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Sep 24

In In The Field at 11:16am


Fall color hasn’t hit the North Country yet, so everything is pretty foggy and green, generally speaking. Leave it to the Mooster to find the one swatch of foliage with an RGB heartbeat. I swear to God he’s like a water witcher, wandering the otherwise drab forest, holding his D3X out in front of him, eyes closed, feeling the pixels tug him this way and that. We all followed him, chanting. Found this little stoplight of a tree and shot the hell out of it.

Even I got in on the act. Used the Nikkor 70-300mm, which, is small, handy dandy and damn sharp for a lens I coulda sworn was made outta ashtray glass. Slammed my D3 into rainbow (otherwise known as vivid), which is not a mode I generally use,  and blasted away. This uh, really red rendition popped up in my browser and I damn near wet myself. I didn’t have to have a conversation and the thing didn’t have an appointment or moods. Cool. I gotta do more of this landscape stuff.

Heading south. Home for one night, then into Pennsylvania for the Geographic. Yep, shooting for the yellow border gang in the exotic wilds of Pa., which is mostly, you know, pretty rural. My daughter Caity, who lives near Scranton, describes it as Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between. She says a routine grocery store run for her neighbors is, you know, milk, bread, eggs, dip and ammo.

But yeah, this is often the kind of locale I often get sent to for Nat Geo. Nick Nichols figures out how to walk across Africa. Steve McCurry wanders the colorful markets of Mumbai. Dave Harvey gets sent to wherever there’s attractive women. I go to Allentown.

It’s cool, though, cause the story’s really worthwhile, and it’s great to keep shooting editorially in an era where the picture departments at many magazines consider themselves a Goodwill drop off bin. I got a bunch more to do on this right though the fall. Happy about that.

DLWS was pretty much the routine giggle fest it usually is. Lots of fun, instruction and good pix. Demo’d hi speed sync with a leaping, one light rendition of lovely Stephanie Cross.


Turned around shooting this and found Toby Miller watching the events. Toby’s a great guy and a good shooter but I think all the pre-dawn communing with the trees had taken it’s toll, cause he looked for all the world like Eor with a tripod. I swear the only reason he was upright was that he had his chin bolted somehow to the ball head. He graciously remained right where he was for this portrait.


Then he gamely tried matching Steph for a leap.


Steph is effortlessly levitating, and Toby’s stressin’ a bit, trying for some hang time.


It was fun out there, wherever we were. Coming from a place where they number the streets, I get disoriented pretty easy with the leaves and trees and all. More tk….


Johan Sopiee says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:17 am

very cool! i can’t wait to meet you one day!

joe says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:22 am

your daughter describes PA very accurately.

Bentley says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:24 am

That’s funny…here in Alabama we used to say Birmingham was like Pittsburgh without the yankee accent :)

Ray K says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:24 am

The trees are numbered Joe, on the back side from whatever side you are on.

Edson says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:26 am

Great story as always Joe. You should definitely do more of that landscape stuff. You should rig the forest with a 1000 strobes in the middle of the night. You’ll be surprise what comes out of there.

Gerry Walden says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:38 am

I am new to your blog, and really enjoyed reading your triumphs and tribulations. Wish i was closer to get to one of your events.

caroline says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:39 am

Oh, you’ll be out in my neck of the woods. We’ve also been known to refer to it as Pennsyltucky, and (in Fayette County, where I live) Fayettenam.

We actually have a business, I don’t know what else to call it, that sells the following:

Italian food
Computer parts (and repair)
Video rentals

Did you want a rifle with your hoagie? It’s like Wal*Mart for hillbillies.

Dale says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:46 am

Beautiful shot!

Question Joe; were you still in Vivid when you shot Toby on the ball head?

Eric Politzer says:

on September 24, 2009 at 12:42 pm

such a cool shot of the tree! however much I loved our trip to Maine, NY and Vermont last month, I am so jealous that you and the DLWSers are getting the full fall effect! have a fantastic workshop!

Andy Colwell says:

on September 24, 2009 at 2:32 pm

Curious to see what NG is up to in Allentown haha.
Not gonna lie though, your daughter put it right. Having lived there forever, however, State College is a little bit of left-wing exception to that Bama claim. Seconding caroline above – we’re cool with Pennsyltuckey, at least until you get into town here.

Hopefully we’ll be seeing you soon back here in the wilds of Penn State as usual.

Per says:

on September 24, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Oh how badly I want your skills… Great blog and work! Cheers from Stockholm

Shawn says:

on September 24, 2009 at 3:56 pm

Great post Joe. Nice to hear you are headed to PA. My wife is from Allentown and I am from Reading, so if you need anything don’t hesitate to ask. Despite it’s reputation, PA can be one of the most beautiful places on earth (depending where you are). Can’t wait to see what Nat Geo has cooked up for you. See ya’ in NYC in Nov….


Andy Quadra says:

on September 24, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Love these “one light” shots…I am hoping you come to Houston sometime in the very near future.

Jeff Klofft says:

on September 24, 2009 at 4:41 pm


Glad you enjoyed Maine! In the photo of Toby and Steph, what are you bouncing your flash off of?


