21st Century Dad
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I Saved a Bunch of Money on my Photography By Switching to Strobist

February 1st, 2008 . by 21st Century Dad

Learn to Light at Strobist.comNow that I’ve convinced you (and hopefully your wife) that you need a DSLR, it’s time to take your lighting to the next level. A well-lit 6 megapixel image will trump a poorly lit 12 megapixel image any day. The word photography literally means “writing with light.” You will still take the same crappy photos with a $2000 camera if you don’t increase your knowledge base.

Increase your knowledge base through one of my favorite blogs of all-time – Strobist.

The winky little flash on your digital camera is responsible for more red-eye than every instance of demonic possession ever documented by paranormal experts. Its location near the lens axis provides the most unflattering light ever known to mankind (think of your driver’s license or passport photo). When you have an external flash unit (or multiple flash units) positioned away from the camera, it makes your photographs come to life with a 3D-like quality. Strobist teaches you how to do it.

I debated whether or not to really pimp Strobist here on 21st Century Dad, but I have to admit it. I am a pathetic Strobist fanboy! David Hobby is the MacGuyver of lighting. I’m doing more with two small flashes, some free sample gels, and stuff lying around the house than I ever did with an entire professional studio strobe setup. The studio strobes are now sitting in someone else’s closet gathering dust. Now my wallet weighs more and my lighting bag weighs less.

I’m so grateful that I had the chance to learn how to use off-camera lighting. My daughter’s first year is being documented in a much more satisfying way. I’m getting professional results from a pretty minimal rig that’s easy to use. We’ll never have to drag her to JC Penney. With some more tools in my toolbox, I’m also able to get some the most elusive photos of all – photos of angst-ridden teenage boys.

Just as it was when you made the jump from point-and-shoot to DSLR, you can run on a sort of a semi-automatic mode until your comfort level and knowledge increase. The most basic Strobist techniques already improve your photos dramatically. As your ambition and budget grow, your creativity does too. It doesn’t have to cost much at all. For around $200, you can get a complete starter kit.

When you buy your Strobist kit, you might want to pick up a battery charger and some rechargeable AA’s too. I recommend the La Crosse Technology BC-900 AlphaPower Battery Charger and Sanyo Eneloop NiMH AA batteries. Standard NiMH batteries lose their charge over time, even when unused. The Eneloops don’t. Strobists are among the most demanding and critical users of AA batteries. You can get an 8-pack on Amazon for a little more than the 4-pack at your local discount store.

David started the blog in February of 2006 as a way to store his notes. It has since grown to get over 1 million page views a month. He took a leave of absence from his job in June of 2007 to focus on the blog full-time. David is an inspiration photographically, but he’s also one of the reasons I started blogging. He made the right decision for his family and for 200,000 daily readers. The blogger’s lifestyle allows David to spend more time with his favorite Hobbys – Susan, Emily, and Ben.

Buy your Strobist kit on Amazon

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