When I first started out I portrayed myself as a "natural" light shooter. Why do you think I did that? The answer is one that I am sure some of you would give if you were willing to admit. I... had no idea how to use a flash. It was that simple. I had purchased a great hot shoe flash to attach to my camera but the results were less than desirable. Everyone always seemed to come out with that "drivers license" photo look. Yuck! That flash remained in my bag much more often than it was on the camera. Years go by and I finally decide I want to understand this lighting thing. I started reading books and watching videos to see what I was doing wrong. The number one piece of advice from all these different sources was... take the flash off the camera. What? What was the point of the hot shoe on the camera if I had to take the flash off? Well, the manufactures had to have somewhere to put a connection. The hot shoe should be used more for a controller (master) flash, transmitter, flash cord or if you do not have any other choice the flash itself. Most modern systems even come capable of shooting with the flash off the camera wireless. They use inferred or a flash signal from the built in flash on the camera. Check your make and model for specifics and get that flash off the camera. You will see an immediate improvement. It adds dramatic light casting various shadows across your subject and eliminates annoying red eye.
Check back soon for Lighting Parts 2 and 3 for details on diffusion, light stands, speedlights, studio strobes etc.