Mark says:

on September 24, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Caitlyn left off bourbon – milk, bread, eggs, cheese, dip, ammo, bourbon. I know…I grew up in that hill country. They were drinking PBR when it wasn’t the cool thing to do. It ain’t retro up there…just never changed in the first place. God’s Country, though. Say hi to my folks.

Jan Winther says:

on September 24, 2009 at 5:42 pm

…routine grocery store run for her neighbors is, you know, milk, bread, eggs, dip and ammo.


Thanks Joe, you just made a sh…y day a whole lot better.

.. my face is sore from smiling…


jakob says:

on September 24, 2009 at 5:48 pm

McNally rocks! Once more! Great stuff Joe!

Cheers jkob

Karen Kaiser says:

on September 24, 2009 at 7:21 pm

Happy to say ‘I was there’. You are an amazing teacher. I have been inspired to take my SB900 out of the pouch it has been living in (since I bought it) and make some (small flash) magic. Thanks for the memories.


on September 24, 2009 at 9:56 pm


you said “dah gets sent to wherever there are attractive women…i get sent to Allentown”…now Joe, my memory has me with more good Motel 6 views of a parking lot than i care to mention, 4 bad nights in a jail in Palembang, 2.7 years working for Clarkson in Topeka,6 nights under house arrest in Tripoli, one week sleeping on a 1 foot wide board in the Mosquitia of Nicaragua,24 hrs sleeping with a pregnant woman with her chickens going to market on a bus winding through the Guatamala highlands and 2 days lost at sea with a fisherman from Kota Kinabalu who just kept smiling….one of the most gracious, intelligent, and beautiful women i ever met was from Allentown…i always knew you were one lucky dude…

cheers, david

Phillip says:

on September 24, 2009 at 10:56 pm

Joe, time to update the Copyright information in the camera comments field. It still says 2008 and the year is almost out. Ha. Love your work and follow the blog regularly.

joe mcnally says:

on September 24, 2009 at 11:28 pm

hey dave….yeah, we’ve all been sent to crazy places….maybe you just find beautiful people quicker than I do. I still remember that grouping of depressed beers we had in a very unbeautiful place…Days Inn in Liberty NY…..oh well…..I’ll let you know how Allentown goes. Good to hear from you….best, Joe

Mike McFerrin says:

on September 25, 2009 at 7:05 am

That’s right Joe……When all else fails…Hell, just have some fun, ‘cuz the next assignment may just require real work!! LOL!! Great job, as usual.

janet wolbarst says:

on September 25, 2009 at 9:27 am

You are the funniest person I’ve ever had the pleasure of meeting. You totally crack me up. I love your work but your humor and passion just makes my day. Thanks for yet another awesome post. I just know you’ll find something to amuse you in Allentown. Can’t wait to read all about it.

Greg Lepera says:

on September 25, 2009 at 9:59 am

Great stuff Joe. Brought back wonderful memories of standing on the shore of Jordan Pond photographing the Bubbles, and eating popovers with butter and Maine strawberry Jam…


Dewayne Pizzolato says:

on September 25, 2009 at 10:13 am

“cause he looked for all the world like Eor with a tripod”…that’s funny shit right there. Always good for a laugh man…thanks!

Jacob Pabst says:

on September 25, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Joe I enjoy ready your blog just as much as I enjoy you photography.

Contre Jour Studios says:

on September 25, 2009 at 3:09 pm

Hilarious! …this guy is seriously bent!!

Joe Riley says:

on September 25, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Hey Joe,

When you coming to the UK next to do some teaching? I gotta start saving up :p We miss you over this side of the pond.

Also, through reading Mr Hobby’s blog, then you starting yours, I’ve decided to take the plunge and start my own! ( I’m a regional daily press staffer and figured I could use the blog to show stuff the paper aint gonna use!

Keep up the great work!


Joe R.

Uwe Noelke says:

on September 26, 2009 at 6:50 am

The redof the tree is unbelievable. Have neverseen such bright color in nature before.

Scott Thomas says:

on September 28, 2009 at 12:07 pm

It’s still a bit early for those colorful fall landscapes but if you look for trees and shrubs in stressed envinronments (like your tree is here), you can find them. I took some at a bog over the weekend. Cheers! Great stuff and humor as always, Joe. Don’t get, you know, lost in the PA woods. (as Deliverance banjo music plays in the background)

Art Durand says:

on October 1, 2009 at 1:02 am

I so deeply appreciate the way you blend your genius with wonderful humor. My in-laws live in PA and took me to the little town and farm my mother in law grew up in. The place is filled with faces, places and stories like crazy. Might be that I’m a CA guy 😉

Always look forward to your word smithing Joe, thanks so much


Sam Walker says:

on January 31, 2010 at 1:48 pm

When I saw this was like wow. Thank you for putting your effort in publishing this post.

Brady Bryant says:

on May 19, 2010 at 8:01 pm

i love Italian Food specially those juicy pastas. They are really delicious.*`:

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