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Archive for January, 2008

How to Light a Fence!

Jan 30

In Equipment, Tips & Tricks at 6:46pm

Snow Covered Yellowstone Fence with Strobe and Exposure Compensation at -1 EV

A fence is just a fence….unless you have an SB-800.

Flash has always been painful, right? Especially painful in the cold. Really, really painful in the kind of cold that exists in Yellowstone National Park in January. Batteries dying, trying to meter the sky, meter the flash, meter your diminishing heart rate…

Now we have wireless strobe! Pretty fancy stuff. Cameras and strobes keep talking to each other, even when you can’t say a bloody thing cause your teeth are chattering like Carmen Miranda’s castanets.

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The McNally Tripod Rig

Jan 28

In Equipment at 6:42pm

McNally Tripod Rig

One of the big questions I get when I teach is about my tripod and computer platform rig.

It’s all off the shelf Gitzo/Manfrotto stuff, available from Bogen…

I use the Gitzo GT-5560SGT tripod, and mount the Manfrotto Accessory Arm 3153B to it, and then the Gitzo G065 Laptop Platform to that. Couple that up with a ball head such as the Manfrotto 468MG, and you be cooking. I keep the platform at eyeball height so I don’t have to stoop to see the computer. I’m tethered via Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 and a USB 2.0 cable with an extension. Everything is taped down, cause I’m excitable and accident prone. It works real well as a location rig.

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Kelby Training Online

Jan 26

In Advice, Links, Tips & Tricks at 11:18am

Kelby Training Online

I’ve been doing these training videos on location light for my buddy Scott Kelby. They’ve been a ton of fun to do and, at first glance, I’m even mildly coherent. Click here to preview the lessons and site. If you can get past my visual appearance (hump, twitch in the left eye, constant drooling), there’s a fair amount of ground we cover about lighting both in the studio and on location, and using both large strobes and small, hot shoe flashes.


Ballerina at the BeachFirst one is up, and I take a look at light shaping tools from umbrellas (shoot through, reflected), to large and small softboxes, direction of light, methods of softening the light to achieve a good portrait look, to using a second strobe to provide fill and a bit of glamour. We chew through a bunch of stuff in the studio, some times being successful, and sometimes not, making adjustments, trying different stuff, even a quick ring light set, and then at the end of the day, real time, chasing the fading sunset, we do a seat of the pants strobe set on the beach with Jennifer Concepcion, a truly magnificent ballerina.

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Where Do I Begin?

Jan 24

In Rants, Thoughts at 6:39pm

So….where do I begin? As I dip a very tentative toe into the sloshing ocean of the blogosphere, I realize that the sensations I’m experiencing right now are the same ones I feel as I take those first few steps on a new location shoot. What is this about? Am I gonna survive? Where do I begin?

That of course is just the beginning of the battery of questions that ravage the psyches and befuddle the brains of location photographers. The “Where the hell do I begin?” query is a real biggie. Often times, it’s decided for you, of course. On your average, say, corporate portrait (which I do occasionally, and can even be fun [see Roger and Michael]), you are often shown a conference room. “Does this work?” they ask?

Michael Eisner with Roger Rabbit

And in the interests of being a good sport, you survey the grey walls, the cheeseball art, and the obligatory huge table that takes up 427 square feet of a 450 square foot room, one that has floor to ceiling windows on 2 sides both of which overlook a half demolished parking structure, and say, “This’ll be swell!”


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