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Dobbs Workshop, Day One

Jan 20

In Seminars & Workshops at 10:04am

Back to Dobbs Ferry. My studio used to be in this little town on the Hudson, in an old, funky factory building, spitting distance from the might river. It was a great space, and I even actually lived there for a while, given the up and down life of a photographer. Some 4 or 5 years ago, round about Photo East time, I would stage a series of very informal lighting workshops that proved to be popular. We had fun and evidently the folks who came did as well, cause over time I have gotten pinged about, “When you gonna do those Dobbs Ferry workshops again?” We are. This week, For seven straight days. In the old building, which is one of the better photo locations I have ever encountered.

Above shot D3, 24-70 f2,8 lens, with this cool new thing coming on market, called the Bogen Tri-flash. It’s a 3 hot shoe deal and you can use both SB800 and 900 on that puppy. Running these three through a Lastolite 3×3 panel, boomed overhead on a c-stand. Just out of frame below Jasmine’s face is a Lastolite tri-grip, with one SB-800 hand held. In the background, on the floor, is a green gelled SB-900, coming through a bunch of industrial plastic draping. Whole thing ran TTL with no EV comp dialed in at all, which you know, still sets me back on my heels a bit.

We ramble all over the building, but our main location is an 8000 square foot space overlooking the river. What a studio space this would make. Beautiful light, 16 foot ceilings….yikes….

All production pix courtesy of workshop participants…thanks gang! The whole place is awash in lighting gear, Lastolite panels, dishes, Octas, SB units, tri-grips, you name it. As always, my equipment page is hotlinked, and anything I mention is connected there.

Did some lighting from the parking lot. Two Elinchrom Rangers, each with a long throw reflector, each being adjusted and triggered with the Elinchrom Skyport system. Pretty cool. You can fire the lights and adjust their power right from camera with a triggering unit about the size of matchbook.

That produced this. Andrew Tomasino, Pa. shooter and friend of our studio, is helping us out. He makes a pretty good lost boy in the stairwell.

But the same light, does, well different things for Jasmine.

Poor Will, a Connecticut based photog, was stuck in the snow out in the parking lot for this, so we put him in front of camera for a bit. One light solution, Elinchrom mid-sized Octa soft box. Here he is, making his bid for a role in The Departed. (Uh, Will, they shot that movie already.)

We also went to the basement, one of my favorite places in the building.We put the elegant Katarina near some boiler valves. One small boomed soft box, overhead of Katarina. Key to the pic is the two Ranger units outside the building, firing into the underground basement window. Nothin’ like a dirty window to give you good light and nice diffusion.

And of course Andrew just got a new tat, so we had to figure out a way to show that. He was a bit reluctant, so we restrained him while doing the picture. One overhead Elinchrom beauty dish, with a green gelled Ranger in the background.

We had a great day. Got a lot of people to thank….first off…Adorama, Bogen and Lexar. Adorama supports the Faces of Ground Zero Giant Polaroid collection, and photographic education in general, and they helped us out, and gave $25 store coupons to all participants. Bogen, with Kriss Brungrabber and Mark “The William Holden of Lighting” Astman pitched in with support and Mark cameĀ  on location with us. He’s a huge hit with participants, knows the gear backwards and forwards, and can double as a model when called on. All the above were shot on Lexar digital media. Every digital picture I have ever shot with any serious intent has been on a Lexar card. In the shifting world of shooting ones and zeroes, Lexar cards are that one beautiful thing–reliable. As are Jeff Cable and Michelle Pitts, who run their Lexar Elite program and support photogs across the board.

And, huge thanks to the lovely Jasmine and Katarina, who braved the cold and the train to come up from NY. They are affilitated with Emmanuel Model Agency which is run by my good friend Aristeo. He is a force of nature in the fashion industry, and has connections and respect throughout that world. He always pitches in to help us pull this off.

And, finally to Dawn, FOL (friend of Lynn), former model, current physical trainer, mother of three, and drop dead gorgeous in front of camera. She came over to help us out as well……more tk…..

