Today is “Black Friday” in the US — the biggest retail shopping day of the year) and in honor, we’ve got our best deals of the year on our KelbyOne Pro plan (you can save $50, plus some cool free stuff):
We’d love to have you as a KelbyOne Pro member — we have an incredible line-up of instructors and more amazing courses planned for 2020, and plus you’ll be joining a worldwide community of people just like you, helping each other, sharing their techniques, and taking advantage of a ton of benefits that make your membership absolutely invaluable. It’s the best value on photography and post-processing education anywhere.
Plus, on Monday we’re broadcasting live with special deals from our partners
We’re doing it again! On “Cyber Monday” we’ll be doing LIVE broadcasts EVERY HOUR ON THE HOUR starting at 10:00 AM ET with special “1-hour only screaming deals” we’ve specially arranged with our partners. These are CRAZY deals and a lot of them sell out right on the spot. It’s all hosted by the always awesome Larry Becker and I’ll post a link here first thing on Monday so make sure you start your day here).
A big thanks to everyone who is going to join KelbyOne today — we are absolutely delighted to welcome you to our community. Hope you have a great cyber weekend (#rolltide), and we’ll see ya back here on Monday! :)
Today is a big holiday in the US. It’s a day where we take time off to celebrate all the things we’re thankful for. We get together with family; over-eat a traditional Thanksgiving Day meal, and then we watch football until we pass out. It’s just about a perfect day.
I am so grateful for the many blessings in my life, and so I wanted to take a few minutes to share the things I’m thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. I started this list last year, and I updated it again today. I believe counting your blessings is one of the best things a person can do (and that this list of 200 is only a start, is a real blessing to me for sure).
Here they are, (in no particular order, except the first one):
1. that I got to marry the girl of my dreams (30-years ago this past September)
2. for Keurig Coffee Makers
3. for little hole-in-the-wall restaurants
4. for having a big brother I could always look up to
5. that she said “yes!”
6. for the “Skip” button on YouTube ads
7. when I hear the ringtone that lets me know my son is texting us
8. for Seinfeld reruns
9. that I learned how to use Photoshop and Lightroom
10. for lazy Saturday mornings when we just chill
11. for Saturday College Football games and that our son chose a big football school (#rolltide!)
12. for Hulu, Netflix and Amazon Prime
13. for Maggie the Wonderdog
14. for how happy Maki the SuperDog makes my wife
15. for that first cup of coffee in the morning
16. that my wife got us a Latte maker
17. for big greasy double-cheeseburgers served in restaurants whose cleanliness is so suspect that my wife would never eat there
18. for anytime I drive up to our house, and see our son’s truck sitting out front
19. that first morning hug from my wifey
20. for the magic and wonder that is Kathy Porupski
21. that this year the Patriot’s aren’t as good as they usually are
22. for any chilly day here in Florida
23. for my daughter’s wonderful sense of humor
24. when my daughter shares her drawings with me
25. for CoffeeMate individual creamers
26. that my son was born with the built-in love of helping and looking out for other people
27. for the texts my sons sends that often bring tears of joy to my eyes
28. for my daughter’s laugh
29. for all the family traditions that my wife fosters and we all love
30. that my daughter gets to attend a great school
31. for Dunkin Donut’s drive-thru in the morning, and that they’ll make up your coffee just the way you like it for you, ready to go.
32. for Terry White
33. for the kind people who read my blog each day
34. for all the little things
35. for our cozy couch for watching TV
36. for Logic Pro X (the wonderful recording studio software on my Mac)
37. for pepperoni Pizzas and the fine people who deliver them.
38. for the awesome plug-ins for Logic Pro X that do things Logic can’t.
39. that my son is such a faithful person by nature
40. for Sunday night’s texting my buddy Jeff Revell as we watch ‘The Walking Dead’ together, while 1,000 miles apart
41. for our tradition of watching “Love Actually” again every Christmas
42. for living so close to Disney World
43. for how awesome my wife is at planning trips
44. for being married to such an amazing cook
45. for a really comfy bed pillow
46. for Rick and Susan Sammon
47. for all my guitars
48. for beautiful offices for us to work in each day
49. to have Jessica, Kim and Cindy work on my books
50. that people actually buy my books, which lets me keep writing them
51. for the smell of my wife’s cooking when I walk in the door
52. for times when just my daughter and I get to go out to lunch
53. for Moose and Sharon
54. for Dave, Peter, and Glyn
55. for having such wonderful, loving, and just plain awesome parents
56. for being able to play musical instruments
57. for having mentors whose wisdom and whip-cracking have helped immeasurably throughout my life
58. for Jeanne Jilleba who helps me so much each day
59. for having a great relationship with my mother and father-in-law
60. for having a mother-in-law who stepped in for my own mother when she passed away
61. for the trips my brother and I take together once a year
62. to Delta, their SkyClub, and all the upgrades I get each year
63. to Erik Kuna for being my friend
64. for all the folks who come out to my seminars each year.
