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DLWS…Far and Away….

Mar 18

In Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 9:04pm

Just being in Hawaii with DLWS brought up in my head the kind of cool places the Moose man tows us along to.

Vermont in the fall….

Yellowstone in January….

Really big rocks…..

Eastern coastline…..

Western coastline…

And now, the islands….

Definitely cool. I’ve been shooting a lot of stuff that don’t talk to me. That’s rough, cause I’m kinda chatty, and it’s hard for me to get into that serene, “become the forest,” kinda mood. Moose is trying to teach me, though, and teaching is one of the many things he’s good at.

So goodbye Hawaii….heading for the mainland. Actually happy about that. Nice to get back to someplace where they number their streets. I mean it’s tough asking where Kalihalimannawanna St. is. “Oh, I see, I take a left on Makalakaleka Avenue, bear right on Nakepunawallamaka Blvd. and then at the T intersection…”

Man, if you’re a non-islander, it’s a challenge.

Anyway, it was a great trip. DLWS rocked. Moose and I shot together in a pool. Yep, me and the Mooster in our bathing suits in the pool, whole class watching us. I tell ya, put us both in there and it was definitely high tide. Water sloshing over the sides, and me and Moose out there like a coupla channel buoys. Shit. I think he brought a D3X out there with him. Pretty ballsy, but then again, I think it’s Mike Corrado’s camera. Don’t tell Mikey!

High speed sync,  one SB 900, 8000th at about f2.0, 200mmf2 lens. I tell ya, that lens is the sharpest telephoto lens I’ve ever used. It’s opened new doors for me with my dance photography.

Got a chance to update Where Is Laurie’s Hair?

In the pool!

She used Drew’s hair gel cause she said her hair wasn’t behaving. Hadn’t been to the salon in a while, which really surprised me, cause usually the top of her head is as meticulously tended to as a Japanese garden. She’s just been traveling alot, doing her own workshops, and hadn’t gotten in to the hair guy to do the blond tips she usually sports. The staff was really disappointed, cause we’re all in agreement that Laurie’s got really great tips. Hmmm. Did that come out right?

Moving along, here’s the crazy kids who make all this happen, my dear friends Moose and Sharon…..

Nice light, nice folks…..

Speaking of folks, I saw something on Kauai that really stuck with me. We were at the blowhole (no, not the U. S. Senate) but the Spouting Horn, right on the shoreline, where onrushing wave action sluices through rock formations and spouts 20 or 30 feet in the air. They have a fenced off observation point and i was up there, just doing my usual lazy ass thing. Spouting water! Cool. There it goes again. Where do we eat?

An elderly couple shuffled up the path, and I mean shuffled. These folks were ancient. Had probably been together 60 or so years. He had a cane, she used a walker. They were both stooped and bent–a pair of walking S curves. They got up to to the fence and looked out, enjoying the day and the late light.

Next thing I know, the gentleman moved away from the fence and held up a cell phone camera, beckoning his wife to look his way. She turned, positively beaming. She had one of those sun hats on, the kind you tie around your neck with a big, old fashioned ribbon. She was beautiful. He shot a couple of those “my honey at the shore” shots. They came together for a brief hug. Then they shuffled off.

I didn’t shoot. It was their moment, not mine. Two things ran through my head as I smiled both inwardly and outwardly. First was how much I missed Annie.

Second came to me as I watched them make their way, very slowly, in the sunset light. They were so frail the sun could have been shining right through them. And they were gone. And soon, they really will be gone, most likely. But they were here. Duly noted with a cell phone camera, an instrument much younger than they are. That snap might have been circulated already to dozens of grand kids and great grand kids, and might be saved, you know, forever. That last trip grandma and grandpa took to the islands. Remember that picture when she looked so pretty? By the shore?

Our pictures are our footprints. It’s the best way to tell people we were here.

kathyt says:

on March 18, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Great post — of course they always are, you do have a way to make people think about things! Unfortunately I have started into photography a little older than younger, maybe a little wiser though, but looking back at things I do wish that I had more pics of the adventures of life. My motto has become, a picture not taken is a memory not shared — I think that’s what it’s all about. Thanks Mr. McNally you are just way to cool.

