Things I Like
Each of us have things, both big and small, that we like and/or use on a regular basis. Whether it be a specific tool, a certain author, a genere of movie, or a toy that brings us amusement. I thought I'd share some of my favorite things (que Sound of Music song now, to keep in your head as you browse below). Of course, I'm always open to suggestions and ideas, so if you see something below and think, "Jeff might like...." let me know. I welcome any and all ideas.
Well, this is a photography site, so let me begin with my favorite photography tools and items. Probably the most favorite of all is whatever camera I'm using at the moment. Be it a Nikon, Sony, Leica or something else...even my phone. I love them all for different reasons.
Other photography things I use and like:
- Really Right Stuff TCV-24L tripod and BH-40 ballhead. I've done what almost everybody else has done: begin with a cheap tripod, then move to a more mid-range tripod, followed by another mid-range tripod, before finally realizing that the usability and functionality of a tripod is proportionally related to its price. I now have the -24L, and absolutely love it. Having used it for several years now, it has traveled the world with me and I can say I've gotten my money's worth out of it. Remember: A tripod is an investment with guaranteed returns (assuming you use it). I recently picked up RRS' smaller 1 Series tripod for use when traveling and using smaller cameras; so far it is another winner.
- Bubble Level: Who knew such a simple piece of plastic and yellow/green liquid could be so useful. I love it, and keep one in my pocket when I'm out shooting. Wish I'd come up with the idea for it. Someone created it, and then decided that even though it only costs $0.10 to manufacture, they could sell it for $5-30. Newer cameras have electronic horizons built in, making the bubble level less important now.
- Lightroom: This is the piece of software I use more than any other, with the exception of a web browser. Lightroom stores and organizes all my images, and I do more than 95% of all my editing within the program. It's a great and powerful tool that allows me to realize my photographic vision during post-processing.
- Neutral Density filters: I have a few, from just 2 stops all the way up to 10 stops. I'm using these more and more as I attempt to move away from HDR and just captured one exposure in the camera while on location. I use Lee Filters, and they are amazing. Expensive, but worth every penny.
I'm not ashamed to admit that I'm a technology junkie. I love technology, I use technology, and I'm always looking for new technology. I mean, really, we are at a point where with a simple device (iPad or Kindle or similar), a person can have access to the entire accumulated knowledge of human history, anywhere and anytime. Doesn't that just sound too good to be true?
Want to have access to the best 100 books ever written as you climb Mr. Everest? No problem. Want to be able to see images of all Picasso and Monet paintings while you are in Timbuktu? Done. I find this incredible. Mind blowing, in fact.
Of course, all this means it is important to find time to unplug on a regular basis, ensuring that technology doesn't take over our lives. I find it scary, and a bit amusing, to see friends out together for dinner, yet they are each buried in their smartphone texting, tweeting, and in general focusing on everything except the people they are actually with. Just food for thought. That said, here are some of my favorite pieces of technology:
- iPad/iPad Mini/iPhone: Yeah, these are at the top of the list. I do love them, and have had them since the first day they were released. I have all three, though I tend to use the iPhone and iPad Mini the most. I read almost all my books and magazines, watch video on it while traveling, surf the web on it from local cafes, etc, etc. After a camera, it is the one device I would not give up.
- AppleTV: Living in various countries over the years, this is a key piece of technology. Any movies or TV shows I want to watch tend to come from iTunes, and the AppleTV allows me to watch those shows sitting on a couch instead of in front of a computer.
- GPS: What did we do before this and online mapping? I have a great sense of direction, but I love GPS. It's so small now that when I head out to take pictures I strap on a small Suunto Ambit watch with built in GPS, then later I can download the track into Lightroom and automatically geo-tag all my images from that day.
I read veraciously. I devour books, usually two or three at a time. The only bad thing about reading used to be that you had to carry all these books when you went on a trip. Thankfully e-readers and the iPad solved that problem. Now I can take hundreds, even thousands, of books on a trip, and it doesn't matter what I'm in the mood for as I'm sure to have something that will fit.
Here's a short list of some of my favorite books, in no particular order:
- Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand
- Fountainhead, Ayn Rand
- Pillars of the Earth, Ken Follet
- the Theodore Roosevelt Trilogy, Edmund Morris
- most Cliver Cussler novels
- any Jack Ryan novel, Tom Clancy
- books by up and coming authors who would never have been published if it were for Amazon and self-publishing for the Kindle. There are some really good ones out there (and some really bad ones, too).
Traveling. Need I even say more? Some people avoid it, some people loath it, and some people live for it. I certainly fall into the latter category. In fact, I think Herman Melville said it best in Moby Dick, "I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote. I love to sail forbidden seas and land on barbarous coasts."
Researching and planning the next big adventure is something that fills me with excitement and energy. I might never get to embark on that adventure, but I sure have fun dreaming about new and exotic locations, and planning those trips. Of course, going on any adventure is fun, and I'm sure to come back with incredible memories and experiences, even if I don't come back with good photographs.
I've been to around 30 countries, several of them for long periods of time or multiple times, and each trip was exciting in its own way. Of the places I've been, Bhutan, China, Turkey, Myanmar and Italy are probably at the top of the list for the best memories and experiences. Each is completely unique, both culturally, development-wise, and historically. Not counting the countries I've lived in, Bhutan is the only country I've wanted to, and have actually gone back to, for a second personal trip; it was that amazing.
I'll be going back to more countries a second, third and even fourth time in the future, but for now I need to cross new countries off the list. 196 countries in the world, and I've only visited a handful. Where do I want to go in the future? Everywhere!