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Welcome to my "8th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide." If you've been a faithful reader of this Gear Guide for the past seven years, this year's name probably sounds familiar, and that's because it is. It's the original name for this Gear Guide, and I'm bringing it back with a vengeance (I'm not really sure how to make a Gear Guide vengeful but I'm working on it), with all of its original "Gonzoness" (yes, that's a word, I'm pretty sure).
This is replacing last year's "Awesome Gear Guide" name (awesome is way overusedâ”mostly by me), and now here you are, reading it right now. How "in the moment" is that, right? Okay, this year, I'm breaking things into three distinct categories:
1: Stocking Stuffers (You can also use these as actual holiday gifts if you're not that crazy about the person.)
2: Great Value Gear (Stuff that's a really good deal for not a lot of money, but he or she will totally dig it.)
3: Cha-ching! (Stuff you buy for the doctor/lawyer/rap mogul on your holiday gift list. This is the stuff that makes them burst into spontaneous tears of joy. Well, at least I would.)
Anyway, the "Awesome" is out, the "Gonzo" is back, and this year's Gear Guide is packed with some really cool stuff that we don't need, but we really, really, really want because getting (ahemâ”I mean giving) is what it's really all about. At least, that's what I read in a Christmas card once.
These are my self-imposed guidelines for which products make it into the guide. It's just two rules, actually. To be listed here the products have to be ones that I use myself, that I absolutely love, and now can't live without (well, I could live without them, but I just wouldn't want to). And if a product makes the guide, it has to be one I would recommend to a close friend without hesitation, especially if my friend were a rich doctor (kidding). Okay, folks, hang on to your Fruchtsaftgetr¤nke, here we go!
20×24″ Rosco CTO Gel Sheet
Roll of Gaffer's Tape
30″ Westcott 5-in-1 Collapsible Reflector/Diffuser
Some Cool Books
GREAT VALUE GEAR
Vanguard Quovio 49T Rolling Bag
DxO FilmPack 4
Imagenomic's Portraiture Skin Retouching Plug-in
Westcott's Rapid Box 20″ Octa Mini and Deflector Plate
Kata LPS-216 DL Laptop Backpack
Lexar Professional Workflow HR1 (Four-Bay USB 3 Reader Hub)
Yongnuo YN560-III Hot-Shoe Flash
Impact Quickbox Softbox Kit
FP-1 Floor Plate for Using Remote Cameras
B&H Gift Cards
PocketWizard PlusX Wireless Transceiver
Canon Close-up Lens Filter (for Canon or NIKKOR)
Westcott SkyLux LED
Canon EOS 70D
PrioLite MBX500 500 W/s Monolight
AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR or Tamron 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC
If the photographer on your list is a Canon shooter, unfortunately Canon doesn't make a compact 28-300mm like this Nikon model. (The Canon version is full size, quite heavy, and expensive at an MSRP of $2,689.) Tamron makes a 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di VC that will do the trick. It's not as sharp as the Nikon 28-300mm or the Canon for that matter, but it's not nearly as expensive either at around $630.
And the winner isâ¦.2013 Official Photo Walk Leader Dave Lord for the bridge image you see above (Dave didn’t include his city name). It’s really hard picking just one image out of all the entries from around the world, and the moodiness and composition of this image just kept me coming back to it. It’s muted color palette and atmosphere really make it interesting and I love the post production on it. A really executed shot.
There were some other really great entries from our Photo Walk Leaders, and even though they didn’t win a prize, I thought these 10 deserved some attention as Honorable Mentions. Here they are:
Above: By Photo Walk Leader ananon105, Quartzsite, Arizona
Above: By Photo Walk Leader Christophe Levet, Grenoble City, France
Above: From Photo Walk Leader Ahmed Waheib
Above: By Photo Walk Leader Howard Ignatius, Morro Bay, CA
Above: By Photo Walk Leader Liette Chamberland
Above: By Photo Walk Leader Max Black, Manchester, England
Above: By Photo Walk Leader Mohamed Mekhamer, Cairo, Egypt
Above: By Photo Walk Leader Paul Gotiong
Above: By Photo Walk Leader photodaddi
Above: By Photo Walk Leader Pierre Bisson
Congratulations once again to Dave Lord, and to our Honorable Mentions above, and of course to all the Photo Walk Leaders around the world who submitted such great images. A special thanks to all the Leaders for taking their time and talents to make these walks available to so many photographers everywhere as part of my 6th Annual Worldwide Photo Walk. My hats off to you all. Until next yearâ¦.