Aaron Hardin says:

on January 20, 2009 at 10:14 am

Joe, I really love how warm your portraits are. I need to be using more cto i think. And boy would I relish the opportunity to go to an event like this, but sadly I am stuck in TN. Do you ever make it down here by any chance?

Bob Montgomery says:

on January 20, 2009 at 10:26 am

I’m coming for the Saturday session and I am out of my mind excited. Thanks so much for the preview. I had no idea what to expect, as this will be my first photography workshop. Can’t wait!

Chris Davis Cina says:

on January 20, 2009 at 11:04 am

Keep the energy going. I’m signed up for Sunday. Can’t wait!

David Traver Adolphus says:

on January 20, 2009 at 11:19 am

Wow…you shot Michael Jackson? Sorry, couldn’t help it–that first shot….

Eric Corliss says:

on January 20, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Love the photo of Katrina in the basement. Thanks for all of the details.

Jase says:

on January 20, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Wow just stunning photos again Joe and truly inspirational – everytime I read this blog and see some photos it gets me thinking on how/where I could try out something similar. For sure without the exact same results but it’s the striving to achieve something, the challenge, that’s also so appealing.

Keep up this awesome blog.

Cheers, Jase

Jeff Foley says:

on January 20, 2009 at 12:42 pm

Hi Joe–

Just wanted to thank you again for putting this workshop on. It was incredible to learn from you and your crew (wow, they work hard but make it look easy!), and to meet the other photographers who’d come from all across the country for this workshop. I’m sure they’d agree with me when I say it was well worth it.

We had great equipment, even better models, and a fantastic teacher. I am so looking forward to implementing some of what I picked up yesterday.

Thank you so much.

Jeff Foley

Bill says:

on January 20, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Hey Joe,

Couldn’t find any more info on Bogan Tri-Flash item you mentioned. Is it still too new to be listed ?


Richard Cave says:

on January 20, 2009 at 1:06 pm

I really wish I was there that photo of Katarina is very beautiful, not a word I use often. Looking forward to more from you.

Please come to the UK


Bill Bogle, Jr. says:

on January 20, 2009 at 3:02 pm


It was an incredible day. We had so many opportunities to learn how to construct a shoot and lighting situation. The models were fantastic. Did I mention the heat? I think my feet are finally getting some blood back in there. It was fun playing with all of the equipment, and sharing experiences, thoughts, and techniques with other participants. I can say without hesitation that these are the best portraits I have ever taken, and I learned so much. It was a bit nasty of you to tie Andrew up in the coldest part of the basement (did I mention heat?), but he and the models were game for whatever we threw at them. I sure hope you get your late afternoon window shot, and remember, the north bound Metro North trains are pretty close, and they move very fast.

Thank you for the opportunity to learn from you. You are most gracious with your time, information, and encouragement. Thanks to Will, Andrew, Drew, and Lynn, Mark, and the fabulous models, Jasmine. Katarina and Dawn. They rocked.

Bill Bogle, Jr.

Andy Colwell says:

on January 20, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Ahhhh Joe, thanks for the extra fuel for the anticipation fire – even more pumped for the workshop now. From talking to Lynn, all of this seems awesome…but seeing all of this today? Even more cool.

Thanks as always for the time to share all of this! See you this weekend!

Jeffrey says:

on January 20, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Hey Joe, first let me say I am completely jealous of your old space in Dobbs Ferry. That must’ve been a terrific place to run wild in. You mentioned the triflas but i can’t find it for sale anywhere? is this item forthcoming? i’ve only found it in a lastolite pdf brochure

Alan MacRae says:

on January 20, 2009 at 4:47 pm


Great shots. Dobbs Ferry was absolutely phenomenal and far exceeded my expectations. Well worth the nearly 8 hour trek through a raging snow storm from Northern New England to get there.

