one or two parts to be helpful. I put links to as many things as I could, but as you’ll also see some things couldn’t have a link.

Note: although it’s a “top five” list, they’re listed in no particular order.

Also, if there’s a topic I missed, or a product/service/restaurant, etc. that you want to turn me on to….post it here…there’s nothing I love more than learning about cool new stuff.

One last thing: it’s a long list, and if I posted it on my home page, it would take up the whole page and then some, so click the “More” link below to see the full list. Hope you enjoy it, and that it starts off your Monday with a smile.

Five Teachers I’d love to take a workshop from:

  1. Karen Kuhen (link)
  2. Jay Maisel (link)
  3. Lou Manna (link)
  4. Nevada Wier (link)
  5. Michael Grecco (link)

Five restaurants you’ve got to try:

  1. Carmine’s on West 44th street in New York City
    Just incredible Italian Food, served family style, in a loud, wonderful atmosphere just steps off Broadway. It’s my single favorite restaurant on the planet. (link)
  2. J. Alexanders, in Tampa, Michigan, and 10 other states
    I always take visitors to Tampa here first, because it’s got a wonderful atmosphere, amazing food, beautiful preparation, and great service. Their prime rib is great; the burgers sublime, but their unique grilled chicken salad has no peer. (link)
  3. Maggiano’s Little Italy (nationwide)
    The next best thing to Carmines (link)
  4. La Teresita, in Tampa, Florida
    This is where you go for real Cuban/Spanish food. (link)
  5. City Fish in Oldsmar, Florida
    This is our local “I want a great dinner” hangout, and the official “Photoshop Guys” restaurant. We take all our friends here, and the atmosphere, food, and desserts totally rock. (link)

Five Photoshop Books I Recommend:

  1. Adobe Photoshop Restoration & Retouching, by Katrin Eismann (link)
  2. Photoshop CS3 Studio Techniques, by Ben Willmore (link)
  3. The Photoshop WOW! Book, by Linnea Dayton (link)
  4. Photoshop Lab Color, by Dan Margulis (link)
  5. Layers, The Complete Guide to Photoshop’s Most Powerful Feature, by Matt Kloskowski (link)

My Top Five Favorite Business Books:

  1. Purple Cow, by Seth Godin (link)
  2. Free Prize Inside, by Seth Godin (link)
  3. Blink, by Malcom Gladwell (link)
  4. Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds (link)
  5. The World is Flat 3.0: A brief history of the twenty-first century, by Thomas L. Friedman (link)

Five accessories I recommend for Outdoor Photographers

  1. A Hoodman Loupe
    If you shoot outdoors, you will find this invaluable. It covers the LCD monitor on the back of your camera, and you look through it (like a Loupe) so you can actually see what you just shot, even in bright daylight. I couldn’t shoot without it.
  2. A Really Good Tripod
    If you’re serious about photography, this is a must. Like my friend Bill Fortney says; there are two kinds of tripods: Ones that are light and easy-to-carry, and good ones. I use the Gitzo GT3540 Tripod Series 3 Mountaineer. It’s not that heavy (it’s Carbon Fiber), but it’s rugged and solid like a rock.
  3. A Killer Ballhead
    If you’re going to get a tripod, you need a killer ballhead. The ones from ReallyRightStuff are the best. I use the BH-40, but if you have some really long lenses, try the BH-55. You’ll fall in love.
  4. A Battery Grip
    It’s not just for the extra battery life (in fact, I’d say that’s secondary). It’s for the vertical shutter release and controls, so when you’re shooting vertically, the shutter button is right where you’d hope one would be. Plus, you’ll love the feel of your camera with a battery grip. You can find one for most any DSLR brand, and they’re not too expensive (with most below $200).
  5. A Polarizing filter
    If you shoot landscapes, this is required gear—if you can only buy one filter, this should be the one.

