I just want to share a few things I have picked up from the wonderful Strobist blog. Mainly in the hope that they'll sink in to my head a bit better if I explain them to a third party - even if it is just the ether of the internets.
Strobist is a website dedicated to teaching people how to use off-camera lighting to make better pictures. I won't attempt to explain it fully, the website does it much better than I ever could - which is understandable, considering everything I've learned comes from there... Seriously, if you have any interest in off-camera lighting, go there and start reading. Even if you don't have an interest, you probably will after reading a couple of posts.
Anyway, one cool technique that I have been messing about with is using off-camera flash outdoors in broad daylight to supplement the sun. Why do this? Well, there are several reasons: to get rid of harsh shadows being the main one. I, however, wanted to use off-camera lighting in the bright light to make my photos 'pop' a little more, and also give some more interesting textures and shadow to my main subject. These first two pictures, while not exactly prize-winning material, have a pleasing '3d' type effect as a result of lighting them with an off-camera flash which has a home-made softbox attached, and at the same time underexposing the background to allow the main subject to stand out. Hopefully seeing the pictures will explain things a bit better:
Using off-camera lighting outdoors also allows me to keep detail in the sky and on my subject at the same time. Without it in this next picture, the sky would probably have been pure white, if I wanted the flowers to be properly exposed:
Lastly, meet my new model, Buddha. Unlike my usual models (friends and family), Buddha doesn't complain if I ask him to to be constantly photographed for twenty minutes. In fact, he spent the entire photo-shoot in a state of transcendental happiness, which did wonders for my self-esteem. Using off-camera light here also allowed Buddha to pop out from the background - I know it's a bit of a dull photo, but it's a cool technique.
Anyway, I know I haven't explained the how at all, but hopefully I've made a bit of a case for why. To summarise: Off-camera lighting is cool, go read Strobist.