My “Best of 2010” Awards

Hi everybody—-it’s time for my 2nd annual “Best of 2010 Awards” (Well, it’s not actually my 2nd best of 2010; it’s my 2nd “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 2010, (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:


Best iPad App: Flipboard. It brings Facebook and Twitter to life.

Best software utility of 2010: 1Password

Best iPad fun App that’s not a game: D-Jay. It’s amazingly like the real thing and lets anyone play “mix master.”

Best new Photoshop plug-in I saw in 2010, but it’s not shipping until around now: Perfect Layers from OnOne Software (brings real layers, layer masks, and layers power to Lightroom).

My most-used plug-in of 2010: Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro 3

My guess for most-used plug-in of 2011: OnOne’s Perfect Layers

Best new lens of 2010: It’s a tie between my new Nikon 85mm f/1.4, or the new 28-300mm zoom.

The Best five photographers you might not have heard of (not in any particular order):

  1. Regis Lefebure (link)
  2. Markus Schwarze (link)
  3. Tim Tadder (link);
  4. PetrKlapper (link)
  5. Stephan Cooper (link)

Best thing in 2010 for photographers that’s not a camera, lens, or lighting: The iPad (maybe the coolest way to show your images ever).

Best iPhone/iPad App for presenters: pClock (the ultimate timer–from Shawn Welch).  

My favorite iPhone/iPad game of 2010: Tie: Word Warp Extreme or Angry Birds
Both responsible for untold hours of my lost productivity

Best iPad stand for travel: Arkon’s IPM-TAB1 (link)
(Horrible name—yet fantastic super-lightweight fold-up stand).

Best game ever: Call of Duty: Black Ops for XBox Live
I would have written two more books if not for Black Ops.

Best iPhone App for Photographers: Plastic Bullet Camera (link)

Best airline: Delta. (In-flight Go-Go Internet, and adding power plugs and USB ports to all its gates, plus TV on many flights; the best FF program, and great clubs. Plus, I think they have the best and friendliest flight attendants).

Best hotel chain: Hilton Garden Inn. Free in-room wireless. Big, clean rooms, with a microwave, fridge, and free bottles of water in the room. Great hot breakfast in the morning, and 24-hour mini-store, at half the cost of a regular Hilton (which charges for Internet, and bottles of water, among other things.

Best way to manage RSS feeds: Pulse app. It’s visual layout rocks.

Best new blog: Larry’s Cheap Shots (link).

Best new printer for working pro photographers: Epson Stylus Pro 4900

Best new HDR software: Nik’s HDR Efex Pro, and Photoshop CS5’s built-in HDR

Best other gadget of 2010: Verizon MiFi (wireless anywhere)

Best steak of 2010: Ocean Prime (link)
Their New York Strip with a Bleu cheese crust is insane!

Best burger of 2010: Hands down it was Milt’s in Moab, Utah

Best hotel deal in Manhattan: I’ve tried them all, but this one is the best: Hilton Garden Inn Times Square (great location, price, and great restaurant attached to it).

Best gift idea of 2010: an Gift Card

Best thing I added to my Mac in 2010: DropBox (link)

Best App that saved me money in 2010: Tom Tom Navigation for the iPhone 4 (Saved me $14.99 a day on having to rent a GPS system for my rental cars)

Best business book of 2010: Delivering Happiness by Tony Hsieh

Another that comes close: “Making Ideas Happen” by Scott Belsky

Best addition to my Photoshop arsenal: Wacom’s Small-sized Intous 4 tablet. Fits perfectly in my laptop bag, so it goes wherever I go.

Best thing to put in front of your studio strobe: Elinchrom’s Deep Octa softbox

Best romantic comedy I saw in 2010: She’s Out of My League

Best really lame movie of 2010: Skyline
So bad it was almost good. Almost.

Best movie of 2010: The Book of Eli
I think I was the only one who didn’t “get the surprise” thing until two weeks after the movie when a friend told me. It made the whole movie even better for me.

