The internets (haha) are filled with tons and tons of photography resources. Just like anything else, you take the bad with the good. Sometimes it takes a while to wade through the bad to get to the good stuff, so I am going to save you some time right now and point you to one of my favorites: Strobist.
Strobist is a resource for flash photography that applauds the use of small hot shoe flashes (Nikon SB-800, Vivitar 285, etc.. Alien Bee lights are cool too :-)). At anytime you can find tons of ways to make your own modifiers or buy them on the cheap. Trigger lights using ebay triggers for cheap or using Pocketwizards and radio poppers. Lessons to teach you how to bounce a flash off of a wall to give you a large softbox look. Great stuff all around.
If you are interested in learning about off camera lighting this is a great place to start. You will not be forced to spend mega bucks on Profoto or Elinchrom Lighting equipment. Don’t misread, Profoto and Elinchrom make fantastic lighting equipment. I would love to have some (and will someday)! Unfortunately it is pretty pricey ($2,000 – $4,000 per light and powerpack) and not for your average shooter. Strobist encourages using what you have or buying things inexpensively to get where you need to be. I love this philosophy and have learned a lot by reading the site.
I bring up Strobist because I have been pushing myself to use off camera lighting on more of my personal projects. Due to the nature of most photography I do, I am using available light only. When the action is unfolding in front of me, I cannot stop it and place a light to get it perfect. I can see it now, “Yes I am very unobtrusive and you will not know I am there…” (Then show up carrying a 28″ softbox attached to a tall lightstand with a flash popping every ten seconds…) I don’t think this would go over very well. I also do not want to pigeon hole myself into being just an “Available Light” photographer. I want to create a variety of imagery throughout my lifetime. Working on this skill will give me lots of options.
There are times, like during the portrait session that I can utilize off camera lighting, so I want to continually sharpen my skills and make things happen. I also don’t like to lug around a lot of equipment, so the small strobes make sense. One article that stands out is this one titled: “The Lighting Journey. Where are YOU?:The 7 Levels of Lighting.” I like this article because it is spot on. My favorite level description is Level 3 – “Overdone Off-Camera Flash”.
This photography journey is a fun one. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I want to continue taking different roads for the rest of my own journey. I don’t know if I will ever find exactly what I am looking for, but I am going to have a blast trying!
Strobist is a site turned movement. The more involved with photography you become, the more you will here the word. Here is a strobist type shot I took at the Jeremy Cowart Workshop on 1/13/10.
One light camera right triggered with a Pocketwizard.