65. that I still get to work with my friend Ted Waitt
66. for Levi, and Sally and Dianne for caring so much about our members
67. for Chris, Karen and Pam – I’m lucky to work with them
68. for my wife’s beautiful smile
69. for how my son always shares new songs he finds with me
70. for all the times my wife texts me a heart emoji
71. for somebody’s else’s fries
72. for how my friend Dave Clayton’s texts always make me laugh out loud
73. that my kids know they are loved completely and unconditionally
74. for my Pastor and friend Douglas Poole
75. for Victoria’s sweet texts, and for what a joy she is
76. that I get to drive a car each day that makes driving a joy
77. for really good air conditioning
78. that I get to use such great camera and lighting gear
79. for Google’s news app on my phone
80. for my great Web team; Adam, Aaron, Yo, and Curt
81. for everybody who checked on my wifey when she got in an accident
82. for black t-shirts with logos on them
83. for Dave Black, Kristy Sherk, Lindsay Adler and Peter Hurley,
84. for the beautiful baby grand piano Kalebra bought for my birthday 20+ years ago
85. that I’ve been able to be a part of the Photoshop World conference all these years
86. for when ideas pop in my head, and for the ability to move on when it turns out some of them aren’t as great as I thought
87. for all my friends who came to the rescue
88. for the pretty drive to work in the mornings
89. for Juan, Mike, Jason and Christina
90. that my daughter and our niece are such great friends
91. that my son loves so many different kinds of music (everything from classic rock to Sinatra to rap to metal)
92. for all the times my big brother helped me, and guided me, when I was growing up.
93. for my Apple Watch and all the reminders it gives me
94. for weekends and days off
95. for the smell of coffee brewing
96. for Margie, Angela, John and Rachel
97. for Maxx Hammond for being such a great friend to my son all these years and for being an important part of our family
98. for comfortable shoes
99. for having a friend like Manny
100. for loving every minute with my family
101. for the men and women of our military
102. for Julie, Kleber, and Heidi
103. for the little Blackstar tube amp sitting on my desk at work
104. anytime I get to go to New York City, like just yesterday.
105. for our dear friend and partner Jean A.
106. for James Taylor
107. for all the awesome texts I’m getting from friends today
108. that my daughter still cares that I bake my special “Christmas Cookies” each year when we put up the tree (and I’m grateful she thinks Pillsbury mean ‘special’).
109. my guardian angel
110. for fresh bagels with a little too much cream cheese
111. for my friend Larry Tiefenbrunn and that there are people out there like him
112. for first responders
113. that my camera bag has four wheels
114. for those times where all three doggos are napping
115. for Larry Becker, Rob Sylvan, and Dave Williams
116. for my friends Chicky Nando, Pisco, Big Mike, Cathy B, and Mimo
117. for all the stuff in Erik’s backpack (since he always has that thing I need that I forgot to bring)
118. for waking up feeling great in the morning!
119. for Joe and Annie
120. that our dog Maki has a best friend in our son’s dog Nami
121. for beautiful clouds when I’m shooting a sunrise
122. for a yummy breakfast after a sunrise shoot
123. for my wife’s homemade chocolate-chip pancakes
124. for the sound of my wife’s voice
125. for mornings when I get up early and get a bunch of stuff done and I look up and it’s only 8:15 am
126. any time I get to land in London
127. for the quiet time my wife and I share with our coffee in the mornings before the kids wake up
128. for my MacBook Pro and how much easier it makes my business life each day
129. for forgiveness
130. that I realize what a privileged, blessed life I lead, and to whom I owe the thanks
131. that I start each day getting centered reading the Bible and daily devotionals
132. for how my daughter is always dancing
133. for the night’s where our family gets together to play games
134. for when we all lay on the floor, looking up and debate how tall the ceiling is in our living room
135. for our holiday trips to Disney’s Hollywood Studios
136. for cheese. Any kind of cheese. Even if it dispenses from a can. Especially if it dispenses from a can.
137. that somebody kept reading even though we’re down to number 137
138. that we have doggie treats when we really need them
139. for breakfasts at First Watch
140. for Carmine’s on W. 44th Street (ate there again on Tuesday. Still amazing!)