Best remake of a classic Motown song: I Want You Back (iTunes Session), by Colbie Caillat (iTunes link)

Best really old song I added to my iPod: Tumblin’ Dice by Linda Ronstadt (iTunes Link)

Best (and first) Beatles song I bought on iTunes: Paperback Writer (iTunes Link)

Best old soul song I added: It’s Only Takes a Minute Girl by Tavares (iTunes Link)

Best classic rock song I added: Ah! Leah! by Donnie Iris (iTunes Link)

Best new song: California Gurls by Katy Perry (iTunes Link)
Any song with Snoop Dogg sayin’ “West Coast. West Coast!” has got to be good (“Who could it be, it’s the Dee-oh-dubba gee!”)

Coolest kinda-jazz but yet kinda alternative song I bought in 2010: The Sound of Muzak by Porcupine Tree (iTunes Link)

Best song I bought after hearing it on my son’s iPod: Hero by Skillet (iTunes Link)

Best New Band I learned about in 2010: Rock Sugar (Link)

Best guitar-related gift I got in 2010: A Rocktron Banshee Amplified Talk Box (link)

Best new reason to love Germany: Calvin Hollywood
This guy is insane (in a good way!). He has “Freaky Detail!”

Best new photographer to learn from: Frank Doorhof
He’s teaching stuff I don’t see anybody else doing out there

Best new gadget for DSLR video shooters: Hoodman’s Cinema Kit.
Makes your DSLR feel like a video camera, and it’s affordable. (Link)

Best way to start a fight since mentioning HDR: Mention the iPad and Flash in the same sentence


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. :)

      1. The other problem is that it looks like a weapon…
        Scared to put it into my carry on luggage.

        Lives on my desk in my office between the other monitors.

        the IPM looks beter for travel.
        I think I’ll get one for PSW

        ( you know, since I was writing the iPad Fully Loaded book, I had to try out a bunch of stuff. Never saw the IPM)


    1. Indeed Dave.
      And no “Best ever dull, overcast, grey cloud weather encountered whilst doing a Kelby training Live event” and “Best ever Cockney accent since Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins” categories. Most disappointing as surely the highlights of any photographer’s year ;-)

  1. I agree with Dave and what was the “surprise” in “The Book of Eli” , loved the movie , but I guess you weren’t the only one who didn’t get it so clue me in.

  2. Hey Scott,

    Can you talk a bit more about why you like the 85mm 1.8. I’m surprised you threw it on your list considering you own every professional lens a man could ever want

    I only ask because I’m considering buying this lens

    Thanks for any insight!


  3. I’m sure he meant the 85 1.4. This lens also makes my list as the best lens Never delivered to most photographers in 2010. Been waiting over 3 months now.

  4. Great post! Thanks for sharing. Thought you would like to know the link to Stephan Cooper is not working- i know i can google him but again, thought you’d like to know!

  5. Hey Scott,
    Great blog as always. While I was reading your list, I had to look at the OnOne site to see what the Perfect Layers thing was all about since I do have the Perfect Photo Suite. Now I know. I’m one who doesn’t use Lightroom, so hence I won’t be using this plugin. You also gave me a reason to see Book of Eli. I’m way, way behind on my movie watching.
    Have a great day,

      1. Scott and Mike, I am in same boat, I have LR3 but I am so use to Bridge and used it so long. I have Perfect Photo Suite, does that mean I auto get the layers?

  6. I was recently introduced to Dropbox, and it’s literally changed the way I manage files! I don’t use it for transferring files between my own computers, but we have set up a network of users in my research lab allowing us to share files and documents with ease! Plus it’s a great way to back up my thesis in real time, with time-machine-like support (the #1 thing on my list of Mac-Envy)!

  7. OMG, Delta? Really? I’d put them second to last (just above USAirways). People don’t call Delta’s FF program “Sky Pesos” for nothing. It’s become virtually worthless. So much so that after being a loyal customer for years, I switched. Continental now gets my 100k+ miles of business a year. Well, anyhow, it just goes to show that what doesn’t work for one will work for another. That’s probably a good thing.

