Minimum gear to enjoy a meet…
Its a common question from the new attendees so I’d thought I’d make it a bit easier to know where to get the kit from and what it does (so you can work out how many bills you don’t pay or children you don’t feed.)
1. Some type of light. I’ll exclude torches, and suggest a typical battery-powered flash unit that you can buy for your Canon (e.g. 580EX) or Nikon (e.g. SB900) or 3rd Party (e.g. Metz.) They are portable and a good place to start with one-light. To see what you can do with it, visit David’s Strobists “101” course or Zack’s posts to get you started (links in the Blogroll to the right…) You can get them from National Stores/Sharaf for Canon, Grand Stores for Nikon, Metz from Grand Stores or M K Trading. Will do about 800-2000AED of damage to your budget.
2. A light stand. Unless you have 3x 8ft long arms and a steady hand, if you want to get your flash off-camera then you need something to support it. Manfrotto are the most common stands you will find in UAE – e.g. Advanced Media & Salam Studios. A typical stand is the ‘Manfrotto 052B’ for studio/home setup and if you want to be portable for outdoor shooting look for the “Manfrotto 001B.” One stand will set you back 200-300AED.
3. A bracket to mount the hot-shoe flash to the light stand. Your camera flash has a flat metal shoe…the light stand has a screw = you need an adaptor to fix the two together. See here to see what one looks like. You can get these from Advanced Media or Salam Studios. Couple of hundred dirhams.
4. A way to fire the flash when you release the shutter. This is your home work as its a blog post or ten in its own right. Check your camera and flash to see if it has an infra-red triggering system built-in (e.g. the D300 can talk via infrared to a SB800/900.) If not you can go a few routes including cables and PocketWizards. Advanced Media, MK Trading or Salam can point you in the right direction. If your a bit lost check your flash manual or visit the Strobist site.
This will get you shooting pictures and learning how, amongst other things, aperture and light position affect your result. However, you will soon find you want to experiment with the “quality” of light you have. This is where an umbrella or softbox come into play, helping to “soften” the light. I suggest you go straight to Advanced Media as they have the best choice of umbrellas and softboxes and how it will work with the flash you have. If you are really strapped for cash, then the next choice is a linen bed sheet or a shower curtain (17 AED at Ikea!) and cardboard boxes…scour http://www.diyphotography.net if your in the mood for home-baking.
The final useful piece of kit is a reflector or diffuser. Typically a round or triangular frame with white, silver or gold material to bounce light back at your subject, or with translucent material to diffuse/reduce the amount of light passing through to your subject. With one light and a reflector you open up a number of lighting setups including a flattering portrait lighting called Butterfly lighting (also known as Paramount or Clamshell.) They are also great when you are outdoors to reign in the sun, bounce light into shadow areas or soften the harshness of Dubai light.