141. for all the awesome instructors I get to work with
142. for empty middle seats
143. for my iPad and all the awesome apps
144. for the Apple News+ app so I can read all my favorite magazines on my iPad
145. that I get to make new friends along the way
146. that people come to my workshops
147. for everyone who has stuck up for me in an online forum
148. for all the people who helped me along the way, and who may be gone, but are not forgotten
149. for our great partners who sponsor The Grid
150. that for seven years now I’ve been blessed to do a weekly live photography show and have such wonderful photographers as guests
151. for my Platypod Ultra
152. that my employees have a long weekend this weekend
153. for my son’s new girlfriend treating him so wonderfully
154. that we work so close to one of the best Cuban restaurants in Tampa Bay
155. for Tara our awesome official Chilis server for over 11-years now
156. for how happy fresh flowers make my wife
157. to see how happy it makes Kalebra when we all eat our vegetables at dinner
158. for a big beautiful yard for the doggos to run in.
159. for Sundays when I sleep in really late
160. that my son left his awesome drum kit here so I can play it
161. that my old rock band from high-school still gets together to play our high-school reunion party
162. that I live in a very sunny place
163. for Viktor and Ron and their willingness to help me out when I need it.
164. for every time my wife is cooking and says “I’m trying something different tonight.” It always leads to a delicious meal!
165. that I always remember our anniversary
166. that our family makes birthdays really special for each other
167. that we have a photographic art gallery and that we get to celebrate our member’s work there
168. that I have such a great art director for my shoots in Kalebra
169. for William C. Miller, my high school band director, who taught us much more than music.
170. that I was born and raised here
171. for Deb, John, Bob, John, Sam, and all my friends in Boston
172. for the Sci-Fi Drive-In Theatre restaurant
173. for Frank Doorhof
174. for all the summers in Sarasota at the beach when I was growing up
175. for getting to board early
176. for Larry Grace, Ed Buice, Jay Grammond, Paul Kober, and Rob Foldy
177. for Superchargers
178. for when the dogs realize it was just a random sound and stop barking
179. for all the live concerts, Broadway shows, and performances I’ve experienced (Saw Beatlejuice the musical on Broadway this week – absolutely wonderful show).
180. for my wife’s guardian angel, who has been working overtime lately
181. for Zephyrhills bottled spring water
182. for the times my brother and I get to play golf
183. for the Genius Bar in the Apple Store
184. for Chili’s chips and salsa
185. for how thoughtful my wife is
186. for afternoon’s at the movies
187. for the times when I could think of the perfect gift
188. for all the people who participate in my Worldwide Photo Walk and for the joy it brings me to see their smiling faces in their group shots
189. for everyone who has donated to the Springs of Hope Kenya orphanage
190. for all the wonderful gifts I treasure that Kalebra has gotten me over the years
191. for the awesome Mike Larson
192. for everybody who follows me on social media, and shares a kind word or says something nice about one of my images.
193. for every handmade birthday card my daughter has made for me
194. that my son is a way better version of me
195. for all the times when my wife knows exactly what to say and how to say it
196. that people are kind when they point out my typos on my blog
197. for my wife’s amazing homemade biscuits and the times she makes them when I’m not expecting them….like this morning.
198. that I still get to play with Scotty and Tony in a band.
199. for how easy it was to come up with 200 things I’m grateful for
200. for God, and His Son Jesus Christ, for leading me to the woman of my dreams, for blessing us with such amazing children, for allowing me to make a living doing something I truly love, for always being there when I need Him, for blessing me with a wonderful, fulfilling, and happy life, and such a warm, loving family to share it with.
Here’s wishing you a Thanksgiving full of family, food, gratitude for our many blessings, and I hope your team wins this weekend unless you’re an Auburn fan! #rolltide!
Maximize Your Impact with Plotaverse with Troy Plota
Take your photography to the next level with the Plotaverse platform! Join Troy Christopher Plota, the creator of the Plotaverse platform, as he teaches you how to get the most out of the Plotaverse suite of apps and utilize the motion art you create to promote your work on social media. In this class you’ll learn the ins and outs of the Plotaverse sharing platform, how to animate a still photo using Plotagraph, how to apply special effects and overlays to your motion art, how to create advanced motion effects, how to morph multiple photos into an animation, and how to create a portfolio of work that you can use to promote yourself to the world.
In Case You Missed It: How to Bring Your Still Images to Life Using Plotaverse
Join Trey Ratcliff as he teaches you how to add animation to your still photographs with Plotaverse. These dynamic images exist somewhere between a still photo and a movie and are just mesmerizing to watch. Throughout the class Trey teaches you the ins and outs of using the software, inspires you with mind blowing examples, and walks through ideas of where and how to use Plotaverse to get the most impact in your portfolio. This class is perfect for any photographer looking to start using Plotaverse or wants to add dynamic impact to their portfolio.
HOW DO I DO THAT IN INDESIGN? I WROTE A BOOK! Part 2 – It’s Available Now!
Hi there, it’s an honour to be back on Scott’s blog again. When I think back to my first appearance nine years ago, an iPhone shot by Scott of Glyn Dewis and myself on the London Underground just after meeting Scott (and also me meeting Glyn for the first time) and now nine years on, talking about the release of my new book, written for Scott’s series of “How Do I Do That In…” series, I do seriously have to pinch myself. I’ve been using InDesign since its ‘birth’ 20 years ago, so to become an author on the subject is an achievement I am incredibly proud of.
