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Moving Fast….

May 16

In Lighting at 10:22am

Been using more and more high speed sync. Gonna show some stuff later today here in Cologne that hopefully will demo the technique well. We have sunshine here today for the first time since getting here.

Speaking of sunshine….

Knocked this out in the desert last month. 1/8000 @ f6.3. Had a great time with some dancers out there and Drew had a blast with a Coolpix shooting this video….

Keep you posted on today. Gonna try for a shot I saw yesterday but couldn’t get to….More tk…..

Jay Mann says:

on May 16, 2009 at 10:44 am


Ever since using high speed sync in Dubai last year, I use it all the time. Greatest thing since sliced bread. Especially for on-camera fill, during dynamic situations. Makes the camera a little bulky with that SB-800 in top most of the time, but worth it.

The recent posts have been extemely entertaining, thanks.


Nik says:

on May 16, 2009 at 10:47 am

Fantastic Shots. How did you manage to use such a high sync speed?

Robin says:

on May 16, 2009 at 10:52 am

Great job Joe!
And more small videos Drew! =)

Israel Z. says:

on May 16, 2009 at 10:56 am

Sooo very cool!!!

Kyle England says:

on May 16, 2009 at 11:17 am

I really appreciate the fact you take time from your busy schedule to maintain this blog. Your work and publications are very inspiring to armature photographers.

Thank you!

Luke Townsend says:

on May 16, 2009 at 11:33 am

See, now this is why I like you…right here. This is it. Nice work!!!

Lindsey says:

on May 16, 2009 at 12:18 pm

AMAZING light! On an wholly unrelated note, will you please get on Twitter? It’s sooooo time for you to sign up for that.

patrick says:

on May 16, 2009 at 12:30 pm

How are the flashes triggered? CLS? What are the wires running to the flashes that look like sync cables?

mike says:

on May 16, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Joe, you are starting to become a bad influence – I suddenly have an urge to take all my student loan money and spend it on speedlights instead of pizza and beer!

Just kidding, i’d still buy beer…

Maryj says:

on May 16, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Joe l rly dont understand your ligting set up but photos are pro.
All your sb-s are on manual mode or auto?

Dennis Kielhorn says:

on May 16, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Dear Mr. McNally!

I’ve seen you on three seminars in Cologne and it was a greate pleasure to me to be one of your personal “Voice Activated Lightstands” in two sessions. :-)

Those two “Speed Of Light”-Seminars where great, I’ve learned lots of new things and I hope I can use them at my next shooting.

Hope, I see you next year in Venice at a workshop.

Take care about german coffee and beer! :-)

Greetings from Muenster (Germany)


Daniel Wadenius says:

on May 16, 2009 at 1:01 pm

Great video, great as always to see you in action!

Dennis Kielhorn says:

on May 16, 2009 at 1:08 pm

PS: Sorry about my rusty english. “If you don’t use it, you’ll loose it!” :-(

Milan says:

on May 16, 2009 at 1:26 pm

Lots of great shots on the page and in the movie, but the top photograph in the post is absolutely incredible. I LOVE it! It looks like it came straight out of an action movie, but with the scenery, action, and expression all captured in a single instant.

Truly inspiring, thank you for sharing this.

John Leonard says:

on May 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Why do I love CLS? Let me count the ways….all 8,000 of them.

Karen/Svenska Studios says:

on May 16, 2009 at 1:42 pm

Great capture — the video is insightful on the technique. Will we be seeing these as a ad somewhere soon?

Nicholas Franklin says:

on May 16, 2009 at 2:20 pm

High Speed Sync for the win Joe. A very under-utilized feature of speedlights i feel. Photographer > Sun.

Daniel Z. says:

on May 16, 2009 at 3:07 pm

Hi Joe!

I really loved your live shoot and your talk today in Cologne. Great to see someone being so passionate about what they do for a living. That’s something everybody should be striving for.
Hope to get a chance to see you give a talk or teach again some day!
(btw. I was the fella asking you about how you organize production…)

Cheers and enjoy your time in Germany!


Martin Gommel says:

on May 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Yap, very cool treatment of light. As commented on youtube I am admiring that you keep using the SB’s… But I have a question: Why did you shoot against the sun? I am not shure if I like that details cause my eyes tend to look on it too much 😉

Tyler Green says:

on May 16, 2009 at 3:34 pm


Tim says:

on May 16, 2009 at 3:59 pm

hi joe,
nice job in cologne today. thank you very much for your time!

