It’s that time of the year again! Ready to hit the ‘buy now’ button? Cree and I are going to host another online gift guide version as well, contact cree (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be added to the list. We have seen a lot of things in the field this last year, gear that worked and made a difference. So here goes, a list of items that will help with your photography adventures in the future!
The Creative Act-A Way of Being. (Rick Rubin). Let’s start with a book. Every workshop participant wants to learn creative techniques. Many photographers have this feeling they aren’t that creative, or it can’t be learned. Nothing could be further from the truth. This book clarifies those insecurities and questions about your creativity, and gives you ways to move forward to tap into your creativity. A must read….just take a chapter or two at a time, and use your highlighter for the important points.
Flight Aware App. Cree and I took 56 flights in 2023, traveling over 100,000 miles. And one app that saved the day more than once was Flight Aware. This app tracks all aspects of your flight from where it is, airport delays, alerts to schedule changes. By the way, if you are flying United, then download their free app, it is also pretty amazing.
Original Bug Shirt Company (www.bugshirt.com). We are doing frequent trips to Africa these days, and while bugs generally aren’t that bad, it is great to have an option when they start biting. Mosquitos and tsetse flies can carry nasty diseases, but in addition to bug dope (best ever…Tropical Strength Rid..have to order it from Australia) you can wear OBSC shirts and pants. This company creates clothes with a weave so tight that bugs can’t bite through. The shirt has a hood and integral headnet so you can zip up tight. I wore both the pants and shirts in Tanzania in tsetse fly country…bugs couldn’t bite through. Remember tan is the best color, camo is not recommended for Africa.
Peak Design Camera Strap (peakdesign.com). I’ve been using a Peak Design strap on my Z9 this year, and I really like it. First, the strap is wide, adjusts well and doesn’t loosen. But what is really cool is the tab system that allows you to take off the strap in an instant. When I shoot my large telephoto I like my camera to be strap free, and the Peak Design strap allows me to take it off in a pinch.
Tilley safari hat (Tilley.com). Hats are great to avoid sun, bugs and rain, and the best safari hat we have found is Tilley. These hats are durable, retain their shape, and are guaranteed for life. A staple for any trip to Africa…
Eneloop rechargeable batteries. We have been carrying a lot of speedlights with us on trips to see what we can light up. 15-20 lights popping off in a scene just warms my heart. But batteries get expensive, so we are using rechargeable ones for our lights. Eneloop batteries are the way to go. They hold their charge for months, recycle quick in speedlights, and last for years.
Nikon 180-600/600mm PF. If you are a Nikon shooter you better check the limit on your credit card. Nikon continues to introduce incredible new gear, including two lenses aimed at wildlife photographers..the 180-600mm F6.3 and the 600mm F6.3 PF. Both of these lenses are excellent. The 180-600mm is incredibly affordable at $1800 and offers great versatility…this is your go-to lens to cover about everything on a wildlife trip. If you already own the 100-400mm, the 600mm F6.3 might interest you. Weighing only 3 pounds and very small, this high end lens has all the features of a high end telephoto in a lightweight PF design. We saw both of these lenses in use in Alaska recently and they are fantastic!
Prana Stretch Zion/ReZion Pants (prana.com). After years of globetrotting these are still my favorite travel pants. Stretchy, durable with pockets where you need them, lots of colors. I shop Prana for most of my travel clothing needs.
Duolingo (duolingo.com). Being able to say just a few words in a native language will open up doors for you. Cree seems to hear three words in a new language and can speak it, I’m still learning English. Cree swears by Duolingo to learn new languages before heading out the door.
Bay Photo Print (bayphoto.com). In this age of digital media, seeing your work in print is rare. But printing your favorite image completes the creative process from capture to wall-hanger. Get your favorite photographer (or treat yourself) a stunning metal print from Bay Photo. We have large metal prints from our favorite images hanging in the house, love seeing our images in print!
Warrior Alpaca Socks (warrioralpacasocks.com). In my quest to find the warmest socks, I have a new contender, Warrior Alpaca Socks. I bought a pair of these, and was pleasantly surprised how warm they are. I wear them in winter in my heavy boots and my feet stay toasty. They may not last quite as long as traditional wool blends, but they are toasty warm.
Elinchrom Three/Five strobe. If you are a portrait shooter, or someone who wants to move past a speedlight, consider the new monolights by Elinchrom. Monolights are self-contained, meaning everything is in the light, no cables to worry about. Elinchrom lights are built with Swiss precision, cost half that of Profoto, and are reliable strobes. The new Elinchrom Three is three pounds and has the power of four speed lights, a perfect light for portraits in the studio or outside. The Elinchrom Five is 6.5 pounds, but has twice the power and better suited for large soft boxes and outside conditions in bright sun. Both these lights offer TTL and High Speed Sync, just attach the transmitter and start shooting (see my last blog post).
Take a workshop! Any interest in photographing the northern lights and the Iditarod sled dog race next year? We just had a few spots open on this trip next March, it will be an incredible experience. Cree and I have a long history photographing and organizing parts of the Iditarod, we can’t wait to return.
There you have it! Happy shopping!!