Getting group photos perfect every time

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Getting group photos perfect every time

 The digital imaging software makes creating the perfect group photo easy. I will walk you through it.

 In the film days really skilled photographers could get everyone in a group looking just right. For most though, it was a compromise. Which image had the least amount of bad expressions with the main person looking good.

 Now it is so simple to achieve. Gotta love Adobe Photoshop.

 It starts with a good tripod.

5-final layers

 Set up your group as you normally would. Place your tripod where you usually would stand. Take a number of shots. Coax their best expressions to peak at the same time. If you spot a person having a challenge work with them a bit more.

 The critical first step is to try not to change anyone’s body positions with each posing setup. It will make the next steps much easier.

 Find your best photograph where the most faces and expressions look good.

 From that image, determine the faces that don’t work, find the group images where they do. Stack them in layers above the main image. When you drag them over hold the shift key down. Then release the mouse or pen. This is for working in Adobe Photoshop.

4-All fixed

 This approach places the new layer image in the center of the image, giving you perfect registration. That will make the rest easy.

 In Photoshop, turn off all the layers but the base good one and the one above it. Set the brush colors to default (press the d key). Hold the alt key down and click on the mask icon. The mask will load up black, revealing only the base layer.

 Select the brush tool using white paint, paint on the mask over the faces that need replacing. As you paint you will see the good face emerge. Make sure that all the edges of the new areas are in alignment with the base image.

3-1st layer work

 Repeat with each layer holding a replacement part.

 Once you have the heads/parts all replaced, you need to create a master layer with all the changes. Press alt, shift, CDN then the e key. This creates a layer that combines all of the layers active below it. You can make a duplicate and flatten the image. We like to keep the layered file so we can make changes if we need to.

 Besides creating the perfect family portrait there is another advantage. You can replace the viewing of the family groups with the unveiling of the one good combined image. Your time can be spent presenting the couple and individual shots.

2-Base layers

 Now, as a photographer, you should still try to get perfect group shots. Your goal would be to get so good you don’t need to use this technique. Until then, this will work fine.

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Old School Mirror Reflections in Camera.


Old School Mirror Reflections in Camera.

This is an old technique that is really easy, diverse yet always delivers a unique image.

Reflections, or rather reflective surfaces.

I am going to explain or mention several different approaches. Some are very DIY, easy yet full of wow.

Way back in film days we tried to get all the effects in camera. The reflection or mirror images were easy.

You could shoot across the hood or roof of a polished car. The color did not really matter; it seemed to cancel out, but the reflection had a watery effect.

Wanting it on demand we would find a small mirror, square was best, that was about double the diameter of the lens. It would be about 4 inches wide. The width was not overly critical. You put the edge of the mirror to the bottom part of the lens. Hold it on the outside edge so fingers didn’t show.

Looking through the viewfinder, the mirror is tilted up to get the reflective effect you wanted. Moving the horizontal back edge up and down the lens brought a range of different effects, too. Occasionally, we would mist the mirror surface. You can come up close to your subject or back away. It was great for making a messy foreground vanish.


After having a few mirrors break in my camera case I found plexi-glass mirrors worked just as well.

Often, we would bring along jugs of water. Find a slight indent in the land or pavement then dump a skim of water into it. Put the camera right on the ground, lens up to the water to create a great lake look. This will work even in winter time, just work fast before it freezes.

I just recently saw fire being added to the mix. One guy squirted lighter fluid on the edge of the created water “pond”, set up the shot and subjects then lit the fluid for dancing flames. Another used a larger mirror, looked like it was a foot by 2 feet. He placed the lighter fluid around the outer edge, posed everyone, then lit the mirror for the shot. Like with water he got the subjects’ reflection surrounded by flames.

It took less than 2 minutes to set up and get the shot.

