Hi everybody—-it’s time (well, it’s a bit overdue) for my 3rd annual “Best of 2011 Awards” (Well, it’s not actually my 3rd best of 2011; it’s my 3rd “Best of” awards but you know what I mean).

It’s important to note once again that I didn’t say “Best photography gear” or “Best Photoshop stuff” (though both of those are represented). Instead, this is just my favorite “bestest” stuff from 2011, (including things like songs, movies, travel stuff, food, etc.) presented in no particular order.

Hope it starts off your New Year right! (By the way; make sure you read my disclaimers at the end of the list). Here we go:

————–

My Best Switcharoo of 2011:
Switching from Sirius Satellite Radio to XM
Even though they’re owned by the same company, Sirius XM, the station selection on XM is much better, and it has the best stations from Sirius already.

Most-receptive crowd to present to in 2011:
My LSR seminar in Toronto.
Those folks were awesome! Can’t wait to go back!

Best iPad App:
Photo Manager Pro
I’ve tried about every portfolio app for the iPad, but this one is the easiest, and most flexible

Best App for frequent travelers:
GateGuru
It finds which airport you’re at, and tells you what’s there, in every terminal, from restaurants to airport lounges, gift shops to ATMs, and it saves you a ton of time.

Best iPad game:
Temple Run
I could have had at least two more books written if it wasn’t for this addicting game.

Best Photoshop plug-in Update:
Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 4
My most-used plug-in of the year 

My pick for best up-and-coming plug-in for 2011:
Topaz Detail
It’s “Freaky Detail” in a plug-in

Best new retouching plug-in:
OnOne’s Perfect Portrait
This one stands alone 

Best iPad Photo Editing App:
Snapseed
Apple chose it as their App of the Year. I’m not surprised.  

Best thing in 2011 for photographers that’s not a camera, lens, or lighting:
Google+
An incredibly vibrant, active community of photographers and it’s growing like a weed.

Best place to show your images online:
500px (link)
Plus, their iPad App is a fantastic place to go for photo inspiration.

Best place to get cool, inexpensive gifts for photographers:
PhotoJojo’s Store  (link)
They have the most clever stuff anywhere!

Best game of 2011:
Call of Duty MW3 for XBox Live
I can’t imagine the cool things I could have accomplished this year had it not been released

Best iPhone App for Photographers:
True HDR
(link)

Best Restaurant Find of 2011:
Max Brenner’s in NYC
(link)
I’m not a chocolate fanatic, but this place could convert me

Best fun new restaurant:
Wagamama
(link)

Best New Blog for Photographers:
blamethemonkey.com
(link)
Great information, including lots of cool HDR stuff, from photographer Elia Locardi

Best Blog for Fashion Photographers:
fashionphotographyblog.com
(link)
Great resource and wonderful photography from Melissa Rodwell

Best New Studio Accessories of 2011
The gear from Tether Tools 
(link)
I’m hooked on their tethering accessories. It’s not cheap, but it’s not cheap!

Best Point-and-Shoot Camera of 2011
The iPhone 4s 
(link)
I love it because it’s always with me. 8-megapixels; I can edit and process “in camera” and upload to the Web directly from my “camera” or send the photo I just took as an email.  

> Best new tech blog:
The Verge
(link)
Great reporting with a fantastic layout 

> Best gadget of 2011:
Cordies
Brilliantly simple desktop cord management from Quirky.com

Best Photoshop Book of 2011
Matt Kloskowski’s “Compositing Secrets” (link)
I wish I had written it, but if I had, it wouldn’t have been as good 

> Best book every serious photography should own:
“The Photographer’s Survival Guide,” by Ed Greenberg and Jack Reznicki (link)
Don’t let the name through you off; it’s about model releases, copyright, and stuff you really need to know

> Best Prime Rib of 2011:
Keen’s Steakhouse on West 36th in New York City
(link)
When they serve it, it looks like something you’d see on the Flintstone’s

> Best burger of 2011:
Hands down it was Plan B in Hartford Connecticut
(link)

> Best burger in NYC:
Shake Shack
(link)
There’s a reason you have to wait 30 minutes in line to get in.

