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" I Love the way Digital Photography Exposed is written - I crawled to bed at 2 am!! "

 24th Aug 2008
commasopen    I bought your Digital Photography Exposed course and down loaded it last night.  Love the way it is written, as though you are talking, very easy to follow and light (humorous).  Crawled to bed at 2 am after the first 40 pages!!
Have been playing with photography on and off for about 40 years but never trained, bit of a happy snapper.  Had a 35mm kit of 2 Eos 5's and lenses plus flash, last year took the plunge and went digital with a second hand 350D.  As part of a legacy from my Mum I was given £1k to upgrade my kit, she loved my photos so my Dad wanted me to pursue it more.  Sold the 5's through e bay about £70 each, what a choker for such fantastic cameras.
From your notes I was going to pick up on a couple of points, after much research I have opted for an EOS 40D with 17-85 USM IS lens (chuffed to realise this is a macro lens). I have bought brand new from Hong Kong (dodgy guarantee I am sure) and saved over £250 pounds on UK price and added a 430EX saving another £50 (enough to get the wife a power shower, am now mr popular).  I was tempted by a 450D with 12.2 MP but liked the reports of the 40D and it feels and handles better, feels more robust and has weather seals. I added a grip to the 350D as I found it quite small in the hand and the 450 is similar.
After wheeling and dealing on e bay I have ended up with the 40D kit plus:
Canon 70-300 4.5 USM IS
430ex Speedlite
Sigma 70-200 2.8 HSM, could not believe I got this brand new for about £200
Tokina 400mm 4.5 ATX (hardly use it, may become an e bay casualty in return for decent tripod)
Velbon tripod, cheapy, your course has already got me looking to better this, you convinced me. 
Have got a polarizer for the 2 canon lenses.
May add a non canon grip as even today your course has got me going vertical more.
Any other suggestions?
My loves are anything in the countryside, animals, cars and planes.  I do strive to get the perfect picture (don't laugh) from the camera not by manipulating in the computer, strangely I do love computers but I want to be a good photographer not a good geek.  I do have a hookie version of Photoshop Elements but have not even installed it yet, have used Picassa to brighten and crop a few images.  I do hate that most of the camera mags now devote so many of their pages to manipulating images in the pc not getting them right with the camera (soapbox time) in the first place.
The other point I was going to debate was the lens protection, have put uv filters on all my lenses since day one and never dropped one.  Until this week, the bag burst open (did not do up properly) and out flew the 70-300 minus its lens hood. The cap flew of too and the lens went about 10ft across the car park then crunch, the filter took the impact and is buggered, saved the lens optic and I think the filter thread.  Gingerly put lens on the camera and it all works.  Then blow me, dog leaped from the back of the car this morning and took the 40d with small lens clean out of my hand and crunch, this time the lens hood did the job along with the 40D's build, perhaps room for both ways of protection.
Am already practising your techniques, been to the Arboretum and tree festival, this morning and with trepidation about to try checking the histograms. 
Over the years have learnt to understand some of the mechanics OK and think I get them right quite a bit, I really struggle on the composition and flair side of things, always bottom of the class at art, I need to take your advice and slow down a bit, think about it more. 
Am using a lowepro back pack, brilliant for walking, pain to change lenses, will add a pouch to keep one long lens in so I can swap without taking off back pack.
Am a complete coward with flash and go straight to full auto, determined to get to the bottom of this!!
My intention is to get to a better standard using your Digital Photography Exposed to get me ready for one of the residential ones when I can afford it and be able to get the most from it.  Being from Wiltshire I know the Dorset coast and would love to do some photography there.
One more thing, did win a prize last week with a shot of one of our dogs (same one that proved a 40D can bounce) in the floods, checking it today I can see I accidentally followed more of your hints, so I am a believer.
Right, probably completely bored the arse off you now!!
Cheers and thanks  commasclose
David Gosling.