Tag Archives: Christmas gift ideas

Three Very Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Photographer and Nature Lover

Cane-02-iconHere we are, one sleep away from Christmas day. It’s a busy time of year and sometimes we find ourselves on the cusp of Christmas but still needing a gift or two. Don’t panic! If those last gifts are for either a photographer or nature lover, here are a few last minute gift ideas. And since they are downloads, you don’t need to worry about running out to a store and battling the crowds of  shoppers. You can simply purchase them, download them and then email the link or file to the person you’ve bought it for. Or, put it on a USB stick for them. Easy! But also great gifts.

Here’s an absolutely fabulous app that any photographer or nature lover would be happy to receive for Christmas:

POLE TO POLE by Paul Nicklen.

Paul Nicklen's app, Pole To Pole

Paul Nicklen’s app, Pole To Pole

http://paulnicklen.comPaul Nicklen's app, Pole To Pole

http://paulnicklen.comPaul Nicklen’s app, Pole To Pole

Paul is a wildlife and conservation photographer from Canada and produces some of the BEST wildlife images I’ve ever seen. He does a lot of underwater photography, producing both unique and visually stunning images. I recently purchased Paul’s app and was absolutely blow away by it! It would be an understatement to say that his photography is stunning. Some of his underwater images are mesmerizing, such the image below of  penguins swimming.

Image by Paul Nicklen

Image by Paul Nicklen

Not only is Paul a phenomenal photographer, but he is also a gifted storyteller. What I really love about his app is that he supports his great images with stories about what he had to go through to make the image. He also includes natural history in his writing, to give readers a better understanding of the species he photographs.

Paul Nicklen, Pole To Pole

Paul Nicklen, Pole To Pole

There are also some great video clips showing how Paul goes about getting his images  – all I can say is that this guy is dedicated! What he has to go through to get those amazing images!

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Paul Nicklen, behind the scene....

Paul Nicklen, behind the scene….

You absolutely cannot go wrong with this app  as a gift. Even if the person you are buying for isn’t a photographer, I still think they’d really like this.

Image by Paul Nicklen

Image by Paul Nicklen

Another app that you just cannot go wrong with is:

Jim Brandenburg’s, Chased By The Light

Jim Brandenburg's app

Jim Brandenburg’s app

This first came out as a print book, but I think the app is monumentally better. Not only does it tell the story of Jim’s adventure and self-challenge of only exposing one frame of film each day for 90 days, but many of his images are stunning.

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I also love that Jim’s app is interactive in that there are pages with imbedded video. It might include a short clip of him explaining why he made a certain image for that day or what the challenges were in making that image.

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There is also additional information imbedded in some of the images. You simply click on the “i” to bring up the additional info.

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And, if you love Jim’s images so much that you want one hanging on your wall, you can click on a link that will take you to his website where you can purchase a print. You also have the ability to share one of the images by clicking on the Facebook link.

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I would highly recommend this to nature photographers, but also anyone with  an interest in nature.

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And finally, I couldn’t end this blog post without including my own new e-book 😉

Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips.

If you are buying for a photographer or a flower-lover who also enjoys photography, this is the book for them! I describe some very straightforward techniques for creating beautiful fine art flower photos.

My new e-book, a 109 page downloadable pdf, available on my 44th Parallel Photography website.

My new e-book, a 109 page downloadable pdf, available on my 44th Parallel Photography website.

It’s packed with vibrant images and many examples of putting the techniques into practice.

Sample page from Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips

Sample page from Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips

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I’ve also got a large section on creative flower photography.

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For anyone who loves flowers and loves to capture their beauty with a camera, this is a must-have.

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Filed under Amphibians, conservation, Conservation & Environment, Digital Photography, Featured Wildlife Photographer, Flowers, Landscape, Mammals, Nature, nature photography, Opinion, Wildlife Photography

All I Want For Christmas Is…. Bird Photography

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As we count down to Christmas, some of us who haven’t yet started our Christmas shopping may have a slight feeling of panic building. Time is ticking…..

The way I figure it, there are two challenges with Christmas shopping. Challenge #1 – what to buy. Challenge #2 – actually getting out to buy it and in particular, getting out before it’s too late and the stores are picked over, looking much like the way the Grinch left the Who’s houses after his Christmas pillage. But even with the Grinch, there was a happy ending….. 🙂

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If you’re shopping for friends and family who are photographers, don’t panic. I’ve already posted a list of 12 great photography gift ideas. And the great part is that most of these things can be purchased online. So if you can’t get out and about to buy them, don’t worry. However, I will say that if you can buy locally, why not support your local camera store?

