Actually some of those are so cheap, you can start off with a few, or add strobes as you go along. I started with 1 small flash: The Nikon SB 28, added the Nikon SB 800 when I got my D70, and when I needed more light, I added the Nikon SB 26. The SB 26 sells for about 100 USD on eBay and other small flashes like the famous Vivitar 285HV sells for about 50 on eBay and about 80 for a new flash.
If you indeed choose this path (which from now on will be called the strobist path) there are several very useful resources on (and off) the web for you to learn how to perfect your small strobe lighting technique.
I have deep appreciation for all photographers listed below, they all helped me learn and grow to the photographer I am today.
This is why I am shamelessly promoting sharing their recent and not so recent projects.
David Hobby is without a doubt the leader of the small strobe movement. In his strobist blog, he discusses lighting in general, but the main focus in on small strobes lighting. If you are new to lighting, this is definitely a great place to start. You can begin with Lighting 101, move to lighting 102 (which is currently running) – Both are a great way to kick off your lighting skills, and keep up with the blog for general lighting goodies. David is also very keen on DIYing things, so if you like DIYP you are bound to like The Strobist. Another way to suck in all the great strobist info is to get the Strobist DVD set, it is an 8 DVDs set with all the blogging goodies brought to life.
By the way, David is one of the few photographers (if not the only one) who have a verb named after them. But sometimes you just have to strobist something.
David (it looks like Davids are a magnet for small flashes) is the author of a great blog called The f-Stops Here. David is a commercial photographer located in Colorado, and he has been an inspiration to me and was featured on the site several times.
David is a master of controlling small flashes and in his blog he shares a lot of his great photography and how he made it. I’ll give a hint (surprise, surprise) there are no big flashes involved… To make it even more fun and interesting, he shares his experiences in a series of videos – a great way to spend an afternoon.
David recently started to share his vast experience in a one day workshop – Small Strobes Big Results. If only I lived in Colorado.
So, Joe McNally is the guy who makes things possible. Nothing is too complicated for this guy. And guess what? Joe is doing most (or at least a considerable amount) of his work using small flashes. He even manages to out light the desert sun. Then again, I don’t know if packing seven Nikon SB 800s is considered small flash lighting anymore :)
As for sharing, the nice guys at Google put up am hour and ten minutes long video of Joe, discussing his work.
Joe has also wrote a great book about photography and on location lighting, called “The Moment it Clicks“, where Joe shares tips and setups accumulated in over 30 years of experience.
Neil Turner does not run a blog. He does run a site dedicated to small flash lighting. In a series of short and to-the-point article Neil discusses techniques, equipment and more. No doubt a great place to sharpen up your small flash skills.