When a Photography Hobby Becomes An Obsession

This is a quick look at my latest photography gear. I’ve been spending some time doing shoots for family and friends and after a recent holiday decorator show house shoot, I decided to lay my equipment out and conduct a brief inventory.

I use two Canon cameras: a Rebel T1i and a 60D. I used the T1i to get used to shooting with a DSLR and upgraded to the 60D later. Now the 60D is my primary shooter and the T1i comes in handy as a secondary or when I need another lens immediately ready during a shoot.

In terms of lenses, it makes sense to try some glass other than the kit lens that comes with your camera to get a real sense of your creative possibilities. My first lens was a telephoto lens for use during trips and sporting events. It’s not a high end lens but it has faired well for my purposes. It’s a Canon 55-250 mm zoom with image stabilization–an absolute must to minimize blurry pictures from a distance where you don’t have optimal light. My latest acquisitions include a fixed Canon 50 mm 1.8 lens for great close ups and portraits and a Sigma prime ultra wide angle 10-20 mm 1.4-5.6 for outstanding interior use or shots requiring wide angle composition.

If you’re going to be serious about your photography, you’ll need to understand how to use your own light. I prefer Canon Speedlights for use both on and off the camera. My first flash was a 430 EX II followed by its big brother, the 530 EX II. Both are excellent and take advantage of wireless remote triggering from the 60D for lighting flexibility and variety.

Among my other bits of kit are two Manfrotto light stands which are collapsible and connectable when traveling along two white Promaster umbrellas that are used together to provide a portable light studio solution. To keep the camera steady when shooting handheld just isn’t steady enough, I use a Sunpak Pro 423 PX carbon fiber tripod.

Most of this stuff fits in a padded, camera bag with customizable compartments. The tripod bag has enough room to also carry the umbrellas. Aside from having to separately carry one of the cameras and the lighting stands, the rest of my stuff is carried over my shoulder in the camera bag and the tripod bag. I may look for another bag that further consolidates everything but I’m okay for now since I can pick what I need to pack to fit the shoot.

I’d love to hear from others who have been bitten by the photography bug on what you’ve purchased and when and how you decided to further invest in your hobby. Likewise, stories about moving from advanced hobbyist to struggling and/or successful professional are also welcome.

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