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What We Rolled With…

May 2

In Equipment, Thanks at 5:16am

Done. Home. 12,531 miles. Flew out. Drove back, and not in a straight line. Life on a bus. A three foot wide, moving, turning, stopping and starting bed. It was like sleeping for five weeks in one of those beds that have the magic fingers, and the bus was a never ending supply of quarters. It was, you know, fun. But then, I have a broad definition of fun.

We’ve got a lot of people to thank, first and foremost all the folks who came out to a stop. Lots of gracious, easy going flashinistas investigating light out there. Good crew, good questions, great enthusiasm.

Our ever wonderful VALs, or volunteers. In every city, they were terrific. We could not have pulled this off every morning without the consistently willing, good-natured groups of folks who were there when we stumbled off the bus at 6am, looking and feeling our best. We would rub our eyes, look around at the loading dock or dumpsters, and mumble, “Where the hell are we?”

Adorama. They put the gas in the tank. Harry Drummer, Jeff Snyder, Monica Cipnic, Brian Green, Jerry Deutsch–all of them made the wheels on the bus go round and round…and round and round…and, well you get the idea.

Heard on the road: Me to David after the entire crew knocked a few back before boarding the bus. “David, I’m concerned that we’re losing control of this bus.” Grippi, walking by, without missing a beat. “Shut up old man.”

We had sponsors. David and I reached out to folks we know and respect in the industry, and tried to make the Flashbus a worthwhile day. They all pitched in, and what they pitched in with, attendees walked out the door with. Schwag bags, and giveaways galore.

Manfrotto and the Manfrotto School of Excellence helped out big time. We rolled with a ton of their stuff, from Lastolite gear to stacker stands to tripods for still and video, fluid heads, monopods…you name it.

Heard on the road: Jeff Snyder to me in the morning. “You look like Nick Nolte’s mug shot.”

We gave away about 100 Justin Clamps. They easily have to be the most popular clamp in the industry, at least for small flash folks. What we have done to customize ours’ is to fit them with Frio cold shoes, another free item in the bag. Yep, Frio gave out freebie coupons for thousands of their cold shoes, with free shipping.

A forest of Frios! David H sold me on these guys. No moving parts, one size fits all. (Or any that I know about.)

We rolled, literally, with Thinktank. They are simply making some of the most intelligent stuff out there to put gear in. What I’ve done with their rollers is take out all the dividers, wrap all the cameras and glass in velcro protective wraps, and snug everything in there.

Heard on the road: Joe, struggling with TTL, turns to the crowd…”Okay, what do I now?” From crowd…”Call David Hobby.”

Our staff fell in love with two Thinktank numbers; the Retrospective bags, and Shapeshifter backpack.

Life on the road. Annie was concerned about me getting sick, so she fixed me up with these Hibistat high powered antiseptic wipes, which she swears by. We had lunch on the road together and wiped down with these guys so thoroughly the table we were atย  smelled like an ICU. Both of us finished our pre-meal cleansing, and,ย  holding our hands up like surgeons, started giggling like idiots. I was like, “Okay, honey, want me to scrub in on the mozzarella panini?”

Pocket Wizard supplied posters, which were a big hit, even though David and I both cautioned everyone that when we sign something, the value drops. They are showing us the doorway to the future that is radio TTL. Controlling lights you cannot see. Bye-bye line of sight. The future awaits!

All the images were captured on Lexar pro cards. Plus we gave a boat load of them away. They really came through for everybody. Every stop, David and I gave away screaming fast 600x 32 and a 16 gig card for answers to questions and challenges that ranged from “Who shot the first cover of LIFE?” to “First one to hold over their head a human spleen wins this prize!”

Stuff happens on the road. Drew, trying to manhandle an overstuffed cart of equipment down a ramp, lets too much velocity build and is danger of being crushed by 1,000 pounds of photographic irony on wheels when Phil, our intrepid driver, steps in and stops it. Phil’s comment: “Black man to the rescue again.”

Speaking of heavy gear, all our big stuff got stuffed into Kata bags. Their sling bags are basically indestructible.

