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Nikon D4 Video….The Blues in His Shoes….

Jan 23

In In The Field, Videos at 8:44am

Little Freddie King is the real deal. He hopped the rails at the age of 14, and went from his family farm in Mississippi down to New Orleans, ’cause that town was swayin’ with sound, and he knew he had to be there. The ever magical Lynn Delmastro in our studio got in touch with him, and his manager, “Wacko” Wade Wright, and we were invited, briefly, into his life, and his music. It was enriching and wonderful to be around Little Freddie. I doubt a nicer man ever picked up a guitar.

We shot this short, sweet and simple,’cause that’s what we know how to do, just a little, right now. We’ve taken first steps into the world of moving, talking pictures. For fully developed, expansive video efforts shot with the D4, please check the sites of my colleagues, Bill Frakes and Corey Rich. (Those guys know what they’re doing.)

In our most recent video effort on 9/11, I was basically an interviewer, while the gang at my studio, Drew Gurian, Mike Grippi, Mike Cali, and Lynda Peckham, at different times for different subjects, ran the D7000 cameras. The questions I asked came naturally to me, as the subjects of the interviews I knew for ten years, and call many of them my friends. This was different. I took a dive into Little Freddie’s music and history, which I didn’t know anything about, and found myself drawn to his lyrics, and sounds. His songs formed the basis for my questions. At one point I said to him, “Little Freddie, you’ve written some of your songs about bad women. Are they real?” He shook his head. “Oh, yeah,” he replied. “I never should have gotten into that cab that night. It was the gin talkin’ to me that made me do it. I got in the taxi with her. She was a bad woman.” He shook his head again, mournfully. “My wife.”

It was also very different, making a video with a D4. The camera enhances and enlarges possibilities, simply put. For tech info and specs, hit this link.

For the interview, I asked the questions and ran a static D4 on sticks, which was no big deal in terms of camerawork. Drew Gurian and Mike Grippi both did the heavy lifting for the moving and sliding views. It was strange for me, I have to admit, having my eye glued to a monitor instead of an eyepiece while we, as a team, walked along here and there with Freddie. My whole career, I’ve told stories by stopping things. Now, in addition to seeing a frame, I found myself thinking about where that frame could move. But, here’s the thing I do know, being a photographer. When a shooter comes to you, impassioned about making a shot, you say yes. Drew and Mike would conjure a camera slide, or a pan, and describe it, and we’d shoot it. It makes sense to allow visually talented eyes to roam, and do what they will do.

Drew then did a rough cut, and organized the footage, and we worked with Russell Peckham of Peckham Productions, a long standing video operation on the East Coast.  Russell has taught us the meaning and importance of having a good, experienced video editor on our various projects. His post skills shape the look, and the logic of the story.

During the two days we shot this, besides working the video, I also had still responsibilities, and I was not going to pass up the opportunity to do portraits of a truly unique subject like Little Freddie. In the old kitchen of the plantation we worked at, I made one of my favorite portraits of late. Shot with a D4, ISO 100, 19mm lens, f5, 1/10th.

We also went across the river from New Orleans, right at the cusp of darkness, and shot this CLS portrait, using a Lastolite 8 in 1 umbrella. I love this thing. You can shoot scattered soft light when you use it as an umbrella, but then pull a velcro port off the backside of it, pump a light through that small area of diffusion, and it behaves like a soft box. Shot with a D4, ISO 400, 24mm lens, f4, 1/2.5.

Little Freddie, showman that he is, was a natural in front of the camera, of course. He made for a wonderful subject for stills. But, his is a story that has heart, soul, history, legs and music. Shooting the video let us see him, and let us listen, too.

More tk…

Wicek says:

on January 23, 2012 at 8:59 am

Wow! Great and interesting musician, great story and what a nice little camera…

James says:

on January 23, 2012 at 9:25 am

Great bit!!

Would love to know how you handled the audio?
I am (im)patiently waiting for the arrival of my first D4 and this only makes it worse!!

James B says:

on January 23, 2012 at 9:53 am

Is there anything that Joe and his team cannot master? Good stuff guys!

Herve "Harvey" LE GALL says:

on January 23, 2012 at 9:55 am

OMFG ! The last photo by night of the guy and the bridge… Well done man.

Joe, you killed me.


Barry Kaufman says:

on January 23, 2012 at 10:04 am

VERY COOL Joe! What did you record the audio with? If it’s from the D4 itself, good golly miss Molly

RobyFabro says:

on January 23, 2012 at 10:14 am

Great short, Joe, you can tell there is a photographer behind it! Loved the shifting depth of field.
Perfect subject; and what about the last still…excellent composition, very eye catching!,

Jay Mann says:

on January 23, 2012 at 10:32 am

Nice shots, as always. Its gonna be a while before I embrace moving pics, still too much to do with stills. I do take an audio recorder with me to record local sounds, which I incorporate into my slide shows, my preferred medium. But great to see what can be done with the quality of the new cameras, might come in handy sometime. Just returned after 6 weeks away, too many images to process…….

