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“Clicks” Cover Shot Explained & Vertical Grip

Mar 11

In Lighting, On Location, Tips & Tricks, Videos at 1:56pm

A reader wrote in and said they enjoyed the book, but was disappointed I didn’t discuss how I did the cover. So here goes.

Cover Image new cover sketch

The model is holding the jagged mirror in her left hand, and the camera is basically perched on her right shoulder. Shot with a D2Xs, with a 17-55, my favorite DX format lens. The camera sees the sky, and her reflection (tweaked the mirror just about where I wanted it). Then, off to camera right, is an SB-R200, the baby close-up brother to the SB800. It is about 2′ from the model’s face, just off the field of view, and controlled wirelessly from the SU 800 on the camera. As I recall, the sky is pulled down about a stop via minus one EV, and the flash is pumped up just a touch to compensate.

Da Grip….update….Couple of folks wrote about vertical grip on the camera. Here’s the thing. The grip I’m talking about really is mostly applicable to left eyed shooters of motor driven cameras. But that doesn’t mean elements of it–the boxer’s stance, the elbows tucked, center of gravity positioned properly, exhaling, etc. can’t be stripped out of this and applied on a selective basis. Some folks asked about shooting verticals. Without a vertical release, holding and firing the camera in the vertical position is plain and simple just tougher than holding it horizontally. (I have asked art directors for more money to shoot a vertical picture as opposed to a horizontal one, just on the basis that it is harder to turn the camera vertically. Haven’t gotten it yet. I’m only kidding, but if someone offered me the dough I would take it!)

Also, for those interested, here’s the video version of Da Grip and an outtake featuring Nigel, my wife Annie’s cat, who joined us on the set for a bit.



Bill Zaspel says:

on March 11, 2008 at 3:19 pm


I’ve not read very much of your blog but you are a hoot! What a lift to my day and good stuff mixed in. Great read. Thanx for keeping it lite!

Oleg Kurapov says:

on March 11, 2008 at 3:33 pm

Thanks for the video tip, Joe (and a glimpse at your worktable)!

Thiago says:

on March 11, 2008 at 4:24 pm

Dang, I wish I was left eyed. Much cooler.

Cheers to Nigel!

Rick says:

on March 11, 2008 at 4:40 pm

Can I get a Nigel mouse pad? Thanks for the laugh….Love the Blog.

ron hiner says:

on March 11, 2008 at 7:46 pm

I love reading about the set up — but I’m actually more interested in the thought process behind choosing THAT shot for the cover… When your career photographic batting average is, shall we say, well north of .300, you must have had a hard time picking just the one. What was it about that shot that said to you that it was the one for the cover?

Paul M. says:

on March 11, 2008 at 9:20 pm

For a right-eyed shooter with a short lens, I’ve had good results with gripping my right shoulder with my left hand and tucking the camera into my left shoulder.

Your mileage may vary, batteries not included, professional driver on a closed course, not available in Wisconsin.

jrrome says:

on March 11, 2008 at 9:59 pm

Any tips for shooting vertically? (No, not “get off the couch.”) There’s not much camera body available to tuck into the shoulder when I’ve got the camera vertical and I’m using my creatively superior left eye. Turning my body sideways to the subject and sitting the camera on top of the left shoulder seems to work. Perhaps someone will take my picture, as I now resemble a modern art sculpture…

Fantastic stuff!

moe says:

on March 11, 2008 at 10:58 pm

I wonder if you can teach yourself to shoot left eyed … and nigel is awesome! 😀

Mark K. says:

on March 11, 2008 at 11:03 pm

Wow. I hope we all – all of us reader & viewers – realize just how great this information that you are sharing with us is. Prime tips from one of the top shooters in the business.

Though I must say I was distracted by those incredible Geo covers in the background. Sure, my doggies photos in my home office are sweet and the snaps of my Little O – Whoa! Stop the presses! But Geo covers? Well, this is the thing dreams are made of.