Five things you probably didn’t know about me:

  1. I don’t eat any type of seafood—not tuna, not shrimp, nada! If it swims, I don’t eat it. If it gets near stuff that swims, [i.e. seaweed], I don’t eat it.
  2. I love the TV shows Dancing with the Stars, and So you think you can Dance and Hell’s Kitchen. My wife got me to watch them; now I’m hooked. I can’t explain it.
  3. I’m a pretty decent rapper, and I’m pretty decent country music singer, but I’m not really into either one. I also play either Acoustic or Electric guitar almost every day.
  4. I used to be a tournament foosball player
  5. I don’t like scary (horror) movies at all, and never watch one.

Five Camera Bags I Really like:

  1. LowePro ProMag 2 AW
    This is my all-time favorite camera bag, because of it’s relatively small size and weight, but it can hold a surprising amount of gear. (link)
  2. LowePro Pro-Roller 1
    This is the one I use when I need to bring everything (like for a wedding shoot). The fact that it rolls is a life/back saver. (link)
  3. Think Tank Photo’s Modular Set (and Steroid Speed Belt).
    If you shoot sports, or any type of photography where you need to change lens often—this is the system to get. You wear it around your waist like a belt, and lens holders, camera bags, and accessories attach right to the belt, so your lenses and other gear are right at your finger tips. (link)
  4. The Boda Dry Lens Bag
    Jeff Revell got Matt hooked on this new bag, and now I’m thinking I’m going to have to get one, too. It’s perfect for travel photographers who work light, and need quick access, and good protection, for just a few important pieces of gear. Here’s the link to Jeff’s review.
  5. Kata R-103 GDC Rucksack
    I just got this well-made backpack that holds three lens, a camera body, accessories, and your laptop—all in one case. Very, very well made, but I’ve found one limitation; if you have a Nikon D3, with a Really Right Stuff L-bracket attached, it’s not deep enough, and the lid won’t close properly. Other than that scenario—it rocks. (link)

Five Photography Books That Will Inspire You

  1. Flying Flowers, by Rick Sammon (link)
  2. Window Seat, by Julieanne Kost (link)
  3. Golden Poppies of California, by George Lepp (link)
  4. The Pixelated Image, by David duChemin (link)
  5. Kentucky: Unbridled Spirit and Beauty by Chuck Summers (link)

Five Great Instructional Photography Books

  1. Understanding Exposure, by Bryan Petersen (link)
  2. Professional Softbox Techniques, by Stephen Dantzig (link)
  3. The Moment it Clicks, by Joe McNally (link)
  4. Lighting and the Dramatic Portrait, by Michael Grecco (link)
  5. Understanding Shutter Speed, by Byran Petersen (link)

Five people I’ve taken classes or workshops from, and highly recommend:

  1. Moose Peterson (link)
  2. Joe McNally (link)
  3. Bill Fortney (link)
  4. Neil and Susan Silverman (link)
  5. Anne Cahill (link)

Five Really Memorable Steaks:

  1. The Prime Rib at Morton (nationwide)
    They only get seven cuts of their Prime Rib, and they only serve it on Friday and Saturday nights. When you make your reservation, reserve your steak then. If you can get the end cut, it will ruin you for any other steak. (link)
  2. The Filet stuffed with Maytag Blue Cheese at Charlie’s Steakhouse in Tampa, Orlando, or Kissimmee, Florida
    This is, hands down, consistently the best, most tender, most flavorful filet I’ve never had. Period. (link)
  3. The New York Strip at Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse (nationwide)
    It comes out sizzling in a pool of butter. You can literally hear your arteries clogging as it comes out from the kitchen—but what a way to go! (link)
  4. The Sizzling Filet at Flemming’s Steakhouse (In most states)
    Totally different than the sizzling New York Strip at Ruth’s, or the filet at Charley’s, but incredibly yummy. Also, the side dishes at Flemming’s are the best anywhere. (link)
  5. The New York Strip at the Port Tavern & Grill, Kennybunkport, Maine
    An amazingly good steak at a place I wouldn’t expect it. I went there three times in two weeks last summer. All three rocked! (link)

My Top Five Favorite Fonts (right now)

  1. Satisfaction (link)
  2. Cronos (link)
  3. Mata (link)
  4. Sweetheart Script (link)
  5. Trebuchet (link)

My Top Five Workhorse Fonts (if you have the Creative Suite, you already have most, of not all of these).

