I had the pleasure this weekend of being asked to photograph a local performance at a celebration of the lunar new year by the Vietnamese community. It was being held at a local community center, coincidentally right by the high school I attended.
This past week I made the jump from Canon to Nikon. Ultimately I had a number of reasons to finally just ship, much of which I wont get into here but I still firmly am a believer that the right tools for the job are the ones that work the best in your hands. There is no camera that scores perfect marks across the board, each company has their advantages and disadvantages.
I ended up getting the D3s after using a 5D MkII for the past year and needless to say I was not only excited to make the switch but a little terrified at the same time. Getting used to the reverse controls after years of turning the zoom, the focus or the lens itself one way will definitely take some time to overcome.
As for the shoot, it was challenging but fun.
I think most photographers who begin studying about light will almost always initially begin by hearing that soft light is essentially "good" and hard light is "bad". Perhaps that is a bad way of stating it. We are more readily taught how to create soft light to light a subject in a flattering manner, more so than we are ever taught how to use contrast and harsh light for the same purpose.
In the end I believe it's mainly because soft light is a lot easier to work with and a lot more forgiving. Unfortunately people end up limiting themselves and not experimenting as much because of it.
This kind of occurred to me shooting at Edmonton Fashion Week. In that venue we can get away with putting up some strobes and most photographers there will get as soft a light as possible. It works and it looks great but it ends up killing the atmosphere the venue lighting creates (although in this scenario the venue atmosphere is kind of a pain to work with).
I guess what I'm trying to say is that if you end up bringing a speedlight to shoot at a venue try to use it in a way that will add some fill light and compliment as well as maintain the atmosphere. There is no need to create a mini studio everywhere you go. Don't just toss on the flash and overpower the room to get a good exposure. Sure there may be a lot of harsh light and contrast. It's also what makes it special.
There's an endless amount of photographers who will blast their subjects with on camera flash. While they may capture the scene they definitely don't get the essence and mood of it and that makes a huge impact.
I can not recommend a better site for that than strobist.com For those that have not gone through the Photography 101 and 201 lessons, I highly recommend you do so. There is a huge amount of knowledge you can sponge up.
Of course, there are always times I also decide to leave the flash at home and go with what light is available, like all the shots in this entry. How hypocritical of me, eh?