Yesterday in my Twitter feed I saw this tweet:
I thought it was a pretty intriguing idea (and I was curious myself to see how many of my picks would still be the same eight years later), so I went and updated it here today (below).
I was happy to see that I actually got to do some of the bucket list things I listed as “Want to do before I die” type of stuff. I also slightly updated the topics to reflect where I’m at today and what I’m using today. 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.
Here we go:
Note: Although it’s a “top five” list, they’re listed in no particular order.
Five Teachers I’d love to take a workshop from:
My Five Favorite Restaurants:
- Carmine’s on West 44th street in New York City (and in Vegas, and the Bahamas)
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)
- J. Alexanders, in Tampa, Michigan, and 10 other states
I always take visitors 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)
- Hellas Greek Restaurant
It’s located in Tarpon Springs, Florida (a real Greek community), and the food tastes like you’re in Athens. Maybe better. Their Feta Cheese spread on Pita will curve your spine. (link)
- Tony’s Napolitano in San Francisco, North Beach
I’ve never had pizza like this, but even if you don’t like pizza at all, their Coccoli with Italian beef, horseradish, giardiniera peppers appetizer is from another planet, and worth the trip alone. Mind blowing pizza from a master!
- Mimi e Coco Wine Bar in Rome
This tiny little restaurant in the backstreets of Rome is a place you’ll never forget. Not just one of the best restaurants in Rome. It’s one of the best restaurants anywhere. (link)
My Top Five Favorite Business Books:
- Purple Cow, by Seth Godin (link)
- The One Thing, by Gary Keller (link)
- Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh (link)
- The 4 Disciplines of Execution, by Chris McChesney and Sean Covey (link)
- Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook, by Gary Vaynerchuk (link)
Five camera accessories I love:
- 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 outdoors without it. (link)
- A tripod from 3-legged thing
I just took mine to Iceland and it performed like a boss, but it folded up so small I could fit it in my carry-on roller, or attach to my camera backpack. Very cleverly designed, and the price is right. (link)
- A Really Right Stuff BH-40 Bullhead
If you’re going to get a tripod, you need a killer ballhead. The ones from Really Right Stuff are the best. I use their BH-40 midsize with the quick release lever. You’ll fall in love (ask anyone who owns one). (link)
- 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).
- An ND Filter (a three-stop or a 10-stop)
I know, everybody needs a polarizer, but this is that next level, and gives you that silky water for landscapes, or smooth skies for architecture, and it’s a black and white photographer’s best friend. Pick ’em up at B&H.
Five things you probably didn’t know about me:
- 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 don’t eat it. That being said; I ate Sushi for the first time this year and I liked it. There’s hope.
- I love the TV show The Walking Dead, and yet I really hate gory stuff, or scary stuff, or really violent stuff, and I can’t imagine a TV show that has more of all three. That’s how good it is. I cover the screen with my hands and lower the volume during gross or scary parts. Again, that’s how good it is – it’s worth it.
- I’m a pretty decent rapper, and not too bad a country music singer, too (I played piano in a country band for a couple of years when I was…ahem… a bit younger). I also play guitar almost every day (I have an amp on my desk, and 18 guitars in my office), and I play drums fairly often, too. Yes, I have a bass, two bass amps, and I play it too (I slappa da bass, mon!). My wife bought me a Yamaha Baby Grand piano for my birthday about 14 years ago, and I dearly love it (Always a dream of mine).
- I used to be a tournament foosball player. I am not making this up.
- I used to be a professional magician. My stage name was “The Great Scott!” – I am not making this up, either.
My Top 5 Camera Bags:
- Think Tank Photo Airstream Roller
It’s small — not only will it fit in the overhead bin, it’ll fit under your seat. Holds more than it ever looks like it would. (link)
- Moose Peterson’s Backpack Series
When you need to carry a lot of gear, and still have it fit in the overhead bin like a boss, this is the one. Really smartly designed with quick access to everything (in three different sizes). (link)
- Think Tank Photo’s Airport International Roller
This is what I use for shooting football, and I take a ton of gear. It holds my two bodies, a 400mm f/2.8, my 70-200mm, a third and/or fourth lens, straps, knee pads, rain gear, and all sorts of accessories. It’s the big dog! (link)
- Vanguard Quovio 44
This is the backpack I took to Iceland and it worked really nicely for all the gear I took (which was too much gear). This is great if you main goal is quick access to your gear. (link)
- The Everyday Messenger bag from Peak Design
They designed this beautiful travel photography bag with Trey Ratcliff, and together they created something really wonderful. It doesn’t scream camera bag; it doesn’t scream laptop bag. It only screams “that’s a beautiful bag.” So clever. (link)
Five Photography Books That Will Inspire You:
- Light, Gesture, and Color, by Jay Maisel (link)
His seminal work, and one every photographer should read.
