I have been enjoying my Canon Digital Rebel XTi now for about a year and a half. The one thing that had been annoying me, though, was the complete inability to be able to shoot anything that required more than natural light. With the baby on the way, I really wanted to start learning how to do portrait photography. That meant getting a flash.
Yes, the XTi has a built in flash, but it’s just far too small and too focused of a beam to take any decent photographs. So I had decided that I really wanted to get an external flash. That of course led me to the internet to look at options, which in turn led me to Strobist. The idea behind Strobist is that lighting for photos can be easy and [relatively] inexpensive if you get the flash off the camera. So I dove in.
Strobist’s Lighting 101 is an excellent resource as it goes through all the gear you’ll need and then the techniques. Knowing that even this inexpensive setup wouldn’t be cheap, I asked everyone for money for my birthday so I could get the gear. Everyone was extremely generous (THANK YOU!!) and I was able to round up enough cash for the whole shebang:
Gear: Canon Speedlite 580 EX II, LumoPro 8′ light stand, LumoPro umbrella swivel, Wescott 43″ soft silver umbrella, Cactus V2s wireless transmitter & receiver, Manfrotto super clamp, Rosco gel pack, and Bongo elastic ties. Not shown – StoFen Omni Bounce.
I did stray from Strobist’s recommendation to get a cheap Vivitar flash and went with the expensive Canon Speedlite 580 EX II. It’s Canon’s newest flash and while I’m learning all the Strobist techniques, I wanted the advantage of the TTL metering option, which lets the camera do the work of figuring out the right amount of light to throw. The hot shoe mount on the Cactus V2s receiver is kinda crappy and would stop working whenever I locked the flash to it, so I ordered a PC cable off eBay to remedy that problem.
Now is the hard part – learning how to use all this stuff. I also got a couple photography books, including one on photographing children, so I’ve got plenty of reading to do. Can’t wait to try all this stuff out!