  1. Helvetica (This classic in the middle of a huge comeback)
  2. Myriad Pro (When I need something hipper than Helvetica)
  3. Minion Pro (My Serif font go-to choice)
  4. Trajan Pro (When I went something to look really elegant, this is where I turn)
  5. Gil Sans Light (For a san-serif font, it can be both elegant and casual, depending on how you apply tracking).

Five Books You May Not Know That I’ve Written:

  1. The Book for Guys Who Don’t Want Kids (link)
  2. Macintosh: The Naked Truth (link)
  3. The iPod Book (link)
  4. The iPhone Book (link)
  5. Getting Started With Your Mac and OS X Tiger (link)

Five Great Places To Shoot Landscape Photography:

  1. Monument Valley, Utah
  2. The Antelope Canyon Slots, Page, Arizona
  3. Yosemite National Park
  4. Lake Tahoe, NV
  5. Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor, Maine

Five places in the U.S. I Can’t Wait to shoot:

  1. Arches National Park, Utah
  2. Death Valley, CA
  3. The Grand Tetons of Wyoming
  4. Fall Foliage in Vermont
  5. White Sands, New Mexico

Five Nikon Lenses I love:

  1. The 70-200mm f/2.8 VR (it’s my workhorse lens)
  2. The 18-200mm VR (when you just want to use one lens all day)
  3. The 12-24mm DX lens (when you want to wide and you don’t have a D3)
  4. The 14-24mm f/2.8 (when you want to go wide and you have a D3)
  5. The 17-55mm f/2.8 DX lens (my other workhorse lens)

Five places I Want to Shoot Internationally

  1. Banff, Canada
  2. The Taj Mahal in India
  3. Vallée Blanche in the French Alps
  4. Anywhere in Turkey
  5. The Temple of Angkor Wat in Cambodia

Five Photoshop Accessories You Shouldn’t Live Without:

  1. A Hardware Calibrator (I like the X-Rite Eye One Display 2)
  2. A Wacom Tablet (I like the 6″x11″ wide tablet)
  3. A 1-Terabyte Backup Drive (If you’re not backing up, you’re playing Russian Roulette)
  4. A small portable Firewire hard drive (Every Photoshop Needs at least an 80GB)
  5. An Apple 30″ Display (You can’t imagine how much you’ll love it)

My Top Five Photoshop Plug-ins:

  1. Photo Frame 3, by OnOne Software (link)
  2. ColorEfx Pro 3.0 by NikSoftware (link)
  3. Noiseware Professional, by ImageNomic (link)
  4. Viveza by Nik Software (link)
  5. LucisArt by Image Content Technology (link)

Five Printers and Accessories I recommend:

  1. The Epson Stylus Pro 3800 (this thing rocks for up to 17×22″ output). link
  2. The Epson Stylus Photo R800 (this is the printer I use at home for 8x10s and smaller) link
  3. The Epson R2400 (It’s the printer I have on my desk, and it’s a B&W photographer’s dream printer). link
  4. Epson’s Exhibition Fiber Art paper (This is the paper. Period). link
  5. Epson’s Premium Luster Photo Paper (This is the one I use the most in my 2400). link

Five other software apps I use:

  1. Apple’s iPhoto (for photo slideshows)
  2. Apple’s Aperture (for making photo books)
  3. Keynote (for slide presentations)
  4. Toast (for burning CDs and DVDs)
  5. Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 (for shooting tethered into my Mac)

Five photographers whose work has really inspired me:

  1. Jay Maisel (link)
    He made me realize that it’s not about the camera.
  2. Joe McNally (link)
    He made me realize that what I really want to shoot most is people
  3. Moose Peterson (link)
    He opened my eyes to composition and how to look at a scene
  4. George Lepp (link)
    He made me fall in love with panoramas
  5. Bill Fortney (link)
    He made me a better landscape photographer just by looking at how he sees things.

