10 Great Gifts for the Photographer on Your List

Gifts for Photographers

1. Digital Photo Frame
There’s nothing quite like seeing prints of your photographs for the first time, but sometimes you just need another way to show off your images without having to frame them all. This frame looks like it could hang with the rest of the photos and is a great alternative for someone who is constantly shooting.

2. 500px Plus/Awesome Account
The rapidly growing online photography community, 500px, helps photographers showcase their work while connecting with others and finding inspiration. Give your favourite shutterbug the gift of unlimited uploads and sign them up for an upgraded account.

3. Into Focus Lens Mug
Photographers eat, sleep, and breathe their craft. Now they can drink it too. This lens mug is a fun gift for the truly obsessed cameraperson.

4. SD Card
A commonly overlooked but no-brainer gift, an SD card is a great way to support your image enthusiast’s work. You will never hear anyone complain about having too much image storage and this 32g SanDisk card should do the trick.

5. Camera Keychain
A cute trinket, this keychain accessory is a fun way for someone to show off their obsession without having to wear a camera around their neck. It even makes a shutter sound and has an LED “flash”!

6. GorillaPod
For the photographer who loves to get that crazy angle or hates carrying around a full tripod, JOBY’s GorillaPod is a lifesaver. Sturdy enough to support an SLR with a zoom lens, the GorillaPod’s three legs can be wrapped around almost anything, creating the potential for truly unique perspectives.

7. 100 Ideas That Changed Photography
Creating can be tough, especially in a bustling industry. It is inevitable that, like all artists, a photographer will find themselves in a rut one day.  This book explains 100 concepts that changed photography over the years, giving new inspiration from the origins of the craft.

8. 50mm f/1.8 Lens
Whether they’re shooting Canon, Nikon, or anything else, this lens is a must for any photographer. The low aperture capabilities are essential to creating captivating portraits with blown-out backgrounds and highlighting key focal points. Check out the Nikon lens or the Canon lens.

9. Right Angle Mirror Spy Lens
For the photographer who isn’t quite comfortable approaching strangers or drawing their attention, this super spy lens is super handy. While the photographer aims the lens at one subject, it is actually taking a picture of whatever is 90 degrees to the left or right.

10. 4 Piece Filter Set
Of the many add-ons a photographer can use to create a specific look, filters are one of the easiest and most cost effective. This set contains the four most commonly used filters a photographer could want.

Nikon’s Snazzy Coolpix S8200

nikon coolpix s8200
Nikon's Coolpix S8200 has great specs with a mid-range price tag - by Nikon

This camera was announced back in August, but slipped under my radar. I wanted to go back and catch it up because the Nikon S8200 is a really decent mid-range offering from Nikon at an attractive price point.

The S8200 sports a 16-megapixel 1/2.3 in BSI-CMOS chip behind a healthy 25-350mm 14x built-in zoom lens. Backing up the optics is Nikon’s Expeed C2 image processor.

The ISO range is a respectable 100-3,200 with optical image stabilization and boasts a 3” live view fixed-position LCD on the back. Controls are a mix of menu and manual controls that’s heavy on the buttons.

The autofocus system contrast detect with a multitude of options including multi-area, center, tracking, face-detect and live view.

On the software side it has panorama modes for both 180 and 360 panoramas.

Video is full size 1080 HD at 60 fps in MPEG4 format with the added bonus of HDMI mini connector.

Two minor niggles with this camera are Nikon’s reluctance to add 24p support to their smaller cameras and some serious photographers will be put off by the lack of a RAW output option. The S8200 is not the smallest of pocket size cameras at 33mm wide and weighing in at 213 grams (roughly half a pound), you’ll need a big pocket, but it’s solid to the touch.

Still, overall a nifty little package for $329, worth a look for anyone shopping for a second camera that’s easier to pack around than a full size DSLR.



Top Tips For Better Family Photos

family picture
Better than the average group photo - Next time break up the big group a little - by Walter Ching

You can always tell the holidays are coming when manufacturers scramble to stock shelves with the latest in point-and-shoot technology before everyone heads home for the holidays. Models like the Pentax Optio RZ18 and the Olympus Pen E-PM1 decorate store shelves before people travel thousands of miles for that most dreaded of all holiday activities, family photos.

People have been trained by both the process and results to give family photo time the kind of welcome usually reserved for a root canal.

