Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – Part 4: The Books

There are photo books that should be in everyone’s library, and there are photo books that may just pique the interest of the giftee.
At the end of this post is a book that you may never buy, but may be fascinated with the design.

First up-
If you, or a photographer you know, is always looking for some good projects to launch into, this is the perfect book.
With the teaching masters of photography laying out some great assignments, at about 1 page per project, there will be ideas here to get your camera going on that personal project. Priced right, everyone will find some photographic food for thought in there.

Lauren Greenfield has been added a view of our culture for decades now. From her examination of the US caste system in Fast Forward to an in depth look at eating disorders.
This book, Generation Wealth, is an important work in our cultural introspection. A lifelong project, it calls for you to examine values. Perhaps it will give you an understanding of how the other half lives. Not a sympathetic view, a decidedly editorial view. There is also a companion documentary you should check out.

A now classic book, Nothing Personal, has been given a reprint, with an extra companion piece. Long out of print, the combination of the images from Avedon, and the words from James Baldwin, depict a look at the world that may have more relevance today, than you may think. Oversized and beautifully printed, this is a great one to gift.

Sure, you loved discovering Vivian Maier, now find this photography by Sabine Weiss you truly have to see. Her street photography is exceptional, and her name may be a little off the beaten path. I first discovered her work at Paris-Photo years ago, and have been a fan ever since. Her heart, her eye, will amaze you or your gift recipient. Seek out her other books as well.

In the 70’s, SF photographer, Mike Mandel, published an incredible set of baseball cards featuring photographers. Yep, all of the greats: Ansel Adams. Imogene Cunningham,etc, with stats on the back! I have a partial set from that time, and when this boxed set was announced i couldn’t resist. If you want to get some major Kudos for a gift that keeps on giving, this is the hit.

Mike Mandel- 70’s box
This boxed collection contains facsimiles of Mandel’s original publications, long out of print, including the ‘Myself: Timed Exposures’, ‘Seven Never Before Seen Portraits of Edward Weston’, plus previously unpublished work such as ‘Motel Postcards’, ‘People in Cars’ and ‘Mrs. Kilpatric’, and ephemera from the projects, including selected facsimile contact sheets from the baseball photo shoots, a letter to Mandel from Charis Wilson regarding Edward Weston and a pack of ten of the original 1975 baseball cards, PLUS a full reprint set of the entire series. All packed into an Agfa paper box! Yes, there is even the same kind of gum included, as you would get in any pack of baseball cards.

A slightly different book, in a unique format, the book Until Death Do We Part Thomas Sauvin has made a lifes work of discovering Chinese vernacular images. In this collection, it explores the tradition of the wedding family lighting a cigarette for every guest. The book is admittedly small, just the size of a pack of smokes.I’ve given you the link to Mr. Sauvins site, Beijing Silvermine, as you will get the best price from him. Amazon is way too high in this case.


Sandro Miller is a gifted commercial photographer, and his personal projects have crossed over into fine art and, let’s be honest, having John Malkovich reimagined and recreating classic imagery is inspired. In the gift realm, in The Malkovich Sessions you get beautiful photography, celebrity, and overall a book that will just bring a smile. And if your a feeling generous, check out some of Sandro’s prints with Malkovich. Contact his gallery here.

This is the book that should be in everyone’s library. The Family Of Man is still the most visited photo exhibition ever, books have been written about this exhibit, and this book, has been in print for 60 years. A testament to the human condition, it is a collection of work from 256 photographers from all over the world, sharing life from birth to death and everything in between. We’re not so different after all.

\OK, you stayed to the end of the post, and I told you about this crazy great book!

From Thomas Sauvin, comes this book, Xian, with a unique design, that reveals vernacular photography from Mainland China. At about $1400 USD, I don’t expect many of you will purchase this. Just have a look and be amazed!

More Holiday Gift Guides coming!!

Black Friday Sale on Camera Bags From ThinkTank!

This just in! More Holiday Gift Guides coming, but needed to share this hot off the press!

Our friends at ThinkTankPhoto just announced their Black Friday specials.

It will put its popular Airport Advantage Plus rolling camera bag on sale at 50% over Black Friday weekend. In addition, several of its most popular camera bags will be on sale at 40% starting on Black Friday and through December 2nd. And don’t forget, by using my special Web link when ordering, you will receive a free gift and free shipping on top of the discounts!

The Airport Advantage Plus rolling camera bag is designed specifically for traveling photographers. By it complying with international carry-on size and weight requirements, you can keep your most valuable gear safe and near you when flying.