Lumiquest was out there with us, big time. Not only for stuff we shot, but as giveaways galore. They anted up with an UItrastrap for everybody, and light shapers as giveaways. It was our honor to have Terry White at the Grand Rapids show, and he captured an LTP in action, perhaps not in a way everyone might choose to use it.

Everybody was gellin’, courtesy of Roscoe and The Strobist. The gel pack in everybody’s bag represents the basics of color control for your small flash.

After spending years in the tethering woods, and breaking platform after platform, one of our sponsors, Tether Tools, came to the rescue with an incredibly well designed platform with a undercarriage for hard drives. Awesome. Plus they make repeater USB tether cables that just don’t quit, and we gave those out at every stop.

Life on the road. I can report that Cali, who fell in love, long distance, with a beautiful young lady whom he had never met, has now met her, and is absolutely over the moon about her, which is, of course, terrific. They’re both talented, wonderful young people, and they appear to be soul mates.ย  I’m glad it worked out ’cause we gave him a ton of shit about it on the road. Which he richly deserved, because he was consistently acting like a love smitten high school girl, albeit one with a lot of body hair. I mean, I would watch him lift a case, get an Iphone buzz, smile, put the case down and text. Half of me was, “Awww, that’s nice,” and half of me wanted to split his skull with my Gitzo.

Spyder kicked it with the donation of discount cards for everybody, and a giveaway Spyder 3 Pro Calibrator at every stop. Yowza!

Phil, our driver, was super cool. He was like a surgeon with the bus, and he’s a trained bodyguard to boot. Great guy who could boil down any discussion into a stunningly accurate, pithy, five word observation. Bartender to Phil: “You want a glass with that beer?” Phil: “Nah, I’m from the hood.” Raised up in Newark, NJ, he’s out there now driving a vet. Yep, a vet. Here’s what the bus looks like.

Hmmm… Phil and this guy. Can anybody out there say, “Odd Couple?”

NIK Software came along for the ride, with discounts, and, at every stop….drum roll….. a free Color Efex suite, or a Viveza suite of post productions marvels. People went crazy, especially those who were blessed by their parents with the names, Nick, or Nicole. Often these namesakes walked off with complete sets of software goodies.

And Peachpit came through for the readers in our crowds, discounting all manner of terrific books, even though I tried to convince everybody the coupons were only for mine:-) That didn’t work. It was cool to have them out there with us.

For five weeks, we were out there on wheels. Couldn’t have met a nicer bunch of people. Couldn’t have had more fun, and also, couldn’t have learned more. I tell ya, watching the Strobist in action, you learn some stuff, which I will share in an upcoming blog….more tk….

Gear still life pix shot by Cali at f1.2, his favorite f-stop…..:-)

Kyle jerichow says:

on May 2, 2011 at 6:35 am

Give Cali some credit, I met my wife online as well, and I am sure that I walked around much the same way. Though I did it during field training for the Army Reconnaissance School. The ration of shit I got for that could not be topped and made me quicker with witty responses than I had ever been before. Though most everyone I knew was conviced she did not exsist until I actually married her, (your girl friend lives in Ireland……sure) and even then some were still calling bull shit.


Joe McNally says:

on May 2, 2011 at 7:33 am

I know, I know….and it’s worked out. But living through it, man….geez….:-)

david says:

on May 2, 2011 at 7:34 am

Sounds like a blast (of light). If you ever do it again, please look north of the border. You’ll love Winnipeg.

Stephane Hachey says:

on May 2, 2011 at 7:50 am

That sounds great! Now when you coming to Canada? It’s warming up I swear.

Gregg Obst says:

on May 2, 2011 at 7:53 am

What a great tour. I saw it in Philly and had a great time and learned a ton of stuff. Such a great group of sponsors too. I was exposed to some companies that had solutions to problems I needed solved and I have bought several items already from those sponsors. I really needed a good, long tether cable and I got that from Tether Tools, a company I didn’t even know existed before this tour. I’m also looking at their tethering tripod extensions and laptop stand now. I got the complete Roscoe gel set, one set for each of my speedlights. I bought a tri-grip reflector from Lastolite and I plan on getting their tri-grip diffuser as well. I’ll be ordering a Manfroto Magic Arm and various extensions and clamps for use as a pseudo top of extension ladder tripod for shots from a higher perspective (have lots of shot ideas for that). All sorts of things that I would never have been exposed to in such a concentrated way had it not been for their generous sponsorship of this tour.