Alan says:

on March 18, 2009 at 9:52 pm

Hell man, you got me snuffling all over the mouse with this one.
As a tog I amsurprised that your word picture is a strong as some of you pix

Alan says:

on March 18, 2009 at 9:53 pm

Hell man, you got me snuffling all over the mouse with this one.
As a tog I am surprised that your word picture is a strong as some of your pix

Alan says:

on March 18, 2009 at 10:12 pm

Loved the elderly couple story, thanks for sharing that.

Jim says:

on March 18, 2009 at 10:19 pm

Being a 70 yr +, I can relate to that.. Lifes good , enjoy each moment. Thanks for sharing.

Hub says:

on March 18, 2009 at 10:49 pm

Joe –

Sharing your understanding of light last Friday at Kapolei was a rare treat.

“McNally no ka oi”

A hui hou.

pieter says:

on March 18, 2009 at 10:52 pm

Great post as usual, touching story about ” The Couple” , although you didn’t photographed them but actually you did by your eyes or mind, this I learn from Cliff Mautner, we picture it in our eyes.
“Lady in the water” picture looks terrific, thank you for always bring us inspiration.

John Hamilton says:

on March 18, 2009 at 11:10 pm

That’s beautiful writing at the end, about the elderly couple. Thanks for sharing that.

I got my copy of “Hot Shoe Diaries” today and couldn’t put it down. You’ve done it again! Thanks for sharing your skills and thoughts with us, Joe.

Luke Townsend says:

on March 18, 2009 at 11:13 pm

HA! I’ve always wanted to be the first to comment on your blog…..

I vote for a “where in the world is Laurie’s Hair” book.

Great images! Looking forward to more. But I must give you props for the one in the bar with the pool table, great way to think outside the box…or bar for that matter.

Mike Boehmer says:

on March 18, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Great post, Joe and great photo in the pool. Love the splashy “bokeh” behind her head. Nice to hear that story of the old folks, there’s hope for us all!

Eric Politzer says:

on March 18, 2009 at 11:45 pm

“Our pictures are our footprints. It’s the best way to tell people we were here.” Amen preacher. There is a verse in Richard Shindell’s new CD in a song called “Balloon Man” which really resonates with your remark. It is about an old, disheveled balloon man in Buenos Aires who is about to take a stumble. It goes something like “And though you live far away on the other side of the world, I just wanted you to know that Balloon Man lives in it too.” In that spirit, I never would have known that the 18 year Hula dancer in Kauai existed had she not modeled for our class. Photography affirms our humanity in so many different ways!

Diana says:

on March 19, 2009 at 12:07 am

Hey Joe,

I enjoyed the mini lighting workshop with you (Lighthaus Camera). I look forward to attending a more in-depth workshop sometime in the future. I hope by then I’ve mastered the art of staying warm without an oversized parka and can handle cold weather in the mainland. :-) Thanks again for the laughs and showing us a slice of what you know.

Diana L.

Frank Tona says:

on March 19, 2009 at 12:35 am

Mr. McNally you are and Ol’ softy but you have a big heart and great writers pen
Nice Photo of Moose and Sharon..When I close my eyes I can see that couple as they shuffle off into the sunset.
Thanks for great visible and verbal images…in fact so great was the imagery I am taking my wife to Kauai for our 25th wedding anniversary.
Frank from DLWS Redwoods

RickW says:

on March 19, 2009 at 12:43 am

That last line is perfect. Thanks. (And I can’t wait for the new book to show up.)

Mo says:

on March 19, 2009 at 2:03 am

WOW..Those photos rock..especially the girl in the pool. BTW judging from the excerpt of your new book, I guess it’s not gonna leave my camera bag. Great work. Thanks Joe and keep the great work flowing


Jay Mann says:

on March 19, 2009 at 2:42 am

Hey Joe,

Its your humanistic approach that sets you and your work apart. In the end, the fstops and white balance don’t matter, its the moment.

Thanks for reminding us again of what is really important.

