I was at the pool today playing around with my new circular polarizing filter when a photographer, 3 models and 4 others came in to do some swimsuit shots (in January???). He had a simple umbrella diffused strobe (battery powered) with him and a 24-70 and 70-200 on a 1DMKII. Watching him work made me realise that about the only element of photography that I still know relatively little about is setting up my own artificial lighting. It of course does not help that I don't have any external lighting equipment. When I was at B&H I picked up their catalogue on lighting which has ~850 pages in it, so it's quite a good source to tell me WHAT equipment is out there. What I'm mostly interested in is learning lighting technique. Of course I'm a big believer in learn by doing, but without access to equipment, I feel that I need to learn first to determine what I might need / want to buy. I already have a 580EX and plan on building a diffuser for it. I've already found multiple tutorials on that. I also plan on building a lightbox just to play around. I simply need direction... a book... an extensive online source, or other... something similar to what this guy is talking about, he seems to know his stuff. This is a post of his taken from dpreview. The below is just a quote, ignore it if you want "I used direct flash with one and two strobes for many years before using a diffuser. It taught me that the direction of the light is far more important than how soft the shadows are. My introduction to flash photography was a bit unusual. Back in 1972 I saw and answered an ad in the paper for a photographic apprentice placed by Monte Zucker and got the job. He got his reputation by making window-lit formals which had the look of a classic painting and two strobes at receptions, making nearly every photo look like was lit in a studio. It's not an exaggeration to say he revolutionized wedding photography, but ironically yesterday's rebel is what today's revolutionaries rail against. My first job was off-camera light tender. Monte used the simple distance/ratio method for setting lights. He taught me how to line up the off camera light for short lighting, aiming the light by eye - if you put the light between you and the subject's face and move it until you see a perfect oblique view there will be a nice short lighting pattern on the face when viewed full-face or from the other side obliquely. A short lighting pattern on a dark background like a magnet on steel. It puts light in both eyes and cheekbones creating stark contrast which draws the viewer of the photo directly to the eyes of the person in the photo. Creating and holding eye contact in a photo is one of the keys to making a photo visually effective. A photo where you must get past brighter distractions to find the eyes, or are pulled in many different directions after finding the face and making eye contact is far less effective. Using two lights allows complete creative control of the lighting and rendering of the scene. The photographer can control the placement of the attention grabbing highlight and the where the distracting nose shadow falls with the placement of the off-camera light. He can control the detail in the shadows and thus the overall contrast and visual impact of the lighting pattern with the relative power of of the key and fill. Most importantly by using off axis light for the highlights the background can be controlled and kept dark, allowing distracting details to fade into fall-off of the fill. That get us back to positioning and diffusing the light. Let's start with a single flash. Went you have a flash in the hot-shoe and use the camera in portrait mode the flash head ends up level with the lens and to the right. That casts harsh shadows sideways to the right creating a halo shadow behind the head, and casts the shadow from the nose sideways into the far eye and cheekbone where it becomes a big distraction. Simply tilting the flash head up and adding a diffuser such as the foamy or Flip-it doesn't significantly change the direction of the light. It simply makes the poorly placed shadows less distinct by diffusing the direct light and spilling some light off the ceiling to provide additional fill. Bouncing light off the ceiling to fill a room with soft light, but the quality of that light is similar to the light outdoors on an overcast day. All things in the photo will get illuminated evenly and the lighting will provide the viewer no clue to what is important in the photo. The angle of the light down from the ceiling varies, and if too steep (when close to the subject) the brows will shade it and the eye sockets will be dark voids. Devices like StoFen and Lumiquest 80/20 split the light, bouncing 80% of it off the ceiling as the "key" light and projecting 20% forward as fill. By the time the 80% of the light actually reaches the face its about the same brightness as the frontal component, resulting in a 2:1 H:S ratio. But like regular bounce the direction of the "key" light is less than ideal in many situations. Without a ceiling to bounce the "key" light off of they are not much more effective than direct flash. A camera bracket raises the flash, changing the direction of the light. How much should it be raised? Enough to place the shadows somewhere they will not distract. Experience has shown that raising the flash head 12-18" directly above the lens is ideal for single flash, throwing the body shadow down out of sight of the camera and hiding the nose shadow under it, with the added benefit of hiding the nostrils in shadow. The downward direction of the light creates flattering modeling of the cheeks and other facial features eliminating the flat look look. So whatever method you decide works best for you to diffuse the light of a solo flash, that light will flatter the subject more if it is mounted on a bracket which places it 12 or more inches above the lens. The goal of my DIY designs was efficiency and control of the direction of the light. Because I usually use two lights I wasn't concerned with providing a spill-off-the-ceiling component and in fact used a bowl shape to prevent it. That's why its different than a Lumiquest or a simple bounce card and more similar to how a softbox controls light. My newer Hex-box prototype has the same goals. Mike's variation is more like the bounce / direct Lumiquest design, but with the ratios reversed; directing 80% forward and bouncing the rest around for ambient fill. The beauty and cleverness of his design was the materials which allow the creation of a foldable diffuser in a few minutes for a few dollars with no more than a pair of scissors. Anyone who can't find 30 min to make one and spends $50 on a commercial alternative has more money than sense IMHO. CG"