Dušan says:

on May 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm

My jaw dropped. Amazing. Just seeing the post in my RSS reader got me thinking – “Oh my, McNally did it again! How many flashes?”. Really inspiring work and I love the end result. Love it.

Götz says:

on May 16, 2009 at 5:35 pm

Hi Joe,

I attended your second talk today in Cologne and really enjoyed it! I had a great time :)


Dirk says:

on May 16, 2009 at 8:56 pm

Wow. I had no idea that CLS would sync up to 1/8000. Another inspiring project — and a kick in the pants to get out and do more with what I’ve got! Now, all I have to find is a desert…

drew says:

on May 16, 2009 at 9:11 pm

To answer a few questions:

Nik, you can sync at high speeds on the Nikon system using a menu setting called “Auto FP”, which lets you sync up to 1/8,000th. Can also has something of the sorts, though not sure what they call it.

Lindsey, Joe will be on Twitter VERY soon, I promise….it’s all set to go, so keep a lookout for him.

Patrick, The flashes were triggered via CLS using an SB-900, on camera set up as a master….the “sync cords” you see in the video are actually the cords running from the battery packs (SD-8A for the SB-800 and SD-9 for the 900) to the flashes.

Maryj, from what I recall, the flashes for the shot of the guy jumping were all set on Manual 1/1 power, as we were trying to get the biggest blast possible out of them to compete with the VERY bright desert sun.

Hope this helps,

"I'll take the duck." says:

on May 16, 2009 at 11:37 pm

Seriously amazing work. Is that some HDR action on the break dancer ? Could this be the surfacing of Joey M ? Drew, props to you on your mastery of iMovie ’09. The video is flawless and the transitions are rad. Joe … your works not to bad either.

– Andrew

Phat Photographer says:

on May 16, 2009 at 11:56 pm

Despite Canon’s flash system being supposedly inferior (probably is, just haven’t used both to compare), it does have the same ability (called high speed sync) to sync at 1/8000th but you lose a lot of the power in the process. In practical terms, it takes more flash heads then I have money for (without stealing to much from the beer fund or college fund) to over power direct sun for action shots which makes this blog post all the more impressive. thanks Joe.

Stephen J. Zeller says:

on May 17, 2009 at 12:58 am


Great stuff, as always! I really enjoyed “The Hot Shoe Diaries” a lot. You’ve convinced me to play around more with CLS instead of doing everything manually.

Have a great weekend!


Thomas says:

on May 17, 2009 at 5:03 am

Amazing piece of photography. WOW

Glyn Dewis says:

on May 17, 2009 at 5:21 am


AWESOME stuff. Just love this desert series of shots you’ve been making; real inspirational stuff and Drew, great video and editing…love it.

Keep it comin’,

Best wishes to you all,

Adam says:

on May 17, 2009 at 7:24 am

When I saw the hand-stander I thought it looked very much like HDR. It’s interesting to see another technique that has somewhat the same impact (foreground detail while shooting into the sun). This is more impressive though, because you can get such an active subject, and it’s also more ‘real’ (if you like that sort of thing).

“I’ll take the duck” -> It isn’t HDR, it’s High Speed Synch. This is where you take a photo with a really short exposure time, but still get your flash to happen between shutter opening and closing (not trivial technology).
The sun is a continuous light source so a shorter exposure time means less light, but the flash is on for a shorter period of time than the shutter is open, so appears just as bright regardless of the exposure time. Balance the two (using ISO or aperture) and you can get fantastic photos like this.
(I’m just going on theory I’ve picked up, and even then, I’m simplifying a couple of details, but that’s the idea)

Trenton Moore says:

on May 17, 2009 at 12:41 pm

Dude, Joe. You rock!

Sean says:

on May 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Nice work Joe. I like how you light, but is it harder or easier to use multiple speedlights (SB-900) rather than one or two AC/DC strobes?

Ana Santos says:

on May 17, 2009 at 11:09 pm

Thanks for the video! I’m always looking for behind-the-scenes photo sessions. Your video was very helpful!

Karim Hesham says:

on May 18, 2009 at 1:16 am

Hey JOE!!
nice picture there but i’m sure you were inspired by CHASE JARVIS Dubai shot taken last year and published this year in the GPP09 !!

conny Lietz says:

on May 18, 2009 at 2:43 am

Hi Joe,

I visited both of your seminars on Friday in cologne – not only do I love your work but I just love listening to the way you speak – it’s always fun and it get’ s me in a happy mood!
Stay that way!