I wrote a blog post (Part 1) about the book back in May 2019 right here.
At that point I was still in writing mode. No one really prepares you for writing a book. A 260+ page book. A 260+ page book to continue a series by an author with over 5 million book sales. No pressure, right?! But those authors that I do know such as Glyn Dewis, Alan Hess and Scott, himself, just said “write what you know and use your own voice”. I had read most of Scott’s books in the past, I always loved the chapter intros he did. He even made a book of intros – it’s a freebie perk on KelbyOne.
I quickly found myself writing in the way I was advised, I imagined I was next to a buddy that needed my help and I wanted to explain the best or quickest way to get a job or task done. This book is not the technical bible. As with most Adobe apps, there are many ways to achieve the same result, some quicker than others. My job is to show you one to get you moving, you’ll learn more as you use InDesign more and there’s plenty of resources around including a very large book at Rocky Nook called The InDesign Compendium.
Another thing about writing a book is the difference between idea and exectution. Idea is exactly that, “I have a great idea for a book about <insert idea>”. Is your idea book sized? Is it of interest to only you or a much wider audience? We actually spoke to Scott Cowlin and Ted Waitt of Rocky Nook about this on our (mine and Glyn’s) podcast He Shoots, He Draws.
I was lucky, this was a successful series and a much (secretly) loved Adobe application that many struggle with. All I had to do was piece together the puzzle of working through InDesign and encourage new users, and experienced, to quickly find that “pah, how do I do that again?” answer. It also made me go through many features I hadn’t used as often, plus I got to create all the assets to include in the screenshots. The fun side of that was including photos and images of my friends and family. I’m going to see how many friends get the book and spot themselves! Me writing this book is the combination of many parts, and those parts are the people and experiences I have been fortunate enough to have in my life. I said in my previous blog post that I have had the best moments of my design career in the past 10 years. I am 54 as I write this. Oh, and my big brother Alan just turned 65 – so, happy birthday bruv ☺
Becoming an author is like being Spiderman (stay with this very tenuous attempt for me to pretend I am Spiderman), with great power comes great responsibility. And by that it means you become a voice of authority and quite possibly the expectation to know everything and have your phone and email blowing up with “I need help” requests. The reason I say this is because I don’t believe that to be completely true. We may reach a point in our lives where we have a lot of knowledge and experience but I tell you this, if you ever think you know everything, you don’t.
I finished this book and last month at Adobe Max I sat in two InDesign classes. The first by the wonderful and very talented Hoodzpah Design, a Californian design company run by Jen and Amy Hood (Check their cool book out here). Although many designers tend to show off their Illustrator and Photoshop work, many will have produced large proportions of their content with InDesign (and if not, why not? Come on designers, embrace the ‘Id’). Amy and Jen said to me before they started “ah man, you’re the expert, I hope what we show is good” – I quickly denied that. And to prove the point, I was only 10 minutes into their presentation and I was making notes like a crazy man.
It’s not about knowing ‘everything,’ it’s also about knowing how to be creative, how to design an efficient workflow, how to use the best parts of the app to keep moving. The creative side is the part I am so passionate about and Jen and Amy’s presentation completely amplified that.
The second class was by my good friend Bart Van de Wiele, Bart walked us through more advanced areas and techniques, many I have yet to use but were so useful and time saving. At that point I could see my place in the InDesign food chain and I was content with that. I want you to be able to use my book to get more confident with InDesign, get creative with your work, produce more content with the right tool and evangelise its usefulness and power to others.
Once you get to grips with InDesign you will learn more than is in the book, you will learn the hidden tools of InDesign, you’ll even dabble with the mighty GREP, a super power in InDesign for power users. But at least you’ll be using it. No more clicking on the little ID icon in your dock, watching InDesign open, looking at the empty workspace and then saying to yourself “ah, not today” – like I do with After Effects!
I have loved teaching InDesign at Photoshop World, it’s been a blast, I love teaching and writing about anything design related. It’s important to learn the tools and learn how to be creative. I have seen many an instructor show how apps work and it’s sound like the teacher from Ferris Bueller saying “Bueller, Bueller….Bueller” in that very dull, uninteresting tone. I think all photographers should learn the basics of InDesign.
I did a presentation at The Professional Imaging Show in Holland this year called “Why A Graphic Designer Is A Photographers best Friend (and vice versa)”. It was all about photographers and designers working together more. I really do believe that learning a skill such as InDesign will help you shoot like a designer. You’ll be able to visualise how flyers, booklets, postcards etc are put together and it’ll make your brain think about how to shoot for suitable images rather than just go and do the job – take a portrait and go home.
