Had a wonderful Christmas over in Christchurch with family - ate too much and got heaps of cool stuff.
The only photography related gift, however, was something I got for myself. After watching Joe McNally over at Kelby Training, I thought I'd get his latest book on flash photography - "The Hot Shoe Diaries".
First things first - GET THIS BOOK! There you go, that was pretty easy, wasn't it?
But seriously, if you are at all interested in how to make your external flash give you a decent quality of light - then get this book. If you are scared of external flash (speedlights if you will), then get this book. If you are in any way interested in how great images are made, get this book. If you are a bit of a 'gear-head' and want to know the technical how's, why's and wherefores, get this book. If you like being creative with your photography, and want to learn from the best, then get this book. Trust me here will you - GET THIS BOOK!
McNally is a great teacher, as well as an amazing photographer - and he approaches the 'lessons' in a very readable way that keeps you laughing as well as learning. Yes, that's right - 'laughing'. He's a pretty funny guy (think Scott Kelby's photoshop books) so you never really feel like you've got a text book in your hands - even though that's what this will become. An invaluable text book for any photographer who wants to use their hot shoe flash(es) in a way that will do them (and you) justice.
Joe is a Nikon shooter (yahoo), who uses Nikon speedlights (the SB 800 and SB 900's) pretty much exclusively. Tie this in with Nikon's wireless CLR (Creative Lighting System) and you have a powerful studio-like lighting set up that you can use at almost any location. Throughout the book Joe uses anywhere from one SB 800 on-camera, to a whole bank of them for large group work - and everything in-between. If the resulting images, and their thorough explanation, don't get your creative juices flowing, then you're probably dead and don't know it yet :-)
Can Canon/Sony/Pentax/Olympus shooters get anything out of this book - you betcha! They all have their own speedlights, capable of similar (if not exactly the same) setups, so the same rules apply. He may use Nikon gear, but this ain't a Nikon only book by any means.
I've said it before, so I'll say it again. If you are a photographer - GET THIS BOOK!