- Paris, by Serge Ramelli (link)
Only a Parisian can see Paris this way. Beautiful.
- 50 Portraits, by Gregory Heisler (link)
If you make portraits, you must have this book to refer to. It’s magic.
- Air by Vincent Laforet (link)
A view of the world from above. You’ve never seen it this way. Stunning.
- French Kiss: A love letter to Paris by Peter Turnley (link)
Capturing romance in the city where it was born.
Five Great Photography Books that will Teach You:
- Understanding Exposure (4th edition), by Bryan Petersen (link)
- Picture Perfect Lighting, by Roberto Valenzuela (link)
- The Moment it Clicks, by Joe McNally (link)
- It’s Not About The f-stop, by Jay Maisel (link)
- The Creative Fight, by Chris Orwig (link)
Five Photographers You Should Be Following on Instagram:
Five SPORTS Photographers You Should Be Following on Instagram:
Five TRAVEL Photographers You Should Be Following on Instagram:
Five Really Memorable Steaks:
- The New York Strip at Ocean Prime (Tampa and 13 Other locations)
This replaced Morton’s awesome Prime Rib from the old list, because they stopped serving it. A sad day, but the Strip at Ocean Prime will make you forget about it quickly. Get the Jalapeño Au Gratin potatoes with it. Mmmmmmm! (link)
- Any Steak at Gibson’s Steakhouse in Rosemont, Illinois (right near Chicago O’Hare Airport)
I don’t know what they’re doing to their steaks, but it works. I never miss it when I go to Chicago each year. The service is off-the-chain, too! (link)
- The New York Strip at Michael Jordan’s Steakhouse in Grand Central Terminal, NYC
Joe McNally recommended this to me a few years ago, and the atmosphere is as awesome as the steak and sides. Surprisingly good! (link)
- The Prime Rib at Keen’s Steakhouse in NYC
If you order the King’s Cut of their legendary Prime Rib, everyone at the table will take their camera out and take a photo of it. Guaranteed! It looks like Fred Flintstone ordered it. It so big it has it’s own ecosystem. (link)
- The Steak Frites Roquefort at Mon Ami Gabi, Paris Hotel, Las Vegas (also in Chicago
It’s a thin, wonderful French steak with bleu cheese on top. Amazing! The “Frites” (fries) are the best in Vegas, and they give you a mountain of them, but their Baked Goat Cheese in red tomato sauce with crispy french bread is a showstopper. Hard to beat! (link)
My Top Five Favorite Fonts Right Now
- Cezanne (from P22) (link)
Every time I use this font, people write in to ask me what it is. It rocks in all lowercase.
- Al Fresco (link)
I love this for Wedding books – not too stuffy. A friendly script.
- Kozuka Gothic Pro (link)
I use this font for presentations and slides. Very modern look to it.
- Bebas Neue (link)
Another one that looks very modern – very tall thing letters.
- Satisfaction (link)
A very cool script font – very casual and fun. Again, looks great in all lowercase.
My Top Five Workhorse Fonts
- Helvetica (This classic in the middle of a huge comeback)
- Leto (When I need something hipper than Helvetica. Very modern clean look but with personality)
- Futura Light (Try it in all caps with lots of tracking [space] between letters).
- Trajan Pro (When I went something to look really elegant, this is where I turn. It’s the Hollywood movie font)
- Gil Sans Light (It can be both elegant and casual. Try it in all caps with lots of tracking [space] between letters).