Of course, I am from Calgary where bigger always seems the way to go. I started using 8×4 foot sheets of mirror plexi and black plexi. It seemed a perfect use with Donna’s two sets of twins. She so loved the effect she altered the renos to her home’s front entrance to showcase her image.

Most of my water set shots use on this approach. We set up a wood framework with a rubber liner to hold the skiff of water. It gets deeper as we spray and splash my client. I get down low so the wide-angle lens nearly touches the water to get the full mirror effect. I can splash for water texture; add fog, mists and sprays. Amanda’s image as a near white silhouette showcases the effect.

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I remember the first time I saw the Bow River used as a mirror this way. The photographer had gotten down low to the waters edge, his wide angle lens made the relatively narrow bow river look like a lake or ocean the city was poised over. It took a bit for my mind to register this was Calgary. Somewhere buried deep in my negative files is a few of my versions of this idea.

I have used the same approach with some mountain shots.

Of course now you can buy software like Flaming Pear’s Flood filter to get the effect. In Photoshop you can just flip the image for that instant effect.

I gotta say though, doing it in camera creates a wonderfully organic look that software does not quite give.

Try some of these, you will love the results, nothing can be easier than holding up a mirror to your lens. Can you imagine fireworks with that

_G0R3207 guy process mirror mountain

The 4 Camera Controls for Perfect Color

Preset icons

The 4 Camera Controls for Perfect Color

Getting the color right in camera saves a lot of Photoshop time later. Plus the right color makes your images sparkle while enriching the mood. It can be confusing since your camera has a few options that might not be intuitive for you for setting the color.

Essentially, getting the right color is about getting the right colour temperature, which is measured in Kelvins. The higher the Kelvin the bluer the light, the lower it goes the more yellowy-orange it goes. In between we have set expectation of temperature color.

For example, Tungsten lights are at 3200K, Fluorescents 4,000K, camera flash units 5,900K. These are what your camera presets aim for.

To take control of the color temperatures, the white balance, you just need to understand the camera’s controls for doing this.

Cameras have 4 approaches to setting the color or white balance of your camera. There is the built-in Auto White Balance, the presets, the manual Kelvin setting dial and a white balance creation setting. What they all aim to do is correct the color so that a sheet of white paper looks white. Hence the term white balance.

The Auto White Balance, like most things auto, has the camera’s brains looking at the average color or the dominant color and deciding how to adjust the Kelvin to give a white light. Slight shifts in the light or what you aim your camera at, can cause occasional radical shifts in your color. Your camera probably comes from the store set to that. Not usually mentioned is this auto feature has a fixed area it can work in between 3000K and 7000K.

The Auto White Balance is the setting I hope to get you off of, for better color and personal control.

The Presets are actually fairly accurate. You usually find them on Menu or through the top of camera control settings. They are set for fixed lighting conditions, but will not take into account cross contamination of lighting. For example, a room lit by tungsten lights but with a window adding daylight to the room, a face lit this way will be a mix of blue and yellow light, most noticeable in the shadows.

Color balance samples

Mixed lighting aside, just look at your light source then set the dial. I use this in my studio; I have daylight balanced Profoto lights so my camera is set for Daylight. Just remember to change the dial as you change lighting conditions.

The challenge with the Presets is they are good for a very narrow conditions. If the Tungsten light is old or weak it will be more yellow than the Preset Tungsten can deal with. Daylight is good for the bright part of the day, but early morn or late evening when the colors are shifting will cause the camera to correct for the wrong color.

You see the color shifting more in the shadows than anywhere else. Still, Presets are way better than the Auto White Balance choice.

Usually, in that same dial is a Kelvin setting. When you turn to that preset your camera dial moves the temperature selection. Usually the photographer will use a Kelvin meter for setting the Kelvin to the metered number. You can also use this for a creative tool. For example if you want to saturate a sunset color, shift the dial to a cooler temperature and anything warm is intensified.