Bob says:

on May 2, 2011 at 8:32 am

I know your heart is with your brothers down on Canal street today.

Scott Slattery says:

on May 2, 2011 at 8:38 am

It was a great show Joe!!! Loved seeing you all again! I’m glad that everyone got home safe too!

George says:

on May 2, 2011 at 8:46 am

Great post, if you like equipment commercials.

Cal says:

on May 2, 2011 at 9:05 am

Haha, this sounds like so much fun.

Cal says:

on May 2, 2011 at 9:05 am

Haha, this tour looks like so much fun!

Johan Sopiee says:

on May 2, 2011 at 9:10 am

oh man! an adventure of a lifetime.. and i missed it! you guys ROCK! every single on of you!

Richard Cundiff says:

on May 2, 2011 at 9:30 am

It was a great show Joe. Thanks to both you and David for sharing and the ongoing support. Is there a good source for the male/male adapter to mount the Frios to Justin clamps?
Thanks again.

William Chinn says:

on May 2, 2011 at 9:51 am

Caught the tour in Los Angeles, seems like years ago. Glad it was rewarding to you too. Quick questions: What was the high Nikon strobe count? Love the equipment commercials, any left? Whats next for Numnuts?

Joe (Not McNally) says:

on May 2, 2011 at 9:57 am

To George and his “Great post, if you like equipment commercials.” post…
Really? You felt you had to respond to this blog post with that? I feel sorry for you man.

Kim says:

on May 2, 2011 at 10:36 am

I was in Indy – great day of learning. I’ve already put some of the stuff I learned to good use and saw a huge improvement in my first shoot since then. You’ve opened a whole new world for me! Thanks!

Rich Cave says:

on May 2, 2011 at 10:48 am

Kyle a bit grumpy isnt he, best equipment commercial and yes I am interested in the velcro wraps for the think tank.

Joe, wish the tour ended up in the UK, its the size of state and wouldnt take you and DH long to travel round, hell you can borrow my sofa for the night,

I might even buy you a beer,


Wayne says:

on May 2, 2011 at 11:18 am

Would you do it again Joe?

Steve Wylie says:

on May 2, 2011 at 11:28 am

Thanks, Joe, David, and everyone else involved for this great tour. I was at the LA stop, and have used several of the techniques either demonstrated live or on Joe’s and David’s DVDs several times since then.

Earl says:

on May 2, 2011 at 12:56 pm


This may be off-subject, but Time just release their list of the 100 most influential people…and neither your nor Hobby were listed!

Again I say, WTF?

Mitchell Alcala says:

on May 2, 2011 at 12:57 pm

Glad you made it home safe! Thank you and all of your supporters for doing this, it was an amazing stop down in Dallas. Won’t forget what I learned, and the free swag was a nice touch.

Thanks Joe,


Owin says:

on May 2, 2011 at 2:27 pm

Hi Joe,

glad the tour went well for you guys.

Now when are you bringing that big ol’ bus over to dear ol’ Blighty, especially to Auld Reekie … that’s Edinburgh in the UK for you colonials out there ๐Ÿ˜‰ oh OK make it London and I will endeavour to fly down for the event.


Vic Peek says:

on May 2, 2011 at 2:30 pm


When are you and Hobby going to do rerun. Would love to see it again.

Tman1966 says:

on May 2, 2011 at 3:08 pm

This won’t make the list of The World’s Big Issues, but I attended the March 11 FB event in Seattle and I’m still waiting to get my (free) Frio. Instead, I’ve gotten a couple of emails saying they are having “issues” getting them out. I guess I’ll tape the emails to my flash shoe.
Jeez guys. Doesn’t inspire much confidence in your operation.

