© Brenda Tharp. All rights reserved.
As a traditional song goes, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas"...yet whether it's Christmas, Kwanzaa, or Chanukah - the season is a time of gift giving, and gifts that support creativity in the individual are the best ones to give, AND get! Here's a list of products that I have found useful in helping us all make better photos:
1. The LumiQuest Soft Screen. This diffuser is designed for the built-in pop-up flash of many digital cameras and it's produces a wonderful soft effect. No more harsh shadows around the edges of your portraits, or lurking hulks on the wall behind your subjects! The diffusion of the flash also helps to cut back on glaring hot spots - like the glare off an apple, the edge of a metal surface, etc. Visit - www.lumiquest.com/softscreen for more info on this great product!
2. The UPstrap. Shoulder straps for cameras have a tendency to slip and slide when walking around with them on one shoulder, and I find that frustrating. I have used several types over the years that say they'll grip tightly, but one product that works very effectively is the UPstrap. I can walk around secure in the knowledge that the camera will stay put on my shoulder. I used it walking all over Tuscany in September and found it excellent. This strap really works! Check out www.upstrap-pro.com for more info.
3. The Lens Baby 3G - I've written about the Lensbaby before, with pictures, and now they've gone and improved it yet again! I was always challenged by trying to keep the focus spot I had for more than one frame, even when on continuous frame shooting, but now you can lock the focus on the lens - and shoot from a tripod so you get more images with the same sweet spot in focus! This allows you to bracket your exposures without losing your focus. It's a sure conversation piece by it's design, but it gets the job done and gives you a unique effect. Visit www.lensbaby.com for more info.
4. The Flash X-tender. For anyone doing wildlife or bird photography with 300 mm or longer focal lengths, there is often the need to create a catch light or to fill the shadows of the scene - be it a nest, or the chest eye shadows of an animal. Enter the Flash Extender! This product has a fresnel lens that is mounted to the front of two plastic extensions that place it out from the head of the flash, and allow the light to be focused and projected much greater distances than the normal flash head would throw the light in the scene. Up to three stops of light can be gained using this product. I have found it indispensable for doing wildlife or bird photography in low light conditions, and also to fill in the shadows on a high contrast situation. While it's a specialty product, it's a necessary accessory for long lens users.
5. The POD - bean bag support for compact digital cameras. This little support is a terrific companion for a compact digital. So often we don't need to carry a tripod but find that a little more support would be so helpful in getting a steady picture. I carry the yellow one for use with my Canon Elph and the red one for use with my larger compact camera. Enter "The Pod", designed in Canada and now sold through Bogen Imaging. See www.bogenimaging.us and search on 'the pod' to see the three sizes and descriptions.
6. The Lens Pen. For my compact digital camera, the Lens Pen has been a handy way to keep the front element clean and brush away any dust that might mess up the contacts or the camera's closing mechanism. It's amazing how easy it is to get a fingerprint on the little lens as we grab and go with these cameras! But the Lens Pen takes care of that problem quickly and fits in the little case I have for the camera and extra batteries. Visit www.lenspen.com for general info and look for it in most good camera stores.
7. On the more expensive side, but worth every penny - here are two Singh-Ray filters I find very useful.
A. The Lighter Brighter Circular Polarizer. This filter allows more light in so you can more easily see your composition with the filter on, yet it still does the great job of cutting down glare and shine off everything from shiny surfaces. Great for saturating the colors in fall foliage - even when the leaves are dry on the trees. Also great for cutting back the glare of wet rocks in streams or along the ocean's edge.
B. Gold-N-Blue Polarizer. This specialty filter adds gold or blue hues to polarized light; it can make blue skies pop, or enhance the reflective colors in a stream, and much more. Visit www.singhray.com for more info on their great lineup of filters.
Check out the difference in these two pictures.
Well, the list is longer than space or time permits here, yet I really only keep things on it that I think will enhance my abilities to express what I see.
Hope you have a great week of photography and a wonderful holiday season, everyone!