It's the buying season here and, as a blogger, I'm supposed to torment you with a "TOP TEN THINGS TO BUY" list. I'm late so let's get to this.

"Casting a wide net for the holidays!"

Every website and blog I've visited in December is breathless with "news" about "incredible deals" on the most "amazing" and "must have" gear of the year. Plenty of links to click through. Lots of excitement about new camera models that have "improved" and now provide...27.5 pixels instead of the vastly inferior 26.2 megapixels of resolution.

The bloggers and review sites also hedge their bets, knowing that not everyone can afford to splash out on new, $2K+ cameras for themselves just at the peak of the holiday season. For those unfortunates the sites also have lists of "top ten" accessories, and "top ten" suggestions for online workshops that are more....affordable. I think their goal is to get their readers, viewers, visitors, members, etc. to buy something --- anything --- so the owners of these places on the web don't have to finally learn real skills or get real jobs. Those click throughs just ain't what they used to be....

So, here's my top ten list so I can fit in and not be ostracized at the next blogger convention or blogger holiday party for being a wet blanket (Link for wet blankets).

Number 10: A bottle of inexpensive (but not cheap) wine for your accountant who keeps you from governmental perils and self-inflicted business decision wounds. You want the CPA to return your phone calls and be responsive, right?  (Link for cheap wine with nice labels...).

Number 9: A set of reading super cheap reading glasses that are NOT your prescription. Use these to "evaluate" the sharpness of your camera at 100% and to compare cameras that you are pretty sure you'd like to buy. Put samples from both up on your screen, magnify to 100% and then don on the glasses and begin your evaluation. Extra points if the glasses are from the Goodwill Store and have plastic lenses. This will save you lots of time and trouble learning new menus.

Number 8: I can send you my complete course entitled: How to enjoy a walk with your favorite camera and lens for not very much money at all. In it you'll learn the joys of dropping by your favorite coffee shop, trying to steal a good photograph of a pretty girl/guy out in the wild, how to walk quickly enough to burn calories but not so quickly that you pass by cool stuff to photograph. Bonus: For a limited time only you can learn to bring along a friend, spouse or family member and integrate them into your grand photographic world. (Link for direct payment for walking workshop; includes: video with shoe tying, street crossing tips and more).

Number 7: One of my favorite things, if you just need a smaller gift for yourself, would be gift certificates that you can make for yourself giving yourself the gift of a midday or mid-afternoon nap. Wake up refreshed and ready to show that Alec Soth a thing or two. Naps are also generally indicated if you get to a location too early and you're willing to wait for better light. Tip: all those snazzy phones have alarm clocks built in. Don't worry, you won't miss anything.

Number 6: You desperately need a brand new Hasselblad H6D 100c camera and a couple of lenses. Without this 100 megapixel imaging machine you'll be doomed as a photographer. They're cheaper than the average family car so maybe also get a back-up body!!! You can get one right here.

Number 5: If you aren't already considering a mirrorless camera then you might be falling behind. I'm suggesting that you buy the very best one on the market so you can really enjoy all the new vistas it will undoubtably open up for you. And according to those in the know the best one is THIS ONE.

Number 4: Once you splash out for that mirrorless camera (and really, that's the future of all imaging, right?) you'll need some primo glass to hang off the front. It's well known that bigger, faster lenses are much more impressive to all the people around you as you venture out so I'm going to suggest that you look at something like a 12-1000mm f1.4 from one of the premium lens makers. If you can carry it with you you'll also save on that gym membership you didn't want to purchase. My favorite one to buy is this one: It's very, very dramatic!

Number 3: A serious suggestion. Go out and see live theater as often as you can in 2019 and beyond. You'll learn so much that you can apply to your photography. Sophisticated lighting, practiced gestures, beautiful movement and much more. A handful of show tickets will be entertaining, enlightening and probably less costly than any piece of gear you might have had in mind.... Along the same lines I'd suggest joining as a supporting member of your city's best museum. Can't hurt --- unless they put up and Ed Ruscha photography show.... My fave in Austin is the Blanton. I'll bet your city has a good one too.

Number 2: Another serious suggestion. Buy yourself a plane ticket and go someplace you've always wanted to see but haven't had the guts to splash out for. I traveled a lot in the second half of the year. I saw new stuff. I learned stuff and, after a few weeks off I'm ready to go out on the road again. Maybe if things are slow in January I'll take my own advice and find a cheap flight to Seoul or Lisbon. Maybe just to Mexico City. It really helps your photography if you've got something interesting to point your camera at.