Joe McNally says:

on May 2, 2011 at 3:28 pm

they might be a bit behind and overloaded…hang in. if it doesn’t work out, lemme know and will try to fix. joe

Ian Kreidich says:

on May 2, 2011 at 3:42 pm

I was impressed that you managed to keep the energy flowing by the last stop in St. Louis. The young guys looked more beat that you! I was however kinda bummed not to get the Roscoe Gels in my goodie bag in STL. I guess you all ran out by the last stop.

Dave Prelosky says:

on May 2, 2011 at 5:06 pm

Now I feel special. Or something like that. I used my FrioFreebie code, and ordered a few “what the hell” pieces at the same time. I also got the “we anticipate a delay due to Customs issues” e-mail. Surprisingly, my total order was in hand by April 20, – 11 days after the April 9 tour stop. Seems as if paying customers go to the head of the line… With that in mind, the wee beasties are a wonderful addition, and I’m glad to be able to retire the Manfrotto 142s shoes that I’ve been using for years.

Amandalynn says:

on May 2, 2011 at 5:13 pm

I was/am so glad to get the chance to be a VAL at the stop in Madison, hanging out with the crew was a lot of fun and watching you (well…and David, but shhhh don’t tell him I made him second) work the OCF magic you do so well. I learned an incredible amount and had a hell of a time doing it.

‘Excellent’ is pretty much the only was to describe it.

Thanks for all of the insight and good humor, and for correcting my grip!

Chad goldman says:

on May 2, 2011 at 5:37 pm

Enjoyed the show. There’s a art class in southern Indiana with that poster on it’s wall thanks to you guys!

gregory peel says:

on May 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Lexar got CA on their CF!

Bryan says:

on May 2, 2011 at 6:13 pm

Ordered the free Frio after Dallas and they have yet to arrive.

Justin (Not a Clamp) says:

on May 2, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Were we supposed to get a Strobist gel pack? I was at the last stop in St Louis and didn’t have one in my bag… Or were they like a prize during the Q&A?

Regardless, great show, learned a ton, you guys are outstanding! I’m already ready to sign up for next year!

Thanks to everyone!

darren_c says:

on May 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

Wrapped things up with you guys in St. Louis. I missed your Buffalo session because I was too late and it sold out. So instead I drove across the border and flew out of Buffalo.

Last stop and one would think that you guys would be dead tired, and totally fatigued after 6 weeks on the road. But no way, you didn’t let us down. Loved it!

And go easy on Cali, I met my wife online, too, so good things are possible. And he’ll grow out of that 1.2 phase, too.

Tom says:

on May 2, 2011 at 8:03 pm

Thanks for doing the tour Joe. Annie is obviously good people to let you hang out with that bunch of malcontents on a bus full of beer! Both you and David were friendly, entertaining, and informative. I had a great day! The freebies were nice and the on-site discounts Adorama offered were worth the wait! Save enough on those to add some extra bling to the camera bag. nice.

Jim says:

on May 2, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Kudos to Adorama. Wed. Last week they called me at 130 pm with a quote on my D300 + accessories. Was more than acceptable and I placed and order. Thurs 930 am My New D7000 + SB700 + a lot of accessories arrived at my front door. Great work by Jack Gold, Jacob, and Sly.. Many Thanks to the Shipping Dept, Y’all really know how to make a guy feel good.

Quinn says:

on May 2, 2011 at 9:06 pm

Joe! Awesome tour man!
I really had a blast at the Philly stop! While I didn’t win anything, it was fun trying. And the sponsors were great.
Jeff from Adorama was awesome, I’ll certainly be calling him in the future if I need anything- great, no-BS advice.
Met a group of 6 or so guys there and we all had lunch together and shot the bull.
It really was cool! Oh, and I learned a lot too!
Appreciate the sacrifice of time you, David, and the rest of the crew put into this!
Thanks again!

Gina Spadafori says:

on May 2, 2011 at 10:12 pm

You’re right about Phil: He is the coolest. I’m on tour with him now, in the “vet” bus. :)

kathyt says:

on May 2, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Thanks to both you and David it was a fun day in Portland Oregon. But the big thanks needs to go to Annie and David’s wife for letting you all escape for all that time.

