Part 2 is here! Best bang for the buck Flashs and flash related gear! (again, this is kind of Canon-centric but some of it is cross brand too)
Canon Speedlite 550EX TTL (~$210 from ebay)
You get slave and master functionality (with other Canon flashes that support it) just like the $400 580EX/EXii model and the same flash power. You don’t get weather proofing, camera adjustable settings, better build quality (it’s got a plastic hot foot).
You can get some cheap (sub $100) flashes from ebay too, but they won’t be nearly as good as the 550EX. I use one that has an optical slave built in as a secondary flash sometimes and sometimes that optical slave is useful if I don’t want to pull out the flash triggers, but if you use the master flash on camera with ETTL the preflash from the ETTL metering messes up/tricks the optical slave and it doesn’t fire at the proper time. (some optical slaves are built to ignore that preflash though)
Remote Flash triggers
Yongnu RF-602 triggers 1 trigger 2 remotes ($60 from ebay)
Make sure you get the correct type for your camera. You can fire remote flashes (set manually, no ETTL) or you can use them to remotely trigger your camera to fire and seem to be very good quality unlike other cheap ones you’ll find. I suggest buying two sets if you want to use remote flashes a lot, so you can use one set for the flashes and the other trigger and remote for triggering the camera so you can make adjustments and not have to go back to the camera all the time.
Honl Speed Strap ($10)
Honl 8″ Speed Snoot ($20)
Or you can just DIY this sort of stuff if you don’t mind it looking ghetto with cardboard, black straws, black gaffers tape, white paper, Vecro dots, velcro strips, etc.
I made a grid from plastic corrugated glued together that works really well. You can do that with black straws as well but the corrugated seemed easier. If you can’t do that Honl makes a Grid too.
Flash Gel set ($10)
The Rosco “Strobist” Gel Kit is pretty good if you plan on or have 2 or more flashes. It has upto 5 of the most important gels in it. You’ll need some way of attaching them to your flash though. DIY is probably the best and cheapest. You can probably find some sort of holder too. You could opt for the Honl gel if you have their Speed Strap, but they aren’t real cost effective.
You can also find Rosco gels on ebay. The most important and useful one would be the CTO and it’s 2/3 an 1/3 versions. (it balances the flash to tungsten lights and/or warms up your shot) The one’s on ebay that I got were much wider than the ones above in the “Strobist” kit, so you could just put a vecro dot on either side and stick the to the Speed Strap w/o any other holder. Might be the best way to go. I found generic Velcro dots at BigLots for $2 for 15 or so.
Note: I’ve made my own DIY gel holder and will try to post a How to at some point. It’s really easy. Sandwich bag and velcro dots to attach it to a Speed Strap.