As a wedding and portrait photographer, I use these tools all the time to produce my images. If you have enjoyed my blog and are looking to buy something from Amazon, clicking on a link below to buy will reward me with a little, tiny, itsy, bitsy commission which I can use to buy more gear!
This package of gels has everything you need to color balance your flash to match the ambient light in a room. It also has a whole selection of colors so you can get creative with background lighting, etc. For attaching them to your flash I recommend the B.U.G.
Canon 580EXII Flash
This is the best flash that Canon makes. It's expensive, but worth the money for two reasons. First, it has more power and a longer throw than any other flash that Canon sells. Second, it has a built in infrared transmitter that allows it to work as a wireless transmitter for other Canon flashes. Canon cameras like the 7d have this built in but 40d's and Rebels don't. With this flash you can trigger off-camera Canon flashes without buying a wireless transmitter.
The Canon 50d has great value. For me, the single biggest benefit to stepping up from a Canon Rebel is the extra control wheel that they place on the back of the camera. Starting with the 50d, there is a wheel right under your thumb that allows you to quickly change settings. The Rebel's have buttons in that spot and they are not nearly as fast and convenient to use. Also, theres a thumb controller that is invaluable for menu navigation and selective focus. This is the least expensive Canon camera that contains these controls.
Sigma 18-50mm f2.8 lens
This is my main lens and I use it 90% of the time. It's a fast lens at f2.8 all the way through the focal length.
Canon 50mm f1.8 lens
They call this "The Plastic Fantastic." It's cheap and fast at f1.8. The perfect purchase for a hobbyist looking to buy a second lens that will give them the ability to achieve something drastically different at a very low price.
If you have Photoshop then you might find it easier to just use the auto settings in that program but if you don't, these little cards will get you great results. Just have your subject hold them up before you start shooting and later, when you are post-processing, just click the "white balance" eye dropper on the grey card to get the correct color.
I not only use these batteries for my equipment but also to power all my kid's toys. Unlike other rechargables, they will hold a charge for months. You can charge them and throw them in your bag secure in the knowledge that they will be ready when you need them.
The great thing about this lighting tripod is the size. It folds down to less than 19 inches. It's a little more expensive than other tripods but worth it because it's so easy to carry or strap to a bag. This is a lighting tripod to hold your flash, not a camera tripod.
I'm currently using Paul Buff Cybersyncs for my remote flash triggering. However, if I were buying new today I would buy the new Pocket Wizards.
You'll need a multiclamp to attach to your lighting tripod. It holds the flash and the umbrella. Be sure and put some masking tape on the metal where the flash contacts the clamp. I've heard stories of flashes shorting out...
Westcott Shoot-thru Umbrella
Can't beat the price on this shoot-thru umbrella.
Opteka Bounce Disc
I don't use my bounce disc that much because I have multiple strobes but if I only had one strobe I would use this disc all the time. Not only can you use it to throw light on your subject but you can use it as a bounce surface for your flash when there is no wall handy.
Manfrotto 322RC2 Tripod Head
I love this manfrotto pistol grip for my tripod. It's so easy to just grab it and position your camera. It locks down tight, too. I've never had a problem with it.
Manfrotto 055xproB Tripod
This tripod, along with the pistol grip head above, is the biggest, heavyiest thing I carry but it's worth it. The whole thing is rock solid and I have no qualms about mounting my most expensive gear to it. Steady as a rock and built to last forever with quick release legs and camera mount.
Manfrotto 680B Monopod
I bought this so that I could move around quickly in a low-light situation and still steady my camera. When you are in a dark church with no flash and you're not allowed to aproach the altar, you need everything you can use to squeeze as much light out of the situation as possible. Since buying this monopod, I have found other great uses for it like holding the camera over my head for a shot of the dance floor.
This is the head for the monopod
That's enough for now. I'll try to add more to this list in the future!
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