Sorry I won’t be seeing you in Dubai this year.


Bill Graham says:

on March 19, 2009 at 3:12 am

Touching account of the old couple at the shore. Especially that you let them keep their photo moment for themselves. We steal enough of others’ lives. Glad you know where to draw the line. Bill

Michael George says:

on March 19, 2009 at 3:12 am

I’m not really sure how you manage to roll me into a fit of laughter (with the Laurie’s hair question) and then bring a tear to my eye (with that final anecdote), but I definitely enjoy the ride.

Don’t ever stop writing, I’ll never stop reading!

Jamie Willmott says:

on March 19, 2009 at 4:33 am

Great entry, a bit of everything.

Jon T says:

on March 19, 2009 at 5:34 am

You’re a pretty decent bloke Joe.

Joe says:

on March 19, 2009 at 7:13 am

Well said, sir.

Henrik says:

on March 19, 2009 at 7:23 am

Joe! You have allready enlightened me in the few minutes, I’ve got to know You’re writings and a “lecture” on YouTube from the Pope’s visit! It was a GREAT end-line!
I think, You are a warm person with a lot of empathy!
THANK’s! Now I, although living in Denmark, will try to buy some of Your books. That is one of the nice things, I-net have brought us: It’s so easy to buy stuff, You otherwise would have some difficulty in buying!
Once again: THANK YOU!

Scott says:

on March 19, 2009 at 7:25 am

Footprints? That’s a good term. Mine is “postcards”.

When I was 18 oh-so-many years ago, I concluded that making a living as a photog was probably beyond my skill set. Since I loved shooting so much, the natural course was to document my path through life in what I called “postcards of a life well traveled”. I hope that someone sets up a projector at my wake and shows them all, from A to Z, so that anyone who shows up can say ‘Yep, he made the most of it”.

Tom McKean says:

on March 19, 2009 at 7:46 am


What’s so special about Laurie’s hair? The design and shapes of her hair strands? I think it’s so funny and beutiful at the same time! But then you turn around and talked about that old couple with the camera phone – So touching & beautiful!

You’re a great shooter and a cool writer!

If I see Laurie at Photoshop World, I’m going to kid her about you photographing her hair. It’s cool.

Sandy says:

on March 19, 2009 at 7:48 am

Isn’t this why we do what we do? It is for me, so your post really hit home with me. I also can’t help but think of my own grandmother who is 93 yrs. young and thriving, when my pop pop was alive they were the most in love couple I have ever scene. Thanks for starting my day with a big smile and some affirmation that what I do does matter.

Bill Moore says:

on March 19, 2009 at 8:01 am

Just when we were about to save a bunch of money in our budget on Kleenex, there you go again, Joe…(snifff….snort….yeah, it’s just a cold….certainly not me crying….).

Great photos, and inspiration to lug that D-300 around (and figure out how to work that dang cellphone camera).

Chris says:

on March 19, 2009 at 8:07 am


Great Blog Post…you have been to some great places where Moose has dragged you and have been people to opportunity to learn from you which I appreciate. Not, having attended a DLWS event which I hope to do once in my lifetime as you, Moose Peterson, and Laurie are my idols next to Scott Kelby and Matt Koslowski.

I was particularly drawn to the ending of this blog and it is so true what you take in the camera and save will forever leave a mark about your journey in photography…which is why I enjoy sharing my photos on Flickr and with family and friends.

Thanks for continuing to inspire and teach people about your work…you are a hero to a lot in the photography community.


Pat Kilkenny says:

on March 19, 2009 at 8:30 am

What a beautiful story to end the post today! It sent shivers up my back! I think I’ll go hug my wife! =)
Keep the great work coming Joe!

Mark says:

on March 19, 2009 at 8:32 am


Another great and very moving piece. The wife and I enjoyed being with you and the whole DLWS gang in Kauai. It was an tremendous experience with terrific people. You are inspirational in your work and your words.


Virginia Bonesteel says:

on March 19, 2009 at 8:49 am

I love your posts, Joe. They always make me laugh, sometimes make me cry and I always learn something new. I’m still processing the SFW class with you last month. This ole lady found that she knew more than she thought she did. But she also discovered that there was a lot more to learn than she ever dreamed. Thank you. You are a great teacher.

