Buying gifts for a photographer is no easy task, just ask my family or rather my wife.
Our toys tend to be very specific, expensive and downright confusing even for fellow photographers, that’s why.
So start with a budget. Let’s say you have $100 to blow, then you might dig around their camera bag or ask them what software they use.
The problem with software is you need to know something about the computer they use, and their minimum specs.
Generally speaking I would stay away from software or plug-ins or filters for their software because that can be a very personal choice.
Most folks don’t have a much use for a photo editing software these days especially if they own a smartphone.
But there’s always an over-achiever somewhere.
Someone who wants to do more and have more control.
For that person who’s wants tired of their pictures looking like everyone else’s Instagram image, then this would be it.
Photoshop Elements does have a feature called “layers” which is very powerful and it can allow you to take out or add people to your pictures.
The full version of Photoshop is really overkill for the casual picture taker.
Photoshop Lightroom 4
Digital photography has changed so much from when I first made the switch.
I used to think for the casual person who takes pictures who doesn’t care about the nitty gritty stuff like jpeg and raw, iPhoto would be more than sufficient.
Now, I truly believe you can’t do without an organizer, database and photo editing software like Lightroom.
We are habitual picture takers.
Some women take more pictures of themselves in their bathroom mirrors in the time they wake up than Neil Armstrong did the whole time he was on the moon.
these days, not just with our Point-and-shoot cameras, we use our smartphones and even iPads.
That means those pictures need to be cataloged somewhere or else, we’ll never find them.
Being organized for photographers doesn’t just mean putting those images in a folder with month and year.
We tend to remember events in our lives based on words, rather keywords.
That’s where Lightroom, Aperture, iPhoto and Adobe’s organizer excels.
During import to your computer, you can tag your images with keywords so that now they are searchable.
I’ve always cleaned my own cameras, mostly because I dislike the idea of sending them off and being without them.
There are a lot of sensor cleaning products out there, some easier than others to use.
The Arctic butterfly uses static electricity and doesn’t require you to swab some sort of solution on your camera’s sensor, so it is less intrusive.
If you happen to get a stubborn piece of dust that won’t dislodge with this brush, then it may be time to send it away.
I seldom shoot landscapes, and skies or use small apertures, so a little bit of cloning in either Photoshop or Lightroom doesn’t bother me much.
FlashWave Radio Slave
If you hear your favorite photographer whine that they are getting into a rut especially with their portraiture, perhaps this next item is just what they need.
I’m making an assumption, they’ve moved past the internal pop-up flash and they already own an external flash.
So buy them a radio slave .
Radio slave come in all sorts of triggering systems but generally speaking they consist of two items: a transmitter that fits on the camera’s hotshoe and a receiver which plugs into their external flash.
Some radio slave systems might specify they are for camera system either Canon or Nikon but most will work with any hotshoe based flash.
Yes, there are cheaper units available on Ebay but be warned some of them don’t last very long or else, they are very unreliable.
This little handy dandy pod is really a miniature tripod with some very bendy legs that can wrap around all kinds of objects.
It’s very useful for securing say a Point-and-Shoot camera or a flash in locations where you can’t place a light stand.
There is a heavier duty Gorillapod which costs about $150 and that is the grand daddy of the line.
It’s reputed to be able to hold a full size DSLR and a zoom.
The version you see on the right is not rated for anything too heavy or big.
If you are the handy do-it-yourself type, you can always attempt to make light modifiers for their Speedlites. Here’s two examples: