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Flash Seance Held in Remote Part of Michigan

Oct 23

In Seminars & Workshops at 12:10am


DLWS Michigan. It was raining. Hard. So we didn’t get to go to a lighthouse, one of my favorite things. Stayed indoors, and pooled our flashes. Group A, B, and C. Total, 25. I personally think it had nothing to do with technology, it had to do with this charismatic group of photo folks levitating the light out of their SB units.

Great DLWS, even though it was held in the middle of nowhere. Though someone corrected me today, quite defintively, telling me that it was not the middle of nowhere, but that Traverse City was the biggest city in the lower portion of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. Or is it the upper part of the lower peninsula? That’s where I was? How does Moose Peterson get me to go to places like this where there’s a whole lot of wet leaves on the ground?

But I am trying, lest Moose loose patience with my meager landscape efforts. I did shoot a tree. And I enjoyed my walk in the forest.


But I have to admit, being a people shooter, I was far more interested in doing a portrait of one our participants, Kim. (Also shot at f2, like the tree above.)


Shot with an Ezybox Hot Shoe Softbox, toted by Drew, who was using a Sylinator paint pole light lifter. Had a good time just working down the light to accomodate f2. Been experimenting a bit lately with real minimum DOF portraits. Dicey with the sharpness thing, but fun to do.

Then, the best thing of the trip happened. We went to a deserted beach. It was deserted for very good reasons, in that it was freezing and raining. But a couple of terrific free spirits had slept out on the beach for the whole night, hoping for some wave and wind action in the morning, and instead found their isolated stretch of sand invaded by about 40 folks with cameras. I approached one of them, JonTan, and simply asked, you know, how about making a few pictures?


It was the picture of the trip. Shot again with the Ezybox on the end of the Sylinator. My thanks go out to Vlad and JonTan, who were very patient with our us and all of our pixels.


In DC today, doing a stop for Kelby Tours. Doing live lighting for 5 hours in front of over 800 people. What could go wrong? Shot below is from the first one I did, in San Fran. (Pano stitch by Drew Gurian.)


Like before, I’m sure I’ll be so damn nervous I’ll be in the hallways out back of the place, looking for a place to yak…and then I’ll get a camera in my hands and it’ll be okay.


Will Foster, a great guy who freelances with us, was so impressed by Drew’s workflow blog he went ahead and re-christened him……DREWBO!


I can just see Drew now, standing in front of the computers in the office going, “Okay pixels, I’m comin’ for ya. This time it’s personal……”

More tk…..

Brad Matthews says:

on October 23, 2009 at 12:56 am

San Francisco was awesome! I know DC will be too! Just keep doing what you do so well and if anything happens out oft he ordinary, just shake your head and blame Drew! lol Have a great workshop!

Donna says:

on October 23, 2009 at 1:10 am

Just a small correction… Traverse City is the biggest city in the upper part of the Lower Peninsula.

vanbo says:

on October 23, 2009 at 1:43 am

After looking at that tree shot, I think we all know why Moose keeps making you come to the workshops.

Adam says:

on October 23, 2009 at 2:29 am

I love F/2 work! I’m buying 50mm 1.4 next month !


on October 23, 2009 at 5:49 am

nice work

Jeff says:

on October 23, 2009 at 9:58 am

Joe I’m at the DC seminar right now. I saw you headed out to the hallway. Lol!
Its 9:56 and almost time to start. Hopefully I can get you to autograph your books and get a photo together!
Thank you and Scott for bringing Kelby Training to DC!!

Boston Photographer | MWynne says:

on October 23, 2009 at 10:16 am

It was a lovely tree out there on the upper part of the lower peninsula in northern….wait, I think i messed that up.

Thanks for the post. Always fun to read. Hope to be able to see you in the Boston area sometime soon.

Brian H says:

on October 23, 2009 at 10:21 am

Love the surfer on the beach. Since purchasing an EzyBox (yeah I have the Sylinator also – it works by golly!), I am consistently pleased and often surprised with the gentle light these things put out. Feels like I’m cheating… in a good way. Can’t wait till Santa Fe in 2010… I’m on board.

Mike Neale says:

on October 23, 2009 at 10:30 am

Brilliant work, Drew,…now understand the old adage,…”Behind every great Tog,…there is a great Drew”,…..;-))

Joe,…you should Triple Drew’s salary,…how ’bout a dedicated series shoot just about “Drew”, (perhaps one of him walking on water!). He’s great,…who could tote your gear???

BTW,…great shots here! Thanks for sharing,…..;-)

Shalimar Beekman says:

on October 23, 2009 at 10:39 am

Thanks for a great week Joe and Drew!! I learned so much from all of you. LOVE the Drewbo shot!!

Syl Arena says:

on October 23, 2009 at 10:50 am

Joe – What are you thinking? Those @#*$^*@! leaves in the foreground totally hijack the whole frame. “Patagonia” just screams out at me in the second. Can’t see the guys toes because of the wave in the third.

Will – Great work. Never seen Drew so happy.

Gerry Johnson says:

on October 23, 2009 at 11:00 am

Stick to your strengths! We love your work!

John says:

on October 23, 2009 at 11:00 am

Wow – is that how ripped you have to be to be Joe’s assistant!

Seriousy, loving the DOF for the autumn portrait.

Justin Van Leeuwen says:

on October 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

Love it – took a landscape workshop a few weeks back and did the same thing:

Portrait, sunset, ezybox Sylenated painters stick. You just need the nature guys to point you in the right direction and it’s up to you to put a person in front of that – makes it easier (they’ve done the scouting).

Jason Grubb says:

on October 23, 2009 at 11:14 am

Great shot with the 25 Flashes. love it.

