I was reading an article about techniques professionals use..in this case to shoot weddings. A lot of them push and pull film. I understand the need to push film if the speed of film you have is not right for the lighting situation. What are the other advantages and disadvantages? As an advanced beginner, is this something I should be concerned with or trying?
Pushing and pulling is almost never done with color film. It causes color shifts with most films. With slide films it is done if you discover you set the meter to the wrong speed or you need to do low light work. Color print film is virtually never pushed or pulled because the exposure lattitude of print film is so wide it's not needed and pushing tends to mess up color and tonality.
With black and white pushing and pulling is common, but not usually to increase film speed (buy Kodak p3200 for work needing high speeds). Pushing film increases it's contrast and pulling decreases it. Photographers take advantage of that when confronted with high contrast or low contrast scenes. When increasing contrast, you typically underexpose about half a stop and overdevelop about 30%. When trying to lower contrast, you overexpose a stop and underdevelop 30%. The advantages are the ability to change the film's contrast to match lighting conditions. Disadvantages are increased grain when pushing (increasing contrast) and the fact that if you shoot 35mm or medium format film you must shoot the whole roll under the same lighting conditions since you cannot adjust development for each frame. This method of working is very popular with users of 4x5 or 8x10 film cameras because those films come in individual sheets so each exposure can be custom developed as needed.
Generally push and pull is not a normal practice. We do it only on certain condition like you have to photograph on a very cloudy day or very contrasty scene than you can push or pull to bring the contrast range of the scene to a certain desire limit. It is mostly done in B&W but sometime in colour slide.