Here's a quick post analyzing a recent shot that I did. I think the thought process would be helpful for learning lighting.
I recently made a post about using a single set of modifiers for speedlights and strobes. The shot I used for the start of the story was this:
Th first step was to compose the shot. The speedring is not very large. To have the lights appear to fit within the hole of the speedring, I used a wide angle lens. Using a wide lens, I could shoot the speedring fairly close to the camera while shooting the strobes at a distance away, thus making the speedring appear larger relative to the strobes.
For a clean-looking background, I used the Fotodiox 5x7 popup background behind the strobes. In retrospect, white would have been a better choice to make the black bodies of the speedlight and Quantum more visible.
In terms of exposure, I wanted to keep both the strobes and speedlights in focus, therefore I had to use a small aperture (to increase the depth of field).
To light the strobes themselves, I had several options. The first option was for the strobes themselves to flash in sync with the shot. The problem with this is that even at the lowest setting from the monolight, I would have gotten a lot of glare. When all three are firing, the glare is even worse.
Instead, I tried to make the strobes come alive through the lighting of the reflectors. The reflectors are shiny surfaces. When lighting a reflective surface, you don't light the surface directly -- all you'll see is the tiny specular reflection of the flash. Rather you light the objects being reflected in the reflective surface. Here I opted to light the ceiling in front of (not directly above) the strobes. Since I was forced to use a small aperture (f/22) to increase the depth of field, and I was using bounce flash, I needed a lot of power. I used an optically-triggered SB-26 speedlight at full manual power aimed directly at the ceiling.
The speedring is also a reflective surface. To light it, I chose to light the ceiling and wall in front of it (behind the camera) using an on-camera SB-800.
The test shot was close to what I wanted but even at f/22 the speedring was not sufficiently in focus. Sigh! I therefore switched to plan B, which was to use a composite of two shots. As with my previous plan, I used bounce flash for both the shot of the speedring and of the strobes. I used Topaz Remask to help me cut out the middle of the speedring. Voila.