Ug.

They say that it’s not with the bow, but with the indian. Let me add that the indian also never stops learning, regardless of what kind of bow he has.

I’ve always appreciated the upgrade I had from a Nikon d40 with a stock 18-55mm lens to a Nikon D80 with the ‘Swiss Knife’ 18-200mm lens. For close to a year and a third I’ve been having lots of fun with this very variable focal length. More importantly, I’ve been tripping with the image stabilization, and I can go ahead and agree with the rest of the crowd that claims that it helps you take nicer shots with shutter speeds of 1/10, or even lower.

I thought I was all set with that golden combination until I was assigned to be the de facto photographer over at the office I work in. We work nights, and though the place is simply flooded in flourescent lights, I have always had to compromise between shooting in very high ISO, or I would need to use the pop-up flash, which creates a distinctive shadow in the shots I take, even if I take the hood off of my lens. My workmates appreciated the shots, but I knew that I could definitely could do better.

Since people were literally hoarding sb800 flash units as late as the final months of 2009, I decided to purchase what I call the ‘little brother’ in the series – the sb600. I’ve played with a flash unit when I tagged along with my good friends mostly during their wedding photography stints, and I thought that what I’ve learned from those sessions, regarding off-camera flash and bouncing the light off of a white wall/ceiling could bring me even further in my quest to take shots satisfactory in my book. I began to question my abilities when I saw poorly exposed shots even after I pushed the sb600 to power settings as high as 1/2. I was slowly learning that there would really be a compromise in my shots if I took ’em further than 85mm, the maximum zoom length covered by my sb600.

I purchased a generic (i.e. knockoff) lightsphere, and I see how this peculiar-looking device has great potential, literally illuminating a whole area with beautiful, soft-enough light. Aiming to see how this would improve the quality of the shots I take of my girlfriend, I decided to take pictures of her during one of our breaks at work, in an area where lighting was absolutely poor. I was humbled; my shots came off as blurred, even if I was definitely sure that I had my AF-Assist lamp on. After researching and playing with the settings a few hours later, I discovered that the AF-Assist lamp does not go off if my camera is set to anything besides its single-servo AF mode. When I fixed that, I finally saw the IR-ish AF-assist illumination that my sb600 was capable of projecting. After a few test shots of my room with no lights on, I finally saw some well-lit, and more importantly, more correctly focused shots.

Just recently I was assigned to shoot a party in a nearby lounge, which I knew had a black ceiling, which consequently meant that I would probably have some difficulties. The lightsphere was really helpful, but with the lens I had, I was tempted to go past 85mm, especially considering that I had to take shots of stage performances without catching the attention of the audience. Suddenly I thought to myself- this soup bowl on my flash was grabbing significant attention already, so I might as well just shoot as I please. A fellow DSLR owner was around that evening, and I did what I never thought I’d do – swap from 18-200mm back to 18-55mm. While I was bound with this focal length, I noticed that my shots improved.

Though the acquisition of new equipment has definitely given me more options in shooting, it has also made significant improvements to my still-rough capabilities by introducing new borders. That’s an upgrade that definitely goes beyond buying additional accessories merely for show. That’s what I believe makes me an indian, more than a mere person who owns a bow.

Until the time that I am able to afford a lens with a wider aperture, more practice is needed.

God bless you.

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