The easiest way to get into off camera flash photography without going fully manual is to buy one of your camera manufacturers' own flash unit and use their form of wireless connectivity. It's more expensive, but works well for most people who don't do flash photography on a regular basis (like me). Here's a picture I took last week in Keystone using a Nikon SB-600 fired via CLS:
Don't go cheap ebay triggers. You need dependency and these will not cut it.
You don't however, need to go the PocketWizard route either. I have CyberSyncs and they work every time. You can buy a transmitter and 2x receivers for the same price as a single PW unit. They don't cover the same distance, but I'm never that far away from them.
If you are using your flashes off camera, it doesn't matter what brand they are. Nikon's SB 60/80s are good, with the ability to adjust the power output (and therefor the flash duration) and they are cheap off ebay.
Experimenting is huge amounts of fun. This is the stage I'm at now too. Playing around with off camera flash.
i shot a show on Monday w/ flash (via off-camera cord, handheld) and i'd been struggling w/ the inconsistencies of ETTL and having manual way too powerful. another shooter who uses flash a LOT (albeit Nikon, which tends to be better worked out) gave me some good starting points...f/4, ISO 1600 or so to soak up some ambient, flash power @ 1/32 or so...this was a solid foundation to make small tweaks from.