Karen B says:

on January 23, 2012 at 11:06 am

Great video… cause when you feel it ~ boy it makes you feel good. Love it!
Can’t wait to see more from you and your team, Joe.

Jason L says:

on January 23, 2012 at 11:08 am

I need to ask why would you shoot 1/2.5 and 1/10 sec at ISO 400? It just seems you could shoot at ISO 4000 and still get a clean image, plus demonstrate the low light capabilities of the D4…that’s one of its greatest strengths Joe…

Ahmed Sharif says:

on January 23, 2012 at 11:19 am

lovely photos….
as usual, Joe’s blog is always a place of learning….

joe reitz says:

on January 23, 2012 at 11:38 am

These are the kinds of posts that make me wish I could quit my job and spend the rest of my days working with you and your team, joe. Truly amazing storytelling and great possibilities in the horizon!

Ziv says:

on January 23, 2012 at 11:42 am

What was the potential for quality frame grabs from the D4 video?
NIce job , Joe.


Joe Masucci says:

on January 23, 2012 at 12:25 pm

I’ve had great luck using my D7000 for video. Seeing this video makes me want the D4. Great job guys!

Marian Majik says:

on January 23, 2012 at 12:51 pm

Wow… amazing!

ButchM says:

on January 23, 2012 at 12:52 pm

Awesome work Joe (and Crew) … love the clarity and detail in the video … looks like the D4 is a keeper …

Only thing that would have made the video better is if you would have mixed in some of the stills you shot of Little Freddie …

Thanks for sharing … he is a treasure and well worth your efforts, a marvelous subject indeed.

John Richardson says:

on January 23, 2012 at 1:38 pm

Beyond cool Joe, well done!!

Jesper Vang says:

on January 23, 2012 at 2:24 pm

This kind of music is soooo cool, and Little Freddie King is such a cool Gentleman :-) The video you guys have produced, is an outstanding tribute to this kind of music and musicians :-) More of this, please :-)

Russ Gelardi says:

on January 23, 2012 at 2:56 pm

Is there an Oscar for “Best picture You Tube”, and wouldn’t that look nice on Joe’s mantle? I’m off to sit in a corner, and fight feelings of photographic inadequacy… the only drawback to checking the McNalley blog!

The People of Detroit says:

on January 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm

In a music landscape flooded with cultural imitations, its refreshing to see the genuine article. Wonderful video and stills as usual, Joe.

Marcin B says:

on January 23, 2012 at 4:24 pm

The vancouver 145 for me is a masterpiece

Patrik Lindgren says:

on January 23, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Good stuff! Looking forward to use this camera and it´s video capabilities and all the other goodies as well.

Joe McNally says:

on January 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

True enough, Jason, the D4 operates with great efficiency at high ISO. But, here’s the thing I was feeling. The sky is almost dark, but is hugely brighter than where we were standing on that causeway. He was in total darkness. And the bridge lights were on, and bright as well. I could have shot Little Freddie at 4000 or 10000 or whatever, but I would have lost the sky and the bridges. And any sort of richness of exposure to that background. Hi ISO is great, but it addresses one thing–quantity of light. I wanted to influence the quality, color and direction of light. Hence I kept my ISO low, braced my elbows on the ground, relied on a combination of flash duration and intervention by St. Jude, the patron saint of lost causes and photographers everywhere, and pumped some light at him…, Joe

Paul Kitchener says:

on January 23, 2012 at 5:17 pm

Fantastic short Joe, you’ve captured his charismatic charm beautifully with Nikon’s latest DSLR…but is it worth swapping out my D3?

Pat Delany says:

on January 23, 2012 at 7:00 pm


Great video! I hope you consider going back to Dobbs with the D4 and capture Charlie in his workshop. I always thought that sound (and motion) would add to the Charlie workshop experience. I still remember the day you shot him during our class.

Pat Delany

Bill Araujo says:

on January 23, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Thanks for answering Jason’s questions as I was wondering the very same thing. Lots to learn, I have! I really enjoyed the video and as a result, I’ve gone to his website and enjoyed even more of his music.

Drew Gurian says:

on January 23, 2012 at 11:18 pm

Hey James and Barry- The music was recorded with a single Rode NTG-2 Shotgun mic, into a Zoom H4n recorder, boomed out, about chest level- to capture guitar/vocals. Nice and easy.

Reason we didn’t go straight into the camera was that we needed the song(s) recorded in their entirety, even if we weren’t recording video for the entire songs- so we had music to lay over.

As for the audio of Freddie talking throughout, that was recorded both into the cameras with wireless lav’s, as well as into the Zoom- with the shotgun, but think we ended up using the camera audio in the end– it sounded too good not to.