When you, as a photographer, can talk to your client about how the images will be used and be able to talk about layouts and type you’ll quickly find that the work stays with you. If you are already a designer then why aren’t you using InDesign – if you have the Creative Cloud obviously – because using the right tool for the job will make you a more desirable designer, in my opinion.
I was recently interviewed at Adobe Max along with many other creatives by Adventures InDesign podcast. When asked what my favourite app was I was the only person to say InDesign. In a world surrounded by print, signage, labels, products, even digital, InDesign is at the forefront of the products being used to make those things. Go and pick up your favourite photography book. I would say there’s a 90% chance it was made in InDesign or a professional publishing product such as Quark or Affinity Publisher even.
So to end this article, I urge you to open up InDesign, look on the Adobe website to see what it’s used for, watch the InDesign classes on KelbyOne, read the InDesign design articles I wrote in Photoshop User magazine archive, sit in a couple of InDesign classes at your next design conference, talk to designers for advice and learn to love my favourite app. And if you still need more help….I know a guy who wrote a really cool book called ‘How Do I Do That In InDesign’ ☺
It’s now T-Xmas (read: “T-minus Christmas”), and as we’re now in the holiday season for so many people of so many faiths, it’s time to share some holiday photo tips! Before I get too far I want to apologise for laying down last week’s #TravelTuesday post on what was, as a one-off, #TravelMonday— thanks to everyone who pointed it out, and I’m firmly blaming the jet lag, having just arrived back from Canada!
So, on the whole, we want our holiday shots to be light and airy, but as always, there are exceptions to the rules, so don’t think of them as hard and fast! I’ve been aided in this post with some fabulous images by some fabulous photographers, so be sure to check out their links to see more!
We tend to have some atmospheric light going on around the holidays, with fairy lights and candles and all kinds of contrasts going on, and it’s a good idea to bump our ISO to let the light flood the sensor, giving our images a light and airy feel. What I mean by this is knowing the ISO limitations of your camera and pushing those limits to give a nice, bright, festive photo, without causing any damaging highlights. A good benchmark on a newer, higher-level mirrorless or DSLR is pushing to 6400 ISO, and with something like a Canon Rebel or Nikon 5300, try somewhere around the 1600 ISO range.
Throw some props around!
Santa hats, mistletoe, that weird little elf thing, it all adds up to setting the scene and making it crystal-clear when our shot was taken, acting as a souvenir shot for us or our customer. These little props really go a long way.
Get creative with composites!
Beautiful starry skies, flying snowmen, steam-puffing trains, and a ton of other things lend themselves nicely to a festive composite. Throw in the odd starburst, and check out some KelbyOne courses about how to create seamless composite images to really add some punch to your holiday image.
No, I don’t mean skimping on gifts, I mean getting in close to the details! The details of all the things that come out at the festive time of year are special, and it’s often in the little details themselves where the real meanings and feelings come out. Keep your aperture low and your focus on-point to make your image really special.
Think about the light!
Off-camera flash is way cooler than on-camera flash, so make the most of all the light sources around you at this time of year (including natural light). Take advantage of beautiful, bokehlicious backgrounds by making that aperture nice and wide to knock focus out and keep the attention on your subject in all its festive glory.
Tell a story!
This time of year, no matter your faith or creed, is packed with awesome, meaningful stories. So, bring that to your photography and tell a story of your own, while making some awesome memories of the 2019 holiday season!
Welcome to the online version of my “14th Annual Gonzo Holiday Gear Guide,” which is featured in this latest issue of Photoshop User magazine.
I know it’s hard to believe I’ve been writing this for 14 years, which must also mean that I’ve apparently amassed a huge collection of stuff that’s now horribly outdated. This is precisely why it’s so critical that I create a new “Holiday Gear Guide” each year, and sell the old stuff on eBay to pay for all my new stuff. It’s a vicious cycle and one that I’m certain drives my wife crazy. But don’t let our holiday gift discord dissuade you from making the same mistake I have, because it’s the holidays and time to unwrap a bevy of spectacular holiday gems that are perfect for the petulant photographer on your holiday gift list.
As always, these items are gifts and gadgets that I use myself, and not only have I fallen hopelessly in love with them, but like a pacemaker or the new chicken sandwich from Popeyes, I also now find it hard to go on living without them. My job here is simple: Transfer my dependence on these items to you this holiday season, therefore completing the circle of life.
Just remember, giving one of these gifts by itself isn’t enough. The real magic of the holidays is when you can use social media to make others feel less adequate by taking cell phone pictures of all the stuff you bought, and all the stuff you got and sharing it online. It’s what separates us from the animals.
These are my self-imposed guidelines for which products make it into the guide—it’s just two rules actually. To be listed here, they have to be: (a) products that I use myself; and (b) if a product makes the guide, it has to be one I’d recommend to a close friend without hesitation (especially if I wasn’t that crazy about this particular friend—more of an acquaintance, really).