Five Books You Probably Didn’t Know I’ve Written:
- The Book for Guys Who Don’t Want Kids (link)
- Macintosh: The Naked Truth (link)
- It’s a Jesus Thing (link)
- The iPhone Book (link)
- Buy this book of Chapter Intros Even Though You Won’t Learn Anything (link)
Top Five States I’ve Never Been (but want to visit)
- North Dakota
Five places in the US I Can’t Wait to shoot:
- Death Valley, CA
- The Library of Congress
- Great Sand Dunes National Park
- The interior of the New York Yacht Club
- That Big Empty Airplane Hangar in CA they use in those car ads
Five Lenses I love:
- The Canon 70-200mm f/2.8 IS (it’s my workhorse lens)
- The Canon 11-24mm f/4 (it’s the widest wide-angle ever made)
- The Canon 200-400mm f/4 with built-in 1.4 tele-extender (a sport’s shooter’s dream)
- The Canon 8-15mm Fisheye zoom (Love the fish, in moderation)
- The new Canon 16-35mm (I don’t have it yet, but I’ll sell some other lens to get it)
Five places I Want to Shoot Internationally:
- The Admont Abbey Library in Austria, and the National Library of Austria
- The University of Coimbra General Library, Coimbra, Portugal
Five Sports I Still Want to Shoot:
- Indoor Cycling
- Track & Field
- Moto GP racing
- The Tour De France
- Formula 1 Racing
Five Photoshop Accessories You Shouldn’t Live Without:
- A Hardware Calibrator (I like the Datacolor Spyder 5 Elite (link) or the X-Rite i1 Display Pro (link)
- A Wacom Tablet (I love my Intous Pro – I have both the Small and Medium) (link)
- A huge archival drive (I use a Synology NAS) (link)
- A small lightweight portable backup drive (I take mine everywhere I go — here’s the one I use)
- Alexis 6″ Studio Monitor Speakers (nobody should retouch in silence) (link)
My Top Five Photoshop Plug-ins:
- Google/Nik Software ColorEfex Pro 4.0 (link)
- Portraiture, by ImageNomic (surprisingly good skin retouching) (link)
- Google/Nik Software Silver Efex Pro 2 (for black & white conversions) (link)
- Aurora HDR Pro by MacPhun (it’s the current HDR champ) (link)
- Perfectly Clear Version 2 by Athentech (it’s better than you’d think) (link)
Five other software apps I use and totally dig:
- Lightroom (I spend about 80% of my image editing time here)
- Snapz Pro X (for making screen captures)
- Keynote (for slide presentations)
- Adobe Illustrator (Mostly for editing stock illustrations)
- Dropbox (what did people do before Dropbox?)
My Top 5 Random Cool Things:
- Small, awesome Anker Bluetooth speaker (Looks and sounds like a Bose at 1/3 the price). (link)
- Ring Video Doorbell Pro. This is awesome! (link)
- If you run out of hard drive space on your MacBook Pro, get this Transcend JetDrive Lite memory card that fits in your SD slot, and it treats it like an always connected external hard drive (but it doesn’t drain your battery like a USB drive). It gave me 256GB of additional storage on my very full laptop without plugging anything in (except it, which fits flush into your SD slot. Brilliant!). Link
- Zildjian 5A Nylon Black Dip Drumsticks. They’re wicked! (link)
- AppleTV (the new 4th gen version actually is a lot better) (link)
Five photographers whose work has really inspired me:
- Jay Maisel (link)
He made me realize that it’s not about the camera.
- Joe McNally (link)
He made me realize that what I really want to photograph most is people
- Moose Peterson (link)
He opened my eyes to composition and how to look at a scene
- Elia Locardi (link)
He made me fall in love travel photography all over again
- Zhang Jingna (link)
She takes the most beautiful, peaceful, graceful fashion images I’ve ever seen.
Five graphic designers who inspire me:
- Angela Naymick
- Mario Ocon
- Margie Rosenstein
- Dave Clayton
- Jessica Maldonado
Five Canon Cameras I’ve Been Really Impressed With:
- The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV (I’ve been able to shoot it for two weeks now. Just beautiful. I can’t…let…it…go!)
- The Canon EOS 1Dx Mark II (I don’t have one, but I tried it.)
- The Canon EOS 5Ds (Sick high-res files when you really need sick high res depth)
- The Canon 80D (Maybe the best value DSLR ever)
- The Canon G7 X Point & Shoot (A perfect 2nd camera for DSLR owners if there ever was one).
My Top Five Blog Picks:
- The Verge (tech stuff) (link)
- Terry White’s Tech Blog (link)
- Teslarati (link)
- Moose News Blog (link)
- ProFootballTalk.com (link)
Five cool blogs worth checking out:
- Fstoppers (link) – (one of the best photography sites out there)
- Site Inspire (great examples of great web design) (link)
- LightStalking.com (a great flow of news) (link)
- 1200 ISO Photography Magazine (I love all their bts stuff) (link)
- 500px (The #1 best source of inspiration). (link)
My Top Five Things From Adobe (that aren’t desktop applications like Photoshop or LR):
- Adobe Portfolio – a slick free online port that comes with your CC subscription (link)
- Typekit – access a treasure trove of high quality fonts – it comes with your CC subscription (link)
- Adobe Spark – create real photo storytelling online or on mobile – free (link)
- Photoshop Fix – I can’t believe this app is free (link)
- Lightroom Mobile – its Lightroom on your mobile device, and it keeps getting better and better. Oh yeah, it’s free, too! (link)
My Five Favorite Guitars
- Fender Strat 1957 Reissue my wife gave me for our 27th Wedding Anniversary
- Cherry red Ibanez 1987’s 540-R Roadstar my wife gave me for Valentine’s Day three years ago
- Black Gibson Les Paul Classic my wife gave me for my Birthday two years ago
- Carved Flame Maple Top PRS Custom 24 My company gave me to celebrate 10-years being the #1 bestselling author
- Fender Custom Stratocaster I designed it online from scratch with some of the award money I got in Dubai last year.
