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Beauty Everywhere….

Jul 30

In Seminars & Workshops at 1:22pm

Finished for the year with workshops at my favorite aging hulk of a building down by the Hudson. Had a studio there for about six or seven years, and for a while, during a very turbulent time in my life, I actually lived there. With the trains, there was no need for an alarm clock. There are long time tenants there, characters all, to be sure. One of the most wonderful is Charlie Kron, a master bagpipe maker and player. You can hear Charlie tuning up and playing the pipes, with the distinctive drone and melody drifting up through the hallways, inducing march or melancholy, depending on Charlie’s mood.


Charlie’s shop is a chock-a-block wonder. I brought the class in there, and he was his usual, accommodating self, always ready to talk about the arcane intricacies of bagpipe playing. He’s in the process of moving to a smaller space, so for me, this picture immediately loomed as much more important than a lighting snap or demo. (This is done with two SB900s, one camera left with a Ezybox Hotshoe softbox, and one camera right with a Flashpoint snoot aimed down at the spare pipes. Auto white balance, letting the place just be what it is. As I said to the class, it’s not pretty light. It’s light that might already be there.)

Reason for it’s importance, I thought, was that this shop, which I speculate is just a mirror image of the interior of Charlie’s head, will now be gone, and will no longer reverberate with stirring wind blown notes, and be cluttered with tools and machines that really only Charlie knows how to run. Bagpipe repair. Talk about a niche industry.

I was glad we caught up with him before he closes the doors on this messy little piece of heaven. I asked him to play while I shot. I damn near cried….

Maggie came back, and her presence on the set pushed us to craft light that was really just for her. This is a combo of real big flash, and real small flash. The Elinchrom Octa is right at my back at camera, and the Deep Octa is overhead, just to key her face. And there are two SB900s below her, bouncing off the floor, with a silver Skylite Panel reflector. Very even, very frontal, very much a pale wash of light, just enough, just for her.


Then of course, we once again couldn’t resist blowing her amazing mane of hair around.


Turned on the wind machine (aka the eyeball dryer) and blended ambient, steady light.  (Light that doesn’t flash, who knew?) The main light is small flash V flat lighting, where I just put up two V-flats, and pound 4 SB units into them. The V-flats then backwash them onto a wall or big white surface, which then just pours light over your subject. (Think of it as playing ping pong with the light.) I’ll have a sketch of this light up in couple days.

Same light here, for a decidedly different mood. I really had to speak to Kristina about her energy level in front of the camera:-)


We constructed a bit of a quieter, more classical beauty combination for Katherine.


And finally, we went to the roof, and, as I said to the class, we tried the high speed sync technique, in a big way. Six flashes, all firing the same direction.


Our subject is the nearly legendary Maria Arce, who is a martial artist, specializing in knife and sword play. Yikes!

All different subjects, all beautiful in different ways. Kinda cool. I’ll try to post some tech stuff on these soon. We had quite a year at Dobbs. Flying right now….more tk….

Tommy Lynch says:

on July 30, 2010 at 1:29 pm

Thanks again Joe and crew for a wonderful day at Dobbs this past Tuesday……I am glad I was able to witness Charlie play Happy Birthday to you with his bagpipe….I now know how special that was to you……Thanks again,



Alexander Evensen says:

on July 30, 2010 at 2:19 pm

Great pictures as always :)

Great inspiration as well. I’m about to order me a kit with two hot shoe flashes with stands, umbrellas and extra gear from mpex. Later I’ll get backgrounds etc.. It will be fun to experiment :)

Rolandave Bola says:

on July 30, 2010 at 2:24 pm

Beautiful and inspiring, as always. Great job, Joe!

Pat Delany says:

on July 30, 2010 at 2:32 pm


I’d also like to say thank you for a wonderful day at Dobbs on Wednesday. Reading your books really help, but watching you in action brings so much more into perspective. Thank you for taking the time to photograph Charlie and his shop with us in tow. I have to admit, I was torn between paying attention to you or looking around the shop and drinking in the personality of the place. You lost out for a period of time when Charlie was play while you shot. The images you captured really do justice to the place. Even though Charlie is moving on to new digs on the ground floor, I’ll bet it is no time before his new shop acquires a distinctly Charlie personality.

I also feel very lucky to have been there to see Maggie. My only regret for the day was that I didn’t get a chance to shoot her. Don’t get me wrong, Andrew was a great subject, but he’s not quite the exquisite porcelain beauty that is Maggie.