Also, to make things easy, we added direct links to all the products I picked so you don’t have to wonder if you’re getting exactly the right one. (Note: Depending on the product, clicking on the links below will either take you to the manufacturer’s website or if the product is available at B&H Photo or Amazon, then clicking on the links will take you to those websites.)
As is my sacred holiday tradition for more than a 14th of a century, I’m breaking things into three distinct categories:
Stocking Stuffers: But you can use these as actual holiday gifts if this person has ever asked you for a loan.
Great Value Gear: Stuff that’s a really good deal for the money, so it will look like you spent more than you did, and they’ll think you’re actually a better person than you are. So essentially, these are the perfect gifts.
Cha-Ching!: Stuff you’d buy for the Disney executive or Wall Street hedge fund manager on your Holiday gift list. These will often require a credit check in advance and putting up some sort of collateral.
PhotoPills (for iPhone & Android)
PhotoPills is the app every landscape, nature, or travel photographer should have. It’s like having your own photo assistant out in the field with all the answers to things such as, “When’s sunrise?” “What time is blue hour?” “How long should I keep the shutter open on this long exposure?” and a ton more. But beyond just numbers, it can do everything from tell you exactly which day and time a full moon will be over a particular mountain or lake you want to photograph, or which direction the sun will be coming from at any date and time in the future. Plus, it has a built-in augmented reality feature that can even superimpose the Milky Way’s position over a scene so you’ll know exactly where to set up and compose your shot. It’s easily worth $100, but it’s only $10. It’s truly a killer app!
The tagline for this book is “Images and Stories of the Rarest Species in Illinois,” but this book is really for anyone who loves great wildlife photography. Carol worked on this inspiring book for more than 20 years, and it’s just stunning from cover to cover. Goodreads calls it “…a glorious tribute to some of the most amazing life on our planet.” For a $50 donation to the Team Green Environmental Network, you not only get a printed edition (180 pages softcover) of Carol’s wonderful book, you also get her printed 2020 calendar as well. So you’re getting the book, the calendar, and donating to a good cause, so there’s something in this one for everybody!
Price: $50 donation (includes both her book and calendar)(link)
A Nice Roll of Gaffer Tape
Buying someone a roll of tape as a stocking stuffer may sound like just one step above a lump of coal, but that’s only because you may not realize the magic and wonder that gaffer tape can bring to the life of a photographer. Developed in Hollywood for use in movies and TV shows, this tape does something very special: When you remove it from a wall, equipment, your mother-in-law, etc., it doesn’t pull off paint (or skin) or leave a sticky residue. That’s why photographers love it—it’s easy to tear, easy to use, and doesn’t mess up stuff when you’re done.
Price: A roll of ProTapes Pro Gaffer Tape (2″ x 55 yards) at B&H goes for $20.59 (link)
Rick Sammon’s Bestselling Book, Photo Therapy Motivation and Wisdom: Discovering the Power of Pictures
Over the years, Rick has written 40 books on photography, and this is his bestselling book ever. Ironically, there’s not a single photo in the book—it’s all words, but powerful words they are. People absolutely love it, and so will the photographer on your holiday gift list. Really great stuff (at a really great price)!
Think Tank Photo Secure Pixel Pocket Rocket (Black)
I love mine because it securely stores all my memory cards, including CF and SD cards, and the design is just right on the money. There isn’t a photographer that wouldn’t love finding this one in their stocking (and if they don’t like it, they really weren’t your friend in the first place now, were they?). Of course, if you really feel close to them, you could always fill those empty card slots with actual memory cards, in which case you should move this entry from Stocking Stuffers to the Cha-Ching! category.
Price: $21.75 (stylist black with gray trim, but also available in bright obnoxious colors) (link)
Platypod Stackable Gooseneck (2-Pack)
If the photographer on your holiday gift list has a Platypod (and if you were really paying attention to last year’s Gift Guide, they do), then what better follow-up gift could there possibly be than the new two-pack of flexible, bendable gooseneck arms. These allow you to mount things such as small portable lights or flashes, or a microphone directly to your Platypod and place them wherever you’d like. The folks from Platypod brought some of these to the PHOTOPLUS Expo in NYC back in early November, and they created a sensation. They not only sold out of every one they had, they even sold their sample. So cool!
If you’ve ever heard your photographer friend say something along these lines, “Ya know, this lens used to be really sharp,” then the Focus Pyramid is for them. It helps them use the in-camera adjustment to get their lens back to being super sharp. (Over time, lenses can lose some of their sharpness for a variety of reasons, like being tossed 700 times into a camera bag, or dropped, or being dipped in molasses, etc.) This will help bring it back to its former glory. Plus, it’s very easy to set up and use.