Daniel Bartel says:

on October 23, 2009 at 11:39 am

Joe and Drew, you are both awesome guys. Joe, you are an amazing photographer but everyone already knows that. What I was in awe of was how great of a teacher you are. You talked through your process, broke everything down into small pieces building towards the final product, made us laugh, and answered every question that was thrown your way. I think I was the most excited guy in the room when the lighthouse shoot was canceled and we got more McNally. Thanks for your honesty while critiquing my photos and advice for the future. Drew, I inundated you with questions about you, Joe, gear, and more and you answered everything. Your insight into you and Joe’s world of photography really, truly made the workshop memorable. I got so much more out of DLWS because of this. Shalimar, John, and I couldn’t stop talking about you guys on our way back to Chicago. I hope you guys make your way to our city soon. Thanks. Dan.

Steve says:

on October 23, 2009 at 12:37 pm

great shot of JonTan, I love TC

Fred says:

on October 23, 2009 at 1:09 pm


Your lighting workshops at DLWS were fantastic. You just saved me years of trying different things to get good light. I have a much better foundation on how to do lighting. I was great to meet you as well. I thknk I am still seeing little white lights from looking at the SB800 for the group shot…what fun!!!


luke townsend says:

on October 23, 2009 at 2:03 pm

uhh, can I buy that pic of drew in poster size…

Bob says:

on October 23, 2009 at 2:07 pm

As someone who was present for the DLWS in Michigan, I can say firsthand that Joe’s extended lighting workshop session on the rainy day was truly amazing. It should also be noted that when he took the incredible pic of the surfer, Joe was also standing barefoot in extremely cold Lake Michigan water. That water is cold even in the summer, but this was late October. The dedication paid off.

Diane says:

on October 23, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Sorry the weather didn’t work out for you in Michigan. Fall can be very beautiful. Wanted to come to that, but got laid of from my day job!

Hey, how bout bringin your Kelby lighting tour to Michigan. We need all the help we can get!!!!!

Jane May says:

on October 23, 2009 at 3:16 pm

Those pictures are some of the great things about Michigan this time of year. There are a lot of those guys along the great lakes with the boards and they are great to watch.

kcalumpit says:

on October 23, 2009 at 3:59 pm

that is a ginormous group of people for the Kelby Tour. I think after yaking i would yak on top of that yak.

Jeff Lynch (Mark's Friend) says:

on October 23, 2009 at 8:00 pm

Boogie boarding in Lake Michigan in October? Parts of my anatomy froze off just looking at the pic. I much prefer the interesting places Flo shows up these days…

Melissa Richardson says:

on October 23, 2009 at 9:03 pm

For being a people lover, you sure flattered that tree! Love the surfer shot. The guy is crazy, but it is a great shot.

As to the D.C. workshop, you rocked it—thanks for sharing your hard earned knowledge with us 😀

Wayne says:

on October 23, 2009 at 10:43 pm


The DC Seminar today rocked! I’ve been to 4 NAPP saminars now, and this was by far the best. I can’t believe how easy you made it all look.

Thank you.

Tom McKean says:

on October 24, 2009 at 7:41 am

Long Live low-light lenses for f2 portrait. And Drew looks better than Rambo :-)

flounderman says:

on October 24, 2009 at 10:09 am

Was everybody chanting and humming at the flash seance? Seriously, what lens did you use on workshop photo?

Vlad B says:

on October 25, 2009 at 1:35 am

Joe, what a pleasure meeting you and the group. You startled us that morning, but the encounter was worth it. Great shots, and thanks for including us in your seminar. We moved north after that day and scored some beautiful wave and wind sessions around the state. Thank you and your staff for your polite attitude and awsome passion (ie. getting in the water with us)!

jakob says:

on October 25, 2009 at 3:07 am

You two guys have way to much fun, seriously :-)

Jontan says:

on October 25, 2009 at 9:48 am

Hello to all. Vlad and I had a blast that morning. Thanks for inviting us in for that awesome experience. You guys are very kind and fun. Great work. Hope to see more soon…

nothing but love

Rage! Wooo!

Samantha Heberlein says:

on October 25, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Amazing pictures! Jontan and Vlad are my very great guy friends, and they were so stoked to see you guys on the beach!!! You made their year!

Valerie says:

on October 25, 2009 at 8:56 pm


First time I saw you speak. You are an amazing inspiration to young photographers like myself. I have discovered your work, not long ago, and I can see myself coming back to you for inspiration for the rest of my career. Thank you for sharing all that you did at the DC Kelby Training. And thank you for signing my book.

You are an amazing assistant! Do you have a blog of your own?


johnwaire | photo says:

on October 26, 2009 at 8:32 am

…was great seeing you in DC joe!

Mike Rice says:

on October 26, 2009 at 11:45 am

I love the DOF on the 3rd shot – her faces seems crisp and her elbows seem soft. Love it!

andr1 says:

on October 26, 2009 at 3:36 pm

How did the seance go? Did you get many responses from the outer limits? Photographs getting better all the time. Did you get many lighting replies?

Carl Schaefer says:

on October 26, 2009 at 6:33 pm


Any chance you’ll be posting pix of the models you shot during the Kelby seminar in DC?

Kim Aikens says:

on October 27, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Hey- I thought there was going to be a Jennifer Aniston filter or something to help us aging baby boomers out a bit! A little embarrassing but fun so thanks. And there are LOTS of places in northern michigan that are breathtaking (especially the Lake Michigan sunsets) while being relatively devoid of yellow trees.

Wonk Xags says:

on November 1, 2009 at 1:18 pm

I loved that tree’s shot. amazing.

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