Finally, you have the Custom White Balance. This setting is usually found in your camera’s menu system. The way this works is you photograph either a grey card or some other white balance device. There is a huge number of offerings to choose from. Try searching for grey cards or white balance. Popular ones are WhiBal, X-rite Color Balance Passport, ExpoDisc and the Photovision One Shot Digital Calibration Target.

Here are the steps to setting up a Custom White Balance Setting

  • Set your camera to Custom White Balance.
  • Place your grey card beside or just in front of your subject. If you use something like ExpoDisc which caps the lens, aim it at your subject’s lights source from their position.
  • Put your lens on manual focus then fill your viewfinder with the grey card. Only the grey card should be in the frame. It can also be out of focus.
  • Press your Menu button then navigate into your Custom White Balance settings. Navigate to your captured image if it is not the image visible.
  • Press set then the OK. You might have to press set again.
  • You now have a custom white balance so shoot away. The Custom White Balance will stay in effect as long as you have the Custom White Balance selected.

Remember to turn the autofocus back on. The camera adjusts its setting so it “sees” that color as white. Keep in mind; it will continue to see that color as white until you take it off that white balance. This is the most accurate way to set the correct color balance.

You will need to change the setting with each color temperature change. You can have several as references though for lighting conditions you return to.

It is by far the most exacting way to approach getting the color temperature right when it really matters.

For the most part, if you take control of color temperature with the Presets, you should be in pretty good shape. The nice thing about shooting in Camera Raw is you can go back after the fact and change the light settings in camera raw. Not something you can do with JPG captures.

Using these controls and mastering them, you will see a vast improvement to the color of your images. All without much effort.


Living on the edge of all light


Living on the edge of all light

You might have heard of it as feathering, creating wrap-around light; you might have heard the words Umbra and Penumbra being tossed into the explanation.

When I want to create a soft flattering light, this is where I go; to the edge of the light.

Most photographers starting out are more concerned about the volume of light hitting their subject, less about the quality. With an umbrella, to achieve volume, you point the center of the umbrella right at the subject. Because it is a larger light source, it is naturally softer than the small light source being fired into it.

To get the sweet spot, the softest light, turn the umbrella (holds true for soft boxes, scrims, reflectors etc.) so the point of the umbrella passes in front of them. Now you are lighting your subject with the umbrella’s edge of light. This light creates a very soft shadow edge on the subject, especially noticeable on their face. You will lose some power, or quantity, since the bulk of the light passes in front of your subject.

That’s ok, since as photographers we want to paint with light delicately when revealing beauty.

The same approach works with soft boxes. There is a formula to work out the optimum distance of a soft box from a subject. Christopher Grey, in his Studio Lighting Techniques for Photography book explained it the simplest:

head shot light diagram

“. . . add the length and width of the modifier together, then place the modifier at that distance form your subject. In other words, a 4×6 foot softbox will perform best at 10 feet and a 3×4 foot softbox will do its best job at 7 feet.”

There are some very complicated formulas, but this is a nice and quick, practical break down of light placement. It is based on the spread of the light and the specular highlights, or lack thereof.

While that is the most effective, your style and taste will define the final choice of light placement.

In the sample images here, the images have only been raw processed, you can see the pattern of light. In the head shot she is in a small white walled room.

To take advantage of the feathered light effect, move your soft box so it is mostly in front of your subject. The light that strikes your subject first is from the edge of the light. The larger surface wraps around giving you this very soft, almost glowing light.

Do some experimenting. Nothing brings it home like seeing what the effect looks like with your gear and your placement.

You will find the same principles hold for working with reflectors.

Feathered edge lighting is the finesse of lighting. You will see an instant and huge improvement in the look of your images.


It Takes 10,000 Hours – Are You Up For it?

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It Takes 10,000 Hours – Are You Up For it?

 Professional – amateur – hobbyist – selfi-est – to be an expert, its 10,000 hours.

 For profit, for fun, to share your best, to reach your potential, to create amazing imagery . . . to become an expert, it’s 10,000 hours.