When I was at a workshop up in Canada, one of the participants had this backpack. I fell in love with it, and I ordered one as soon as I got back. It’s just about the perfect size for those times when you don’t want to lug the whole kitchen sink with you (which for me these days is pretty much always). It’s light, so cleverly designed, and still holds a good amount of gear without overloading you. Really well built and thought out. They will super dig it (and super dig you, too!).
This is always the perfect gift, because B&H Photo is the greatest camera store in the world, and whatever the photographer on your gift list wants, they have it, in stock, ready to ship. They’re the magical unicorns of camera stores. Get them a gift card from here and they’ll follow you anywhere.
Westcott X-Drop Vintage Gray Canvas Backdrop by Glyn Dewis
Photographer, retoucher, and KelbyOne instructor Glyn Dewis has really made a name for himself through his inspirational and touching portraits of World War II veterans, The 39-45 Portraits Project. This backdrop was designed by Glyn himself, so you can get the same style portraits with your subjects, even if they weren’t in any world wars.
The folks at ON1 have been on a roll, and they have fans of their plug-ins all over the planet. Part of the reason is their new AI stuff is pretty incredible. Of course, as the name says, it’s a RAW photo processor, but it’s really so much more, wrapping organization, special effects, RAW processing, and more into a plug-in that your photographer giftee will lose their mind over! It’s really incredible what ON1 has done. You’ll be a champ for picking up this one!
This drive is so incredibly small and lightweight, but it holds a freakin’ terabyte of data and it’s faster than a greased pig (and you know how fast greased pigs can be—well, if you don’t, they’re really, really fast). The person you give this to can take their high-res images with them on vacation, and use the drive to back up images, too. These drives are just incredibly awesome. No way they won’t love this! You can even get a 2-terabyte version for around the same size and weight, but throw another hundo on the fire (totally worth it).
This tiny little rechargeable light is kind of like the GoPro of little lights. In fact, it would be awesome with a GoPro camera, or for doing selfies with your phone, or for bright continuous light for iPhone videos. You can even connect it to a drone for drone lighting. It’s waterproof, and you can even mount it anywhere using the Platypod Gooseneck (see above). It just so tiny, and yet it’s surprisingly bright and flexible, plus there are a ton of accessories for it, and it’s pretty cheap. Well, inexpensive anyway.
Price: $90 (link) Add the LitraTorch Filter set to add lots of colors (includes holders): $35 (link)
A Fine Art print from Bay Photo
You can either get a gift card for the photographer on your list so they can get one of their images printed, or you can give one of your own prints as a gift (which is a very personal gift). Either way, you’ll love the quality of Bay Photo’s Fine Art Prints. Want to give somebody a really memorable gift that’s more than just the product itself? This is it!
This is a special-effects plug-in that just keeps getting more and more incredible! It does everything from replacing skies to adding sunbeams to your photos to retouching skin to any one of a bunch of stuff that’s totally cheating. You’ll be a star for giving this one! You can order version 4 of this bad boy right now and save a few bucks, too.
Price: A killer deal for $99 (this is a special deal that expires soon), plus you’ll get some pre-sets, too (and they’re normally $49 just for the presets!) (link)
This is the updated, newly advanced, “more better” version of their super popular Ellie L-Bracket. When shooting on a tripod, it lets you switch your camera from wide to tall in about two seconds. This is very popular with landscape photographers, who love these to death. The price is right, and it’s available in a lovely metallic slate gray or putrid orange (don’t get it in orange!).
Price: $79.99 (available for preorder with delivery set for the end of November) (link)
XP-PEN Deco Pro Medium Graphics Drawing Tablet
If you’ve always wanted to buy a really nice graphics tablet for your photography friend (a tablet and pen are the pro retoucher’s tools of choice), but the price has kept a good one out of reach; that’s all about to change. Earlier this year I got my hands on the new XP-PEN Deco Pro tablet, and I have to say, I was blown away at the quality for the price. Personally, I like the smaller size tablets (one I can easily fit in my laptop bag or backpack and it takes up less room on my desk), so I’d go with the Small Deco Pro (9×5″), but if you think they’ll want something bigger, go with the Medium (11×6″). They’ll dig the way the double wheel works. Absolutely amazing for the price! (They’ll think you paid way more!)
You might be thinking, “I dunno, Scott, $415 seems like a lot of money for a ballhead,” but I can tell you that’s only because it’s a lot of money for a ballhead. But, at least it happens to be the greatest ballhead in the entire recorded history of ballheads. It’s the single greatest ballhead ever, and you’d be the single greatest gift-giver ever to give one of these to the photographer on your gift list. You’d instantly elevate yourself to “most valued friend or relative.” They’ll cherish this one for many years because it will last forever (even after the Great Gas War of 2046).
