I have been doing poorly on the blog, too much going on, and I should have been better. First some hindsight good news. If you were one of the folks who took advantage of the $89 Lightroom 3 offer from Amazon, looks like you get a free upgrade if you bought in February. I have been using Lightroom 4 and it is terrific. I love the new tools in the develop module. As a general rule I use a brush on my images and limit the impact of any one application. Lightroom has expanded the utility of the brush significantly. There are some other new things including the "book" module which allows publishing to Blurb. Aperture has had this functionality for a long time and Lightroom is just catching up. To get up to speed on Lightroom 4, I simply used my Lynda.com membership and they have a great video on Lightroom 4 with all the tips and tricks. I love the way they drill into you the shortcuts in Lightroom, even I can remember them after the video.
Still shooting lots of evenings in the Grand Dell Saloon, trying different lighting configurations and the exercise has been useful and in depth. For the most part, I shoot manual, TTL just takes to much control our of my hands. If I were shooting a wedding, iTTL is the trick, but for portraits and fixed distance work, you can't beat the creative choices of manual flash. You can add a soft touch of light in manual mode which iTTL simply will not allow without reducing the exposure compensation. For battery life alone, you are better puttting your flash units on 1/4 power, using your ISO and aperture to get the light just right. It just takes a little practice and it easily and quickly become second nature.
I have also moved from shooting landscapes to people. I like people, not set-up shots but candid images of people doing ordinary things in their lives. When done in black and white, the images seem to have an extraordinary characteristic. For example, here is Andy Just a blues singer and harmonica player of some significant reputation caught in moment, not posing for my camera.