One item I had on my list that I’d like to write a bit more about are a pair of e-books, about bird photography, by Alan Murphy. If you’re into bird photography, you’ll know Alan Murphy’s name. He’s one of the top bird photographers out there. I love his images – clean, simple, tack-sharp and well…. stunning!  Check out Alan’s website.

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Producing incredible images is certainly the first thing that attracts me to a photographer. But the second thing that seals the deal for me – makes me a loyal follower –  is that person’s attitude toward the rest of the photography world. By this, I mean, their willingness to share. Those who are willing to share their techniques and not keep them closely-held secrets are tops in my books. And Alan is one of those. In fact, I emailed Alan recently to ask him a question about one of his books and got a really pleasant and informative response.

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Alan has written two e-books on how to attract birds for the purpose of photography. His first e-book, The Guide to Songbird Set-up Photography, is a 106 page pdf e-book packed full of fantastic information and advice about setting up perches using natural materials (flowers, tree and shrub branches, rocks, etc.). For example, Alan includes a section on setting up flowers for hummingbird photography. He includes a tip on how to ‘bait’ the flowers with a bit of sugar-water to get the birds to the flower. Can’t wait to try this approach next spring! He also includes chapters on how to attract certain species of birds as well as how to attract and photograph certain taxa of birds, such as waterfowl and shorebirds.

One of Alan Murphy's fantastic bird photos

One of Alan Murphy’s fantastic bird photos

Alan’s second book, The Photographer’s Guide to Attracting Birds, released recently,offers up even more detailed and specific information . For example, Alan has a chapter on blinds and camouflage, which is extremely informative. His book also includes chapters on attracting birds using insects, decoys, and audio playbacks. He also has chapters on attracting specific birds such as flycatchers, songbirds, and shorebirds. This book is as jam-packed with excellent information as the first one.

If you’re interested in bird photography, I very highly recommend both these books. As far as e-books go, they are a tad pricey ($50 each or both for $90), but the way I look at it, Alan has shared information that has taken him years to accumulate. There’s no point in re-inventing the wheel and so I think his books are well worth the price. You’re purchasing Alan’s wealth of knowledge and experience, which will allow you to fast-track your bird set-up photography. Personally, I don’t have 20 years to figure it all out myself. I’m not getting any younger! 😉

AlanMurphy e-books

Copies of the book can be purchased directly from Alan’s website. I highly recommend these books as a wonderful gift for the nature or bird Treesphotographer on your Christmas list. You can’t go wrong with these books. And by buying e-books, you’ll see sparing a few more trees.

Good luck with your Christmas shopping. But most of all, don’t forget to enjoy the magic of the season.

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Filed under Birds, Digital Photography, Featured Wildlife Photographer, Nature, nature photography, Opinion, photography, technique, Wildlife Photography

Photography Gift Ideas for Christmas

Christmas is fast approaching. A bit too fast, for me. I haven’t even started my Christmas shopping yet. And if you’re like me, you’re only just beginning to think of gift ideas. Or maybe you have a hard-to-shop-for person on your list? Don’t worry, here’s a bit of help.

I’ve put together a list of 12 great gift ideas for the photographer on your Christmas list. It doesn’t matter whether that person is a pro or just beginning, there’s something on this list for everyone.

Disclaimer: the info provided below is given purely as suggestion. I receive no sponsorship or endorsement from any of the companies listed below. These are just items that caught my eye and that I think might be great gift ideas for any photographer. These items are listed in no particular order.

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…..

1.  Kwik Camo Blind

Does your photographer love to photograph wildlife? Birds in the front yard? If so, I highly recommend one of these. I already own a couple of blinds, but none is as portable and lightweight as this one and so I’ll be asking Santa for one of these this year. Two places that I know of that sell this item are the Naturescapes.net store and Outdoor Photo Gear. I’ve ordered from both companies in the past and am impressed with their prices and very fast shipping. Great, hassle-free online shopping.

Outdoor Photo Gear currently sells it for $99.95. It’s also available in white for those hardcore photographers who are happy to sit out in the cold to get that great shot!