Every photographer wants to get close to the action, and this will help them by taking their existing lens and getting them 1.4-times closer. It’s like getting a longer lens for a fraction of the cost, and as long as you buy a quality extender (and I’d only list quality extenders here anyway), there won’t be any real visible loss of quality. These are so awesome and, after buying a friend one, he’ll look upon you with awe. Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch, but they’ll definitely want to nuzzle you (but I’m not sure that’s a good thing!).
Price: Sony FE 1.4 Teleconverter (for E-mount lenses): $548 (link) Canon Extender EF 1.4X III (for EF-mount lenses): $429 (link) Nikon AF-S Teleconverter TC-14E III (for F-mount lenses): $496.95 (link)
Canon RF 24-240mm F4–6.3 IS USM Lens
This is my new go-to travel/walk-around lens and I absolutely love it! Wider than most all-in-one lenses like this (most are 28mm), it’s very lightweight, beautifully designed, and sharp as the dickens. (See how I worked a Charles Dickens reference in there? I know. It’s a gift.) Anyway, this is one kick-butt lens and now it goes with me on every trip. Perfect for the Canon EOS R mirrorless user on your holiday gift list (plus, the price is actually pretty amazing). They’ll lose their minds when you give them this!
The 85mm range for portraits and weddings is a pretty magical one, with its look and style, along with those creamy out-of-focus backgrounds. The f/1.8 range is also the range I recommend (rather than the heavier more expensive f/1.4 or f/1.2 lenses, because their depth of field is so incredibly thin that if you’re not 100% right-on-the-money with your focus technique, you’ll wind up with a lot of out-of-focus shots). With an f/1.8 like this, you’ll save money, it’s much lighter, and you’ll get a lot more shots in focus. I mean to say, “They’ll get a lot more shots in focus.” You’re not buying this for yourself now, are you? ;-)
Profoto C1 Plus (Serious Lighting for iPhone Shooters)
Beautifully designed and built (like all Profoto gear), this super-portable studio strobe (it fits in the palm of your hand) lets iPhone photographers light their subjects like a pro. This is what I’d call the first “serious” flash for serious iPhone shooters, with its soft light and slick design—it’s just so cool! It works with iPhone 7s and up, and you can control the strobe with Profoto’s free app. It has flash and continuous lighting options, and you can even control the light’s color temperature and power output. You can get some nice accessories for it as well, such as gels, a grid, and a dome that snap on its magnetic mount. If your photographers are serious about their iPhone portrait photography, they’ll love this on a crazy level. It’s a can’t-miss gift.
If the photographer on your gift list shoots on location, man are they going to love this! It’s a small, specially designed battery power pack and adapter from the folks at Tether Tools that let you power and charge your laptop, camera batteries, flash or strobes, phone, and most any other USB devices, all while out in the field where you don’t have access to an AC wall outlet. It’s really pretty brilliant, and while I put this in the Cha-Ching! section, the price is actually a bit less than Cha-Ching. It’s more “Cha-Less-Ching” at a little under $270. It’s really well made and cleverly thought out.
The gallery YellowKorner sells three of my fine-art prints of classic interiors at various sizes (you can get some really nice large sizes) and styles and I, for one, would be honored if you saw fit to give one as a gift. Imagine how tickled I’d be if you gave three or four? Or even three or four hundred? The mind reels, doesn’t it? Anyway, they’d make a great addition to your collection (says the author, so his opinion is somewhat tainted, but correct nevertheless). If you purchase one, please post a pic on social and tag me in it so I can share it, as well.
This one is literally on press now and will be available before Christmas. It’s my new book completely focused on how to take really amazing natural-light portraits, and it uses the same style and layout as my Digital Photography Book series: Just one topic per page, so it’s quick-and-easy to digest, and you can turn right to the page you want, for the thing you want to learn, and boom! You’re off and shooting. Be one of the very first to get a copy by pre-ordering now.
It just came out earlier this year and it’s already in its third printing (meaning, the first two print runs of the book completely sold out). It’s my bestselling book in years, and if the photographer on your holiday gift list shoots landscapes (and at some point, we all shoot landscapes, right?), they’ll get a lot out of this book. Well, so I’ve been told.
You’ve probably heard again and again (or you’re already a member and you know firsthand) about all the incredible 700+ online courses, the online community, the webcasts, the magazines, and the discounts that are part of a KelbyOne Pro membership. Now you can share all that with a photographer you super-dig. It’s only $199 for a year, with full access to everything! They’ll devote the rest of their natural life to let you know how thoughtful, caring, and generous you were to change their life in such a meaningful way. Okay, that’s perhaps a best-case scenario, but I think they’ll love you for it (and so will I).
If they love online training, we have a special membership level that focuses on the online classes themselves (with access to more than 300 courses), but it goes for just $9.99 a month. Give ’em a 12-month membership and they’ll love you all year.