'Twas the night before Christmas...

It's Christmas Eve, have been listening to Christmas music for weeks (the classics like Johnny Mathis and Bing Crosby), our Christmas tree has filled our living room (so big that we have to look at it from outside), has soooo much tinsel on it that it could be confused with a space ship (nope, my girls are not big into being subtle), and I'm really waaaaay more into Christmas than photography at this very moment so thought I would share my "top five all time" Christmas movies of all time.

Number one on my list is "The Bishop's Wife" with Cary Grant, Loretta Young, and David Niven. It's the story of an Episcopal Bishop who is losing sight of his family and why he entered the church as he becomes far too engrossed in having an elaborate cathedral built, that is until an angel (Cary Grant) enters his life and helps him refocus on what is really most important.

Second on the list is "A Christmas Carol"... don't really think I have to tell anyone what this movie is about. There are soooooo many versions, but for me it's a tossup between 1999 version with Patrick Stewart or the 1938 version with Reginald Owen and I am only slightly embarrassed to admit I have every version that has been filmed on DVD. A great "modernization" of this classic tale is "Scrooged" with Bill Murray (VERY funny).

Third is "It's a Wonderful Life", a story about how George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart) spent his entire life trying to get out of Bedford Falls but for one reason or another never succeeds. Feeling his life has been a waste he has the rare opportunity to see what the lives of those people he has touched would have been like had he never been born, it's then that he realizes that he truly is the richest man in town.

Fourth is "The Family Man" with Nicolas Cage and Tea Leoni, this funny, touching story is about redemption, second chances and family. It looks at what life would have been like had Jack Campbell (Nicolas Cage) chosen a mini van and diapers over a Ferrari and (equally) fast women.

Fifth, and last on my list is "The Shop Around the Corner", another movie with Jimmy Stuart and is less a Christmas movie and more a movie that takes place at Christmas time. If you've seen the movie "You've got Mail" you already know the plot line.

These are my favorites because they beautifully demonstrate love that we (should) have for each other and that demonstrate the better side of mankind. If you like sentimentality at Christmas (like I do) you just can't go wrong with any of these movies, if you haven't seen them (or it's been some time) I would strongly encourage you to give them a try.

Please, please please, I would love nothing more than to hear what movies have made it to the top of your Christmas movie list.

Our review of the MeFoto travel tripod...

Today we have the pleasure of a review of the MeFoto tripod from long time friend of Weekly Photo Tips, Paula Apro. Paula is a digital artist with an affinity for cameras, yoga, bikes, greyhounds, and traveling.

I know personally she never had a good thing to say about a tripod, that is until she got her MeFoto travel tripod.

Here is her review, enjoy.

My Love/Hate Relationship With Tripods

There is no question that I sometimes love and hate tripods and I admit... it's has been mostly hate. Well, I should say it has been mostly hate up until this year. I even pride myself on the reputation that I've built up over the years at photo workshops. At first the instructors would work very hard at convincing me that I MUST use a tripod. They'd preach endlessly about the importance of using one until finally they would come to the realization that they are wasting their time and their breath. Not only was I stubborn and stuck to all the reasons why I don't like using them, but in the end my creativity of my images would almost made them re-think their own strict rules on using what I refer to as "those creativity stifling devices." Pretty soon I became known as that "rogue photographer" or the "the anti-tripod" and although the jokes were many, the preaching has since stopped. I proved that I was good at hand holding a camera.

Just to be clear, my flat out refusal to use a tripod doesn't apply to conditions that truly warrant needing one, i.e., shooting a long exposure. There is a time and place for everything and when the real need arises I would comply and (grudgingly) use the proper tools, but I can't remember a time when I was happy about doing it. Taking a tripod out of the bag was soon followed by a bit of grumbling and maybe even a non family friendly word (or two). There has even been a time when actual tears where involved - when my heavy 70-200mm pivoted on the bullhead and came crashing down, pinning my finger between the lens and the tripod. This example pretty much illustrates a typical day using a tripod for me.

I also felt that using a tripod was work, so much work in fact that it would cause me to quickly lose interest. This is why I was so surprised and delighted when I discovered a tripod that I not only didn't dread using, I enjoyed it!

