When you're the guy setting up objects for the shot, you get to be the guy controlling the light, too. All of it.
When I put it to words, it sounds like something that should be followed up with a quick "uh... yeah. Duh." But seriously. I was re-trying the chess piece shot from this post in an attempt to make it better, and it kind of hit me that I wanted to control where the shadows from the chess pieces went. I went and grabbed a portable light that I use in the woodshop and tried a whole bunch of different configurations. It was really fun. Eventually, I decided that this one was the keeper:
click to enlarge, or see it on Flickr
Shutter Speed: 1/5
Focal Length: 33 mm
An interesting story about this photo: I tried editing it in the style of my series, Motionless. I absolutely hated what it did to my photo. Something in me strongly objected the to vignette and the tint, to the point that I just couldn't leave it that way. I deleted that version and started over until I got it how I liked it.
So a good day for photography. I learned that controlling the light = win, and that in post-processing, the photo really is the boss.