 You are not a bad photographer while you are on the journey, you don’t magically flip into expert when that magic hour passes.

 It has been well researched, across an amazing number of disciplines; it is what it takes; it appears, 10,000 hours

 You can really see this in performing artists. Musicians that go up and down the scales, painters with always stained hands, sketchers always doodling.

 In photographers it is a bit subtler. I caught Jeff Bingham mentioning how every evening he runs through all the controls and buttons on his camera. He has muscle memory now, he thinks what he wants and his fingers do it. Have you seen his imagers? You should,, they are amazing.

 I don’t think he has even hit his 10,000 hours, (Jeff might correct me on that.)

 Julie Hughes from Abby of London studio was a fellow speaker in London a few years back. She believed you should be able to change all your camera controls eyes closed. She compared it to disassembling and reassembling a gun blindfolded. Your life depends on it.

 As your hours add up. its not always with spectacular projects. It is testing, making mistakes, lots of mistakes, missteps. You will learn more from those failures than when everything goes right.

 Still – 10,000 hours, wow that is a lot.

 Yet, have you heard of the 20 hours? Josh Kaufman is part of the new wave talking about and researching this. His consideration is: “If you persist and practice in an intelligent way, you’ll always experience dramatic improvements in a very short period of time.”

 It appears that 20 hours of persistence practice gets you a long way. The trick it seems, is your selection of what to focus on. While the 10,000 hours is the big experts picture, looking at it from the 20 hours kick-start so to speak, is less daunting.

 Amazing progress can be made. The human mind adapts and learns in a uniquely quick fashion. It always starts out slow, frustratingly hard with a huge number of mistakes.

 But, as one of my mentors often says, “If it is worth doing, then it is worth doing badly at first.” We always start out bad; we are inexperienced after all. The toe of that learning curve is often stubbed. It is like the universe is asking us if we are serious or not about it.

 That smaller time frame, 20 hours, makes it doable; you can see that horizon.

 In the end it is about focused practice, not just randomly done. Growth of a photography skill takes hands-on doing it. Often 20 hours to get good, 10,0000 to become an expert.

 Are you up for it? Do you want to be amazing? Approach every image opportunity with a confidence born from walking across hot coals.

 Put in the time. Get the depth. Your images will reveal it.

 10,000 hours, that is dedication. Are you up for it?


What is your vision?

Vision concept with hand pressing a button on blurred abstract background

Vision concept with hand pressing a button on blurred abstract background

What is your vision?

The first week of every New Year has always been my visionary week. It always feels so fresh, so full of possibilities, ideas and opportunities.

 I consider what skills I want to build on, what I want to accomplish this year. What challenges do I want to climb over.

 I often have taken advantage, sometimes very impulsively, of product sales of the season. Following links to some really cool hardware and software. I need to start working with those right away or I find the time slides away until they become wasted purchases.

 This is also a good time to take stock of your skill level and gear. Did you become what you wanted to be last year? Are you fully exploiting the gear you own?

 Ask yourself lots of questions. What images could you use to freshen up your portfolio? Where is your weakest skill? What is your strongest skill; how can you ramp it up? What do you want to refine? Is there a person, place or concept you want to get into your portfolio?

 Write them down, add some dates; create a timeline. Be bold about it.

 Visions are inspiring things; they should actually be a bit scary. Let your mind wander through what-ifs. Envision yourself doing what ever it is as if it has happened. Make it real in your mind.

 I know, this is getting more motivational than photographic but we need this as artists. We need to direct our creative spirit. We need to design a roadmap to find our inspirations.

 But we first need a place to go to for the roadmap to work. That is what your vision becomes, the dynamic you are moving towards. With a vision you don’t get lost on sidetracks, you don’t meander as much.

 Visions are powerful stuff. You need to constantly be reminded of it throughout the year. Put the written words in a visible place, so your mind touches them every day. Each day do some small thing that takes you closer to it.