I look forward to the time when I can attend one of your multi-day workshops. In the meantime I’ll enjoy your blogs. Have a great weekend!


Jason says:

on July 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm


Amazing pictures as usual. Very cool!

Michal says:

on July 30, 2010 at 3:04 pm

I love reading your blog!
As much i love your photography!

Glyn Dewis says:

on July 30, 2010 at 3:21 pm

Joe, thanks for sharing this series of images along with a brief resume of the lighting. The shots of Maggie and breathtaking; her skin looks incredible under the lighting.

Thanks again for everything you do,
All the best to you and yours,
Glyn :)

Sathish says:

on July 30, 2010 at 3:50 pm

Awesome post Joe! Curious to see the set up picture for these pictures. Been a while, i didnt see NumNuts on paper!

Thanks for sharing your work!


Prasad says:

on July 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm

Wow! Absolutely stunning! I’m bereft of words.

Ali says:

on July 30, 2010 at 4:42 pm

Beautiful shots, Joe, and enlightening info as always.

david says:

on July 30, 2010 at 5:44 pm

Wow! What more can I say. Beauty at the speed of light.

Will Foster says:

on July 30, 2010 at 7:29 pm

love the motion in Mr. Kron’s hand… I can hear the music!

Kevin Glackmeyer says:

on July 30, 2010 at 7:56 pm

dang…i am speechless…

John Leonard says:

on July 30, 2010 at 9:10 pm

Joe,thanks a million for a great workshop. A big thank you to your staff, and the models for putting up with us!

Phat Photographer says:

on July 30, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Yikes is right! Maria might be handy person to know to keep my kids inline.

petetsai says:

on July 30, 2010 at 11:17 pm

Thanks so much Joe for rocking so many different techniques! watching you troubleshoot the hard stuff was really great.

Ken Toney says:

on July 31, 2010 at 12:02 am

Don’t mess with Maria :).

Eric Muetterties says:

on July 31, 2010 at 12:51 am

You always open my eyes to see better and to find the beauty in all situations and use the tools I have to pull it off. Thanks again and again.

Richard Hales says:

on July 31, 2010 at 2:06 am

Can’t wait to see the V flat diagram sounds really interesting

René Bruun says:

on July 31, 2010 at 3:24 am

Joe, your blog is as inspiring as your photos, wonderful and full of imagination, thank you again.

Malinda Hartong says:

on July 31, 2010 at 7:23 am

Wow to all. And I did shed a tear for the pipes. Many friends who play – firemen & cops – go figure. Cheers to the pipers & the Emerald Society. Which reminds me to call them for a picture.
Your martial artist is beauty, strength, stunning!

Tim Skipper says:

on July 31, 2010 at 8:24 am


All of the images are wonderful as always, but the bag pipe player is the best. It tells his story and knowing the behind the scene story makes it all the more powerful.

This is why I have made a practice of studying you and your work. I love the stories happy, sad, thoughtful, or playful they all are told and shown with perfection.

As you were telling your story I was thinking about one of my own. Last Mother’s Day I was asked to take portraits of all the mothers at a church during a special luncheon they were having for them. It was nothing fancy, kind of like school portraits, set up lights, backdrop, take a picture, next.

I used an overhead beauty dish, a large table covered in silver foil as a reflector, and a large softbox to camera left set real low to add fill for groups. The ladies lined up and took pictures usually two or three at time, mothers, daughters, sisters, & friends. I didn’t think much of it until the following Wednesday when I get a call from the church. One of the women who I had photographed that day was killed in a car crash. My picture was the last one ever made of her.

I ran out and went to a local lab and had prints made for her family to give them and I got to thinking about you and your stories. About how you emphasize the importance of getting it right. Even though they were just simple portraits all with the same light, same setup. I had taken time to get it right. For the family of the young lady it meant the world, for me it reminded of the fact we do more than take pictures.

Thank you for teaching and preparing me to get it right.

Joe McNally says:

on July 31, 2010 at 8:54 am

You could take her, Ken…you wild man!

Arie says:

on July 31, 2010 at 9:06 am

The second picture of Maggie is just stunning and something I’ve come to expect from your work – clever. I have had a bad habit of using a high f/stop and my camera’s sync speed while doing studio work because I have the extra power and want sharp pictures and also to minimize ambient light, but now I really want to try mixing some ambient light in the studio too!

