I've had a lot of questions from Photographers (and photographer's family members) about what would make a good holiday stocking stuffer. Here's a fun list of books, gear and training materials that will make any photographer on your list happy this holiday season. Buying from these Amazon or B&H links helps support my photo coaching, but you can also find many of them at your local camera store.
One of the keys to developing your own photographic eye is to look through the eyes of the greats. I love to study and learn from photo books. Here are some to consider...
Magnum Contact Sheets
Offering a rare look at contact sheets and therefore the thought process of the great photographers within the Magnum collective over the decades, this book is just an incredible gift for anyone who loves photography.
Panoramas Made Simple
Yes, my first book on panoramic photography is loose in the wild and for a very limited time it's 50% off. This book is part one of two and forms the backbone of understanding how to capture mergeable images that will easily blend into unique, ultra-high-resolution panoramas. Book two will release soon with more advanced techniques.
The Visual Palette
This is my friend Brain Matiash's book on the personal process of creating your own visual style. This easy to read book will make you think about how you create and edit your images. You'll also have a few laughs along the way.
MY ON1 PHOTO KIT
I'm partnering with ON1 this year to bring you this fun bundle including a new video training course, new editing presets, my new pano e-book and Patagonian sky backgrounds all for use with Photo RAW. It's on sale for 50% off for Black Friday only through November 27th.
TOOLS FOR THE FIELD & STUDIO
Manfrotto Xume Magnetic Filter System
This is probably my favorite new tool of the year. You simply attach a lens adaptor to your lens and put a filter holder on each of your filters and suddenly adding and swapping filters is as simple and touching the filter to your lens. Click. It's one of those how did I live without this products. B&H also has a nice kit with a lens adaptor and two filer holders. Buy it in your biggest lens size and use step up rings to adapt the system to your smaller lenses.
I'm a proud Hoya ambassador because I can't find any filters that outperform their professional series glass. My camera bag always has Hoya's polarizers, ND filters, and UV protective filters. These are the ones I carry.
Giottos Rocket Air Blaster
My camera bag is never without one of these. It's my first line of defense against dust both on my optics and sensor. These blowers are particularly handy for mirrorless systems. Just turn your body upside down, pull the lens and carefully blast the sensor without touching it. B&H
An L-Bracket for your specific camera body
L-brackets are essential for quickly flipping from horizontal to vertical compositions. For ballhead users, imagine never flipping awkwardly over to the side again. For fluid head users, it's essential. Kirk makes my favorite precision L-brackets and camera support equipment. Their D850 bracket gives me easy access to all my ports and I love the way they've integrated the allen wrench into its base. For those looking for a cheaper alternative, Sunwayfoto makes great L-brakets too for a broad range of popular cameras. I was stoked to see that their D850 bracket has centering lines which are essential for advanced panoramas.
lightweight Fluid Head
My favorite upgrade in years has been moving from ball heads to fluid heads. They are much more precise, sturdy, easy to level and compose and at the same time make video work an absolute joy. They also let you balance and work with long lenses like a gimbal. Did I mention that my favorite model weighs the same as a RRS BH55 and costs less than $140? I've got a couple videos about this with links to everything you need to adapt it to your existing tripod
Tripod Stabilizer (Stone Bag)
This ingenious little lightweight guy connects to your tripod legs and allows you to pile rocks or heavy items into it to help anchor your tripod down to increase it's stability. I always advocate carrying the heaviest tripod you can for stability, this can help make that easier on your back. It connects with simple velcro, so removing and installing it is easy. B&H
Big Microfiber Cleaning Cloths
You can never have too many of these. I like to carry large cleaning cloths for situations where I'm dealing with water on my filters whether from rain or mist. Sometimes I drape them over the camera between shots in really misty situations (like waterfalls). These are big nice and washable.
These pre-moistened lint wipes by Zeiss help you get rid of the stubborn dirt, oil and fingerprints from your fine optics without leaving a residue. You just tear open the wrapper, pull out the cloth and use it before it dries. After I wipe my lens I usually hit my sunglasses and smartphone screen. I always have a few of them in my bag. B&H
photo software and training
On1 Photo Raw 2018
The new version of Photo RAW is intuitive and powerful. Not only can you precisely edit your raw files non-destructively using blending modes and masked layers, but it now allows you to blend HDR and panoramic images. Take it for a 30-day test drive for free.
Matt Kloskowski's Lightroom system:
For those of you Lightroom users, my good friend Matt has an incredible training course to help you understand every facet of the software. Matt's fun coaching style makes mastering your photo editing a blast.
ON1 Plus Community
Looking for a photography community with training materials, rotating guest coaches, private forums, critiques, contests, and tons of new community driven training content. I couldn't be more proud to be an ON1 Plus coach along with other great coaches like Matt Kloskowski, Blake Rudis, Colby Brown and others. Plus is fun and it's a great deal.
The Photoshop Zone System by Blake Rudis
My buddy Blake at F64 Academy has created a really innovative and powerful system of tone, color and effect tools for you Photoshop users. Blake has a great teaching style I think you'll enjoy.