 So what is your vision for this year?

Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action, concept, tags on the table.

Dream Big, Set Goals, Take Action, concept, tags on the table.

Cinemagraphs – Very Cool Hybrids

Cinemagraphs – Very Cool Hybrids

 Cinemagraphs are a clever marriage between stills and video. They are becoming more mainstream but you might not have heard of them.

 Essentially, it is a still image that has a portion of it “erased” to reveal a moving part of the video below.  Some call it an “Animated Picture App.” or Living Photos.

 It is a fast emerging platform. Tyra Banks invested $2.5 million in Toronto based Flixel (this is the software I use) back in 2013. Then Cinemagram became a Silicon Valley darling raising $8.5 million the same year. This year Flixel got another boost of $2.2 million in more seed money.

 Big names and companies are climbing on board too. Flixel has partnered with the Emmy’s, Facebook, Instagram, A&E, Ikea, Panasonic, Netflix, even Kraft plus car companies like Mercedes-Benz and Lincoln.  Matthew McConaughey has been cinemagraphed in the Lincoln car commercials.

 Tyra Banks created her own collection, on her Flixel Tyra Page, . Then she made a whole episode of America’s Next Top Model based on the Flixel Cinemagraph challenge.  I love the throwing paint images.

 Cinemagraphs have their own fascinating gallery.   You can see Flixel’s Gallery too.  With the hype-active push to video in social media platforms, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Cinemagraphs are a great way for your images to stand out. Of course you image still needs to be worth looking at. A cool effect may stop the viewer, then your image still needs to hold them.

 You can download a trial version of Flixel’s Cinemagraph Pro at the Flixel website.  They have earned the Apple design award with this technology. Yes, it only works on the Apple OS. It does work on iPhones and iPads though.

 Don’t feel left out if you have Windows. Microsoft created the Cliplets app  for free. A little research will reveal a lot more too.

 Your images can be very basic to pretty complex. It is video based so you will need constant lighting. Any video camera will work; naturally the better the video quality the better the resulting cinemagraph.

 These need to be short bursts of video, 3 to 10 sec long. This keeps your file size down. If it’s too short you lose some of the magic of the effect.

 When you set up the video shot you should have an idea of what your moving element will be. The obvious is blowing hair or fabric. In nature you have moving grass, smoke, flickering flames, moving cars, twinkling lights. Your image has to be taken from a fixed camera position. So your movement has to come from elements in the scene, not from panning or a subject moving across the screen.

 Import your video into the software. Your first step will be to select the frame that will be the “Still” or frozen image.

 I like that this image can be exported out to Photoshop for enhancements. Retouching skin along with other elements gives the image some polish. You should resist the urge to adjust color. It will clash with the color in the revealed video loop.

 Creating the Cinemagraph is really easy. With the enhanced still image imported in, you just erase away the parts of the image you want the video to show through.

 It works like a masking layer in Photoshop. You can always go back and refine the exposed video too. Once done your Flixel Cinemagraph can be exported to social media sites, be embedded in your websites or even emailed out. The social media sites altered their code so the cinemagraphs could run as a continuous loop rather than having to be triggered to start.

 Flixel, like most software, has made it very easy to create. That does not mean you should get lazy just because it is an unusual medium. To be very effective it should be planned out. For example one I plan to do over the holidays is a fish swimming. Shooting in a full fish tank I will be watching for the one fish that moves around the tank while the rest stay still.

 After the planning, it’s a quick production. You will have a blast delving into this emerging imaging niche.

Tricks to a high key head shot.

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Tricks to a high key head shot.

The high key headshot is the most common and versatile headshot. It fits into any placement without clashing. The white helps reduce file size for fast loading. It seamlessly bleeds into white backgrounds yet can be given a border to stand out.