Your blogs get better and better. Look forward to the next installment.

Grega says:

on March 12, 2008 at 2:36 am

I don’t notice any difference between my left eye and my right eye. I usually compromise and stick my nose in the viewfinder.

Now seriously, this stuff is great. I loughed out loudy at the P&S vertical shooting…

The cat looks more like a young melanistic leopard.

Keep up the good and funny work, I’m loving it!

Roberto says:

on March 12, 2008 at 3:34 am

LOL !! Love your blog !

Stan says:

on March 12, 2008 at 4:21 am

I’m going to have to teach myself to shoot left-eyed! Great video; it was very informative!

Nigel Gregory says:

on March 12, 2008 at 9:53 am

oi watch the NIgel jokes

Chad Phillips says:

on March 12, 2008 at 10:20 am

I’m right handed, right brained and shoot left eye! Never thought of the shoulder thangy though. Thanks Joe!

barry says:

on March 12, 2008 at 11:15 am

Thanks for the How-to on the cover photo…it’s definitely attention grabbing!

Brian says:

on March 12, 2008 at 12:31 pm

Thanks for the video Joe. After your first post on the grip I grabbed my D200 and battery grip to give it a try. Unfortunately it just doesn’t feel comfortable to me. It puts strain on my upper back. Maybe I’m not doing it right, or I just don’t have those massively muscular shoulders that you’ve been blessed with 😉 Any chance for a good close-up shot so I can see exactly how the camera is resting on your shoulder? Thanks for the blog. Good advice, and good humor, what more could you want?

DanZ says:

on March 12, 2008 at 4:31 pm

I’m a bit confused. I couldn’t find num nuts in this diagram at all.

John Leonard says:

on March 12, 2008 at 5:49 pm


Great video. You can never overlook the basics. It would be nice to see a couple of 5 minute or so video’s on Actually using Nikon CLS components (SU800, SB800, Commander menu on a so equipped camera, etc). There are a lot of questions about how to actual go into the menus and set it all up that get posted in the CLS group on Flickr.

I also enjoyed your book very much. I’m rereading it now. To many little tid-bits to absorb in just one reading.

Cynthia Sobkowich says:

on March 12, 2008 at 8:09 pm

Super tips – love the video – that camera hold tip will definately save my back.

Nigel is bigger then my dog!

Cynthia Sobkowich says:

on March 12, 2008 at 8:10 pm

Oh about the flickr group – the Joe McNally “Speed of Light” DVD will show you how the wireless Nikon set up works – it’s awesome!!!


Tom says:

on March 12, 2008 at 8:12 pm

Thanks for the great info, Joe! I’d been curious about the set-up for the cover shot.

I’m left-eyed also, although oddly enough I used to be right-eyed. Having said that, I believe my photography has improved immensely since I switched to my left eye.

Billy Mitchell says:

on March 12, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Joe, I think you have a good chance of becoming the “Blog King”. If you keep this up you’ll have to write another book.

John Swincinski says:

on March 14, 2008 at 9:50 pm


I’m really enjoying your book right now. Great video tip today!

Its funny, I have Nigel’s twin sister Molly living at my house. They look identical and have the same personality. Molly is more like a dog than my Australian shepherd.

Hope to see you in Orlando next month.


Michelle says:

on March 16, 2008 at 11:48 am

I’m right handed-left eyed and all of the photography book I have read show you the right eyed grip and I’ve only been able to shoot at 1/60 minimum. It’s been pretty painful at times, especially when out for a whole day’s shooting. I’ve been pushed to rely on my monopod more times than I can count and I don’t like to use it much. The point of all this is I’ve tried your method and it really is great! I’m not in pain any more, I tried it on a day shoot yesterday and I didn’t meed my monopod and I got shots sharp at 1/10 of a second!

