Can you believe that the holidays are just around the corner. Have you started on your holiday shopping? Have you put together your own wish list? If you’re anything like me the mental wish list starts in January and just gets longer as the year progresses. Just in case you haven’t started I thought I would help you out with your list this year. The ever-growing number of products on the market makes it really hard to stay focused on what essential gear should be in your toolkit. Below is a list of equipment, software and reference material that I use and find invaluable for my photography business. So grab a cup of java, sit back and have a read through this rather long post. You may find a deal or two as well as some free stuff. Keep reading :)
I really love my Canon 7D. I’ve had it for about 2 years now and it’s definitely a workhorse. I sometimes find the need to shoot at high ISOs (3200 and higher) and it handles noise beautifully. It’s got a 19 point AF System and a shooting rate of up to 7fps. It’s really come down in price since I bought mine so worthwhile taking a look at this.
I must say that this lens is one of the best investments that I’ve made. The 24-70 f/2.8L is the lens that is always on my camera. It’s so versatile for all types of photography and the images this piece of glass produces are sharp, sharp, sharp. I promised myself a long time ago that as I needed to upgrade or buy new lens I would wait until I had the money to buy a quality lens and Canon’s “L” lens live up to the hype that you always hear about. You may want to put this one on your wish list ahead of time so Santa has sometime to save up for it.
Is this a must have? For me it is. It allows me to mount my camera onto a tripod in either a horizontal or vertical position quickly. The Kirk L- Bracket works with any Arca Style Quick Release Platform so if you have a Really Right Stuff or Markins ball head this will work. Make sure your purchasing the one that will fit your DSLR.
If you’re not backing up your images you’re taking a big risk with your images and all the hard work you’ve put into them. You’ve read it before I’m sure…the question isn’t “will your hard drive fail but when”. After I transfer all my images from my memory card to my hard drive I back them up immediately to my WD external hard drive which is a RAID drive. I then have an additional backup, the LaCie 3TB d2 Quadra Hard Drive with USB 3.0 / Thunderbolt. Both these drive perform extremely well and I’m confident that if one should fail my library of images are just a few keystrokes away.
After many years of using a traditional camera strap I found I was doing more damage to my neck then I really wanted to. I tried different straps…padded around the neck, different materials but I just wasn’t pleased or comfortable. A friend told me to give the Black Rapid a try, I did and I really love this strap. It’s saved me a lot of neck ache and the BlackRapid made specifically for women (don’t laugh you male photographers out there) is curved in just the right places so it sits across your chest nicely. And yes there are non-female versions available as well.
I just wrote a review about the Bataflae a couple of weeks ago which you can find on my products review page. I love this bag and if you or someone you know needs a new camera bag then look no further.
My go to store for photographic equipment is B&H Photo in New York. Unfortunately I don’t get to New York as often as I would like but their online store is the best. Even for little ‘ole me living in Canada, B&H has made so easy to order from them. If your living in Canada they will calculate shipping, customs and duties before you submit your order online so you know exactly what you’re paying. I’ve done the math and I save money when I order from B&H.
Software & Plug-Ins
Here’s a list of the software and plug-ins that I use and swear by. These form part of my workflow and I couldn’t do what I do without these tools. You might be surprised to find Photoshop Elements on the list and not Photoshop CS. I was holding out for the longest time and was eventually going to purchase CS and then Adobe changed the rules of the game. Since I didn’t already own CS5 or CS6 I would have had to pay the full subscription rate for Adobe CC so I decided against it. Do I feel that I’m at a disadvantage by using Elements? Absolutely not. I think the advances in Elements over the years has made it a software any professional photographer can use.
Clarity, Black & White Effects, Adjust, DeNoise, Detail…these are just a few of the Topaz plug-ins that I use. I write about them in my blog posts and usually let you know when I’ve used them in processing my images (check the tags). You can get a 15% discount on all Topaz products by using the discount ELPHOTO.
I also wanted to let you know that Topaz Labs is running a promotion on its Black & White Effects plug-in. Until November 19th B&W Effects is only $29.99. That’s a 50% savings and a steal for this plug-in.
Give the Gift of Art!
Yikes…I’ve said it…there you go. Here’s a bit of shameless self promotion. Gear is fun but if there’s someone special on your list why not give the gift of art. You can head on over to my gallery. All images are available in a variety of sizes. Make sure you check out the Float Mounted Metal Prints. They look great and they’re ready to go up on the wall when you receive them. From now until December 25 use the code Holiday2013 and save 15% on your order.
eBooks & Free Stuff
Well really…you must have known that I would include some of my favourite ebooks as part of this list
Ok…let’s start with some free stuff….yes free…first from Craft & Vision. Just click on the images and download…Happy Holidays!
Other Craft & Vision titles that are a must for your library include:
Here’s a terrific ebook from Ian Plant and the team at Dreamscapes and it’s absolutely free…
…and if you haven’t yet picked up and read Visual Flow – Mastering the Art of Composition then I suggest you check it out. You can read my review of Visual Flow here.
This free ebook has just been released from photographer and author Mitchell Kanashkevich, 7 Tips for Natural Looking Travel Portraits.
Well I hope you’ve enjoyed my little round-up of gear, software, art and ebooks. Hopefully I’ve given you some ideas for gifts for yourself or for some one special. If you’ve enjoyed this post and found it useful please share it with your social networks. Thanks and have a great week everyone.
Before I get to today’s image there are a few unbelievable sales that I wanted you to know about.
From Aug 28th to Sept 2nd save 20% on all prints in the Edith Levy Photography (yup…that’s me ) gallery. Just use the coupon code LabourDay at checkout.
