responsiveslider_lol_02 The Language of Light DVD - More
MeetJoe_02 Meet Joe McNally - More
inthebag What’s in the Bag? - More

Blogging from the Bus….

Mar 23

In Tours at 10:05pm

Once again, honored to have Donald in front of my lens. He joined us for Flashbus Albuquerque. He is, quite simply, a walking storybook of a man, someone who has lived life, quite wonderfully and deeply. Funny, when we talk, conversation always drifts towards our honeys:-)

This is two hard lights, with the main being an SB 900 into a Flashpoint beauty dish, fitted with a tight grid. The other light is a raw light, zoomed to 200, fired through a set of handrails on the stage steps, which we cut and crossed with gaffer tape. Handy, found light shaping tool, albeit not particularly portable. Shot at 1/2000th at f2 with a 200mm f2 lens. Focus drop on the near eye. Hi speed sync, TTL.

Wanted to do a lot more with Donald, always do. But happy enough to have once again had a few minutes of his time as my subject. Rolling now out of New Mexico, heading for Dallas. Longest commute of the whole trip. Phil, our magnificent driver, is pushing it down the highway. Texas here we come….more tk…

davidee says:

on March 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm

thanks for the seminar today, glad I caught it here in ABQ instead of home in Dallas. Lots of homework to do now that you guys have moved along to the next stop. :-)


Kevin Halliburton says:

on March 23, 2011 at 10:20 pm

Welcome to Texas. Looking forward to seeing you in Austin on Saturday.

triggerfinger says:

on March 23, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Can you provide more detail about the Flashpoint beauty dish – where you sourced it, whether it comes with a hotshoe seat or you customized it to work with a flash… thanks.

Frank Burch says:

on March 23, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Every time I see one of your photos of Donald I’m spellbound by the image. He has such an expressive face so many different looks, but they all stop you in your tracks.

Michael Alvarez says:

on March 24, 2011 at 12:24 am

Another great shot and I hope this answers the question about HIGH SPEED Sync from the guy in SFO. Thanks again Joe for your time behind the camera and sharing it with us.

Greg Shanta says:

on March 24, 2011 at 1:52 am

Hi Joe! I’ve been reading your blog for quite some time and I find it very interesting. Thank you!

Please forgive my ignorance but who is this person on your photo? I find his face very interesting. As you only state his first name and give no background info, I assume he’s quite well-known. But you see, I live in Moscow, Russia and it’s a bit like another planet here. The ‘iron curtain’ had been lifted long ago but it’s shadow still obstructs the view…


Kyle Jerichow says:

on March 24, 2011 at 3:53 am

How do you handhold a 200mm F/2 and still get such a sharp focus on the eye?


Ronnie says:

on March 24, 2011 at 5:24 am

Joe is this the dish you used: Flashpoint Q Series 6″ Beauty Dish?

Al says:

on March 24, 2011 at 6:46 am

Can’t wait to finally meet you in Buffalo NY….few weeks away….By the way I just received you new DVD…Loving it !!

Ed says:

on March 24, 2011 at 6:54 am

Excellent presentations at the Albuquerque stop of the TFB tour. I really enjoyed both Joe’s TTL [ for the most part 😉 ] and David’s manual perspectives. It was nice to actually see the process in person. I try to visualize when I am reading but the live, in-person is sooooo much better.

Thanks for coming to Albuquerque!

Daithí says:

on March 24, 2011 at 9:17 am

Beautiful shot Joe, would love to attend one of the tour dates… but unless the bus floats to Dublin that won’t be happening.

William Chinn says:

on March 24, 2011 at 9:51 am

No flash count?

Ivan says:

on March 24, 2011 at 10:27 am

Fantastic shot! What a great subject to photograph to. I like the creative way you lit the background through the handrails. I’d love to see a behind-the-scenes shot of this setup.

Chas. McNamara says:

on March 24, 2011 at 11:29 am

I was in the Denver seminar. It would be helpful to me if there was a way to view your camera adjustments on the big screen. I found myself watching the lighting and assuming I knew what you were doing with camera. When I get home and start trying to duplicate what I saw I find I am not sure what the camera adjustment was. Just an idea.

Iden Ford says:

on March 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

Sharp as a tack with the catch lights perfectly centred . . .that is skill

Ryan Meyers says:

on March 24, 2011 at 2:14 pm

Always love it when you post shots of Donald. Well done.

Dan says:

on March 24, 2011 at 2:44 pm

Thanks for the stop in Albuquerque, even if were were your smallest venue!

Those that are asking about the beauty dish, look on the left side for “What is in Joe’s Bag” and you will find links to all his gear. Here is the beauty dish:

Brian Miller says:

on March 24, 2011 at 5:03 pm

That was a lot of fun watching you build that shot with Donald. Is her from here in NM? I thought he looked familiar, but my friend said it was probably from seeing previous images you made of him.

I especially enjoyed the handrail/gaffer tape accessory, but at $2000 and no home delivery I thought I might wait on that purchase…;-)

Safe travels on the rest of your journey and thanks so much for having the bus stop here in Albuquerque. From the talk I heard during and after the presentation you have an appreciative following in The Land of Enchantment.


Simon says:

on March 24, 2011 at 6:19 pm

So simple, yet so complex. Thanks Joe.

