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My photog friend taught me that term – in a nutshell, you see someone else’s work, realize that yours isn’t up to par (or even close) and you get a case of Isuckitis.  I have a chronic case of it… hopefully it’s not terminal.

I have some great equipment to work with now, but there’s a serious side effect with getting professional-grade equipment: the realization that when it comes to the photography pie, I know a sliver.  Oh, and I have to read manuals.  I HATE reading manuals.  I come from the “I learn by doing” camp but you can’t just pop a great lens and a great flash on your DSLR with a limited knowledge base and produce quality photos.  If you do, it’s by accident.

Because I love to shoot dark, crusty, cramped places, I researched and determined the right equipment to get the job done.  That a teensy bit of it, albeit an important bit.  My new flash (580EX I scored used for a bargain) is um… complicated.  I haven’t busted it out to use yet because while I understand the physics of light, using said equipment to achieve that light is not as easy at it sounds.  So I sequestered myself to the third floor with my 20mm prime, some stuffies and my new flash. **this is the point in the blog post I will warn that you’re not going to find any nice pictures, just some pics of me screwing with the flash on some stuffies and possibly a little ranting; continue at your own risk***

First shot:

2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th shots look similar. WTF was I doing wrong? My flash was in manual mode and it was set to full power. Read that in the manual. OK, so what do I do? The manual dryly stated about adjusting the power on a sliding scale; 1/2, 1/2 -0.3, 1/2 +0.3, 1/2 -0.7 and 1/2 +0.7. I thought it was best to let the flash pick its output (because it’s clearly much smarter than me) and switched it over to E-TTL.

Got this:

OK, I’m not blowing out the subject anymore. Yay me. Now it’s time for the fun part: playing with the angle of the flash to achieve a nice result.



One of my biggest issues has been learning how to manage depth of field. Lighting plays an important part in this, obviously, so to be sure I can get more than just one stuffie in focus I upped the ante.


The bear’s ridiculous forehead and the lion’s face are out of focus. OK, so to review, I’m now concerned with aperture, shutter speed (it’s only a rebel… it can get grainy), position of the flash, the natural light, then the whole business of angle, subject, shadows…. (this is where real photographers are rolling their eyes and thinking DUH). All this to take a picture. Think you can just pick up a camera, shoot and call yourself a photographer? Fortunately I’ve never made that mistake but now I totally get why photographers get so pissy about people doing just that.

So I stopped worrying about the picture itself and concentrate on the lighting. Best shot:


Looks like I’ll be spending a lot more time on the third floor. Thank goodness I didn’t shoot the GI Joes because then the kids would get really mad.