The setup is pretty simple. A white or light background is the base. The background light is going to blast any detail or color out through over exposure. It is such a small area that you can do this with one light. Use a gobo or barn door so the light does not accidently spill on to your subject.

It helps if the background goes very low, even to the floor, behind your subject.

Have a fill light dead center in front of your subject, placed higher than them. It should be a large umbrella to create a soft, omni-directional light that casts virtually no shadow on the subject. It is typically powered 2 to 3 stops below the main light.

The final tool is a main light, then for the shadow side of the face a reflector or even a kicker light that would be placed behind the subject skimming across the shadow side of their face.


Your main light will give the “character” feel to the headshot. In these images I have used a very large soft box, 30”x40”. The subject is placed at the back end of the light, which is in a horizontal position. It is placed very close to the subject’s face, giving the light maximum softness. The bottom of the light is just below the subject’s shoulders.

I used a reflector on some of the images, bringing it in close, angled towards the subject. I placed the back end so it was just in front of the subject’s shoulders. When In place it removes nearly all the shadows with a soft natural look.


The subject is about 10 feet from the background. It could be a bit closer. What I want to achieve with this distance is the elimination of flare from the background. This is the biggest problem I have seen from photographers working high key. Further reduction of flare can be helped by angling the light at the background, imagine a billiards shot, the light is the ball, bouncing away from the lens.

In these shots I used a reflector with barn doors. You will need something to stop light from background light hitting your subject.

The main light can be wrapped in different light modifiers. The soft box is the softest, most flattering light. More specular light with snoots, grids or just reflectors placed at varying distances will create different moods or character of the light.

In this setup my meter readings were: For the background light, F11.5, the main light F8.1, the fill light was F4.2

The real knack to getting great head shots is the subject’s body language. Getting them to smile, open their eyes, tilt their heads; communicate with their eyes and mouth. I like to shoot from a slightly elevated position; you don’t get shots up peoples nostrils that way.

Have them take deep breaths to settle them, turn their bodies, watch foot placement. You might need to act silly to get genuine smiles. It is all part of the process to get the shot that sells.

There are a lot of tricks to get the most effective headshot for each client. It is something to refine. Once you have it on the memory card you can still work it, like the image of Alison. Here I turned it into a Black and White sketch.

There are some photographers who have made international reputations and big incomes just shooting headshots. It is a great setup to master.


The Eclectic 2016 Gift Guide For Photographers

Cover christmas list camera

The Eclectic 2016 Gift Guide For Photographers

Christmas is weeks away and you have a photographer you can’t quite find the perfect gift for. You might have a budget or not. You could be a photographer reading this looking for a brilliant idea for a gift to buy or ask for.

Here is the last minute rescue. My list is a bit eclectic, reflects me I suppose. Some of these items I have or admire. Most of the links will take you to the maker’s site.  A google search with your home town will find most items available locally and there is always online shopping.

My list contains items for stocking stuffing, some things for a few bucks to some items that carry bigger investments, from photography gear to education.

So in no particular order here we go.


The Camranger. This is the coolest remote viewer. It connects through local wi-fi, creating its own wi-fi network. Take a shot, the jpg appears on your phone or iPad. You can even control your camera with it remotely. For more choice, they have a “revolve platform” feature so you can put the camera on then control camera movement. I have used it to great effect in shoots.

The Nice Clip. Its a little, handy lens cap and other item holder. Just a few bucks, clips to your camera strap or something similar. You will always know where your lens cap is.

Posing books

Inspiration lighting setup cards. You can also find posing guide packs. They come in a variety of unusual styles. You have a handy reference to set up lights or a guide for poses. If you are learning it is fantastic but still great if you are looking for some unusual things to add to a portfolio. This link takes you to some lighting set ups, Google search for other ideas.