On Wednesday Adobe announced a special “Black Friday Deal” where for a VERY limited time, they’re letting pretty much everybody in on the photographer’s $9.99 a month Photoshop/Lightroom bundle deal that was originally only for folks who owned some previous version of Photoshop (from CS3 on up), but now everybody can get in on the deal for the next few days (only until Dec 2, 2013).
When I posted this on my Facebook page, it was seen by over 140,000 people, and of course there were a ton of comments — lots of happy people taking advantage of the deal, the usual amount of mis-information, and of course we heard from the same people who aren’t happy no matter what Adobe does. I thought I’d address as many of those comments as I could here in a short Q&A. Here we go:
Q. I had the full Creative Suite, and I wasn’t able to take advantage of the $9.99 deal, but now I can?
Q. But I called Adobe Customer service and they said I couldn’t.
A. They’re wrong. Try calling again.
Q. But what if I already subscribed to Photoshop alone? Can I downgrade to this and save the money?
Q. But I called Adobe customer service and they said I’d have to pay a cancellation fee?
A. You don’t. Try calling again.
Q. But what if I never ever owned Photoshop. Can I get in on this deal?
Q. I didn’t see that one coming.
A. Me either.
Q. What if I already have a Creative Cloud subscription that costs more?
A. They’ll let you switch to this cheaper plan as long as you do it by the cut-off date.
Q. No way!
Q. But I called Adobe Customer Service and they said I can’t downgrade
A. Call back until you get someone that has actually read the memo.
Q. “They must be hurting for revenue.” (direct quote from Facebook)
A. Adobe had hoped to have one million subscribers by the end of year. They hit their goal nearly four months early, and now Adobe’s stock is at an all-time high. Yeah, they’re hurting’ ;-)
Q. Should I form my opinions of how Adobe is doing financially based on a hunch or what I read from strangers in online forums, or should I actually read the official business reports?
Q. I heard I have to run Photoshop in a Web Browser. Is that true?
A. For the love of God, please let this one go. No. No, no, no for the millionth time no. You do NOT run Photoshop or Lightroom in a Web browser. They work just like they always did.Ugh!
Q. Yeah, but then I lose access to all my images, right?
A. You do NOT have to store your images in the cloud. Please let this one go, too!
Q. You sound like you’re frustrated.
A. For a year or so I’ve been reading the same “You have to run it in a browser”â¦”You have to stay connected to the internet all the time” and “you lose access to all your images” and all this same old misinformation is just starting to wear me down. Sorry.
Q. It’s OK. I know you’ve taken a lot of heat, and we appreciate you helping to cut through the clutter [obviously not a real Facebook comment].
A. Thanks for understanding.
Q. I know Adobe says they’re going to try to keep the monthly price at this level, but they don’t guarantee it. What if it goes up?
A. My understanding is they are not planning to raise the monthly subscription rate. I imagine it’s because if they did after a year or so, they would lose a lot of customers, right? But nobody is “locked into” this thing — if they raise the price at some point down the road, you can always just not renew and go back to whatever the last version of Photoshop you owned is. That being said, just for fun let’s pretend that they decided to raise the monthly subscription by 10% at some point. That would mean you’d have to pay (wait for itâ¦.wait for itâ¦) $12 more a year.
I seriously doubt even that will happen, but I would pose this: find me something whose price just never goes up: Gasoline? Milk? Bread? Electricity? Coffee? College Tuition? Eggs? Anything?
Q. Why does it cost more in the UK and in Europe?
A. I ask myself this exact same question every time I visit the UK or Europe. Why does my hotel room cost twice as much there? Why does a can of Coca Cola cost twice as much there? Why does the exact same microphone that I rent here in the US cost triple when I rent it in London? It’s the exact same mic! In fact, pretty much everything over there costs at least double of what it does here or more, even if it’s the exact same product? Why is that?
As for Adobe, they have offices in the UK and all over Europe, and staff in all those locations, and I imagine their offices cost at least double what they do here. So does their electricity, gasoline, staff salaries, insurance and of course their taxes have to be dramatically higher, and their overall cost of doing business has to be through the roof over there as well. Yet, their customers expect them to eat all those extra costs and charge the same amount that they do here. Unfortunately, that’s not generally how business works. Extra operating costs are passed on to the customers to offset the cost of doing business in that country. Just’ sayin’.
