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Vanessa, Times Two…

Jun 25

In Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 2:41pm


Days 2 and 3 in Dobbs. Still playing with that mask I got in Venice, and I promise to stop soon. It just seems to me there are certain faces that belong on stage, or perhaps in another century. Vanessa has one of those. A magnificent dancer, we have worked together now over 4 years. She has danced, posed, gone on pointe, been tied up with ribbons like a marionette, had SB900 speed lights attached to curlers in her hair…..geez, she is patient with me. She’s even flown on the set occasionally, and I’ve been lucky enough to have a camera in my hands.


Yesterday I asked her to be two people, masked and unmasked. Nikon D3, two SB900 units into matching (well, almost matching) Ezybox Hot Shoe soft boxes. Gary Astill, the lead designer for Lastolite, has flown over from England to be here, watch us work, get field feedback and ideas.

Speaking of faces, one that belongs right here, right now, is my bud Kent Miller. We’ve known each other for years, and I shot his wedding to his wonderful wife,  Amy. I always ask him, “How’d you end up with Amy, dude?” He counters. “How’d you end up with Annie, bozo?” We both shrug and accept life’s wonderful mysteries.


He came by the workshop, and we lit him with two Tri-grip diffusers, each with an SB900 running through it. Sent different power levels to both from the commander at the camera. Converted to B&W with NIK filters. (Amazing! Mongo push slider good! Though he still remain pawn in game of life.)


We did some high key, kinda commercial looking stuff with Jillian….


Low key with Mariana….dobbs_09_workshops_day_3_0228

Simple, soft lighting for Nathalia……dobbs_09_workshops_day_3_0161

The scene in the studio, and on the loading dock, courtesy of Jeff Snyder at Adorama……



And Kent ended us with a leap…doubled up CTO warm gels, leaving him warm, while the stormy Northeast goes drab and blue (been nothing else lately around here) with the D3 programmed to incandescent white balance, B4, which is really, really blue. The loading dock itself was the light source, as we just draped an old 12′ silk on the garage door with A clamps.


We’re having fun up in Dobbs….again, a big thanks to our sponsors….Nikon, Adorama, Bogen….tip of the hat from all of us. More tk…..

Ties Prak says:

on June 25, 2009 at 2:49 pm

Those pics are great Joe. As usually :)

IbrahimZen says:

on June 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Such a diversity in one post! i enjoyed it!
Nathalia soft lighting is superb! in addition the colors of her skin/clothes is so great!

Ken says:

on June 25, 2009 at 3:13 pm


One of them thar days, I am come to one your one day deals…So I love the photos, etc.

Would consider coming more to the south and leave them thar damn yankee’s back and see some southern red neck hospitality

Ken in KY

Federico says:

on June 25, 2009 at 3:13 pm

Wonderful and inspiring pictures, as usual, Joe! The last one is great! Also, the first image makes me think of the portrait you took of Steve Martin! Nice work!

Richard Cave says:

on June 25, 2009 at 3:14 pm

Love the BW shot and the dancer, however you lost the skateboard on the last shot,, LOL,

Just to let you know your beer is getting warm, and the cat keeps eyeing it suspicously you better get to england before it gets drunk,

Love the nathalia shot..


Maglio Viracca says:

on June 25, 2009 at 3:24 pm

Hi, I use one of those Ezyboxes myself and I’d like to offer my feedback to Gary Astill if I may:
1. I don’t always feel confident that the softbox won’t slip off the speedring adapter, could it be improved and made more secure?
2. The knob for tightening the coldshoe onto the speedring adapter is fiddly to operate when it’s as close as possible to the speedring opening (does that make sense?) ie. when I want the speedlight as close as possible to the softbox opening – it bumps into the stand part.

Thanks for listening and for providing inspiration to so many of us.
Kind regards,
M Viracca

Gary Polito says:

on June 25, 2009 at 3:31 pm

Typical Joe style, looks like so much fun, wish we could have stayed all week, if you haven’t ever experienced a Joe McNally seminar first hand, put it on top ten things to do before you die. Thanks again to Joe and his wonderful staff.