So let’s all break the dysfunctional family photo trauma this year. Take these tips and come up with some family photos that are not only fun to shoot but tell a more intimate story. Instead of the usual group photo, let’s see if we can come up with a process that will help you find a better holiday moment.

Practice a Pose

You know there are going to be pictures, so job one will be finding a pose you can hit in two seconds that looks good. Something you can turn on anytime a camera swings your way.

One trick that almost always works is to turn your shoulders at a 45 degree angle to the camera, called “cheating to the camera” and then turn your head back to the lens, chin angled slightly. If you have problems with a double chin, this trick will avoid the horror of the drivers license photo look and will smooth out any wrinkles along the neck line.

If you’re going to cheat toward the camera, do keep the open side of the cheat toward the person you’re sitting next to or it will look awkward.

Another trick is not to look directly at the camera, which avoids red eye. Look just off to the left or right, but not so much it looks like you’re disconnected from the scene.

Get In Close

If you can see your subjects feet in a standing photo, you are way too far from them. Get in close, really close. When you think you’re in close enough, take another two steps in.

Crop out as much distracting background and foreground as possible.

Turn Off The Flash Indoors

I realize that sounds counter-intuitive but built-in camera flashes are terrible for indoor lighting. They’re harsh, flat and unflattering. Turn the flash off and get as much natural light as possible on the scene. Window lighting is the best, only station yourself so the window is behind you. You don’t want the window in the shot, you just want the light.

In some situations you can’t avoid using the camera flash, in which case spend $10 and get yourself an on-camera flash diffuser.

If you’re a real cheapo, make yourself a milk jug diffuser.

Turn The Flash On Outdoors

Now you think I’m deliberately trying to confuse you. Turn the flash off when you usually need it and on when you usually don’t!

Find some open shade, place your subject and then set the on-camera flash to mandatory. On camera flash units are usually terrible for lighting indoor scenes, but they’re fantastic for fills.

Get A Lot of Shots

Move in close and get a lot of shots and a few of them are bound to turn out. Most cameras these days, even the point-and-shoot models, have a burst mode. Use it. Storage space is cheap and you can always sort through the shots and pick out the winners later.

Shooting a lot of shots also gives people more time to relax and get comfortable with the camera around. On a professional studio shoot it’s not unusual for photographers to shoot 2,000 or more photos in a single shoot with both the model and photographer in nearly constant motion. There’s a reason for that. You never know what’s going to turn out, so you shoot everything. It’s surprising how many times the difference between a good shot and an amazing shot is a few millimeters.

Break Up Big Groups

So many group photos look like a police line up where a witness is identifying the killer and the people in the photo frequently look just as uncomfortable.

family photo
Avoid the police lineup. Group people and arrange the groups - by Mafue

It helps to break up big groups into smaller ones, arranged in some kind of order. Have husbands and wives stand together and arrange the groups instead of everyone in a line. Have some people sitting down, some standing up, try different arrangements. It will be much more interesting visually. Another oddity that happens when you break up the big groups is it seems to make everyone more comfortable.

Some great tips from Tracy Clark:

Christmas Holiday Photo Tips

How to take the best Christmas Photos

Christmas comes but once a year, here are some tips to help you capture the moment.
  • Make sure you know your camera
  • Great you got that new camera last month and now its time to prove it was worth all that money. Make sure you have experimented with your camera and know how everything works before the holidays. If you can set the white balance for indoors.

  • Charge your batteries, empty your camera
  • There is nothing worse then missing your child opening a present because your batteries died. So make sure you have them fully charged and maybe buy yourself a early present an pick up a new battery. If you have Thanksgiving pictures or worse yet last Christmas pictures still on your camera now is the time to move those over to your computer and free up room on your memory card.

  • Don’t stage photos too much

  • Candid moments can often be more memorable than staged photos. Let the day flow, you will be less stressed and your photos will look more natural.

  • Make sure you have enough light
  • Natural light is almost always better then camera flashes, so try to get as much natural light into the room as possible. Open blinds, turn on lights.

  • Change your location
  • Variety is the spice of life, so don’t be afraid to move around and get a photo from a different location. Get down low and take photos from a child’s perspective.

  • Let someone else take pictures for a while
  • Don’t be left out of the photo, you will want to remember the holiday together as a family.

  • Share your photos
  • Don’t procrastinate too much, take your photos of your camera, edit them and share them with your family (Facebook, print them, flickr)

  • Put down the camera and enjoy your time together
  • A great photo is wonderful, but your time with family is priceless so enjoy it.