Q. What was your favorite comment over on your Facebook page?
A. This one from Robert Court
“10 bucks a month for professional software. I upgrade every 18-24 months both LR and PS. Hummmmm. So if I am doing the math correctly. $190 PS and $80 LR = $270 divided by 18 months = $15 per month. $270 divided by 24 months = 11.25 per month. So where exactly is ANYBODY being ripped off. Now they are letting everyone in on the deal even if you never owned PS. I still do not get what people are B!!ching about. I for one am all in on this deal and no I did not drink the Adobe cool-aid. This is professional software for $120 per year. Even if you are a hobbyist you should consider selling your gear if you if you can’t somehow come up with two Starbucks coffees per month. Really if someone cannot afford this PROFESSIONAL software they have bigger problems in life than Adobe. Thank you Adobe.”
It had 17 likes. :)
Q. What was your least favorite?
A. I deleted it.
Q. But that’s limiting freedom of speech!
A. It’s my Facebook page — not The Washington Post. I’m not the government. I don’t owe anybody the right to attack me, or other people who comment, or use foul language, or just plain hate on my personal Facebook page. If you want freedom of speech, you can go start your own Facebook page at this address: http://www.facebook.com (sign up today!).
Q. Should people who aren’t going to take Adobe up on this offer take their time to tell you that in the comments?
A. Sure. It’s fun. They are dying to tell me, yet again for the millionth time, that no matter what deal Adobe comes up with they’re not going to get on board. They think I somehow have control over the pricing policies of a multi-billion dollar global software company. It’s kinda entertaining at this point.
Q. So, is Adobe going to switch back to selling the latest version of Photoshop?
Q. Are you sure?
A. I’m more sure about that than anything else I’ve written on this page.
Q. Any other comments from your Facebook page that stand out?
A. How about this one from Armando Almada responding to Robert’s comment above:
…totally agree….a glass of wine in NYC is $12, and that’s no include the tips….
I also like this one telling “The other side of the story” from Karl Mathias Moberg who wrote:
Totally agree with this. As a part-time photographer, with not a very high income… I can’t afford the upfront cost for both photoshop and lightroom. This, and the normal CC deals are perfect for me. I have no problems what so ever with the subsciption models.
A lot of folks want to pretend that people like Karl just don’t exist. The fact is, there are a ton of people who can now use Photoshop and Lightroom that were locked out because they didn’t have $849 (the cost of Photoshop and Lightroom last year, and the only way to use it was to buy it at that price).
Q. So, what if I don’t sign up for this by December 2nd, 2013? Then what?
A. You don’t get the deal. That’s it. It’s a limited time offer (it’s a Black Friday Deal running before and after black Friday but not by much).
Q. OK, if I don’t like this deal, or I live in Europe, or I live in Russia where this deal isn’t even valid, or I had a fight with my spouse, or I’m just generally angry, can I blame any part of Adobe’s Black Friday Deal that I don’t agree with on you?
A. What the heck —- sure. Why not? :)
OK, that’s the scoop as best as I know it, and of course as always I reserve the right to be totally wrong about any or all of this. Here’s wishing you a day where all your pixels move right where you want ’em to.
P.S. No football this weekend but I am shooting a wedding tomorrow in Orlando and hopefully I’ll have some shots to share here early next week.
Hi Gang: Sorry I’ve missed the last couple of days of blogging (it’s been crazy around here, and my travel schedule isâ¦wellâ¦crazy! I was in Denver Sunday, Miami Monday (still down here, shooting an online class with Jeremy Cowart today), and then I’m back in Tampa tonight. Whew!
Anyway, it was an amazing game to cover, and the weather held up and it really wasn’t too cold. In fact, it was great weather for a game. Brisk, but not windy. I came away with 60 overall keepers from the game and 62 image for the assignment I was on (which was to cover four specific players, but mostly Peyton Manning, and I have a ton of shots of him).
Down goes the photographer
A lot of you saw me get knocked over late in the 4th quarter, on a play that was reviewed (so they showed the replay numerous times). The players never got near me — it was more of a domino effect of other photographers and video guys getting out of the way, and I just lost my balance and went over. I was cracking up, and saying “Man down, man down!” to Dave Black who was shooting right beside me). Didn’t hurt even one tiny bit.