– Conny

Brock says:

on May 18, 2009 at 5:06 am

I am just wondering…. could the same thing not be accomplished with just a huge reflector? Say, a bunch of mirrors, or 8 sheets of white foamcore, set up in a curved shape? Yeah you’ve gotta have a lot of light to compete with the sun…. so why not use the sun itself as your 2nd source of light?

Keith says:

on May 18, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Joe doesn’t have a private jet, but if he ebay’d half his collection of speedlights he could buy one.

Richard says:

on May 18, 2009 at 1:00 pm


Love you work! I have both of your books and it is really inspiring. This has really motivated me to do more projects. Love the High Speed FP Sync.

Diego Tabango says:

on May 18, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Hi Joe,

I just love looking at these photos… I just know I won’t be able to reproduce something like this. I don’t know too many photogs that walk around with an arsenal of sb900s.

Looking forward to more!

Ralf says:

on May 18, 2009 at 2:55 pm


I’d like to thank you for your great workshops in Cologne! It’s been a great event and I enjoyed your sense of humour 😉



Ton says:

on May 18, 2009 at 4:58 pm

Hi Joe,

I visited both of your seminars in Cologne last saturday. You would really be a great teacher, you’re humor rocks!!!
I was the guy that asked you about justin-clamps that would fit the sb-900. The guy at the bogen-stand had no idea what i was talking about!?
So i will send another e-mail to Manfrotto again and se what happens, i dont want another speedlight to drop out of a clamp again!

Anyway, Joe it was nice meeting you and i hope you liked it here too..


Chikatze says:

on May 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm

hi joe! i enjoyed your workshop in cologne on saturday (the first one) and i followed your lips each second. 😉 it was really gread and inspiring..
thank you very much for that.

Chikatze says:

on May 18, 2009 at 6:36 pm

(of course i meant “great” 😉 – too much beer, sorry)

alex g says:

on May 19, 2009 at 3:03 pm

i wish i could attend your classes =(

Mark says:

on May 19, 2009 at 4:55 pm

How did I miss this one???? Great stuff! Drew, love the video.

Keep ’em comin’, as the drunk at the end of the bar says.

Pia says:

on May 20, 2009 at 5:39 am

Hi Joe,
Remember your Book Signing last week at the Nikon Solutions Expo in Cologne – Germany?
Here you will find some photos:
and .

All the best

Eliot Baker says:

on May 26, 2009 at 6:53 pm

Hey Joe!
This is my first time commenting on your blog. First of all I love all your work and your whole aspect of how you view photography and your drive is awsom!!! Im a Cannon shooter and trying to understand how can you high speed sync at 1/8000? Is this only a Nikon thing or what?

Peter Tsai says:

on May 27, 2009 at 5:50 pm

great shots of the breakdancer. You had some great timing going on as is evident from the video.

I’ve shot a lot of breakdance events and portrait sessions before, so I know it isn’t easy!

Dave Hutchinson says:

on May 29, 2009 at 8:00 am

Loved the video Joe! Let’s see some more of these.

Marek says:

on June 3, 2009 at 8:25 am

I’m so amazed witha all the work you guys did. I’ts exactly the type of photography I love. Is there any chance you’ll be in Poland some day and do some seminars?

Nike Kobe IV says:

on June 9, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Anyway, Joe it was nice meeting you and i hope you liked it here too..

Tony Yu says:

on June 14, 2009 at 1:31 pm

Sick! sorry I don’t have anything else to say :)

victor Mark says:

on July 26, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Was that a 24mm lens and lot of SBs
Great follower of JN

Philip Casey says:

on August 11, 2009 at 2:26 am

Please tell me how you are shooting 1/8000 of a second with flash. I have tried and tired but every product that advertises it, still gives me the shutter banding effect. I’m dying to know what you guys are doing to get off-camera flash above 200th.

If you could please email me I will appreciate it VERY VERY much.

Nasser says:

on June 12, 2010 at 3:11 am

Tanks for help me abut top shot in photography and lighting in exposuer .
Very very tanks .
I see all pictuers in your Website .

Nasser says:

on June 12, 2010 at 3:30 am

If you can pleas tell me who to sync (2 or more SB800 )flash to 1/8000 speed ?

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