Memory cards. In this digital world, it is the new film. What is not common knowledge is the speed of the flash card determines how fast you can get images from the camera onto the card then again from the card to the computer. If the flash card is slow the camera can’t transfer the data fast enough to clear the camera’s buffer. Stops motor drives cold. You don’t always need a huge size. I like the 8 to 16 sizes so I have to change the cards out, if I lose a card, I don’t lose everything.

Keep to brand names for these. I like Sandisk.

Spider Holster

How to carry the Camera. My new fav is the Spider Holster. Rides on my hip, no neck strain, no camera bouncing around. It securely locks and you feel like a quick draw gun fighter of the west.  Another good option is the Black Rapid approach. It’s a side shoulder strap that puts your camera on your hip, effortlessly pulls up for that sudden shot. Comes in dual camera straps. A whole bunch of imitators have sprung up, they are good too but these guys are the originals.

Learn – grow – from the pros. Creative Live is the coolest place.  They run 2 to 5 full day online workshops 5 days a week. Live instructors teach a full range of topics, from lighting to posing to business. Different pros, top of their game, emerging rock stars with cutting edge approaches. Buy a gift certificate for the course of their choice.


Canadian Imaging Conference. Nothing is better than learning live. Meeting that admired photographer, asking them questions; talking with other photographers, learning from them, building a network. Immerse yourself in four days of real life meetings, trade shows, full day workshops and hour or two lectures. There will be Instructors from across Canada and the US. A big bonus this year is that the convention is in Calgary April 16th thru 19th, 2016.

You can buy into the whole event, or just one program. There is nothing like live! I bought my ticket the day they came out.

Wifi your images off camera. The Eyefi is the coolest tool. It is a memory card that sends your images to a remote device.

The Gorilla Pods. These are wild, funky looking and oh so practical. Their unique leg design clings, hugs and wraps around nearly anything. They come in different sizes to hold any size camera gear. Good to put a flash onto too for more creative lighting with no clumsy light stands.


Monitor Calibration. Getting it right in the camera is one thing and important. But you have to be sure what you see on the screen is accurate and is what will be printed. The Spyder monitor calibrator is one of the best. You can google search for other choices. If you or your favourite photographer does not have one, they will see a transformation of their prints when they do.

Camera White Balances. With all the mixed lighting around, your images will have color shifts. It can take you hours to get your image’s color right. With this item, just make it your first shot. When you process your images, click the eye dropper on your neutral grey (while in camera raw of course) and poof, you have the perfect color. Mass process all your images with that balance and they are all perfect. You can even color calibrate your camera so the jpgs are perfect.

ColorChecker Passport

Battery holders. This is a few bucks but for the organized photographer, this is gold. It keeps all the batteries on hand, organized and to ready grab.

Rosco Color Gels. This set fits the flash heads. You get them in rolls or sheets. Most camera stores carry them. Rick Friedman will be teaching the magic of using them at the Imaging Conference. Lighting is not just about how bright it is or what quality; it is about what color it is and what mood it creates. These gels get you into creative lighting. You can paint with color. I love these. I have drawers of them.

Rosco gels

Camera Stores. Gift cards are always great. The Camera Store in Calgary is amazing. It is a toy store for camera buffs, pro or amateur. You will also find fantastic help at the Robinsons camera store. I know these guys personally, their goal is informing the camera buyer. The last of the big three in Calgary is Vistek.

The Think Tank Camera Cases. They have the whole line of bags for the modern cameraman. Some hold laptops or iPads, as well as gear. I travel with the airport bag. Once I watched a baggage handler drop it 15 or more feet to the tarmac, nothing damaged.

The Camera Store carries their whole line. Go down, poke, prod; fall in love with the new camera protectors.

Charity always works. In writing this list I came across the coolest charity group. Called 100 cameras it raises funds to teach children how to use cameras. To explore their world, express their vision and best yet, to raise funds by selling their images through 100 cameras.

There are so many things to put a big Christmas smile on any photographer. So if you are a photographer looking for cool things to get or someone looking for a perfect gift, you have the gold here.

100 cameras