  8. Nice list, Scott. I have to agree with some other posters that Inception should have been your #1 movie over Book of Eli (although I liked that one, too). Inception is such a deep movie that you can watch it over and over, and see new things each time. Hey, they filmed the movie in LAYERS!!! Get it? Huh? Get it? :D You DID see it, didn’t you??


  9. Hi!!! excelent post!! specially the iPhone/iPad Apps!!! i have more than 4 years reading your blog and never write a comment… but there’s a first time always :)

    I just saw your concert photography video, it’s excelent!!! Alan & Scott did a wonderful job!!!
    I’m a musician turned photographer and i have two years giving a concert photography class here in Venezuela, it’s amazing to see how we concert photographers share the same rules out of nowhere, there’s no much history in concert photography…

    Really thank you guys and hope we’ll see in photoshop world!!


    1. Hi bob:
      That is a great airport (and that World Terminal is incredible), but since I’m down in Florida, I usually wind up in Atlanta Hartsfield instead (which has gotten much better in the past few years). I tell ya who’s got a great airport: Indianapolis. I just flew through there a few days ago, and their new airport is really beautiful, well laid out, and not too big, yet not too small. A real pleasure to fly through. :)


  10. I got “Delivering Happiness” free at the race expo for the 2010 Zappos Las Vegas Marathon, in December, and have to agree with you Scott! It made me want to forget about photography, move to Las Vegas and work for them for the rest of my life. It is one of those books that anyone with a business needs to read.

    Oh, and I think you forgot me in the best five photographers you might not of heard of! ;)

  11. Hi, Scott – Loved reading your list. So happy to see the Nikon 28-300 was one of your favorite lenses as I just purchased it yesterday after much agonizing! Hope you have a wonderful 2011 filled once again with loads of family time. Thanks for making all our lives richer with all you do.

  12. Ah shucks…just when I’d made myself a promise not to buy anymore iPad Apps this week; still nothing beats a recommendation :)

    Purchases so far having read your recommendations:

    1Password, pclock, plastic bullet and the Pulse App which I must say looks incredible.

    Regards to the Flipboard that too is a great App; the only thing I find is that the recent posts aren’t always the most recent; maybe it’s user error…in fact it most likely is :)

    I’m always looking for new books to read but with so many out there that promise the earth but don’t deliver it’s difficult to know what to go for so thanks for the 2 recommendations from Tony Hsieh and Scott Belsky; Scott’s book is showing as pre order only with Amazon UK expected release in June of this year.

    Getting to know Calvin Hollywood after initially being exposed to his work through this blog has been awesome; really looking forward to his series on Kelby Training.

    So much more that could be said but needless to say, 2010 was a superb year so here’s to a fantastic 2011 packed with more ‘must’ have purchases :)


  13. Hey Scott,

    So you’ve finally discovered Porcupine Tree! They are my favorite band. You should check out the entire “In Absentia” CD. I would also recommend “Stupid Dream”. If you like those CDs, then you should move on to their more hard rock/alternative music such as “Deadwing”; “Fear of a Blank Planet” and my favorite, “The Incident”.

  14. That’s a great list there. Will take sometime. 2 things I agree.

    1) Markus Schwarze – Brilliant photographer. His portrait skills are amazing. Fantastic ! must visit.

    2) Call of duty – Black ops – That’s a superb cool game. Must play.

    Rest I am going through one by one. Great choices over all.

    1. Hi Matt:
      I do like Southwest, and just few them a few weeks ago to a game and a had a very good experience. Very friendly and well run airline. That whole group A, B, C thing throws me for a loop though. I either have to pay more, or wait until Midnight and try and snag a seat. It just adds too much stress to the trip for me.


  15. Scott,

    One item worth mentioning, even though its not new for 2010, is the best photographic paper on the planet – Fujiflex Supergloss. It absolutely ROCKS! It ain’t cheap (actually darn expensive), but with the quality of images you produce, if you have never printed on it before from a Chromira printer, the Fujiflex will simply make your jaw drop. Give it a shot, it isn’t possible to be disappointed. . . just thought I’d share this since I’ve never seen you mention it anywhere.