Waiting impatiently for my copy of the Hot Shoe Diaries. It should be here today.


Fred Troilo says:

on March 19, 2009 at 9:05 am

Very nice post Joe, especially about the couple. Didn’t need to take a picture, your description left the perfect image. Take care and safe travels! Fred

Craig says:

on March 19, 2009 at 9:48 am

Great thought. I often forget that there is more to life than f-stops.

Phillip Siddiq says:

on March 19, 2009 at 9:54 am

8000th sync???!!! Holy mackeral! I’m getting your new book..ASAP!

Frank says:

on March 19, 2009 at 10:41 am

Just when I think, “Oh cool, here’s another blog from that grizzly sumbitch!” you go and get all wobbly on me and make my eyes wet! It’s not the gear – of course not – it’s the memories that are captured and preserved and shared, yes.

Thanks for sharing – those captures are precious records.

Nick says:

on March 19, 2009 at 11:12 am

What a lovely story about the elderly couple. It’s so important to stop and enjoy the moment when you can.

Robert Theoret says:

on March 19, 2009 at 11:17 am

Mr. McNally,

Now that I have finished using (3 or 4) tissues, I can write trough clearer eyes, and I must say that your oratory depiction of the elderly couple, goes far beyond what any photograph would be able to convey.

I appreciate the very talented way that you can carry you’re reader trough different emotions, taking them from quote “Laurie’s got really great tips. Hmmm. Did that come out right?” to quote “She turned, positively beaming. She had one of those sun hats on, the kind you tie around your neck with a big, old fashioned ribbon. She was beautiful.” and also quote “First was how much I missed Annie”.

Thank you so much for sowing us (the readers) the many facets that make up the wealth of talent that is Mr. Joe McNally.

PS. Anni is a very lucky woman.

Thank you.

randy baran says:

on March 19, 2009 at 11:44 am

great experience, great shots! thanks for sharing. sometime, it’d be great if you took along a film camera — is that what it used to be called? “film?” — and compared state of the state digital with horse and buggy.

as for hawaii, you had mentioned once that your wife reminds you to watch your words and keep some of them inside. i can relate. a long time ago, way before I was married, a buddy of mine (6’8″) took me to a Tall Person’s Club meeting at an Irish bar in Chicago. Beautiful women. I’d had 3 or 4 (Harp’s probably) and started jumping in front of them, saying “Howwwdy” on the way down. he got me out there quick.

Alan Cox says:

on March 19, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Great post! You do “moments” posts every bit at well as your “rants”. Those things remind us who we are and why we even care about the other stuff like photography. Alan

Jeryc Garcia says:

on March 19, 2009 at 1:46 pm

Your last line really caught me there, Joe. Hook, Line, and Sinker. So much that I couldn’t just leave this post without telling you it did. And if you’re in New York in June, I’d like to invite you to what I’ve done to tell people I was here. Keep you posted.

Vasil says:

on March 19, 2009 at 3:17 pm

Incredible story.So beautifull…Bravo!!!

Edd says:

on March 19, 2009 at 4:10 pm

Beautiful……love these posts.

Fred Troilo says:

on March 19, 2009 at 5:49 pm

Whoo-hooo! Just got my notification from Amazon that my Hot Shoe Diaries has shipped!

Jim Cutler says:

on March 19, 2009 at 6:00 pm

Joe, the book is Stunning! Just arrived from Amazon. Can’t wait to work through it slowly. Man, the layout is very well done.

Cheers from Long Island.


Karrel says:

on March 19, 2009 at 7:31 pm

I wanted to do the DWL in Maine but it is filled now that I have the $$$. Next year – I promise

Noah Darnell says:

on March 19, 2009 at 7:56 pm

“Our pictures are our footprints. It’s the best way to tell people we were here.”

Whatever other quotes people may use when talking about photography, I think that one surpassed them all. You may be quoted in quite a few other places, but I have a feeling that one will be around a while…

Brilliant post, Joe.

