AdamBarkerPhotography Top 10 Holiday Gift Guide

Looking for that perfect something for that special someone who has (almost) everything? Look no further! These items are not only some of my favorite, they are the items I use most in my daily routine of office work, shutter clicking and adventuring (with a couple of token ABP gifts thrown in for good measure!). They run the gamut from inexpensive to rather hefty. But hey–it’s the Holidays! Splurge a little! (listed in no particular order–items are linked at heading)

Full Disclosure: Many of these items are from my sponsors. I promote what I use, and I don’t use it if it hasn’t performed for me in a consistent manner. These brands have been integrated into both my workflow/routine and my promotional agenda because they produce legit goods that perform under pressure. Plus, they’re a 10 on the “cool” scale! Have a read…

1. Mountain Khakis Flannel-lined Original Mountain Pants: And you thought sliced bread was grand…check out these comfy duds that will stand up to the abuse of even the heartiest outdoorsman. It’s like wearing your favorite sweats everywhere, only you don’t look like the guy that just rolled out of bed at 11:30 am.

2. Arc’teryx Sabre SV Jacket: Through the roof on both the steeze and functionality scale. This is my jacket of choice for shooting and shredding both in and out of bounds. In a word??? BOMBER. The folks at Arc’teryx have it allllllll figured out.

3. Suunto Elementum Terra Steel: It’s James Bond meets George Clooney. This watch is at home on the hill, or accepting that much sought after award at the Black Tie gala of the year for “Man of the Hour, Every Hour”. Yes, it will set you back a pretty penny, and it’s worth every, last, one.

4. AdamBarkerPhotography Flyfishing Tryptich: The perfect wall hanger for that angler in your life. Three 5 x 7 prints encompassing the flyfishing experience,  double matted and framed in an elegant dark wood molding. This is a limited edition of just 100–so get your order on!

5. Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizer: Hands down my most used and trusted filter for landscape and active lifestyle photography. Read through my blog archives or head over to the Singh Ray Blog if you’re not familiar with this filter.

6. Kinesis Gear Grad ND Filter Pouch: Most likely the most cost-effective piece of gear I own. It’s super nice to have your full quiver of Grad NDs right at your finger tips when conditions are going off. And it’s very affordable, to boot!

7. AdamBarkerPhotography Instructional DVD: Completing Your Outdoor Photography with Landscape Filters: I’ve received countless emails from photographers noting this DVD has helped them take their outdoor photography up a notch or twelve. It’s a 4-hour workshop that you can attend as often as you like! Also available on iTunes!

8. Subaru Outback 3.6R: Ok–so I have a vehicle on my top 10 list. But really, you never know what Santa might be shopping for. This is a lean, mean adventuring machine. Forget the station wagon of yester-year, this “cross-over” has more clearance than a Jeep Grand Cherokee and mine even sports wi-fi. If you’re on the hunt for a new whip, you’d be crazy not to give this bad boy a serious look. Give the fine people at Mark Miller Subaru a visit–they will get you taken care of!

9. Clik Elite Escape Backpack: My go-to pack for both wandering the local trails and traveling the world. This pack is large enough to fit a serious load of gear, yet it wears comfortably and fits in most overhead airline compartments.

10. Salomon Rocker 2: . The Rocker 2 is the ultimate pow-schralping machine! When it’s over head and you’re under gunned, strap this baby on your feet and let the good times roll.

Focusing Fast Action (Contest Post!)

For you antsy folks, there is a contest at the bottom, but you’ll have to have read the post to have a fighting chance!

Image 1: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 1: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Earlier this week we were blessed with a bounty of blower (read: ridiculously light Utah powder) here in the Wasatch. It was the first day of shooting skiing for me this season, and it did not disappoint. There are some days where most everything goes right, and this just happened to be one of those days.

Image 2: Jen Hudak skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 2: Jen Hudak skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Anyone that has ever attempted to shoot fast and unpredictable action knows well the challenges of coming away with a sharp image. It’s hard enough to frame it up exactly as you’d like, let alone focus. Any athlete that has ever shot with me knows my typical response when I see something I like on my camera LCD display–“that will be killer if it’s sharp”. IF IT’S SHARP….

Nowadays, the auto focus systems on pro (and even some prosumer) cameras are so advanced that it’s tough to screw things up. That said, it still happens, and it always seems to happen to the shot or frame that you wanted the most. There are a few things we can do as photographers to nail the shot every time. When shooting skiing, there are essentially two techniques I use to focus. I will use a focus tracking method where I’m utilizing the auto focus in my camera throughout the image sequence and at other times I may pre-focus on a specific spot where I’ve directed the athlete to go. Both techniques work well in certain situations–some better than others.

Carlo Travarelli skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 3: Carlo Travarelli skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Focus Tracking

Focus tracking works well when:

a) the athlete is moving towards or away from you at a rapid pace

b) you’re not sure where the climactic action will occur OR there are a number of images throughout the action sequence that you may want as keepers

c) there could be confusion between you and the athlete as to where exactly it is you’d like them to turn, air, etc.

d) generally speaking, the athlete will not remain parallel to the focal plane throughout the sequence

*Note: As a Canon shooter, I focus with my AF-On button instead of my shutter button. This allows the camera to continue micro-adjusting focus as the shutter clicks away.

*Note #2: It is best to manually select a focus zone in your camera. Place that focus zone over the part of the athlete you’d like in focus (most often the face). I typically start “tracking” focus about two seconds or so before I start clicking the shutter.

Image 4: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 4: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Pre Focus

Pre focus works well when:

a) you have a specific, mutually understood spot (between you and the athlete) where the climactic action will occur

b) the athlete is maintaining approximate equal distance from the focal plane throughout the action sequence

c) you’re shooting at infinity focus–in particular, this pertains to long lens, big line shots where the athlete is a great distance away OR wide angle shots where you’re shooting at infinity

d) there may be anything present (obstacles, weird lighting, atmospheric conditions) that would confuse your auto focus (there are ways to tweak your AF system so it doesn’t get thrown off as easily with things like this)

* Note that pre-focusing requires precise explanation and understanding on the part of the photographer and athlete as to where the action should occur. Generally speaking, the longer you have worked with an athlete, the better you will understand each other, and the more confident you will feel that the athlete can nail the spot on which you’ve pre-focused. Additionally, it’s wise to use larger apertures when possible, thus giving yourself and the athlete a margin for error across the focal plane if for some reason they are a bit closer or further away than the spot you mentioned.

Image 5: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 5: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

So. Contest time. I’ve included images throughout this post from shooting at Alta Ski Area on New Year’s Eve Day. I have a super cool Clik Elite medium lens pouch (great for wide angle zooms or moderate primes) and t-shirt for the first person that can correctly state which focusing technique was used on each image in this post. The contest will end on Wednesday, Jan. 6. Good luck!

Image 6: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area

Image 6: Julian Carr skis fresh Utah powder at Alta Ski Area