Craft & Vision is celebrating its 4th Birthday with a 50% off sale on all its ebooks on Aug 27th and 28th only. There’s no discount code to use, the 50% discount is automatically applied at check out. This is a great time to stock up on ebooks you’ve missed. Click here to go to the Craft & Vision site.
The other incredible deal I wanted to tell you about is from Gura Gear. They’re having a sale on both the Kiboko 22L+ and the Bataflae 18L from August 28 – September 3.
The quality of these bags are unparalleled. I just received the Bataflae 18L a couple of weeks ago and took it on its first trip last weekend. First impressions have been great and I’ll have a full review on this bag in the near future. In the mean time it is very rare that Gura Gear has a sale on its bags so if you’re in the market for a new bag then check this out.
Now on to today’s image. The Lone Cypress is probably the best known landmark on the 17 Mile drive in Pebble Beach. It’s prevailed on this rocky perch for more the 250 years.
Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print.
I spotted these rowboats while walking around the wharf in Monterey Bay. I just loved the colors and weathered look of the larger one.
Click on the image to enlarge (it really does look better) or to Purchase a Print
PHOTOGRAPH Issue 4
Craft & Vision releases its latest issue of the quarterly magazine PHOTOGRAPH. The content is getting better and better with each release. Issue 4 takes the same content format that has proved to be a success in previous issues.
This quarter the Featured Portfolios introduce readers to:
Kathy Beal, a visual artist and photographer who’s abstract soft focus photographs that she calls “inspirational abstracts” are going to leave you with your mouth open.
Nick Hall, an outdoor photographer and location specialist who marries the natural element with the human element to create compelling photographs.
Sam Kirsch, a landscape and iPhone photographer. His landscape iPhone images are a joy to behold.
In addition to the featured portfolios, this issue’s articles include (among others):
Without the Camera by David duChemin
Creative Composition by Jean Paul Caponigro
When Old Meets New: Understanding the Zone System by Michael Frye
Blur-Free – Finding the Ideal Shutter Speed by Nicole S. Young
Craft & Vision’s latest release is out and I was excited to see this one for 2 reasons. The first, is that it’s written by Martin Bailey and I thoroughly enjoyed and got a lot out of his previous book, Making the Print. The second reason which is probably more important is that I often get frustrated when I get home after a shoot, download my images and realize, once I see them on a big screen, that the shot that I thought was my killer image is not as sharp as it should be.
In Sharp Shooter, Bailey walks the reader through, in his usual clear and concise fashion, the gamut on the subject—from hand-holding techniques, stabilization, and what makes an image sharp in the first place, to macro-sharpness, depth of field, focus stacking, sharpening for final output, and more.
What was extremely useful to me was his in-depth explanation of Hyperfocal Distance and how it applies to different lenses. The section on focusing in the macro range and his coverage of shooting for focus stacking and processing of those images was invaluable.
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer, British-born though now based in Tokyo. Fueled by his passion for travel and nature, Martin is an international tour and workshop leader, working on all seven continents. A pioneering podcaster and blogger, Gura Gear Pro, and X-Rite Coloratti member, he helps photographers from around the world to see and capture the wonders of this awesome planet we call home.
Use the discount code SHARP4 to get USD $1 off SHARP SHOOTER. If you buy 5 or more products from the Craft & Vision collection use the discount code SHARP20 for 20% off. These codes expire at 11:59 PM (PST) July 4, 2013. Click Here to Purchase.
Yesterday Adobe announced the release of Lightroom 5 and with that announcement also came the release of Craft & Vision’s latest ebook LIGHTROOM 5 Up To Speed. This ebook is written by Piet Van den Eynde, an Adobe Certified Expert who walks you through all the new features and how to get started using the new tools in LR5. He really leaves no stone unturned.
This 77-page eBook, and the companion videos (50+ minutes), will you get up to speed with what’s new in this revolutionary digital darkroom software.
Topics covered include:
- Installing Lightroom 5 & Upgrading Older Catalogues
- The Advanced Healing Brush
- Straightening Photos with Upright
- The Radial Filter
- Improving Your Workflow with Smart Previews
- Improvements to the Book Module
- New Features in the Slideshow Module
- Other New, Improved or Changed Features
- New or Improved Plug-Ins Since Lightroom 4
Van Den Eynde takes your through the installation process step by step which if you’re upgrading from a previous version is essential to ensure you don’t lose any of your previous catalogues. His instructions are thorough and will make the process seamless.
Each new feature is explained in the detail and the best part of this ebook are the accompanying videos. Each section includes a video tutorial that shows you how each feature works. While I love to read I’m also a visual learner so the videos are an added bonus for me and I think you’ll love them too.
LIGHTROOM 5 UP TO SPEED with the embedded videos is only $5. If you’re new to Lightroom and haven’t read Piets’s LIGHTROOM 4 UNMASKED Craft & Vision is offering a special LIGHTROOM BUNDLE ($20 – full-time discount) which combines Piet’s latest eBook with his amazing Big Book LIGHTROOM 4 UNMASKED. Click Here to Purchase.
David duChemin is nothing if he isn’t consistent in the messages that he delivers. Whether those messages are delivered via his blog or in his books or through his photographs he expounds on the virtues of vision. While gear is important, as are technical skills, as photographer we must have passion that drives our creativity and our vision.
Vision is Better 3 was released today by Craft and Vision and it’s 145 pages of essays, articles and tutorials from David duChemin. This is a compilation of articles from David’s Pixelated Image blog and never before published material. The articles are thought provoking and eloquently written. David shares his insights into the how and why of photography. If your a fan of David duChemin or whether your a photographer who wants a glimpse inside the mind and eye of a very talented artist then this book should be part of your library.
You can get Vision is Better 3 for only $5 here. Want an even better value…you can purchase the series, Vision is Best which includes Vision is Better 1, 2 & 3 for $10. You can purchase the bundle here.