Alot of what I have learned about lighting I learned in the past year or so. I have a degree in Photography, but after graduating a few years ago...I fealt that my artificial lighting was my weakest area and would always be a frustrating hurdle for me unless I continued to educate myself on the topic. So, (time and budget permitting), I have tried to take as many lighting classes as I am able to. Even if it overlaps something I have previously learned, I feel that there is always something new I walk away with that makes me better off than before the class.
Last year I took my first lighting class at the Santa Fe Workshop in Santa Fe, NM with Douglas Merriam. I have to say that I had the most amazing time at this workshop. For 5 days, 9-10 hours a day, we were in the studio learning about lighting - which for some sounds crazy but for me was heaven. I walked away from that class with so much going on in my head about lighting that I am still processing what I have learned from that workshop even now. The Santa Fe area provides such an amazing backdrop as well - I think they have the best clouds of any place I have ever seen. Here are some shots from that class. All were shot with one strobe, except for the last one - which used 2 strobes.
My other flash phobia was my on camera flash. To help face flash fear, I took a class at Will Crocket's ShootSmarter University outside Chicago, IL, in March. By the way, it's cold in Illinois in March! Paul Gero, a California wedding photographer, taught a week long class about on camera flash and the possible manipulations. It was really great to see how you can create some really interestingly lit images all with your little flash. We used softboxes, umbrellas and bounced it off everything you can imagine and in every direction. It was very challenging for me in the beginning but by the end of the week my flash fear had diminshed. Here are some of the shots from that class. These are all with one SB800 Nikon flash bounced - except for the last one which used a softbox.
I think what has also helped me alot is practicing what I have learned. I love getting together with friends to arrange a shoot and to just experiment with what we have all learned collectively. Here are some shots from a practice shoot with my friend, Angela Corey. These were taken over by the old ice factory on R and 16th. They will be lofts in the near future...so if you like the location...shoot before it's too late! Also, I am taking a one day lighting class at Diana Miller's studio on October 7th (Sac) and a one day lighting class at Rose Hyc's studio (Dixon) on October 28th. If anyone is interested, please contact me and I will get you their info. Both classes are around $45-$50 each.