My mom typically sends me a text in September asking what we want for Christmas. I typically I tell her Christmas is months away and we haven’t thought about it. Plus I know she’s just going to ask me again in November. But this year I was ready…thanks to Amazon. Amazon has this great little tool called Wish Lists. I have several wish lists of things I like but don’t really want to buy now or things I might want later or things that might be good gifts for people we know. This year I made a Christmas wish list on Amazon and shared it with my parents and my in-laws. It worked like a charm. Rich got a Boga-Grip he wanted and I got a Wacom Intuos pen tablet I wanted from my parents. His parents got me a Manfrotto ball head for my monopod and a Micro Jib for Rich’s GoPro. For the boat we got a new collapsible tea kettle plus with the Amazon gift cards we got I bought some collapsible bowls with lids, some other miscellaneous stuff I wanted for the gym, and some plumbing parts for the Electro Scan installation.
The Level One Silicon Collapsible Kettle is awesome. The one we were using was good, but really too big for our stove. We use the tea kettle everyday so it’s always on the stove which is really not an issue unless we’re cooking with any of our pots and pans, then there is just not enough room on the stove and the kettle has to come off. So we put it on the nav station or on the dining table because it won’t fit anywhere else. The new kettle is smaller overall, but when we’re not using it we just flatten it and put it in a drawer or cupboard. The new kettle holds enough water to fill two travel mugs and it keeps the water hot for a long time. We give it two thumbs up.
Wacom Intuos Photo Pen Tablet
The Wacom Intuos Photo pen tablet is for when I edit photos. I have a small Mac Book Pro and use Adobe Lightroom. Pre-pen tablet I would use the touchpad and key strokes to manipulate photos exclusively (crop, sharpen, etc.) This method has worked ok but often I want to do more fine tuning (e.g. brightening shadowy areas, cutting down the highlights in specific areas, removing too much shine from faces, etc.) In Lightroom that means using the adjustment brush tool by clicking/holding on the touchpad while I highlight the area I want to adjust. Now with the tablet all I have to do is draw on the area I want to adjust with the pen then tap the adjustments I want to make. No more clicking and holding with one hand then shading the area with the other on the touchpad. It makes all the little steps go a lot faster. It sounds more confusing than it is; suffice it to say the pen tablet rocks. Now I just need a new Mac Book Pro so I can upgrade to Lightroom 6 (still using Lightroom 2 because that’s what my old laptop can handle).
Boga-Grip 130 30 lb. scale
This little gadget seems pretty handy for weighing and keeping toothy fish at a safe distance. Rich has wanted one of these for a while. I’ve wanted him to get one too because I’m a numbers person. I don’t completely trust his “estimates” on how much the fish he catches weighs. Now at least he’ll know how much the fish weighs so he knows how much to embellish without being completely unbelievable.
This is basically a selfie stick, but it tilts and pans 360 degrees and you can manipulate it while filming by holding the shaft and rotating the handle. You don’t have to continually adjust the camera to film forward position or back (selfie) position. It’s about 16 inches collapsed and 33 inches extended. We haven’t used it much yet, but seems like a great tool.
Manfrotto Ball Head
Tripods have long since been the bane of my existence. I’ve always hated using a tripod because the one’s I’ve had have all been crap. In fact, I’ve never bought a tripod; I always got them free somehow. They’re a pain to set up and move around. I guess I haven’t liked them because I just don’t shoot photos that need a tripod. However, there have been times where I haven’t gotten a shot because I didn’t have a tripod. Then last May Rich bought a Manfrotto monopod for my birthday. The monopod is much easier to use and fits more with my style of shooting (e.g. mostly on the go). The new ball head that my in-laws bought me is a great addition. The quality is excellent and making adjustments is snap. If it would just stop raining I could go out and take some photos.