Photographers are notoriously difficult to shop for during the holiday season. As my wife commonly says, “Everything you want costs thousands of dollars.” Well, yeah – that’s true. Even so, there are nice gifts that are truly useful that won’t force you into bankruptcy. Below you will find a short list of gift suggestions for the photography buff in your family.
Books/E-Books ($5 and up) – These are classic gifts. They don’t cost a fortune, they’re not technologically outdated in six months and they’re incredibly useful. The right books will educate and inspire your photographer all year long. Some titles I’ve enjoyed this year include: Photography Q&A – Real Questions. Real Answers., Lightroom 5 Unmasked, and Photographing the 4th Dimension – Time. Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of my own e-book, The Essential Guide to Photographing Arches National Park.
Hoodman Lens Cleanse Wipes ($13) – Over the years I’ve tried pretty much every type of lens cleaning product but nothing has worked as well as the Hoodman Lens Cleanse wipes. They also work great on smartphone screens covered with oily fingerprints. Bonus!
HoodLoupe ($129) – This is one of those things I never thought I’d need – until I had one. Now I use it all the time. It’s hard to see the LCD screen on the back of the camera in bright sunlight but the HoodLoupe (I use the Compact HoodLoupe) blocks out stray light, making it easy to see the screen in all conditions. It’s also eminently useful for critical focusing when using Live View.
Induro Carbon Fiber Tripod ($254 and up) – I concede that this one isn’t cheap but when compared to other carbon fiber tripods, Induro offers a great value on a rock solid tripod. And, they’re currently offering a 25% instant rebate on the entire line. I use the CT213 as my everyday tripod and the CT114 for long hikes or backpacking trips.
Adobe Photoshop Photography Program ($9.99/month) – Adobe recently switched to an entirely cloud based delivery system for their entire software ecosystem, angering many photographers along the way. Instant worldwide backlash caused Adobe to rethink their strategy and they came up with a new plan: Photoshop CC and Lightroom 5 for $9.99/month – for life – with free upgrades. This is a hell of a deal if you get in before Dec. 31, 2013.
Black Rapid Camera Straps & Bags ($45) – I’d never been a big fan of camera straps until I discovered the Black Rapid straps. Simply, they’re the best you can buy in every important aspect. They’re durable as hell, comfortable, easy to use and Black Rapid is fanatical about providing excellent customer service. My favorite strap is the Cargo RS-5. I also use and love the Snapr 35 bag to contain my EOS M. Get free shipping by using coupon code BRETEDGE at checkout.
Acratech GP Ballhead ($400) – If your photographer has been extra good this year he or she deserves an Acratech GP ballhead. Weighing in at just 1 pound, this lightweight dynamo is built to withstand years of abuse while supporting heavy camera loads. Flip it upside down and it becomes a leveling base for panoramic images. I do sell these ballheads and would very much appreciate your business should you decide to purchase one. Just email me and I’ll be happy to help you with your order and I’ll give you free shipping – because, you know – you’re awesome.
Singh-Ray Filters ($100 and up) – I’ve been using Singh-Ray filters for a decade and they’ve never let me down. My two most commonly used filters are the 3 stop soft step graduated neutral density and ultra-thin warming polarizer. Another popular option is the 10 stop Mor Slo filter.
Sean Bagshaw’s “Developing for Extended Dynamic Range” Video Tutorial ($45) – I was mystified by every exposure blending technique I tried until I watched Sean Bagshaw’s “Developing for Extended Dynamic Range” video tutorial. Sean introduces several techniques for blending multiple exposures into one to increase dynamic range. He presents each technique in simple step-by-step instructions that make it easy to understand how and when to use each one.
Hot Hands Hand Warmers ($12) – Unless your photographer only ventures out into the wilderness in balmy temperatures, the Hot Hands Hand Warmers will be a welcome gift. I forgot my gloves at home once and arrived on location in sub-zero temperatures only to discover I was gloveless. The hand warmers I always carry in my pack saved the day as I wouldn’t have been able to stay outside without them.
f-stop gear Tilopa BC ($354 and up) – If your photographer spends more time hiking to locations than photographing from the road, the f-stop gear Tilopa BC is the pack they should be wearing. I’ve been using f-stop gear packs for five years and they’re the most comfortable, durable and well-designed packs on the market for outdoor photographers.
Goal Zero Escape 150 Solar Kit w/ Light ($328) – One of the biggest challenges I’ve encountered while camping for several days and photographing daily is keeping the batteries in my camera and phone charged. I got the Goal Zero Escape 150 Solar Kit earlier this year and have since used it extensively on several photo trips. It has proven itself to be worth every penny. No dead cameras, no dead phones and, as a bonus, tons of bright light around camp at night.
Now you’ve got some great ideas to help you shop for the outdoor photographer in your life. Some are very inexpensive, others not so much, but I hope this list helps make your life at least a wee bit less stressful this holiday season. If you’re still confounded, perhaps one of my fine art prints or a private workshop would make a nice gift?