Jonathan Ivy says:

on January 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Great response Joe, Its not just about quantity of light, its also quality. thanks!

Anton Raves says:

on January 24, 2012 at 5:51 am

Joe and Drew,

What lenses have been used on this awesome video, for the different scenes? Is there a BTS (Behind The Scenes) available somewhere…?

Awesomely done!


Van says:

on January 24, 2012 at 10:35 am

Hi Joe and Drew….

I like the colors and tones out of the snaps with the D4. ( I am using the D3s presently.)

How much or what are you doing in PP to your photos? Especially with the D4 compared to the D3s shots?

Are you using Capture NX, or Lightroom? (I was using Aperture until I saw a lot of tonal differences better rendered in print in LR).

Thanks and keep the great tips and insights coming, which are much appreciated!

Jereme Thaxton says:

on January 24, 2012 at 11:12 am

Looks great Joe…what did you guys use for motion control on the dolly/jib shots? A slider?

Sebastian says:

on January 24, 2012 at 5:20 pm

Hi Joe!

You’re an amazing photographer. Everything you do is great. I have a question though..about the first still of Little Freddie, in the kitchen. What kind of light did you use for him (the subjekt)? Available or softbox/umbrella?

best wishes

Joe McNally says:

on January 24, 2012 at 9:37 pm

hi light. There is a window off to camera left which you don’t see in the frame. I placed a 3×6 Lastolite panel over it, and fired a Ranger 1100ws pack through it. Pretty simple to put together. Then I just dragged my shutter to get a decent value through the window you can see in the picture. best, Joe

pete collins says:

on January 25, 2012 at 1:36 pm

Meh, I guess we will keep you around… Great job Numnuts!

Joe McNally says:

on January 25, 2012 at 3:51 pm

Pete…you mean….i didn’t suck? for once? geez…..

Marc Weisberg says:

on January 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm

Joe & team Joe, great vid and super POV. You always keep it real and down to earth. Amazing stills. To bad the production value is so trashy (not!). Amazing contorstionist, could probably shoot some interesting stills with her feet. And heck the elephant, did he bang off any frames? :-) Crazy lighting setups in the circus tent. Funny bit Michael Corrado used to be my next door neighbor when I was growing up as a kid on Long Island. Small world huh?

Rwa kulszowa says:

on January 27, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Od dawna szukaÅ‚em artykuÅ‚u na temat Nikon D4 Video….The Blues in His Shoes…. Joe McNally’s Blog . DziÄ™ki

Mukul Soman says:

on January 28, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Great work as always Joe! Did you record the output uncompressed? Also, the moire issue on the guitar strings in some of the shots disappoints me, especially since I have my D4 pre-ordered :(

John Johnson says:

on January 29, 2012 at 12:07 pm

Awesome video and images. Now have Little Freddie King in my iTunes library. What’s the song he’s playing in the video? Thanks for another fantastic piece of work. Very inspiring.

Anthony C says:

on January 30, 2012 at 2:23 pm

The photo of Little Freddie King beneath the bridges is quite possibly the coolest posed shot ever of a musician. The light, the bridges, the red guitar, the player himself, and those pants…yes, the pants, because fellas, it’s often all about the pants.

Daniel Hubbard says:

on January 30, 2012 at 2:46 pm

great video! what and how did you mic him?

Paul Tortora says:

on February 2, 2012 at 6:29 am


A whole lot of greatness going on here. Great color, great sharpness, great depth, great content and great editing. Your new stuff is knocking it out of the park… I’m sure this piece brought a whole lot of ‘feeling good’ to viewer after viewer! Thanks for sharing.

Rob Oresteen says:

on February 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm

Photographers would do well to listen to what he says about making the strings talk…

So many worry about their 1.2’s, not in what they need to shoot…:)

Cool clip, Joe.

Rusty says:

on February 4, 2012 at 1:56 am

Wow, love the picture of the Bluesman between the two bridges. My Canon Rebel XT wont do that but I doubt I could do it with any camera. :) Nice.

Hannes Uys says:

on February 5, 2012 at 3:47 pm

The last shot just is just utterly sublime in my book.

Ron Martinsen says:

on February 9, 2012 at 6:55 pm

Hot damn Joe, this was a great one. I don’t even like the music (despite being from New Orleans where I grew up on this stuff), but the video rocked. The two images you made here (especially the last one) is just off the chart – well done!

:bow down:


Goran Cuckovic says:

on November 20, 2012 at 4:51 am

Blues in his shoes, make blues in my heart. You’re killin me:),man. How did you come to that location? Was it a instant thing? Or you have folder/Locations, from which you choose depending on what you need/want?
Anyway, man: You rock my photo world! Don’t ever, anyone tell you differently;))

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