Last Minute Gift Ideas

Just in case you're looking for a few last minute gift ideas for that budding photographer in your life, I comprised a short list of must have items.  Of course the list could be much more expansive, but if your loved one is trying to take great shots with a point and shoot and he/she is growing frustrated (that was me many many years ago!) and wants to take the next step - this is the perfect collection:

It all starts here.  In order to make great images, you MUST have a camera that you can manually control the aperture and shutter speed.  The Canon Rebel T1i is the perfect camera to learn on since you have the option of auto and manual modes, but it's not a huge investment if you realize that manually controlling a camera isn't as easy as we make it look and you'd rather just shoot in auto.  Plus, it's still small enough that you can hide it in your purse and not look like the paparazzi.  My first camera was a Canon Rebel and I loved it.  I did, however, outgrow it much faster than I imagined and moved on to this as my backup and this as the second love of my life, Aaron being #1 of course :)

Not sure what aperture, shutter speed or ISO is??  Perfect.  Then that makes the next gift a great idea!  When I invested in my first camera I read the manual front to back, back to front and practiced on everything!  Poor Aaron, my family, my mom's horses, dogs, nieces, nephews, flowers, trees, houses, buildings, books, things in my house, bugs, etc. The list really could go on.  But after a while I grew a little bored and wanted more info on things like lighting, shooting in full manual (I did take a class that accelerated this need, I must admit), general posing of people, etc.  So I started reading.  Everything.  And I came upon these books.  Scott Kelby is a professional photographer and a wiz at Photoshop.  His books are easy to read and he uses photos as examples (unlike your camera's manual, but I still recommend you study this too!).

So after you read your manual, shoot everything with your camera and kit lens (lens that comes with your camera body), and read more about photography, you'll realize that you need a better lens.  In comes the Canon EF 50mm F/1.4.  This lens is without a doubt the best bang for your buck.  I bought this lens a few years ago when I saved up my hard earned money.  Little did I know, that this lens would carry me through the beginning of my photography career and be worth every pretty penny I invested in it.  Here's why: not only is it a wonderful portrait length lens and a great walk around lens (this blog post is a good example of this - please ignore the horrible layout, this is really going back!), but it works wonders in low light conditions.  The f/1.4 part means the aperture can be stopped down to 1.4, which means wide open, which means a lot of light coming in, which means good things when shooting in a house, museum, church, etc.  Also, when shooting at 1.4 it allows for the blurry background that everyone loves.  It's tricky though because with all the good comes the bad.  It's a little more difficult to focus at such a wide aperture and if you're not careful you can produce not quite in focus photos.  But that comes the fun part with LOTS of practicing.  And when you do get it right you can produce some of the most amazing images.  Here is an example of a session I shot entirely with this lens.  I have since shelved this lens for this lens (Canon EF 50mm F/1.2 L) - the third love of my life, but I will still take it with me for personal use and as a backup for my new 50mm.

So after all the hundreds of photos you take you'll need software to process it.  Adobe Photoshop Elements is the perfect solution because it's way cheaper than it's big brother, pretty easy to use, and there's so much you can do with it!!  

If you get more in depth with your editing and need cataloging capabilities, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom is a great option.  I love Lightroom and use it for everything, but it is geared toward the professional photographer.   
So there you have it.  A few great items for the aspiring shutter-bug in your life.  Or maybe this list is for you!  Either way, everything here is a great tool for learning and expanding knowledge.  All the items listed can be purchased through B&H Photo, which is a super company for all your photo needs!! 

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