On sale at 40% through December 2nd are Think Tank’s Spectral shoulder bags, UltraLight backpacks, Signature shoulder bags, Sidepath backpack, and Multi-Mount holsters. The UltraLight backpacks are the lightest weight photo backpacks on the market. The Signature shoulder series are designed for wedding and other event photographers who seek a more elegant and discreet shoulder bag.

Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – Part 3! Let’s Talk Video

OK, the first item up is what I believe is the gear purchase of the year:
Gimbals!
Why is it the gear of the year?
WE ALL NEED SMOOTH FOOTAGE!!!
The Drone has been dominating the new gear of previous years, it’s true.
As a commercial producer, I know the uses of a solid pro drone, and the shots you can get like no other. That is when we are putting on a RED or Alexa to the drone.
For the enthusiast, the current licensing and restrictions for use, have limited the out of the box enjoyment. Forget cities.
And even in personal videos, the footage has limited uses. You can just see so many drone shots. For real estate and large acreage properties, they have their function.
Overall we know Smooth footage is where it’s at.
Even when you walk with a gimbal, you’ll get shots that look like you laid down some track and had a dolly. Seriously, in my ad agency, just saw some footage like that tonight.
That’s where the gimbal comes in.

Maybe you are using a smartphone and know that that small unit will reveal every shake of your hands. Go for the Zhiyun Smooth 4. The collaboration with Filmic Pro app for video shooting on smartphones puts a very robust film making tool in your hands.

or DJI Osmo 2.

Both gimbals use Filmic Pro as well as their own proprietary software. The Zhiyun comes with a mini tripod to help when you stabilize and give extra gripping area. DJI OSMO 2 requires a separate base purchase. And both can use a GoPro to increase the usage options.

Using a bigger camera? How about you step up to the Weebill Lab for mirrorless, or Crane 3 for DSLR. This is the kind of gear you should own. Period. End of story.
At about $600 for the Weebill Lab, this will improve the quality for your videos, is light enough for travel, and balances with ease. A full review is forthcoming.

New features include ability to use your phone as a monitor, available compact follow focus, or zoom control. Get the creator kit for follow focus motor, and the smart phone holder.
By the way, if you watch any press conferences, you’ll see the gimbal is coming around for the journalist as well. Maybe jockeying for position is better when you come out with smooth footage!
To be honest, I’m still using the Crane 2, which is avail for great prices, including a follow focus motor.

It is important to note the weight with gimbals. For instance, the Ronin-S, a great product, weights 1lb more, than the Zhiyun Crane 2. Important info when you will be holding this for long periods of time.
All of these gimbals will work with whatever cam you have, for a basic performance. Certain cameras will be enhanced based on software on the gimbal. Check your model for compatibility.

Remember, audio is 50% of your project, Unless it’s bad, then it’s 80%!
There are so many ways to go, and here is just an inexpensive way to up your run and gun production. That is a Rode VideoMicro.

A small, directional mic that fits on your camera and takes up little room.
Well priced, and one of those items that should always be in your bag. Comes with the wind screen, and mounting for your cameras hot shoe.
For lavs, I go Sanken, or Tram-50, and then you have so many choices on shotgun mics, depending on your budget and quality of sound. For handheld, the choice I would recco is the Electro-Voice RE50B – Omnidirectional Dynamic Shockmounted ENG Microphone.
If you can, go to a brick and mortar store and discover the sound room to listen to the different qualities of the mics.

In the action camera realm, the new GoPro Hero Black 7 is well worth the price. At about $400, the improved image stabilization is a huge help, especially in a small camera.

Honestly, couple it with a Smooth 4 gimbal and you have a great action rig, that will deliver smooth, solid action footage.
Being waterproof, you can take this on the holiday vacation! Vertical mode is avail so your social posts will be mobile friendly.
Battery life is still meh, especially if you use all the features: monitor, stabilization, 4K, etc.
Amazon has some great deals, and picking up a pack of 3 with a charger will be under $30.
Currently Go Pro is including a $50 micro SD card with your purchase, and that’s a pretty good deal.

So many tripods to choose from, and once again, as a gift this gets specific to video gear used, and situations.
One thing that will always be needed is a good monopod with a fluid head.
Manfrotto XPro monopod with 500 series fluid head. When you have no room to stretch your tripod legs, need all the capabilities of a smooth pan and tilt, this is the unit.

It’s become a classic, and you can’t miss with giving this monopod to your favorite videographer.( is it you?)
Picture next to it is a Sirui monopod. What I like about this one is that it’s only 14 ins long! And the carbon fiber legs make it a great light weight choice. Add a small video head, or ball head, and you are nimble!
PLEASE NOTE: SIZES ARE NOT RELATIVE TO EACH OTHER IN THE PHOTO!!

Last for the really great video gift, is a monitor from Atomos.
A big purchase, but how much do you love your favorite videographer?

Highly recommend this unit, and all of the Atomos products.
Gonna be a bit lazy here, but here is a perfect description of what this does for you:
Eliminate your camera’s internal compression and time limits – record up to 4Kp60 10-bit HDR video direct from your camera’s sensor over HDMI 2.0. Teamed with a 1TB AtomX SSDmini you can now achieve up to 150 minutes of 4K recording on a single drive! And when you’re done, your edit-ready ProRes and DNxHR recordings are stored on affordable SSD drives.FEATURES:HDR/SDR – The Ninja V displays 10+ stops of dynamic range in realtime from Log/ PQ/HLG signals. See your images clearly in daylight on the near edge-to-edge anti-reflection screen.Compact Monitor Recorder – The new Ninja V features a stunningly bright 5.2” 10-bit HDR monitor with an astounding 1000 nits of output. The sleek aluminium body is crafted for maximum durability, weighing in at just 320g and measuring only 25mm thick.Playback – AtomOS allows accurate set up and one-touch operation, ensuring a great recording every time. Of course, a recording isn’t complete until checked; Ninja V allows instant playback, slow motion and frame-by-frame analysis for immediate review.Record 4K HDR Gaming – Ninja V is a stand-alone system for 4k UHD, HDR and high frame rate capture that eliminates expensive, complicated and unreliable PC setups. Ninja V enables simple recording, monitoring and instant review. Capture every detail in HDR and automatically include all the correct HDR flags ready for upload to YouTube.SSD Made Mini – Atomos has worked closely with their drive partners at Angelbird and Sony to bring you the AtomX SSDmini. These tiny drives are only 7mm high and 80mm long. They retain the same SATA III connector as traditional SSDs and they are backward compatible with our range of Ninja, Shogun and Sumo devices.Great Sound – Like all Atomos Monitor/Recorders, Ninja V enables audio input directly from your camera. CABLE – The Atomos Right-Angle Micro to Full HDMI Coiled Cable (11.8-17.7 In.) has right-angled micro connector for use with the Ninja recorder.

You will need to buy SSD drives, and I’d say some Sony LP batteries, or a D-Tap connector for your larger batts.
This is a right rig.

So we could go on and on, but this should give you some good ideas in the video realm, with units to work in most situations.

Oh, did I mention Premiere Pro for editing software? OK, I just did!

Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – Part 2! Bags, Bags, Bags!

How many camera bags do you own?
Honestly, you just need to a bag that’s right for the occasion. Yep, you will need more than 1!
A new category on the scene is the Weekender type.
Half backpack luggage, half camera bag. There have been 2 main bags that have come to us in this group.
Are they the first in concept? Nope. However, they are the first to bring a modern look to the bag.


Peak Design Travel Backpack 45L
This bag from the fastest growing camera bag company hits all the marks. From a removable camera gear insert,
to newly designed clothing packing cubes, and a great tech pouch to store your cables, batts, and small items (see below), you will make any photographer happy with this. Those packing cubes and other pouches are available separately, so you can pick them up for general use.



It seems to be a weekend camera bag, and the company has designed clothes packing cubes, and even a toiletries pouch to go full into this combo range. Shown above it the tech pouch, which you will want to get no matter what bag you have! The Traveler 45L has a ton of hidden features. Use as backpack, handled bag, and customize the insides to suit your needs. Will be about $300. Oh, and finally Peak Design has a outside water bottle holder!

And another key entry into this category is the Mission Workshop Integer Camera Bag.

The Mission Workshop Integer, goes a slightly different way, than the Peak Design entry It does have a camera gear insert, although you won’t be taking it out. Access to the gear is easy though, and it’s well protected. Great tripod carrying system. Roll top entry, with a zipped divider to separate the gear insert.

Made in the USA, built tough and waterproof. It’s a bit pricey. but this will last you a very long time. Check out their site for add-ons. The system is sweet. About $485.

ThinkTank has such a large range of bags designed by photographers, that anything you gift someone from this collection will be a winner.
One bag that I have found useful around town, is the StreetWalker with wheels.

As a bag the size of an overnight suitcase, with backpack straps AND wheels, the versatility is obvious. It’s a workers case, and has been a solid go-to running around to gigs in NYC. Yes, the backpack straps fold in, and away!
For the traveling photographer on your list, the SKB/ThinkTank Collaboration is an airplane regulation size for overhead compartments.

The beauty of this one is that there is a ThinkTank backpack, fitted to a Hard case. Point is that IF you ever can’t get into the overhead, and the airline forces you to check the bag, (and I have had that happen), rest assured your kit is safely protected by a hard case.
I always pack 2 TSA locks into that bag just in case.
So fly, get to your destination, and take out your fully packed backpack of gear and go! I’ve used video gear ,could go DSLR, and a full 2 body, mirrorless set-ups in the rig. Not at the same time.

