Setting My Sights

I’ve heard that if you want to improve in a certain craft, you would do good by keeping a log of what’s going on. Being able to communicate what you do gives you a greater picture as to where you are, where you were, and where you wanna be. That’s probably why I’m writing more about taking pictures.

That being said, please bear with me as I only recently started expounding on this field.

Around a few months back I asked a good friend of mine what would help me in taking better portrait shots: A flash unit, or a 50mm f1.8 lens (or something similar). My wallet seemed to cringe when he mentioned, ‘both’.

In my previous post I disclosed that I purchased an SB600. I have to admit that I haven’t really had the time to check on my own shots to see if there was an improvement, but I can definitely tell you that I have seen first-hand how an external hotshoe can give you so much more control when it comes to lighting. There are so much more options you can take with just one unit.

You can tell how excited I was to take portraits of Pao when I got it. Actually, now that I remember, the very first shot I took with the SB600 was a test shot when we met the dealer, and it was a shot of Pao (one not very impressive, may I add). After countless attempts to see the practical uses of off-camera flash, bouncing, and fill-flashing with a bald head, a Stofen diffuser, and a generic lightsphere, one thing was definitely clear: I am still in need of practice, practice, practice.

So the flash helps me take better shots by granting me more versatility in lighting my subject correctly. I know where I am, and I know where I should be with the SB600. On to the lens part of the deal.

They say that the sweet spot for the 18-200mm is between 2 stops smaller than the maximum aperture, and 2 stops wider than the minimum aperture. That being said, I keep it at f/8 at all times just to be in that window, unless I prioritize shutter speed. Unfortunately, that’s not all I read about this lens; it’s known as a jack of all trades, a ‘Swiss Knife’ of lenses – capable in so many fields but not necessarily exceptional in one. They say that the big number of elements packed into this lens to make it do what it does has a significant impact in the resultant images.

I’ve also read that the lens is ‘extremely soft’ at 135mm. That got me to thinking, do I look for sharpness in shots I take with that focal length, and further? How many shots have I even taken at 200mm?

I suppose the next thing to do is to check what I prefer shooting, what settings give me the best results, and base my decision of buying a faster lens from there. An in-depth review of all the shots I’ve favorited in flickr, and all the shots I took that I liked is what I plan on doing next.

To be continued? God bless you!

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