My number one buying suggestion of the season is to get yourself the camera you always wanted. There's got to be one you've always had an unrequited love affair with. Now might be the time to buy it. But don't buy it from one of my links, find a bricks and mortar store that's fun and independent and willing to work hard for your cash. I just bought myself a Fuji X-H1. It's a gateway camera. I'm liking it enough to now start considering their GFX line of medium format cameras. But first I'm going to toss some money here to protect my rights as provided by the Constitution of the United States of America. It's the patriotic thing to do in the season.  

Well there's nothing here that will bring me affiliate cash but I guess you know that's not the point of the VSL blog. It's more about having a platform and a community. We'll kept it running and free if you promise to drop by to read and comment.

That's it for the Holiday Top Ten List. Hope you found something you'd like!!!


nicolas said...

great list and excellent links - i approve

Roger Jones said...

Well lets go down the list one by one.
#10 Ya, my accountant needs a drink after doing my taxes.
#9 Have those glasses, and seven camera systems to prove it. They all look the same.
#8 I'll sign up for the walk about and the pretty people. If I were to get arrested for this adventure you will through
my bail, won't you?? Yes, officer please call Mr. Kirk Tuck he'll post bail for me.
#7 Your right, you won't miss a thing and you'll feel much better when you awake.
#6 Yes, the Hasselblad H6D 100c is on my list. Hopefully next week after they remove and sell one of my kidneys. Next
#5 I was behind but now I'm ahead, I own both mirrorless and mirror. I do try to give.
#4 I'm with you on this one, the bigger the better. You want people to see you, to know you, to love you.
#3 All ready done.
#2 Working on a ticket to Cuba with press passes.
#1 I already own my favorite cameras, Minolta 9000 that was given to me by Minolta in 1985. Sigma SD15, Sigma SD1 from Sigma, SD9 and SD10 from Foveon (Dick Merrill) I support Photographers without Boarders, www.worldpressphoto.org/ Sierra Club, St. Jude stjude.org All kidding aside I worked in the medical field for 25 years (besides working as a photojournalist) and I saw first hand how sick these kids are. Maybe my next assignment will be photographing these kids.

Have a Great Holidays

Jim Metzger said...

Another truly wonderful post. If I might be so bold, Partners In Health https://donate.pih.org/page/contribute/crowdfund-match-ends-tuesday is a "boots on the ground" healthcare organization that spends most of your donation on real healthcare. While you are pondering life at your local coffee house waiting for the perfect light you might want to read "Mountains Beyond Mountains" by Tracy Kidder, an inspiring biography of Dr. Paul Farmer who founded PIH. Happy Holidays, time to go shoot with 20 year old glass.

Bob F. said...

A wise and witty post. Made me resolve to continue to engage in theater to feed my creativity and to support organizations like Flying Samaritans to feed my soul!

Anonymous said...

Best list ever.

Henk said...

Great list, happy Holidays to you and your family Kirk.

Brat Pix said...

First-class post. I love your tongue-in-cheek pieces so much.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you could add symphony tickets. If you already love the music , great. If you are unfamiliar, there is a reason it's been around and performed for hundreds of years.

jiannazzone said...

It's a great list and reminder that good things don't happen by themselves. They take the work and financial support from those who are fortunate enough to provide one or both. May you and your family have a happy holiday.

amolitor said...

Your payment links are breakin' my heart! 100% top-class, Kirk. Well done.

Kirk Tuck said...

👍🏼❤️⛄️ I'm happy this has gotten such nice, warm and compassionate feedback. I'm guilty of not doing enough but I try to make up for lost volunteer time with my checkbook. The real secret is to live it year round, not just at the holidays.

Murray Davidson said...

Neat! In our family, we have taken to exchanging charity donations instead of Christmas gifts. Matches the spirit of some of the list. Best wishes to you and yours (and to the loyal VSL leadership hordes)!

Mitch said...

