Wednesday, 15 June 2011

My recommended UK off camera flash kit / strobist equipment

I finally bit the bullet and bought an off camera flash stand, umbrella and flash/umbrella holder to go with my Nikon SB-800 flash.  It took me a while to decide which equipment to order.  There are so many different choices, and not much advice on what to buy, not in the UK anyway.  There's plenty of advice about US kit (especially on the excellent blog Strobist), but not all of the US kit is available to buy here in the UK.  I opted for the Manfrotto 5001b nano stand.  Verdict - good, very pleased with it, feels high quality and like it will last. A bit pricey but it's worth it and I'm glad I paid a bit more and opted for this.  Flashes are expensive and the last thing you want is a cheap stand that falls over.  I also got a Westcot 43" white brolly with removable black cover.  Verdict - good, a bit large, but folds down nicely to a portable size.  Apparently larger brollies diffuse the light better, so the larger size should help with this.  And finally I got the Interfit Strobies tilthead flash head with umbrella holder.  Verdict: cheap and nasty and it didn't fit on the Manfrotto stand properly.  It felt insecure and scratched my brass spigot. So I sent it back for a Lastolite flash tilthead with umbrella holder which is much better, it's made of metal (not cheap plastic) and screws securely onto the Manfrotto stand.  I also got a set of Rosco Strobist gels for the bargain price of £10 off eBay, much better than paying £25 for the official Nikon ones, when you don't get nowhere near as many.  So I'm a happy strobist now.  Just need to take some good pics!  I'll post them here when I do.  I did a few test shots and the light looked great.

I ordered Joe McNally's photography book 'The Moment It Clicks'.  It's brilliant.  The book's got mixed reviews on Amazon, but I read it in 2 days - not cause it's short, just cause it's hard to put down.  It's very readable.  Mostly in the format of a photo, with an explanation of the how the shot came about, and the technique used.  If you want to learn about f stops and shutter speeds, this isn't for you, you need a book aimed at beginners.  This book is for people who already know all that kind of stuff, who want to learn real tips from a guy who's been there and done it for many years.  It's a really interesting read.  Forget the comments about poor quality print - the photos looked fine to me for the purpose of this book.  I've also bought Joe McNally's 'Hot Shoe Diaries' too, which I'm really enjoying as well.  At first I didn't really like Joe's style.  But now he's one of my photographic heroes.  Just goes to show, first impressions can be way off mark.

I went to the shop's board meeting on Friday morning.  A couple of directors are thinking of resigning - they tend to be the people that don't agree with the rest of the group, I think it might be for the best really as they seem to cause lots of tension between people, whereas everyone else gets along.  You see, they want things their way, but it doesn't work that way when it's a co-operative, everyone gets a say, and they don't seem to like that.

Our telephone at home had broken and I waited in all Saturday morning for the engineer to come and fix it, he came right at the last minute too, just as I was about to give up on him. 

We nipped to Annie's cafe on Saturday afternoon, we both ordered the same food as usual, it's getting to be a bit of a habit now.  We popped into a local vintage clothing shop afterwards and I saw a long flowery skirt I really liked, but it didn't have a price tag on and the shop manager had gone home, so I have to go back next week to buy it.  But I really wanted it there and then!  I'll have to be patient.

After Annie's, and with a full belly, I weeded both greenhouses at the allotment.  I'm trying to keep on top of it rather than letting it get out of control.  I've been nipping out the side shoots from the tomatoes and winding them around the string supports.  In hindsight I should have make the string supports a bit slacker as they already seem quite tight around the stems.

The first pot marigold has flowered in the greenhouse at the allotment and there's a few baby green toms appeared on the tomato plants.

I gave everything a seaweed feed, but I haven't started feeding with tomato feed just yet.  I also planted out the second sowing of sweetcorn.

Chris spotted some aphids on one chilli plant, so he snapped off the affected bit.  I hope they don't spread!

I swept out the shed as it was a bit untidy and the cobwebs were coming back. 

The salad bed looks nice and tidy.

The rose that my Mum bought for my Dad's garden has flowered.

I also tidied around the rest of the plot.  Chris bought a strimmer last weekend and he's trimmed back all the grass and weeds on the paths.  It looks so much tidier now.  It's made a massive difference and was a sound investment.  I think he enjoys strimming, he finds it fun.

The weather's been wet yet again (sick of saying that now), and there's not been much sun.  We could do with a bit of sun to bring things on a bit. 

I had a lie in Sunday morning.  Then I got up and pottered about and read some books and watched the Victorian Kitchen Garden DVD.  In the afternoon I baked Delia's old fashioned cherry cake.  It turned out well.  I think my oven runs a bit hot though as a was a bit overcooked on the edges.  Then I went to my Mum's for green Thai curry.  Yum.

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