    1. Hi Wayne:
      I have Amplitube for both the iPad and iPhone. Wish I had thought of it—I would have included it. My only compliant is—I want to use the iPad’s built-in speaker, and not have to wear head phones.


  16. Scott you must have forgotten the category of Best Bag, since we photographers seem to be looking for the perfect bags every month despite owning loads of them already. :)

  17. I wholeheartedly agree on your black ops assessment, so many times I wanted to out shooting late at night but the warm glow of the xbox kept drawing me in. My favorite thing to hear in 2010…..”Friendly hind inbound”

  18. I have to admit, that I read all the comments just because I knew someone would disagree with your OPINION and get their tail feathers ruffled. :) Thanks also for making me go spend money minutes only after I read this post. Hope you have a great new year!!!

  19. Fascinating list! There are a couple of items on it that I will probably have to buy.

    But – Black Ops – are there any geezer groups playing out there? I love the game, but my reflexes aren’t up to the kids. Or at least that’s what I tell myself.

  20. First I’d heard of Perfect Layers. Sounds like a must-have but my first thought was “Since it’s possible, I’ll wait for Lightroom 4”. Second thought was, “Adobe probably won’t put it into LR4 by which time OnOne’s version will be so far advanced, Adobe won’t bother to put it in ever :(

    1. Hi Ali:
      I loved inception. I saw in New York City on the widest big screen I’ve ever seen, along with about 1,300 other people. It was amazing to here the huge crowd all gasp at once at the ending. Amazing movie! :)


  21. Re: GPS phone apps….. Just about any relatively recent Nokia phone comes with free turn by turn voice navigation and lifetime access to Nokia Maps:
    So there’s no need to ever buy a separate app and updates are just a click away through the Novia OVI Suite.

    The current Nokia flagship phone, the N8, also comes with a 12 megapixel still and HD video camera that’s a dream come true for photographers:

  22. It seems too obvious for you to have missed but Photoshop CS5 was released in 2010 and I can’t help but feel it should have made the list. Although I guess it goes without saying.

  23. hello scott,

    sorry i found no email adress to contact you.. so i write this here.
    im a big fan of the kelby training videos. great stuff!!
    but i have a little complain.

    in the video series with frank doorhof he measures the light with a lightmeter.
    he measures from under the subjects chin in the direction of the light.

    all manuals of my lightmeters say that i have to point the lightmeter from the subject to the camera (except when i do a silhouette).
    in other kelby training videos it´s also said you have to point the lightmeter in the direction of the camera, not the light.

    it would be nice when you get that straight in your training videos. :)
    this is one thing that has confused me as i started with lightmeters and it´s asked all over in forums.

    so when you tell it that way and in a different kelby video it´s shown that way….. it´s even more confusing i think.

    sorry for my bad english. :)

    thx and bye from germany

    1. Hi
      Let me explain.
      In reality you should always measure towards the light, I don’t care what the manual says ;)

      Imagine this.
      Your are measuring for the diffused value of your subject, that should be accurate. When you measure towards the light source whatever light source you use it will be a correct measurement.

      Let’s do a little test.
      We aim our light straight the model and aim the meter towards the camera, the measurement will be correct.
      Now we set the light in a 45 degree angle, the measurement towards the camera will still be in the ball park.
      Now we place the light in 90 degree angle to the camera and measure towards the camera, there is a difference between the first readings, when we keep the distance equal there however should be no difference according to the inverse square law, also when you shoot the model in all three positions you will have an equal brightness of the skin on all three shots, when you measure towards the camera this changes a lot.

      Now we place the light slightly behind the model and aimed from the sides towards the model, now the meter will say EU or in other words it doesn’t measure at all…….. You get the idea ;)

      Also remember to calibrate your meter.
      Use an 18% gray card (not a white balance card but a real 18% gray one) and make sure the spike reads dead center on the histogram in your RAW convertor, not the camera because that’s a jpeg tumbnail and influenced by how you have set the picture settings.