Mike Ignatov says:

on March 19, 2009 at 9:34 pm

beautiful stuff, but that’s not unusual here

Dave Brown says:

on March 19, 2009 at 10:29 pm

“Our pictures are our footprints. It’s the best way to tell people we were here.”

Way to grab the essence of the thing. Seriously. LIke the second-poster said, your word pictures are as vivid and as grabbing as your camera ones.

zac grimaldo says:

on March 20, 2009 at 12:51 am


Great as always! Did you offer to take a photo of the couple together? Or just take it in? I used to not, but then I started offering to that (for free!), whenever I am out traveling. They explain how easy it is to use their camera and then they are always so surprised when it looks good, it’s funny!

My wife used to tell them, “he’s a professional photographer…” but she doesn’t anymore, she let’s them be excited about their good picture together.

Anticipating my copy of the new book…

Lindsey says:

on March 20, 2009 at 1:48 am

Great post! Who knew your dry wit was complimented with such a soft side…??? It’s really awesome!

Marc says:

on March 20, 2009 at 5:14 am

Hi Joe,

many thanks for your great post.
Though you are well known as a photographer, your writing skills are well up on
par with your photographic skills.

Your description of the elderly couple was moving and better than any
photograph you may have taken. Many thanks for sharing that great moment
you have experienced.

It’s too bad you don’t offer any workshops in Europe, so it will still stay a
dream to once meet you in person.

Take care and best wishes,


Marc Lanciaux says:

on March 20, 2009 at 11:49 am

Just got my copy of ‘Hot Shoe Diaries!!!’

One word – AWESOME!

Was on the Amazon pre-order list since August. Worth the wait! This is gonna be a book I’ll read about a thousand times, and get something new out of it each time.


Carol Watkins says:

on March 20, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Your words are as wonderful as you photography. Can’t wait for my copy of
your book to get here. Thanks Joe.


Chris Keels says:

on March 20, 2009 at 3:48 pm

thank you sharing this.
I have thought this before and even may have said it, your quite a writer.

Mark Griffith says:

on March 20, 2009 at 5:55 pm

So well written (as always).. Love the quote at the end. Its one of the reasons I’ve enjoyed taking photos of folks at work

Perry Mason (not kidding) says:

on March 21, 2009 at 1:43 pm

Your writing, especially the last line, gave me goosebumps…I think that’s the way the Universe speaks to us…perhaps through you Joe

jakob says:

on March 21, 2009 at 3:38 pm

Joe you are such a great storyteller!!!! I love your sense of humor!

Bill says:

on March 21, 2009 at 5:10 pm

What I wanna know Joe is which grain motivates you when you write: Scotch, Vodka or Bourbon ? You can’t be that funny naturally. And if you are, you would wear me out in a short period of time. He ! He ! Just kidding !
Hope to run into you at Derby again this year.

Gene says:

on March 22, 2009 at 1:36 am

Pictures are worth more than a thousand words! wow…

joshi daniel says:

on March 22, 2009 at 4:38 am

those are some really beautiful images!

Dave Hutchinson says:

on March 22, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Joe, I love your line “Our pictures are our footprints. It’s the best way to tell people we were here.” Thanks for a great post!

Alicia says:

on March 23, 2009 at 2:13 pm

Great post, and fun to read as always. But the last line really hit me- enough to make me post for the first time. Just wanted to say that I enjoy hearing your stories, and always take away something. Thanks for that.

Paul Indigo says:

on March 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

The story about the old couple really touched me. I admire your work and you’re as good a writer as you are a photographer.
All the best,

Malik Maxutov says:

on April 4, 2009 at 5:05 am

Definitely, I have found the Photographer close to me “on spirit ” which.
Thank you Joe!


Brooke Young says:

on May 10, 2010 at 12:17 am

the best Telephoto lens that i have used on an SLR is the Canon EF 70-200 F/2.8 lens. Best image quality ever.”,

Robin Jackstadt says:

on October 17, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Awesome share!! I like your blog. 😉

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on November 18, 2013 at 1:41 pm

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