I've mentioned the Strobist site before, and it's a great resource for learning about how to use lighting in photography. It's also strongly focused on working low-budget and portable. Both of which I'm in favor of. Additionally, a fairly vibrant community has sprung up around it on Flickr. Recently a group of people from the Chicago area decided to get together and have a group photo session. Last Saturday, about 25 photographers and several models met up in Downers Grove at the Microsoft offices and spent the day trying stuff out and learning from each other. It was a resounding success, and plans are already in the works for more meetings.
Surprisingly, I didn't take very many pictures. Rather, I took the opportunity to watch and learn from the more experienced people how they were able to work with their lights and their models. It was very interesting to see how things combine to get different results. I'm used to a world where you use an entirely different fixture to get a different look from your light, and usually (because on the stage, people are moving) you work more with intensity than with finnesse. It was a great day, and I had a lot of fun. I look forward to the next meetup, and I'm grateful to the models who volunteered their time, as well as the other photographers who made their gear available for others. Of course, I hate you all because now I want to spend a bunch more money on more flashes and wireless triggers.
And, in the "small world" file... One of the attendees is the brother-in-law of a friend from high school. Neat!