Last Minute Gift Guide

Judging by the amount of email I have received about last minute gifts, there are a few people out there that still need help. If you need a reasonably priced last minute gift for a photographer here are some items that I use and recommend. Lens pen - http://www.lenspen.com/ I never leave home without a couple of these, they work great to clean all optical surfaces. Shop links: Adorama (Nikon branded version) / BH

Sensor Pen - source This is the best way to clean digital camera sensors, I use this with a rocket blower and a sensor scope for quick and clean results. Shop links: Adorama / BH

Rocket Blower - http://www.giottos.com/ These are best out there and I always keep one of these handy especially to clean camera sensors. Shop links: Adorama / BH

Sensor Scope - source There are a lot of other companies making sensor scopes but the Delkin version is a good value for the money at about $50. I have been using one of these for years and years. Shop links: Adorama / BH

Display Protector - http://www.clarivue.com/ or  http://www.zagg.com/ All of my phones, point and shoot cameras and DSLRs have a display protector installed. These are cheap protection against smudges, finger prints and scratches.

Think Tank Eye Piece - Think Tank Photo These are more comfortable and easier to use since they stick farther out and best of all they will not pop off as easily as some of the factory versions. They work with Think Tank rain covers to seal the viewfinder.

Cable Management Bags - Think Tank Photo People ask me about these accessory bags all the time. Think Tank makes a few of them here are the two that I use:

Cable Management 10

Cable Management 20

USB Hard Disk Drives Prices are so low these days its amazing, I picked up my 1 TB USB 3.0 passport drives for $99 each at Costco earlier this year. Due to recent problems in SE Asia prices have gone up but there still are good deals out there. I use Western Digital Passport drives, they offer them in PC or Mac format - http://www.wdc.com/en/products/external/portable/

Nikon User's Guide - http://store.birdsasart.com/shop/item.aspx?itemid=329 Learn how I set up my camera for nature and wildlife photography. Recommended for all Nikon D300s, D700, D3S, D3X  DSLR owners.

Nik Software - link

If you are not using Nik you wont believe what you are missing. You can cannot go wrong with any of these Nik plugins, these are my favorite plugins of all time.

These are my recommendations:

Dfine® 2.0 The best noise reduction plugin available today.

Viveza® 2 Using control points, Viveza 2 is the most powerful and precise tool available to selectively control light and color in photographic images. Just click and adjust.

Color Efex Pro™ 4 Complete Edition Very powerful and very easy to use.

Silver Efex Pro™ 2 Easy to use and works very very well.

Complete Collection Ultimate Edition Includes all of Nik Software's award-winning plug-in software titles for Adobe® Photoshop®, Adobe® Photoshop® Lightroom® and Apple® Aperture®.

Weekly Update

Tips and Techniques

Over the next few weeks I am looking forward to sharing  tons of new photography and photo optimization tips and techniques. For everyone using Nikon I will also be featuring some tips and techniques from my new Nikon User guide.

Win 7 to Mac OS X Migration

Also it should be an interesting next few weeks as I share the positives and negatives of my migration from a Windows 7 laptop to a MacBook Pro running Mac OS X. This move has been in the works for a long time and I am looking forward making the switch finally happen.

Photography Tip of the Day

Sandhill crane display, northern crane pool, Bosque del Apache New Mexico. November 25th, 2011. NIKON D700 and AF-S Nikkor 500mm f/4G ED VR lens + TC-14E 1.4x II, 1/1000 sec at F5.6, manual metering on zero, Auto ISO @ 220 . Image Copyright 2011 Robert OToole Photography.

At Bosque sandhill cranes congregate and rest (roost) overnight in two pools along highway 1. It sounds like an easy opportunity to photograph the birds and it is but getting images of pairs or small groups displaying with clean background is a lot harder than it sounds. Photographers line up early in the morning but leave as the group of birds thin out but this is really the time when you want to be there. This is when you can see pairs and family groups all alone displaying in clean open water. Sometimes you can see a world famous photographer or 2 pack up and lead a group away when the conditions are just starting to peak. Getting the images you want sometimes means staying after everyone leaves and photographing until the last bird leaves the pool.