Having, at a friends lake house, smashed my tag-along Sony A6000 and 16-70 lens on the rocks during a poorly planned foray on a moonless night to see what I could do with some star trails, I vowed to take a break from toting a camera with me everywhere since I no longer had a little one to tote. And I further vowed to build the respectable system that included correct lenses and sufficient pixels to provide the raw electrons to make the images I should be capable of making as a multi decade journeyman full time pro, anywhere, anytime.

During that photo-creation hiatus of data-acquisition (after, too, a NYC trip with a friend to view still more of the correct imaging boxes first hand) I noted that I missed my clearly obsolete little imaging box and zoom lens incapable of resolving the correct lines/mm. A certain flatness ensued, only making images for clients for money. And no longer creating for the sheer pleasure of indulging something that interested me instead of "providing broad coverage"... on a deadline.

To condense: I bought a lightly used obsolete Sony A6300 and the 10-18mm zoom I'd always coveted, used, for those times wideness is needed. And in fact have another one of those, used, 16-70 lenses on the way. Funny how it all already is completely familiar, minus a couple of menu items already assimilated or ignored, and has allowed me to being indulging the fun image capture I missed. And image capture I didn't realize I was doing as "me time" during the stressful responsibility moments similar to what you describe.

And we did buy wine too. Epic store near me that had some respectable 8 buck Riojas and a couple of really nice others are stored safely, waiting for the well seasoned firewood to bring us together on a TV-less night of staring at the flames or conversing. Or both.

We don't have too much theater here. But we do have the galleries and museums. And a newly revealed cache of items from Nicholas and Alexandra that were spirited away for safe keeping to our remote corner is available for viewing. We shall go and as always with the arts, we shall pay more than they ask to visit.

It will be a delightful time, living in and acting on our imaginations,viewing and visiting, and sharing our memories together and with friends. Maybe I'll even make a picture or two I like.

Andy said...

Very good! Merry Christmas to you and yours.

Ray said...

I read your stuff a lot and will try to post more. You've influenced me to read "TOP" and "Photos And Stuff." Thank you.

About this time tomorrow I'll be at Seattle's 5th Ave Theater enjoying Annie, although I doubt I'll be concerned with any of the things you mentioned.

Anonymous said...

Lisbon: Just got back... Camera did a faceplant on the cobblestones.
JC Coelho Da Silva cut off the mangled filter, checked everything while we ate pasteis de nata, ( the greatest food on the planet) and sent us on our way 20 euro lighter and immeasurably happier. Highly recommended.

Raymond Charette said...

My daughter is coming in from Newfoundland. My other daughter and her boyfriend, who just got a Doctorate in biomedical science (I'm proud, even if he's not my son), are joining us for Christmas at the cottage in the lower Laurentians. All is good! Best wishes to you and yours!

kivis said...

Some pretty serious bait and switch going on here. A nice touch to finish the year. Give to the charity of your choice. See that the $$ actually go to the source of your gift. Be well.

DGM said...

Your number one suggestion mirrors (heh) my reality. Back in the Jurassic period, I dabbled with medium format film and Cibachrome prints. When the GFX 50R plus lens packages became available, I jumped on it like a starving animal. I had previous experience with the Fuji S2, S3 and S5 Nikon bodied Franken-Kameras, and loved the tonality. I won't bore you with the rest of my hardware journey, but suffice it to say that the GFX is my own personal Holy Land. It won't do proper video or insane burst rates, but you already know that. The two lenses I have at the moment, the 110 and 250, render images with sparkle and snap that remind me of the best results that I had gotten with Leica APO glass. Only better. Probably because of system optimization (native glass). I love the Classic Chrome setting with the color boost mode. I'm eagerly awaiting the 45, which was part of the discount bundle. If you have the cash, I would grab one of the bundles available. (Or have your favorite shop price match that, just like mine was happy to do.) It appears those bundles disappear at the end of December, though who knows what next year will bring.

I have never been able to achieve this level of image quality in the past with any of my previous gear or skill levels. I am talking about comparing straight out of camera jpegs from the GFX vs anything I tried before even with my post processing. Downsampling the jpegs to web page friendly sizes still exhibits remarkable micro contrast and sparkle. Less time spent in front of the computer, but getting superior results. If you can enjoy the slower, more contemplative pace of shooting, this might just be your cuppa. :) If you want softer results, vintage lenses can offer that with the large range of adapters available.

Oh yes, shooting square in this format wastes fewer pixels. :) :) :)

Best of luck to you in your personal camera journey and in the next year!