My Five Favorite Guitar Accessories
- A Snark clip-on Tuner (it’s the best — so light, so inexpensive, so reliable) (link)
- A Pedal Train pedal board. I so love mine! (link)
- Blackstar ID Core 20-Watt combo practice amp – my favorite practice amp ever (and I’ve had them all). So much goodness in a little box. Built-in tuner, effects, and American or British sound switch. (link)
- Hercules Guitar Stand (so sturdy, and instant access with this clever design) (link)
- ProCo Rat 2 Distortion Pedal (the 80s are just one stomp away). (link)
Five Studio Accessories I can’t Live without:
- My 53″ Elinchrom Octa Softbox
If I had to be on a desert island with only one softbox, this would be the one. (link)
- Skyport Radio Triggers
They let me control my Elinchrom strobes right from my camera—so I can run my whole studio without leaving the back of my camera. Huge time/frustration saver. (link)
- Two Matthews 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)
- Rolling Light Stands
Rolling lights around, on incredibly sturdy stands, just makes life in the studio so much faster and easier. (link)
- 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. All my tethering gear is from Tethertools.com – their stuff rocks!
My Top 5 Hot Shoe Flash Goodies:
- The Phottix Oden Flash Trigger
I’ve used them all, and this one is the easiest to use ever. (link) That link is to the Canon version. You have to choose the model that works with your brand of camera. Use these with Phottix Oden flashes (I use them myself. Very good stuff! – these are the flashes I have out with me on tour right now).
- Westcott Recessed Mega JS Apollo Softbox
I use this one on my seminar tour, and it is amazing of the price (and portability). 50″ x 50″ of soft, beautiful light. Cleverly designed, and only around $169. (link)
- Impact Light Stands with tilt and hot shoe bracket
These are inexpensive lightweight stands and it’s a set of two, with two tilt brackets you’re gonna need, for less than $100. Put the umbrellas it comes with on eBay. (link)
- A low stand for your background light
If you light your background, this is the inexpensive stand I use. It’s short, and you can remove the pole and mount your flash right to the bottom of the stand to really get it out of the way. It’s like $24 (link)
- Keep your background light from spilling forward
ExpoImaging makes a thing called a “Flash Bender” and it velcros around your flash unit; and it helps direct the light toward your background, and it helps contain flash spill, so the light doesn’t bounce back too much and light your subject when all your want to light is the background. Very handy. (link)
Five things People tell me I say a lot:
- All right… (apparently, I start a lot of sentences this way)
- Here’s the thing (This one, too).
- Hi, everybody…
My Top 5 Burger Joints in America:
- Plan B. Burger in Hartford, CT
- Milt’s in Moab, Utah
- Bobby’s Burger Palace, Las Vegas
- In & Out Burger (Out West, and now Texas)
- Boston Burger Company
In the hunt for the top 5 burger joints:
- Bru Burger Bar, Indianapolis
- J. Alexanders (multiple locations)
- Burger 21, Tampa
- Boardwalk Fresh Burgers & Fries (Atlanta Airport, Airside A. Don’t laugh. Ask Brad – they rock!)
- Crown Burger, Salt Lake City, Utah
Five magazine’s I recommend for Photographers
- Outdoor Photographer (for landscape and nature photographers) link
- PDN (For working pros in advertising and stock photography) link
- Digital Photo Pro (I love it!) link
- Professional Photogapher (PPA’s member magazine) link
- Shutterbug (It’s better than ever) link
Five things I want to do before I die:
- Walk my daughter down the aisle (she’s only 10, so hopefully that’s a long ways off)
- I want to get a LOT better at guitar
- Write a book to convince corporate types what a difference good graphic design makes
- I want to shoot the Olympics
- Celebrate my 50th Wedding Anniversary (only 23 years away–I’ll be 78)
OK, does that seem like a lot of top 5s, because it took me for-freakin’ ever to put this list together (oy!).
Anyway, there ya have it. I don’t know whether to thank Paul Bowers for that Tweet, or curse him, because I started this about 4 hours ago, and I’m just finishing up. Clearly, I must not have had anything to do tonight (besides, last I heard FSU was taking a beating, so I guess I was better off writing this post).
Hope you all have a great Tuesday! I’m happy to be back at work and seeing everybody today. Hope yours is a good one.