So I allocated myself $500 to spend on my photo addiction for my birthday coming up, but I can't decide where to best put that. I'd like it to be something that's going to give me additional utility as opposed to just something nice-to-have because I'm likely not going to spend any more for the next six months on photo stuff.
What I like to do: primarily macro and street photography (people, cityscapes - B&W, HDR). I'd like to try my hand at landscape photography, but frankly the landscape around San Diego isn't all that interesting to me (there's only so many photos of the beach I can take, and I like mountains...).
Some options that I think might be useful:
1. Lenses: I'm actually a bit lensed-out right now, but I'm always open to trading in some lesser-used lenses for something more useful.
- I have: Pana 20/1.7, 14-140, 14-45; C-mount 12.5mm bargain bin lenses, and a 25/1.9 Raptar; FD/FL mount 28/2.8, 50/1.4, 55/1.2, 90/2.5 macro, 135/2.5 (I could easily trade in the FD 28/2.8 and the 135/2.5 to help finance something more than $500)
- I could (maybe) use: something in the 40 FL (CV Nokton 40/1.4; Pen F 40/1.4, FD 35/2.0 etc.), perhaps a T/S lens (FD 35/2.8); I have C-mount, M-mount, and FD-mount adapters.
2. Accessories: I think I'm doing OK here as well, but I could see getting a few things.
- I have: Vivitar 285 flash, flash bracket, remote flash triggers, cheap macro focusing rail, various DIY macro flash tools (strobist stuff), couple of gear bags, Sony video tripod, Vanguard 300 ballhead
- I could (maybe) use: a better tripod (looking at Vanguard Alta Pro 264AT and Giottos MT-9360) to make use of that ballhead, and to allow me some better macro possibilities; I may want an IR filter, but I'm playing around with some DIY IR right now to see if it's something that interests me at all.
3. Software: Another area where I think I'm doing OK, but I don't know what I don't know. I haven't actually spent a lot of time in PP since I like composing the shot as I take it. Mostly I've done minor PP here and there, although I've spent some time on focus stacking and HDR processing.
- I have: Photoshop CS4, Lightroom 4 (beta), SILKYPIX, GIMP2, RAW Therapee, Combine ZP for macro focus stacking
- I could (maybe) use: some plug-ins for PS to give me some pre-set filter options; perhaps Photomatix for the HDR work I want to do
4. Other: While I read a lot about photo techniques, and go out in the field to try different things, I know I could always use some additional training classes. That's something I could share with my wife since she also has a budding interest in photography.
So looking at all this (I know, it's a LOT to digest), what would you suggest that would add something to my photo repertoire that I don't currently have and/or haven't considered? Thank you for your suggestions in advance!!!