What a great idea! It's a shame that this thread has been dormant for so long. I'll have a go at this... I'm pretty new, fairly young and in absolute awe of some of the regulars here on LL, so cut me some slack
This piece was actually previously written for a different audience - a Flickr group. Mostly amateur or budding hobbyist photographers, so a lot of this is probably very basic to many of the readers here. I've slightly revised it here - nonetheless, I hope someone can glean a bit of information or inspiration from my post.
When I first got into this whole lighting thing, before Strobist even existed, (but not too long ago... I'm still a young'un), I didn't know very much at all about actually designing light. I just blasted my subject with light from an arbitrary angle, usually 45 degrees off the camera's axis, and only because that's what I'd seen once or twice in a book. Or something. As I shot more and more and really began to study the effects of lighting, I began to see how light and shadow interact, how they effect the dynamic of a photograph, and how to best use them to create compelling imagery. Being able to instinctively see the light that will eventually shoot forth for 1/3000 of a second is one of the keystones to becoming a competent photographer. Of course, this holds true both in the studio or on location, with large, powerful studio lighting, or small and light Vivitar 285's.
I'd like to present one of my recent photos. This was shot as a personal piece for stock and more importantly, for pure enjoyment.
The whole point of this: I could just as easily have been lazy and put up the key light on a stand next to me on the ladder, but that wouldn't have illuminated the rest of wall as evenly. In fact, that's where I initially positioned it. However, I was unhappy with my results and spent a bit of time searching for a better light position until I found what's seen in the above shot. Had the strip box been positioned anywhere but directly behind him, the characteristics of the light would have been totally different and not given the smooth highlight along his soles and legs, but a harsher rim light, which I didn't want.
Actually having a purpose and a plan for your lighting is absolutely essential to turning out polished work. Learn the behaviors of your modifiers inside and out so you can accurately predict how each will shape the light... don't guess and check during a live shoot. Once you bore your model (or in this case, exhaust your climber), you've probably "lost the battle."
I hope this kicks off a great new group and I'm hoping to learn even more than I'm planning to share. In the mean time, I'm off to try and drum up some more business and cold e-mail as many NYC photographers as I can looking for assistant/digital tech positions . Happy shooting!
(Oh, for what it's worth, those were Dynalite 4040 heads inside Chimera softboxes, each running off an individual Dynalite 1000WS packs).