      So in short.
      You should always measure towards the light sources.
      When you use mix light on the face of the model from two light sources from both sides it does make sense to do one measurement towards the camera to get an average but normally always point the meter towards the light source that you want to measure.

      If you have any questions feel free to ask.
      If I dont respond mail me, I could forget to check this thread of course.

    2. Sorry one more thing.
      There will always be discussions about how to measure, and especially on fora there will be people talking that have their own methods.

      I’ve been using and teaching this method for some years now and trust me, the exposures you get are rock solid and accurate. When measuring towards the camera there simply is too much variance when you do a whole setup with light under different angles.

      But as mentioned in my previous post just try it out, it’s very simple and decide after that which method you use, it’s much easier when you see what happens as by reading a 1000 fora or manuals were everyone says something different.

      I’ve shot several videos for Scott and there will be more online explaining the light meter much more in depth in the studio.

      1. sorry but studio photographer do it for ages the other way. scott kelby himself teaches this the other way.

        look at some trainings from bobby lane or the master: DEAN COLLINS.

        it may work for you because you change your exposure anyway.
        based on what you see on the tethered laptop.
        the meter only give you a very ROUGH starting point.

        but when someone uses a lightmeter he want´s it SPOT ON. if not… then he don´t need a lightmeter anymore. not with digital cameras.

        but then why using a extra lightmeter at all?
        the camera meter is good enough for a rough estimation.

        anyway…. it doesn´t look good when scott kellby and others show it this way on kelby training and you show it that way.

        that´s only confusing and you could tell people also: “measure like you want. we don´t know it either”. :)

      2. what i heard and saw in most videos and how i do it for years now is, that i measure the subject the way it is lit.

        so when i have a spilt lighting i don´t measure directly into the light as if it would be a full frontal lighting. there are exceptions like a hairlight or as i wrote a portrait silhouette (90° angle).

        because i know what i want to achive im only 2 or 3 tenth of a stop off.

      3. @Jens,
        If you do some searching you will see that there are many opinions about this, I don’t want to go into an argument, I just know that I never ever touch my exposures in photoshop or whatever because they are spot on, and I use the lightmeter on a daily basis.

        When I look at an instruction video of a well known instructor he says you have to point the meter towards the lens like a laser pointer, because it’s really really important that it is 100% straight to the lens, when someone says something like that he really doesn’t understand what’s going on, look at the dome, it’s designed to do a measurement with a wide angle of view.
        And no that’s NOT a kelby instructor but also someone who is doing loads of workshops :D

        In the end it all boils down to 1 thing (talk about Dean Collins), get the diffused value of your subject correct. When I look at the way I measure my model looks exactly the same under EVERY condition I shoot him/her in, under ANY direction of the light, being it rimlights, straight on or under an angle, if THAT happens you use the correct method of lighting.

        Instead of going into the mention of links that tell different (I can give you as many links that say point towards the light :D) try it out like I talked about in my previous post, just move the light around your model (keep the distance the same and you will see very quickly that pointing towards the light source will always be correct while pointing towards the camera is not.

        In 80% of the setups pointing towards the camera and towards the lightsource will give you the same measurement, but as you can see in my videos I don’t use standard lightsetups, I love to play with light and when you shoot under weird angles it really does matter how you measure.

        I think Dean once said, knowing HOW to use a lightmeter is an art on it’s own.

        On the topic of Dean Collins, maybe it’s time to revisit his DVDs (don’t take this the wrong way) Dean KNEW how to light, go the segment where he shoots the catalog work and see that he points towards the mainlightsource, he also says that if he doesn’t he will get different exposures what for catalogue work is not what you want.
        Look at the different videos and you can see him measuring towards the lightsources.
        Especially the part where he shoots a model with little child in front of a white background with the bare bulb is very interesting if you want to see a VERY simple explanation of something that A LOT of people struggle with.