Five graphic designers who inspire me:

  1. Felix Nelson
  2. Fred Maya
  3. Margie Rosenstein
  4. Nicole Procunier
  5. Jessica Maldonado

Five Cameras I’ve Been Really Impressed With:

  1. The Nikon D3 (I think it’s the best DSLR ever made)
  2. The Canon EOS 1D Mark III (If it weren’t for the D3, I’d be shooting this)
  3. The Nikon D300 (Ridiculous bang for the buck)
  4. The Canon 40D (A pro-quality camera at a great price)
  5. The Canon G9 Point & Shoot (Probably the best point and shoot ever).

Five blogs I read every day:

  1. John Nack on Adobe (link)
  2. Terry White’s Tech Blog (link)
  3. David Hobby’s “The Strobist” (link)
  4. Moose News Blog (link)
  5. DigitalProTalk (link)

Five cool blogs you may not have run across yet:

  1. Flash Flavor (wedding and flash technique blog) (link)
  2. Imaging Insider (industry news feed) (link)
  3. PDN Pulse (commercial photography news and gossip) (link)
  4. 1001 Noisy Cameras (All the digital photography news one could ever want) (link)
  5. Creative Bits (Great Mac-oriented graphics and Adobe-stuff blog). (link)

Five great blogs from my Buddies:

  1. Lightroom Killer Tips, from Matt Kloskowski (link)
  2. Planet Photoshop, from Corey Barker (link)
  3. RC & Friends at Layers Magazine, from RC (link)
  4. Dave Cross online (link)
  5. Photo Walk Pro, from Jeff Revell (link)

Five Podcasts I Totally Dig:

  1. The Digital Photography Show (link)
  2. Adobe Creative Suite Podcast from Terry White (link).
  3. PixelPerfect with Bert Monroy (link)
  4. Photoshop Killer Tips from Matt Kloskowski (link)
  5. Layers TV (link)

Five Studio Accessories I can’t Live without:

  1. Skyport Radio Triggers
    They let me control my Elinchrom RX strobes right from my camera—so I can run my whole studio without leaving the back of my camera. Huge time/frustration saver. (link)
  2. Two 24×36″ Black Flags
    You can use them block flash aiming back at your camera, or eliminate spill onto your backgrounds, or just soak up light falling on your subject. (link)
  3. Rolling C-stands
    Rolling lights around, on incredibly sturdy stands, just make life in the studio so much faster and easier.
  4. A Laptop Stand and USB Extender Cable for shooting tethered
    Shooting straight into your laptop, and seeing your photos at 8×10 size as they’re shot, gives you a much higher chance of success)
  5. A Lastolite Hi-Lite White Background
    There is no faster, easier way to get high-key solid white backgrounds. (link)

Five things People tell me I say a lot:

  1. All right… (apparently, I start a lot of sentences this way)
  2. Here’s the thing (This one, too).
  3. You see….
  4. Basically…
  5. Moving right along…

Five words people tell me I use a lot:

  1. Cool
  2. Dude
  3. Okay
  4. Hey
  5. Sweet!

Five magazine’s I recommend for Photographers

  1. Outdoor Photographer (for landscape and nature photographers) link
  2. PDN (For working pros in advertising and stock photography) link
  3. Digital Photo Pro (I love it!) link
  4. Professional Photogapher (PPA’s member magazine) link
  5. Shutterbug (It’s better than ever) link

Five things I want to do before I die:

  1. Walk my daughter down the aisle
  2. Learn to speak fluent Spanish
  3. Write a book to convince corporate types what a difference good graphic design makes
  4. Celebrate my 50th Wedding Anniversary (only 31 years away–I’ll be 78)
  5. Write the book He wants me to write