Thanks to Dawn, Jasmine and Katarina for putting up with all of us in the chilly conditions; they were all so professional. And, thanks to you and your staff for presenting a great, well organized program. And, of course, special thanks to Lynn; you’re fortunate to have her to keep things in line!


Richard Allnutt says:

on January 20, 2009 at 5:34 pm

Thanks for the pre-view. The images are stunning, as always! Really looking forwards to taking part in the seminar this Sunday.

Richard Allnutt

Marc Lanciaux says:

on January 20, 2009 at 5:41 pm

Looks great! I’m gonna be attending tomorrow, bright and early! CAN’T WAIT!!

Tom Marriage says:

on January 20, 2009 at 6:21 pm


As usual–some nice shots. You are right about Nikon CLS. It’s just amazing and especially when combined with RadioPoppers.

I wish I could go to one of your workshops but they are never near me. Just too expensive to travel.

Looking forward to the Hot Shoe Diaries.

Have fun everyone,

ron says:

on January 20, 2009 at 7:04 pm

Ok, I’m sold. I’ll be there thursday with bells on.

I’ve lobbied Lynn already.. may as well do it here publicly… one day isn’t enough… I’d happily sign up for Day 2 and Day 3 of this course.


Tanya Plonka says:

on January 20, 2009 at 7:29 pm

That use of gelled light is amazing! I wish I lived in the area; I’d take part in that workshop in a heartbeat.

cfimages says:

on January 20, 2009 at 8:45 pm

If I ever find myself in the US, I’ll have to try and come to a workshop of yours. Alternatively, you could come to Taiwan and teach one here.

John Leonard says:

on January 20, 2009 at 10:59 pm


The workshop was great! I learned a ton, and watching you work the problems really is worth the price of admission (Kind of like a circus run astray!). But really the most valuable part (To me anyways) of the whole experience is you working the problem. Simple, direct, and not overly complicated. Stunning images constructed in stages using solutions which are right there you just have to see them.

I thought on that as we shot our last shot in that last few minutes individually. I knew I wanted something different than breaking out the Elinchrom (Trust me I want some though). So I went simple, one light, an SB800through a Tri-grip directly overhead, triggered via CLS TTL -1.0. It could use more, but man I really like it, and I’m not sure I would have looked for the simplest drama before the workshop. The pic is here:

Hey did I mention that whole TTL thing really does work, and yes it is pretty amazing when you actual light it using big lights, and then see what the system works out on it’s own when you switch over to a CLS solution in TTL. Just great stuff, I wish the CLS/ TTL naysayers all had a chance to watch you work.

Thanks for everything.


Rennan says:

on January 20, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Intrigued by the pictures. Looking forward to attend the friday event!

Bob Pozner says:

on January 21, 2009 at 3:10 pm

A truly wonderful day. Being an aspiring amateur photographer whose only attribute is my expensive equipment, I didn’t know what to expect with Joe’s Dobbs Ferry Workshop. What I found was actually awe inspiring, not only on a photographic level, but also on a general level as to how to live our lives. Joe is an extraordinary man, who exudes his love for his art and conveys this knowledge to his students both generously and wholeheartedly. Joe is more than a photographer’s photographer. He is a Philosopher (a a person who regulates his or her life, actions, judgments, utterances, etc., by the light of philosophy or reason), a Psychologist, Scientist, Mathematician, Humanitarian, Moving-Man, Event Planner, and much, much more. The little things that we should know, but learned anyway, were such obvious things such as asking a model if you can touch her hair to straighten it out, continually complimenting her even if you don’t mean it, keeping a game face in front of your crew when on a shoot when you’re standing in the pouring rain, your battery packs are dead, and you just dropped your $3000 lens. Quite an experience. Thank you and your wonderful staff for an extraordinary day. Now if I can only figure out how to use my camera !!!!!

cameron griffin says:

on January 24, 2009 at 12:05 am

Those are probally some of my favorite pictures.I like the ones where you work with tow different flashes at different angles, it also looked like you worked with kelvan or a blue gel. the world will never know =-)

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