> Best Live Show I Saw in 2011:
Rock of Ages
(link)

Best Live Concert I Saw in 2011:
Rod Stewart at Caesar’s Palace
Some guys have all the luck :)

Best thing I added to my Mac in 2011:
Mac OS X Lion
Much better than I thought. Lots of great little improvements, and iCloud integration rocks!

Best business book of 2011:
Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki
(link)

Another that comes close:
“Crush It” by Gary Vaynerchuk
(link)

Best really handy accessory for hot shoe flash:
Rogue Gels
(link)
I never mind paying for things that make my job easier 

Best romantic comedy I saw in 2011:
Crazy Stupid Love

Best romantic movie to watch again during the holidays:
Love Actually

Best movie that wanted to be good, but really wasn’t:
Columbiana
Massive holes in the plot sunk this one for me

Best movie that was so bad it was kinda good:
A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas
We wound up seeing this as part of my wife’s new “Date Night Movie Roulette” where you’re not allowed to even look at what’s playing until after dinner. Then you go to the movies, and see whatever’s playing at that time. H&K was all that was on. It was so bad, it was good.

Best list I was surprised (yet thrilled) to be included in:
Top 10 Best Portrait Photographers Today
(link) Toby

Best Old School Style Song I bought in 2011:
Diverse City by Mac
(iTunes Link)
“It’s like a freak show, in your neighborhood”

Best Golden Oldie I added to my iPod:
Duke of Earl by Gene Chandler (iTunes Link)
“As I walk through this world, nothing can stop….the Duke of Earl”

Best Classic Rock Song From A Band I’d Never Heard Of:
Inside Out by XYZ (iTunes Link)

Best old R&B song I added:
Don’t Stop by Jeffery Osborne
(iTunes Link)

Best classic rock song I added:
Be Good to Yourself by Journey (iTunes Link)

Best new song:
So Help Me God by Fireflight (iTunes Link)

Coolest kinda-jazzy but yet kinda alternative song I bought in 2011:
Hello City by Bare Naked Ladies (iTunes Link)

Best song I bought after hearing it on my son’s iPod:
Dear X: You Don’t Own Me by Disciple (iTunes Link)

Best Country Song I bought in 2011:
That’s What I love About Sunday, by Craig Morgan (iTunes Link)

Best Band I Never Though I’d have on my iPod:
Sixx: A.M.

Best New Song:
Stand, by Lenny Kravitz
(iTunes Link)

Best guitar-related gift I got in 2011:
A Hartke Kickback 12 Bass Amp (link)

Best new reason to love England:
Tim Wallace

He makes we want to grab my camera, and a bucket of water, and shoot!

Best new photographer to learn from:
Cliff Mautner
I can’t believe how much I learned from watching his online class. 

Best Day Trip of 2011:
Flying to Cedar Key, Florida with my wife as the pilot

Best bargain in lighting in 2011:
Westcott’s Giant 7′ Parabolic Shoot Through Umbrellas
The megapixel race is over. Now, it’s whoever dies with the biggest modifier, wins (Link)

Best way to start a fight since mentioning HDR:
Mention that your App is only available for the iPad

————————

IMPORTANT DISCLAIMERS:
(1)
I could be totally wrong about any of these—they’re just my opinions

(2) Some of these things could have actually come out in 2009, or even 2008. I’m old and lose track of time easily.

(3) If you disagree with any of my picks, that’s OK.

(4) If some of my picks make you seething mad, and you want to post mean comments to me, remember—you can start your own blog today, for free, and by this afternoon you can post your own list (don’t worry—everybody will agree with all your picks). Here’s a good place to start (link).

Well, that’s it gang. I’m always on the lookout for great anything (songs, movies photo gear, iPhone/iPad Apps, restaurants, travel tips, etc.), so if you have something I missed on my list, just let me know.