Kwik Camo Blind

Kwik Camo Blind also available for your winter photography

2. AquaTech Sensory Gloves

Now these babies look great! I’ve already snipped the fingers off a couple of pairs of gloves so that I can better operate my camera while wearing them. But this is pretty destructive. Instead, how about a pair of gloves made especially for the photographer? Warm and cozy, but with finger holes already in them. No hauling out the scissors to make your own finger holes. Waterproof and breathable. A must for anyone doing photography in winter or on cold, rainy days. Outdoor Photo Gear currently sells them for $49.95.

AquaTech Gloves

3. Apex Mini Bean Bag

 I own one of the bigger ones, but the mini is probably a better all-purpose bag. I highly recommend this item. I use it to steady my camera when I’m lying on my belly in the forest photographing spring wildflowers. It allows me to get down low, move my camera around, but also keep it steady. Also great for wildlife photography from your car window.

NatureScapes sells this for $84.95.

Apex Mini Bean Bag

4. Overboard Waterproof iPad Case

It’s not just the photographer who could use on of these. I frequently take my iPad out in the field with me, but I worry about getting it wet or banged up. One of these would be great!

Outdoor Photo Gear currently sells them for $47.95

Overboard Waterproof iPad Case

5. Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly Sensor Brush

Everybody who shoots with a dSLR needs to clean their sensor from time and time. And so another must-have a Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly 724 Super Bright Sensor Brush. It’s a fantastic product! I own an older model of this and I wouldn’t use anything else. A friend of mine killed one of his first dSLR cameras by scratching the sensor because he was using a cleaning kit that consisted of a padded bit on the end of a wooden stick. Turns out the stick can poke through if you press too hard. Ouch! With the Visible Dust sensor cleaners, no hard parts touch your sensor. It’s just a very soft bristle brush that rotates and grabs and attracts the dust and gunk off your sensor. They work really well. Highly recommended.

NatureScapes currently sells these for $120.95. They are kind of expensive, but well worth the price. And if you scratch your sensor while cleaning it, it’ll cost you far more than $120 to have your camera fixed!

Visible Dust Arctic Butterfly Sensor Cleaner

6. Alan Murphy’s new e-book, Photographer’s Guide to Attracting Birds

E-books are an excellent gift for your photographer friends and family. Personally, I think they are great value for money, e-books save trees since they aren’t printed, and these days  everyone seems to have an iPad or some sort of tablet. And you can take your books with you anywhere without weighing down your luggage. If you don’t have an iPad or other tablet, don’t worry. You don’t need one to enjoy an e-book. You can read it on your desktop or laptop computer.

Alan Murphy’s e-book, available as a downloadable pdf for $50 (U.S.).

Alan Murphy’s new e-book, Photographer’s Guide to Attracting Birds, is a superb new book, the second on the topic that Alan has written. I’m going to write a more in depth review of this book soon, but suffice it to say it’s an excellent book. For anyone wanting to learn to photograph birds and how to create set-ups in your own front yard with attractive perches, this is THE book. I find the $50 price tag a bit hefty for an e-book, but Alan’s book is not only packed with lots of important information, I figure it saves me years of inventing the wheel myself, so to speak. Alan’s years of experience in figuring out what works best for attracting birds and getting those great images is worth the money for his book. I don’t hesitate to highly recommend this one!

You can purchase Alan’s latest e-book  as well as his previously published e-book, The Guide to  Songbirds Set-up Photography, directly from his website. 

7. Memory Card

Every digital camera needs a memory card on which to capture those amazing images. As a photographer, I can never have too many of these. There are a bewildering number of sizes and brands of cards these days. But I think there are three main considerations to take on board when thinking about buying one. First, make sure you buy the correct kind of card (e.g. compact flash and SD are currently the most common ones for cameras). Different cameras accept different cards so make sure you know what kind your photographer’s camera uses. Second, there are huge memory cards these days. You can buy 64 GB cards for around $100. But is this the best purchase? I’d argue that buying two 32GB or four 16 GB cards would be better. Sure, it’s a pain to change cards in the middle of a shoot. But cards unfortunately, do fail from time to time and I’d sooner not have all my images on one card. I’d sooner have them spread out over a few cards. As we know, putting all of your eggs in one basket can be bad. So why not buy a few smaller sized cards, which spreads the risk of losing images. Third, is the photographer on your list shooting video too? If so, then you’ll want to consider buying the card with the greatest write-speed.