I always thought I had the shakes or some thing but it turned out it was the grip, thank you so much for such a simple but effective bit of info, your book’s great too :)

Tim says:

on March 16, 2008 at 2:25 pm

I have to use my left eye since I lost the central vision in my right. I like your suggestion for the stance. To use your shoulder effectively you need the added height of the vertical grip. I don’t have one. To bring the camera up to my eye. I have to flex my left shoulder more and that causes more strain and fatigue.

MikeB says:

on March 16, 2008 at 7:31 pm

“The Moment if Clicks” is such an inspirational and educational book. It defies categorization and in fact creates a totally new genre of photography books.

Joe’s amazing storytelling has motivated me to get out there and take some pictures using his tips and tricks.

Rutgher says:

on March 18, 2008 at 3:55 am

This post really made my think about the way I position my body when I shoot. I tried shooting with Joe’s left-eye technique and it worked wonders for my back (no more backpain). Although I shoot right-eyed by nature, shooting left-eyed isn’t that much harder, just takes a bit getting used to.
Still waiting for your book to be delivered to my door, hope it’ll be in stock soon again here in Holland.

Marcie says:

on March 18, 2008 at 11:25 pm

Joe you have totally made my day! I thought I was a freak of nature because I shoot with my left eye. Glad to know others too shoot with their left eye and the techniques you shared will surely help me shoot better thank you!

Michael Smith says:

on March 22, 2008 at 2:58 pm

I showed the video in my Digital Photo imaging class at Washtenaw Coonumity College (Ann Arbor, Michigan) the other night. Folks were very interested and appreciated the info and technique. I wondered if you shoot with your glasses on or not?

I also tried using your basic stance and the suggestion another reader made of resting the camera on the left shoulder as the left arm grasps the right arm or shoulder as a support. That seemed to work well in low light, too, particularly for verticals.

Thanks for sharing, it is much appreciated.

Matthew Keefe says:

on March 28, 2008 at 7:07 pm

This is really great information. I remember seeing this stance back at PhotoshopWorld Wests photo safari, but never really investigated it.

I am sure many others will benefit from this video. Also, I like the teaching style, fun, yet informative.

Eric Chi says:

on June 20, 2008 at 1:56 am

Great tip. I’m lucky to be left eyed too.

I noticed that even your cat is in Nikon Black. Great and beautiful color :-)

Thx very much.


Eric Chi says:

on June 23, 2008 at 1:36 am

Hi Joe,

I’d like to let you know your camera hold tip works even for my D300 without Nikon MB-D10 battery pack. I watched your video and learned the trick just before my trip to Big Sur last Friday. And this trick worked really well when I tried to hold the camera and lens with my whole body (instead of just my hands) which I think is the essence of the method. I can even see my lens become more stable when I also did a test in my motel. It also reduce fatigue as I found I can hand-hold my 300 f2.8 longer this way. Thanks very much.


Toni C says:

on July 3, 2008 at 7:39 pm

Hi Joe,

Love the blog. I also loved your book, Moment it Clicks. You’re such a hoot!!!
Will keep my eyes peeled for more :)
Thanks for sharing all your tips.


Ichimusai says:

on October 15, 2008 at 4:54 am

I really enjoyed these two movies. You are a great guy with a good sense of humor and a lovely cat! All things that makes a really nice chap! Well done!

And oh, I found your grip instructions interesting, I had devised something similar myself and seeing other people doing similar things makes me think perhaps I’m on the right track here!

Ichimusai says:

on October 17, 2008 at 9:49 pm

I hope you don’t mind I featured this article and linked back to your post here. I found it very useful and that is the reason for it. Here is the URL to my article:

Paulo Thiago says:

on October 24, 2010 at 4:19 am

Nice writing. You are on my RSS reader now so I can read more from you down the road.

beachmama says:

on April 10, 2014 at 1:21 pm

Good solid tips that I will pass on to my son’s girlfriend who has a keen eye for composition but is just beginning to learn about cameras. Thanks so much!

Love meeting Nigel . . . he could do with a tad less food perhaps ; )

Ari Landworth says:

on March 15, 2015 at 1:39 am

Awesome photography tips!

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