Thanks again it was really a lot of fun.

Kyle jerichow says:

on May 3, 2011 at 6:21 am

Like the “new” ending. f/1.2, eh? Good luck dealing with that mess, Joe. ๐Ÿ˜›


Danny Bailey says:

on May 3, 2011 at 8:09 am

You know that you and Hobby have started something. It may have to become an annual event. Thanks man. It was a great day in Buffalo.

Next tour…. come across the border in Toronto and Montreal.

The light’s a lot different up there.

Cheers. Safe Travels Joe.

Charles says:

on May 3, 2011 at 1:10 pm

What are you using to connect the Frio to the Justin Clamp? Aren’t both female?

Bill Giles says:

on May 3, 2011 at 7:36 pm

I was there at the end in St. Louis and enjoyed every minute of it. What a thrill to get to meet both of you. I’ve been following your blogs, reading your books and watching your DVDs, but seeing you in person helps me to appreciate your enthusiasm and love for your work.

Thanks for making the tour and being regular guys.

Jerry Stachowski says:

on May 3, 2011 at 10:46 pm


You were insprirational in Denver. Great seeing you!

Ken says:

on May 4, 2011 at 8:04 am

I ordered my free frio a couple days after Pittsburgh, and paid for two more — they showed up about a week later.


“Lumiquest was out there with us, big time. Not only for stuff we shot, but as giveaways galore. They anted up with an UItrastrap for everybody”

An Ultrastrap?? I most definitely didn’t have one in my bag, nor a coupon for one. Did we get short-sheeted in Pittsburgh goodie bags?

Rob says:

on May 4, 2011 at 10:45 am

Wish I could have been to one of the Flash Bus stops but I’m deployed in Iraq. How about making a trip over here. We would love it. So I had to order the DVD set and have to say they are great.

John Staber says:

on May 5, 2011 at 8:10 am

Best hundred bucks I ever spent. It was great to see that Joe is a regular guy and it was a privilege to watch a true artist at work.

Kristi says:

on May 5, 2011 at 2:32 pm

This may be a dumb and/or redundant question, but which sized Lastolite softbox were you using on the Tour- the 15″ x 15″ or the 24″ x 24″?

In addition, thank you so much for sharing your time and talents with us small off-camera-flash fans and devotees. Both you and David inspired this gal to push past her fears and start embracing the light, so to speak!

Drew Gurian says:

on May 5, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Hey Ken,

All of the bags SHOULD have had a Lumiquest Ultrastrap in it- but some items were accidentally left out on occasion (remember, bags were being stuffed at 6:30AM)….sorry one didn’t make it into your bag!!

Drew Gurian says:

on May 5, 2011 at 5:43 pm

Kristi- we were mostly using the 24″, and occasionally the 30″.

Ravi says:

on May 12, 2011 at 2:43 pm

I had a great time at Indy with you guys. Joe don’t stop writing the blog. You have a way with words, even you don’t know about. It is always a pleasure to read a blog with such sense of humor without which the burnout factor is high. Keep up the good work. By the way can you allow the comment guys to paste a picture or two… ?

Amy Parish says:

on May 13, 2011 at 4:41 pm

Joe, I wish there was a way to hit “like” on all your blog posts….they’re funny as hell!!

Jack says:

on May 13, 2011 at 7:43 pm

Someone asked above and I’d love to know the answer to: Would you do it again?


Denise Duhamel says:

on May 14, 2011 at 4:07 pm

What an amazing experience TFB tour was for me. I was lucky enough to be on the Boston tour and it totally rocked! How are you gonna top this for next year???

bycostello says:

on May 23, 2011 at 4:13 am

love the look of that mini tripod thingy…

Billy says:

on June 21, 2011 at 1:21 am

Hey what did you use for a projectors?

ATM says:

on February 2, 2012 at 5:04 pm

Who makes those yellow pouches? the ones in the two backpacks on the table? Thanks

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