Ian Pack says:

on July 31, 2010 at 9:25 am

Inspirational as usual. Thank you Joe for sharing and teaching.



Richard Sizemore says:

on July 31, 2010 at 10:42 am

Outstanding photographs Joe! The bag pipe photo is my fav. And ditto on Tim’s Comments… Thanks!

Bruce Philpott says:

on July 31, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Maria should use one of your photos on her IMDb resume, Joe.

Pat Delany says:

on July 31, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Consider going multimedia; Charlie has bagpipe audio clips on his website. You could embed a clip (with Charlie’s permission of course) so that when the picture of him in his workshop is enlarged you hear his music. Just a thought.

Greg Brave says:

on July 31, 2010 at 4:18 pm

As always great images! I usually visit your blog for an inspiration and you always deliver :) thank you for that!
Can’t wait for the tech stuff you promised.

Javier montero says:

on July 31, 2010 at 5:22 pm

So nice and interesting!!! What F do you use on this shots???
I will wait for a sketch of this light up in couple days!!!
Thanks again!!!

Ingoman says:

on August 1, 2010 at 3:13 am

Really very beautiful. Lots of different stuff going on in one day. Love the beauty shots…
Greetings from Munich

Mathieu Wauters says:

on August 1, 2010 at 5:44 am

As always, wonderful images Joe. I love the way you captured Charlie’s shop!

Dave Di Iulio says:

on August 1, 2010 at 7:53 am

I really enjoyed the session, Joe. Watching you discect a scene, set the shot, paint in the lights, and create the magic before us was indispensable. Really cool to see you go into freelance mode and deal with issues when light is trying to “kick you in the ass.” You pause and you go into this sort of “Rain Man” mode, muttering scores of possible solutions until you act on one and get the shot. Incredible. Really, just incredible. You can’t get that realtime experience from just books. And what can I say — bikinis, birthday cakes, and lethal weapons. Can it get any better? Oh, and Lynn DelMastro is fantastic — what a doll. Also, kudos to your photog crew. They were very helpful and patient. Thanks, Joltin’ JOE.

Following the light,

Dave D.

Bob DeChiara says:

on August 1, 2010 at 8:57 am

Happy belated b-day! Superb stuff too!

Giovanni Ferlito says:

on August 1, 2010 at 2:33 pm

Yep, beauty everywhere!

Ban_D says:

on August 2, 2010 at 4:14 am

Great pictures with great story – thanks again Joe!

Barbara Thorbjörnsson says:

on August 2, 2010 at 5:12 pm

The second photo of Maggie, the one where her hair is blowing is absolutely breath taking.

Jonathan Thompson says:

on August 3, 2010 at 3:56 pm

There’s nothing like a piper to make you cry.

jk says:

on August 4, 2010 at 1:01 am

Joe your posts,books and vids at kelbytraining are such a great inspiration to me, just amazing what you know and how you teach us about that whole magic of light.

Im speechless, once more!


Crusher says:

on August 4, 2010 at 1:25 am

Amazing at the speed of light.Some photos just like a canvas.It’s amazing !

Kevin Belton says:

on August 6, 2010 at 7:50 pm

What an incredible day this was, my thanks to Joe for photographically speaking, changing my life. Not because of the technical information provided but instead Joe’s passion for the subject. Watching the picture of Charlie come together and seeing Joe almost brought to tears made a light of information pop on in my head that I intend to run with. Amazing and talented staff made the day most enjoyable and sorry Drew about those RAW files :)

Michael Lubinski says:

on August 8, 2010 at 9:55 pm

Wow. Maggie must make it easy, looks like shes soft without the light.

Mario Brathwaite says:

on August 10, 2010 at 1:57 pm


I had a fabulous time at the workshop. You and your crew are top-notch. I enjoyed every minute of it and learned so much.


Adrianna Lomay says:

on July 21, 2011 at 11:11 am

When i was reading over Beauty Everywhere…. Joe McNally’s Blog during the day I spotted there has been a handful of spots I have a tendency to take issue on. I don’t argue on the subject matter, but on exactly how the style this time. Somethings erroneous, as if this blog post was published without having care or any worry at all like normally. I’ll continue reading but I pray it becomes back to exactly how it at all times was. Adrianna Lomay

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