Anyway, here’s a few of my favorites, including my epic-fail on a remote shot for the player intros:
Above: Just out of reach. I really wished he had caught it for the sake of the photo (though I was rooting for the Broncos).
Above: There are three shots in this series, and in this one Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe catches the pass for the touchdown (he’s in the end zone). I’m on this with my 2nd body, and a 70-200mm f/2.8.
Above: Even though it’s not a peak action shot, I actually like this one better — I love touchdown shots where you can see the ref signaling the touchdown.
Above: The last frame, he starts celebrating his touchdown and I am right directly in front of him firing away and it looks right into my lens. Sweet!
Above: For one quarter I switched my 2nd body to a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens and that’s what I used to get this touchdown. I like that you get the scope of the stadium, but my style is to shoot tight, so I’m not super loving’ it.
Above: After the score he dives up and into the crowd. I run over with the 16-35mm to get this close-up shot. There were a bunch of photographers doing the same thing, and this was one of the only clean ones without a bunch of cameras in the frame.
Above: Wish you could see his eyes, but I liked any shot with the player in mid-air. I’m a sucker for those.
Above: I laid down at the back of the End Zone to get this low angle shot with my 70-200mm. I was hoping they’d get closer, but they wound up kicking a field goal instead.
Above: You know I love detail shots (in fact, I just added a Game Detail gallery to my sports portfolio — here’s the link) and this one was before the team took for the field for warm-ups. Note the “honor the military” gloves. Some players also had cammo-themed towels to show their support for our armed services.
Above: Cool motion shot, right? Actually, total accident. At some point I hit the dial on my camera and accidentally changed my f/stop to f/14 which lowered my shutter speed from 1/1000 of a second down to just 1/125 of a second, which creates that blur. Luckily, Peyton was just handing off the ball, so he’s not moving very fast, so he wound up in focus.
Above: Before the game I contact Broncos Team Photographer Eric Bakke (great guy, great photographer), about setting up a remote camera for the player intros, and I took an iPhone shot of the set-up so you could see it’s position.
Above: Here’s the set-up: a Canon 1Dx on a Manfrotto bullhead mounted to a metal floor stand from fplate.net, and triggered with a Pocket Wizard Plus-X wireless trigger on top. The security guy I was working with put a goal marker there so the Cheerleaders would clearly see it through the smoke and steer clear of it, and they totally did. Made me want to bring one of my own from here on out. LOL!
Above: You need LOTS of clearance to get approval to do an on-field remote camera like this, including approval from the Pyrotechnics guys, on-field security, team security, and well, pretty much everybody, or you have another security guy (or NFL official) coming out (seen above) asking, “What is this doing here!?” and Eric was a great help with that and lots of folks were in the loop hours before kick-off.
Above: They have a pretty cool opening, with a horse and rider running out, then the Broncos cheerleaders, then in this case, members of the military with flags as part of the NFL honoring the military (seen above), and so far the remote is working pretty well. The placement seems OK, and it’s looking good so far.
Above: The Offense runs out as a group, then you have the individual player intros and that’s where my epic fail began. First, as you can see, I set the camera (with a 16-35mm lens at 16mm) too far away from the players, and it’s probably aimed too high. I didn’t have another photographer to stand there to let me lock in my focus, so I had to eye it, and sure enough if it’s tack sharp. Worst yet, this was the first player introduced, and the last shot the remote fired. Thats right — it stopped after this shot, even though I was firing the remote trigger. I have no idea why. Did the cable come loose? Was there radio interference? Who knows, but I only got this one lame shot. #fail. It happens.
Above: I love celebration shots and this is one of my favorites from the night — it’s Broncos running back Knowshon Moreno leaping up and over Broncos tight end Julius Thomas (the guy who actually scored the touchdown), and you know I like it because the ref is signaling touchdown in the background.
Well, that’s a look at some of my favorites, and the story of my remote fail, and how I survived getting knocked over by the sideline domino effect and lived to tell about it (how’s that for adding drama). ;-)
Hope you all have a fantastic Tuesday and stay out of the way of fast-moving objects, and may all your remotes fire each and every time! :)
â¦AC Jacobs for his winning entry from the Binghamton, New York Photo Walk.
To see the nine runner's up, chosen by your votes, visit the official site:
My hearty congratulations to AC, and all this year's “People's Choice” Runner's Up. :)
P.S. I hope to have details on the Leader's Competition later today.