Trude says:

on June 25, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Wow. Just wow. I’ve always loved your portraits of dancers, but that one of Vanessa jumping is simply stun-ning. (Yes, so awesome it requires a hyphen to emphasize said fact.) :)

Eric says:

on June 25, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Hi Joe,
Great shots, as usual. The loading dock pic with the woman in yellow” there is a stunning young lady in a black dress on the left, you need to get pics of her and post, like, wow! The red hair and beautiful face, cant go wrong. Just sayin.

Nicole says:

on June 25, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Joe, I had an amazing time at your workshop on Tuesday! Thank you for sharing your knowledge and being so down to earth and …. freaking funny too! lol

and I couldn’t agree with you more about Vanessa. Radiant!

jakob says:

on June 25, 2009 at 5:11 pm

Very nice post, as always! Love that group photo:-)

Kjartan says:

on June 25, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Thanks for a great workshop, Joe. I had lots of fun & learned a lot. Going to this workshop was like trying to sip out of a fire hose though. Lots of information in a very short time!
I’m still trying to absorb it all.

I put up some more behind the scene photos here:

stephen says:

on June 25, 2009 at 6:54 pm

noob question:

High key vs Low key?

High key: having the key light way up high?
Low key: having the key light lower down, maybe near the camera?

Joel Bischoff says:

on June 25, 2009 at 7:58 pm

Hey Joe! I had a great time with you and your crew on Tuesday, even though I nearly didn’t make it. That top shot of Vanessa has me ready to order one of those “new” Ezyboxes straight away. Thanks again for a wonderful day. And if Drew or Andrew are reading this- Thanks for the pic!


Jim says:

on June 25, 2009 at 8:01 pm

Great Stuff!!

Mark says:

on June 25, 2009 at 8:10 pm

Awesome, awesome workshop. Can’t say enough about you and your team. Much thanks to Team McNally.

John Leonard says:

on June 25, 2009 at 8:13 pm

I like that setup shot on the dock. I especially like that patented “McNally’s Photographer’s Knee Protector”…..Gary Fong has got nothing on you!

James Stoneley says:

on June 25, 2009 at 10:07 pm

Fantastic blog once again Joe, great pics and very informative. Looks like you’re having a ball over there.

Can you divulge what the set up was for the shot of the ballerina in red doing the splits in mid air? It’s a stunning image, I love the blend of tones in the background, really makes the subject pop.

Frank McPartland says:

on June 25, 2009 at 11:27 pm

Joe: Another amazing workshop! I am so glad that I landed a spot. Thanks again Joe for sharing your expertise and thanks to Lynn for putting this event together for us!

-Frank McPartland

Darren Whitley says:

on June 26, 2009 at 12:08 am

I find the vintage STP T-shirt to be inspiring.

Sergei says:

on June 26, 2009 at 12:26 am

Cool shots with Kent :)

And again – thanks for sharing stuff from workshops , Joe.
It really helps us, poor sods who couldnt make it for one reason or another :(

Israel Z. says:

on June 26, 2009 at 1:02 am

Supper cool!!! thanks for sharing!!



on June 26, 2009 at 8:03 am

super cool, rien à dire.
j’ai vraiment un réelle plaisir à lire votre blog.

Bill says:

on June 26, 2009 at 9:59 am


I had a question about the shot from the loading dock with you using the “McNally Photographer’s tactical kneepad”. Is that a poverty wizard on your hotshoe?

drew says:

on June 26, 2009 at 10:49 am

Hey Bill,

That’s actually an Elinchrom Skyport radio transmitter…pretty cool stuff. It allows us to adjust each pack’s power setting right from the camera..

Cindy Farr-Weinfeld says:

on June 26, 2009 at 12:05 pm

Great shots and another great post, Joe! Sometimes I learn something new with your blog, and other times, I just enjoy the photos and the witty commentary! Cindy

Aaron W. Silver says:

on June 27, 2009 at 11:29 am

Great post, and me in Hastings-on-Hudson for vacation, and missed all the fun! So many cool places to shoot up here as well! Cheers. – AW

Al Thomas says:

on June 30, 2009 at 9:59 pm

Spectacular job,Joe!! Amazing backgrounds and lights..gorgeous shot with Mariana in red… unique face,expression.
like painting.Powerful! You should use her more..

Irina says:

on January 6, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Super. Very much last photo was pleasant:)

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