        HOWEVER he also sometimes points towards the camera to get a proper SPLIT measurement, but you have to remember he shot with analogue, with digital the rules changed a bit. With analogue we aimed for the shadows whilst with digital we aim for the highlights. Meaning with analogue I also always take a measurement towards the camera just to make sure that my shadows don’t block up and when they do I will have to compensate (highlights can be fixed in the development stage), with digital I really don’t care about the shadows but I do about the highlights (gone = gone)

        Again I don’t want to go into an argument on Scott’s blog but with measuring I hear a lot of “nonsense” and see a lot of photographers in doubt about how to measure.

        Visit me on Photoshop world and I will demonstrate how I use the meter I think that will make a lot clear because I will show you the problems with moving the lights and getting constant exposures.

      4. Sorry have to add one thing before confusion sets in.

        When you measure towards the camera you are taking a split reading of a 3D object, meaning you will get a measurement of two or more lights hitting that object. HOWEVER those lights have to be in sight of the dome….
        And should always be combined with the measurements towards the lightsources especially when they are under an angle (it’s just a check).

        A better way to check shadows is to take a measurement and make sure it’s not 4.0 stops below the mainlight, with most digital cameras on ISO100 the dynamic range is 4.5 stops under the mainlight for complete black and 2.5 (3) stops over for complete white.

        Scott sorry for hijacking your blog

  24. Hey Scott,

    Been reading your books for a while and love ’em! You are the reason I delved into Photoshop (was pretty intimidated for a long time). This week, joined NAPP and KelbyTraining, and loving what I am learning. About this blog entry, I had to smile BIG when I saw you listed the Wacom Intuos4 small tablet; I just ordered one this morning, and never having used a tablet, I was kinda leery, but now I have a sneaky suspicion I am going to really like it!

    Thank you for all you do. You have helped my photography immensely with your Digital Photography series, and I look forward to learning so much more in Photoshop!

  25. Scott… Love the list! And I can’t disagree enough about one or two of them!

    But the only serios quibble is the link to the ocean prime is wrong… should be
    (needs a hyphen)

    And Frank Doorhof is not a *new* photog! He’s been around the block a few times — and he ROCKS! Met him in NYC last spring. Maybe he’s new to USA.

    A Landscape photog worth getting to know (AND SIGNING A CONTRACT WITH KELBY TRAINING) is Jennifer Wu. She rocks!


  26. As much as I love HDR Efex pro I do find it produces lots of grain. Sure I could use a noise reduction plug in but why should I. I think PS CS5 HDR pro is a far better system. Yet, I like the way HDR Efex pro works and the treatment it uses to get the HDR done.

  27. Small nit with your nomenclature, but the Perfect Layers thing doesn’t seem to be a plugin for Photoshop or for Lightroom, but rather, a separate app that can be used as an external editor along the lines that Photoshop, Corel Painter, PS Elements, any number of HDR editors, etc., can be used as external editors for Lightroom.

    The distinction is important because the word “plugin” implies a level of integration in Lightroom’s non-destructive editing pipeline that the Lightroom plugin architecture simply doesn’t allow for. The app may end up being useful, but it’s much less compelling to a Lightroom audience if it breaks the “can always go back to where we were before” paradigm that is such a wonderful part of a non-destructive workflow.

  28. It’s been mentioned by you and others that the iPad is great way to show images. I can’t get the iPad to show images in a specific order.

    Is there an app that will do this?

    I’ve tried renaming the images and making an album in iPhoto (I mainly use Lightroom). The only way I have found to have images appear in a specific order is with Keynote, however, if someone is holding the iPad, they will end up touching the screen in a way that brings up the edit mode.

  29. Love your list and especially the fact that one of your favorite lenses was a 28-300mm. I have been thinking about buying an “all-in-one” lens for some time, but once I am in the store I am told the quality is terrible. It would be great if you could do some sort of review and give me your opinion on the 28-300mm. To me it seems like a great lens to have, especially when traveling light and shooting on the go.


    Even Lund

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