Top 5 Accessories For The Photographer In Your Life

1. Manfrotto Pixi

A great all in one portable table-top tripod. Great for those low shots close to the ground. Folds up small, fits in any bag. With a built-in ball-head, this tripod will be a great gift. This little tripod can even act as impromptu selfie stick! A great gift for any photographer!

Today's smart phones have some really great cameras on them.. This stand from Joby lets you have a portable stand that you can take everywhere! Great for shots at dinners, parties, or even time-lapses. This little stand folds up so small and thin you can fit it right in your pocket! The GripTight is also available in a XL version for those of you with jumbo smart phones, such as the iPhone 6s Plus.

Every camera bag should have a rocket blaster. All photographers know that getting their equipment dirty is an inevitability. No matter how hard you tell yourself you're never gonna get dust on your lenses, or dust on your camera will inevitably happen. Giottos Rocket Air Blaster is a must requirement for those situations. It's great for cleaning dust off sensors, and lens, safely. I have one in all of my bags!

I own more camera bags than I do cameras! Finding the perfect camera bag is a life long pursuit, but this Think Tank Retrospective is very close to the perfect walk-around day bag for my mirrorless setup.. I love this bag! 

5. Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

Photographers go thru batteries faster than water!. Electronic flashes eat AA batteries like they are going out of style. These Eneloop batteries save you some serious cash. All rechargeable are not created equal. Eneloops are simply the best rechargeable batteries on the market today. They have a high energy capacity, and they perform better than similar high-capacity AAs. They can only be charged 2100 times. That's a lot of charge cycles. If you charged your batteries twice a week consistently, it would take 20 years to reach 2000 recharge cycles. 

Eneloop Rechargeable Batteries

So there you have it! My top 5 choices for 2015! All are guaranteed winners with photographers. Happy Holidays!

Creative Fun with Double Exposure Composites in Photoshop

Double Exposure, or Multiple Exposure, is a photographic technique that combines 2 different images into a single image. The technique has its roots way back in the film days, but has fallen out of favor since the introduction of digital. Double exposure is making a come back recently, due to the fact that graphic editors like Photoshop making the effect so easy to recreate.

Fun With Displacement Maps

Photoshop layers feature are great at pasting one image onto another and blending the pasted image into the background layer by changing the blend mode. The layer blending modes control how the colors in the top image combine with the pixels in the underlying image. They do not affect the texture of either image.

That's where displacement maps come in. To make a image blend into the texture of the base image and make the final image appear more realistic, you can use a  displacement map.

A displacement map is simply a grayscale version of an image saved as a Photoshop file. The Displace filter then uses the displacement map essentially as an applied texture. The black areas are the low points and the light areas are the high points of the contours of the original image.

You create a displacement map of the background image and save it as a PSD file. Then you apply the "Displace Filter" to the second image to be placed of top of the background image. 

In this example I showed you how to simulate face painting with a displacement map. But you'll find many more uses, should as wrapping text and textures to irregular surfaces. Once you see how easy it is to work with displacement maps, you'll make them a ready tool for your photoshop toolbox!

Let me tell you about my first....

There's always something special about a boys first camera. A boy's first camera was a kind of right of passage, a symbol that your growing up. When a boy was given a camera to call his own, it meant that he could be trusted and could be responsible with expensive things.. My first camera was a Kodak Brownie and sold for around $12 in 1960's. $12 dollars back then, translates to around $95 dollars today. A huge investment back in the 60's..

I remember how excited I was when I opened up the bright yellow box! I was going to be the next Jimmy Olsen! (For the younger crowd, Jimmy Olsen was the fictional character who played in Superman as a young photojournalist working for the Daily Planet. He of course was close friends with Lois Lane and Clark Kent/aka Superman). I couldn't wait to load the film. Of course loading film back then wasn't as easy as today, it actually took a while on how to figure out how to spool up the roll into the camera.

Now loaded and ready, I quickly began to snap away at everything in sight. About 15 minutes later I was completely out of film. (Only 12 exposures per roll back then you know :-)). My parents were quick to give me a complete crash course on the economics of photography, film, developing, and how money doesn't grow on trees.

It didn't matter though, once I got the film back from developing I was hooked, from that day forward, I knew photography was going to be a part of my life forever! Photography was something magical, something meant to be shared and enjoyed!

 Kodak Brownie Starmite

The Brownie Starmite was one of a very successful range of "star" cameras made by Kodak in the early 1960s. It took square, 4x4cm (3 1/2" x 3 1/2") images on 127 film. The only adjustment was a lever below the lens, giving EV 13 (flash) & 14 (daylight) by adjusting the aperture.

 127 Film (center), larger than 35mm (left), smaller than 120 film (right)

127 Film (center), larger than 35mm (left), smaller than 120 film (right)

  • Type: Viewfinder camera

  • Manufacturer: Kodak

  • Year of launch: 1960

  • Film: type 127 roll film

  • Flash: built-in bulb flash AG1 Type

  • Dakon Fixed Focus f/11

  • Minimum Focus Distance: 4 feet on EV 14 / 5 feet on EV 13

  • Rottary Shutter

  • Original Price: $12 USD