This year I bought a new MeFoto travel tripod for a recent trip overseas. I guess you can say that I downgraded from a carbon fiber Manfrotto to a much less expensive ($189) aluminum MeFoto. As I REALLY needed a tripod for this trip I decided to give it one more try, plus the darn thing was just too good looking to pass up. It comes in a variety of beautiful anodized colors (mine is blue) and packed into the smallest tripod bag I ever saw (just over a foot). The most brilliant part of this design over my old travel Manfrotto is the fact that the legs fold up backwards so you no longer have the big bulky head sticking out beyond the length of the collapsed legs. It's hard for me to believe that it took tripod manufacturers this long to come up with such a brilliant idea.

The other thing that I love about this tripod is just how "buttery smooth" the ballhead is. Now please keep in mind that I wasn't moving from a cheap no-name tripod. I had been using a top of the line carbon fiber Manfrotto and the smoothness of the MeFoto ballhead simply blew away my Manfrotto, even made it feel "sticky". I think the "sticky" ballhead issue alone is why I always disliked using tripods. It was always a struggle for me to get the adjustment just right. I would loosen the ballhead and either push too much or not enough. That is NOT a problem with my MeFoto.

It's got all sorts of cool features, like the different leg angle positions and 360 panning, but the thing that excites me the most is the fact that I can put my hand over all four extension tubes at once and in one single twist of my wrist either loosen them all up or tighten them all back down. These tubes are similar to the Gitzo style tripod and very different from the individual knobs on my old Manfrotto. I have 4 sections on three legs that need to be loosened and then tightened with every use. You do the math. That's a lot of time wasted twisting knobs. And when your assistant insists on over-tightening all of them, well it gets old and frustrating really fast.

I didn't think there was a tripod out there that could make me anything but cranky when attempting to use it, but this cute little number has done the trick, to the point where I see more long exposure photos in my future.

In closing let me say you get three important things with the MeFoto travel tripod, functionality, affordability, and portability. Okay, make that four things, because it is an extremely good looking tripod as well.

Selling food photography...

Not all photography is sellable directly to the public and food photography is a good example of that.

If you are a food photographer THE place to sell your images is StockFood.com.


Glad you asked, because they care about their photographers and one of the ways they prove that is by consistently paying the highest percentage of each and every image sale right back to the person who created that image, you the photographer.

Another way they invest in our success is by letting photographers know what kind of imagery clients are looking for. No sense in shooting food images that are not currently being supported in the market place, so before setting up a shoot you can check out the Stock Food image wish list which will increase your chance of sellability.

You can also significantly improve your chances of success by understanding and following their well documented submission guidelines.

So if you photograph food, please check out StockFood.com, it's the only stock food agency I am registered with.

Selling your photography online commission free...

There are a lot of places online where you can sell your photography, but the vast majority take a hefty percentage of each and every sale... but there is one place you can avoid being gouged and that's over at Pixels.com.

And not only can you sell your work commission free, you can also join Pixels.com for free as well.

So if you are looking to sell your work I would suggest you head over to Pixels.com and take their tour, find out for yourself if their market place is right for you.

Cyber Monday deals on photo gear...

Here are just of the few deals available for you that will save you a boat load of cash (and FREE shipping).

You might want to forward the list to Santa.

This first one is my favorite (just ordered one):

Glow HexaPop 20" for portable off camera flash - $109

This softbox kit comes with everything, softbox, hot-shoe mounting bracket, heck, it even comes with a storage/carry bag!

Toshiba 8GB FlashAir Wireless SD Card - $18.85

Lexar 16GB Class 10, Professional 400x SDHC UHS-I Memory Card, comes as a two Pack - $32.95

If you want faster try this two pack of Lexar 16GB CLASS 10, Professional 600x SDHC UHS-I Memory Cards - $57.95

Lexar 16GB Professional 800x CompactFlash Card - Two-Pack - $75.95

SanDisk 32GB Class 10, Extreme Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Memory Card, 45mb/second - $24.95

Save $450 on a Nikon D5200 24.1 MP DX-Format DSLR Camera Kit with an AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR Lens - $946

Save $250 on this Canon EOS Rebel SL1 DSLR Camera 3 Lens Kit with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens, EF 75-300mm F/4-5.6 III Lens, and EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens - Bundle - with Flash, Camera Bag, 16GB SDHC Card, USB Card Reader, Tripod, and Adorama Memory Card Case - $899

You can also parooze Flashpoint Cyber Monday Deals, Nikon Deals and Canon Deals.

Happy shopping!