I've never been a terribly technical person and even though I am a professional photographer now I sometimes have a hard time with the technical aspects of my trade. One of the things I love about digital photography is that I can experiment and learn by doing and I don't have to waste a ton of money on film and then wait to see the results of what I've done. I learn much better by experimentation and hands on activities than from a book so this is an ideal medium for me.
For a long time I was scared of flash and tried to avoid it at all costs. Once I began shooting weddings however using flash became a necessity and I purchased an external flash for my camera. This alone made a huge difference in my work since I was then able to direct the light where I wanted it to go and bounce the flash off of walls and ceilings to create softer lighting.
This was working great for a while and still works great in some situations but I have recently seen the need for a more elaborate lighting set up. Thanks to some advice and gentle prodding from my photography partner I purchased an extra external flash, some light stands and a remote flash trigger system and began experimenting with using my flashes off camera. here are the results so far.
Echo gets to be my model, poor kid :-)
The two photos above were taken with the flashes off camera, one bouncing off the ceiling and one off the wall. It makes for nice even lighting and true to life colors. See how different the effect is than with a shot taken with the on camera flash as seen below.
These are my light stands and flashes. Notice on the left how half the picture is black. This happens when my shutter speed is too fast, I recommend staying with a shutter speed of 200 or less.
Of course in my mind you still can't beat natural daylight as was used in the photo above. Sometimes this is just not possible however and when that's the case off camera flashes are a great option. I really feel that with a bit more practice they will help take my photography to the next level.