Would love to be somewhere on the tour, but budget & the 15,000 odd km’s are a bitch…

Polly Crongeyer says:

on March 24, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Donald continues to look great despite age & illness! Such a kind, generous person with a face of character. Glad to see new pics of him…

Don Hauk says:

on March 24, 2011 at 9:07 pm

Great shot. Looking forward to seeing what you come up with the flashbus session tomorrow in Austin. Amazing excited to meet you and David.

Michael P. Young says:

on March 25, 2011 at 7:22 am

Hi Triggerfinger…you can find the beauty dish here: and the grids and gels for it here

Ted McAusher says:

on March 25, 2011 at 8:03 am

Great picture. You really get a sense of his experience through this shot.

Adam says:

on March 25, 2011 at 11:04 am

I really enjoyed the whole session here in Albuquerque. It was still a 3 hour drive for me to get there but well worth it. I use Vivitar 285 and am not able to shoot ttl so the lessons on how it is done was very informative and appreciated. Thanks again.

Tim Skipper says:

on March 25, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Donald reminds me of the neighbor in the first “Home Alone” movie.

Chi Pritchard says:

on March 25, 2011 at 8:57 pm

Well done. Love it your post when Donald is in them. Hopefully, I get lucky enough to see you one day!!! I’ve come close before, but missed you by a day!!

Norby says:

on March 25, 2011 at 9:00 pm

@Greg/@Brian – the model is Donald Blake, a frequent subject of Joe’s when he teaches at the Santa Fe Workshops –
I haven’t attended one myself (as they’ve always been full), but it’s at the top of my list of workshops to attend before I die. :)

@Kyle: At the end, Joe offered some “posing” tips on how to hold your camera and lens against your body to minimize shake and improve stability. Unfortunately, I don’t think I can describe it in words very well. Personally, I don’t feel that hand-holding really helps or hinders achieving focus lock. 200mm at the range Joe was using it give you a pretty big target to aim at. Plus there were lite panels pointing up at Donald from the front-right corner of the stage. I spent the day shooting @ f/1.4 and f/2.0 from the audience and I think I hit at least a couple in-focus shots.

@William – we were the smallest stop, and I imagine there were not all that many remote-commander capable flashes in the audience. That and with as late as we were running (due partly to issues with the Capture One software), we never got to a group shot situation.

@Ivan – due to how spread out everything was, it was sort of hard to take a photo of the entire setup. Stage left (immediately in front of the audience) was a snooted (grid snooted? Not sure) SB-900 @ 200mm, with a blue gel, pointed through strips of tape across the handrail to make a random pattern. Small beauty dish pointed straight at his face from about 6-12 inches away by an assistant. Joe was shooting perpendicular to the front of the stage, with Donald looking out to the right at a ~45 degree angle.

@Chas – in ABQ he tended to talk out load as he went through the settings, sometimes changing only one thing at a time. What helped me was to keep a running log of what he changed at each step of the way when building up his shots and “troubleshooting”.

@Iden – I credit Donald familiarity with being lit for portraits and keeping a steady gaze on the center of the dish.

@Joe – Apologies if I came off a bit obnoxious shoving my camera in your face all day – I tend to be a bit forward when taking photos of people. Thanks for coming on this wild journey to share with us all across the country. I really felt like I finally had some idea how the whole TTL thing works, given that I have no TTL-capable flashes at the moment.


Norby says:

on March 25, 2011 at 10:58 pm

Kyle: you’re in luck – Joe’s already helpfully put up a video illustrating his technique:


Janine Fugere says:

on March 25, 2011 at 11:51 pm

Joe, What an incredibly expressive portrait of Donald! It is exciting when you guys get the chance to blog even though you’re so busy on the road. I can’t get enough of this great stuff, and your way of seeming to capture the true heart and soul of people really comes through in this portrait.

I learned sooooo much from all the techniques you showed at your presentation at the FBT in Denver this past week. You and David are both amazing, wonderfully down-to-earth people & it was such a pleasure learing so much from you. And thanks for the autograph… :-)

Janine Fugere
“As Seen by Janine”
Louisville, CO

John Swarce says:

on March 26, 2011 at 12:19 am


I’m going to PSW Orlando, and I was wondering if you are teaching some of the same things there that you are teaching on the FB tour. I’m going to your Boston FB stop, so I didn’t want to repeat (or spoil) any subject matter!


Chip Sprague says:

on April 3, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I just got home from the Nashville event and wanted to drop in here and say thank you, so much, for doing this. It was incredibly well put together and you guys are both such engaging teachers.

You guys are awesome. Do it again!

angry birds game says:

on April 5, 2011 at 10:31 am

I’ve come around in my thinking though and really liked your advice to the struggling blogger

english language courses in london says:

on April 17, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Donald looks good i am one of those struggling blogger and struggling English teachers;)in south London hoe your all well.

Jack Abrams says:

on November 16, 2011 at 10:22 pm

Watched “Day with Jow McNally” on Kelby Training. Your were GREAT both as a photographer extraordinaire and an insightful instructor.

Yes,I too agree with Scott that you could have a life as a motivational speaker. You come across to the viewer in a personable and sincere manner; moreover, you don’t “beat the viewer/listener to death” with your viewpoint.

Again well done!!

Leave a Reply