You can purchase memory cards from your local camera shop, online, or even from local discount stores like Walmart. Regardless of where you buy them, just  don’t buy the absolute cheapest cards on the market. Remember, these cards might be holding your honeymoon photos or those of your childs’ 1st birthday. Those are important photos so don’t trust them to a cheap card.

SD and CF cards are used in cameras. Be sure you know which one to buy for the photographer on your list.

8. Subscription to  a Photography Magazine

There are a ton of photography magazines on the market today. This is great news for the photographer, but if you want to give a subscription, which magazines should you consider? I’d suggest going to your local book store and having a look through the magazine section and picking out a magazine that you think might suit the photographer you’re buying for. Some of the popular print magazines include: Outdoor Photographer, Digital Photography Magazine, PhotoLife, Popular Photography, Nature Photographer Magazine…. The list is long. But here are a few that I really like and have no problem spending dollars on:

Nature’s Best Photography Magazine – stunning images by nature photographers from around the world. Highly recommended!

Nature’s Best Photography magazine

Photograph – a new photography e-magazine by David duChemin at Craft & Vision. Available as a single pdf download for $8 or an annual subscription. I bought the first issue a week ago and am really enjoying it. Definitely recommended.

David duChemin’s new e-magazine, Photograph

Outdoor Photography Canada – one of the few magazines I buy on a regular basis. Great info, not overly loaded with advertisements. A great read.

Outdoor Photography Canada.

9.  Support a Wildlife Conservation Organization

There are a lot of great conservation organizations out there – Nature Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, Conservation International – just to name a few. Consider making a donation to a conservation organization in the name of your photographer friend, rather than giving them a gift directly. The Canadian Wildlife Federation is a great organization that I support. I love that you can support species conservation efforts by  ‘adopting’ an animal. You get to choose which species you’d like to ‘adopt’ (e.g. Polar Bear, Grey Wolf, Beluga Whale, and others). It costs $35.00 and that money buys you a small stuffed animal to give your photographer friend, a certificate of adoption, and an info booklet about that species. But most importantly, your dollars go towards conservation efforts for that species. I think World Wildlife Fund and other conservation organizations have this same kind of ‘adoption’ programme. Have a scroll through their websites to see what you can find.

Consider ‘adopting’ an animal and supporting species conservation.

10. A Lensbaby

This is the perfect toy for the creative photographer. I’m not even going to attempt to explain what it does or how it works. Want to see for yourself? Just visit the Lensbaby website and have a look at their gallery. But anyone who uses a Lensbaby is guaranteed to produce interesting, surreal, and creative images. I own an older Lensbaby and find it a ton of fun!  Have a look at the Lensbaby website.

The Lensbaby, a fantastic creative tool!

11. An iPad or Android App

With so many people having tablets these days, this is a fantastic gift idea. I actually bought a photography App last year that knocked my socks off! It’s Jim Brandenburg’s Chased By The Light. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a must.  I think any photographer would be happy to have this. The images are stunning and I love that the App is interactive, with info pop-ups and videos embedded throughout. Chased By The Light App is available through the iTunes Store and Amazon.com.

Jim Brandenburg’s Chased By The Light App.

Another App I just came across that looks fantastic, is Paul Nicklen’s App, Pole To Pole. I think I’m going to have to ask Santa for this one myself! Paul’s photography is stunning and he’s a really passionate conservation photographer. This App is available through the Photo Society store website. Have a look at the video trailer advertising Paul’s App. I think you’ll be buying this one….

Paul Nicklen’s App, Pole To Pole.

12. My new e-book, Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips

Ok, so it’s Christmas and I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to tell you about my new e-book, Flowers: fine art photography techniques and tips. It’s  109 pages packed full of great info  and many example images on how to use a variety of creative techniques to make stunning fine art flower images.  It’s full of descriptions of creative techniques and approaches, as well as inspiration and encouragement. And all for only $8.95 (wait, now I’m starting to sound like a TV add for Matel….). It’s available as a pdf download from my website, 44th Parallel Photography.

Not sure how to give an e-book or an App to that photographer on your list? Purchase it online. You’ll receive a link to a pdf file that you’ll download. Once you’ve downloaded it, why not buy a 2GB USB stick and put it on that? Then you just need to put the USB stick in a nice little gift bag and voila! Christmas pressie is done. 🙂

My new e-book, a 109 page downloadable pdf, available on my 44th Parallel Photography website.

Good luck with your Christmas shopping. I hope some of these suggestions help.

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Filed under Digital Photography, equipment, nature photography, photography, technology