For the walkabout around town, some good choices are the Peak Design Sling,not new, but still a great option,

or the ThinkTank Retrospective.

The Retrospective has just had a design upgrade, and the soft flap makes it easy to get into the gear. Full review soon to be posted.Check out the video below for more details. A full review is comong

A friend who owns one the best bag companies out there told me he’s brand agnostic. Use what works right for you.
As a gift, it could be like buying someone a pair of shoes: do they like the fit and the style? Just keep the receipt!

More gift guide to come!

Holiday Gift Guide 2018 – Part 1!

And here we go!
This year we are going to start on the small side. Things that help you do what you love most. And ANY photographer will find as a useful gift.
Links to purchase/read more are in the name and the photo.
First up:
Platypod

This simple, ingenious, mounting plate should be in everyones camera kit. As a sturdy platform for mounting your camera, or speedlight, you will absolutely find multiple uses for this unit.
Sold in 2 sizes, the Ultra for Mirrorless, to a MAX for the DSLR users.
With countersunk holes for screws or nails, a looping design to strap to pole, and balancing legs, which can be flat or spiked, there is a 3/8 screw already on it.
I like being able to put a ball head on it, for a great low angle shot. I suggest you pick up the accessory kit fro some good extras: 3/8>1/4 screw mount, extender rod to raise the height, non skid material for placing on slick surfaces and more. Yes, it does come with a good bag to hold all of the parts. You are seeing it above, using the extender for a speedlight.

Splat

From Miggo, a company that has been know for waterproof camera bags, this cool little bendable tripod is perfect for your smartphone. Folds flat, wraps around most round things, or shapes to the surface you may be dealing with, whether uneven, or curved. Comes with phone and go-pro mounts. And of course, standard 1/4-20 for your point and shoot needs.

Hitcase



Want to surface snorkel with your phone? Don’t want the bulky waterproof cases or the ziplock options?
This case just works. I took it on a solo trip to Kauai, with 2 snorkel runs a day!
Being solo, I was concerned about leaving an expensive phone on the beach.
With this case, not only was I able to shoot underwater, but I could post immediately!
It also has become just a great case for protection.

Lume Cube

Speaking of underwater, the HitCase has mounting rails to add things, Like the simple and powerful Lume Cube. (see photo above)Light up the underwater, OR shed light on your extreme sports phone shoot.
This little light source is waterproof to 100ft, and now comes with a ton of modifiers to hep you shape the light. The main modifiers for me were the diffusers, as the light straight out can be harsh.You do need a special housing to add the magnetic modifiers.

Another item that should be in the kit. Especially if you also use a GoPro, ever.
They have a new set of snoots and barn doors, which it seems those who work in miniature or macro photography will love.

And just announced is the new Lume Cube Air
Only waterproof to 30 ft as opposed to 100 with the unit above. It does come with 2 diffusers, and is $10 less expensive. Not for drones, as it has a magnet in the housing.

The best wrist strap I have ever used, and I’ve tried a TON of them, is the Spiderlite wrist strap.

The most comfortable, even after hours of shooting with it, secure, adjustable, and looks good too. Seriously, if you want to gift this, or just get them for your cameras, this will not disappoint.

Another affordable addition to anyone’s camera bag is the ThinkTank Emergency Rain Cover.

A simple, well made. brilliant design, that will save you in the sudden weather shifts we have all experience. Wish i had it when shooting a concert at an outdoor venue last summer. Wasn’t released yet! Got caught in the rain, and had to kep lowering the camera and covering wth my bag flap. Know I missed some shots. Comes in 2 sizes, depending on what lens you may be shooting with. med or large.

LensPen-

Everyone needs this. I have one in each and every case.
If you are looking for a perfect stocking stuffer, or small gift, this is it. One end has a camel hair soft brush, and the other has a more robust lens cleaning pad.
Looks like a thick pen, complete with clip. Even if you just wear glasses, this will keep em’ clean!

Do you use an Apple watch?
Catalyst, The company that came out with the silicone AirPod cases last year, has designed a great bumper for your Apple Watch.

This fits seamlessly over your watch and adda great extra bit of protection for your watch face.Knobs, and buttons ensure being able to access all functions on your watch. Specific to models so check it out.
Once it went on, I have never taken it off.

So there you have it for Part 1! More parts coming as we ramp it up! PLUS-late entries we just got into our hands to tell you about. Some great tools that could stocking stuffers, or a great, small gift for yourself.