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Nikon D4- Behind The Scenes Video

Jan 25

In In The Field, Videos at 6:53am

We’ve got some major thank you’s to offer as we dipped our toe into the waters of video. First off to Nikon who trusted us with this project and their hand built, prototype D4 cameras. (See the video to reference the fact that I broke one–slightly.) And to Gen Umei, from the K&L agency in Tokyo, who is a wonderful friend and a wondrous art director. And as always to his colleague, Aoyagi Toshiaki, who we have known for years simply as Mr. Blue. Marco Tortato of the Manfrotto Corporation provided us with simple, wonderful tools to execute shots. And Victor Ha and Brian Hynes of Cinevate were wise counsel in the background, and additionally, offered us the use of sliders and shoulder rigs. All of this is gear we’re just getting used to, and the fact that there are people in this industry willing to help and teach is one of the truly special things about being any type of shooter, still or video.

Major props go out to Drew Gurian, in our studio, who kept pursuing this behind the scenes stuff, even though he often had a cranky and not particularly photogenic subject (me) and a world of other things to think about. Mike Corrado of Nikon, who was not only our liaison with Nikon, but also our technical advisor in the field, chipped in with a few closeups of Cora, our sweet, 9600 pound star of a pachyderm.

We had fun on the set, as you’ll see. The video is a mix of D7000 and D4.

Thanks for taking a look. More tk….

Kent Weakley says:

on January 25, 2012 at 6:59 am

You’re the only guy I know that would hire a full circus for a shoot. Brilliant, love it!

Moe Jacknally says:

on January 25, 2012 at 7:30 am

Fantastic Vid.
Hope to see more – and please make longer vids in future!

Andor says:

on January 25, 2012 at 7:50 am

Great video and awesome stills in it – especially like the ones with the lady and the black horse standing on rear legs!
Btw. – what do they do with the elephant’s back / head and the foliage blower at 2:20? :-)
I just love these kind of BTS videos, thanks for sharing it!

Karen B says:

on January 25, 2012 at 7:51 am

Love this. Smiles and inspiration from your work… and thanks to Drew and the crew for their constant pursuit!

Simon Stafford says:

on January 25, 2012 at 8:02 am

Hi Joe,

Entertaining, educational, and inspirational!

Seshu says:

on January 25, 2012 at 8:06 am

Joe – it’s amazing how you are constantly creating and sharing. You are an inspiration. Thank you. Loved the video.

Joe McNally says:

on January 25, 2012 at 8:15 am

they were just blowing the sawdust off Cora…kind of like a hair wash and a blow dry!

Bob DeChiara says:

on January 25, 2012 at 8:18 am

Thanks for sharing Joe!

Mark Crislip says:

on January 25, 2012 at 8:29 am

Can you buy me an elephant? I have a birthday coming up. I’d ask for the lizard girl, but that would be wrong.

Brian Di Croce says:

on January 25, 2012 at 8:32 am

So you finally did get to shoot an Elephant! ‘Bout time! :)

David Apeji says:

on January 25, 2012 at 8:38 am

It’s always a pleasure to see you at work! Thanks for sharing. Wonderful!

Donald Page says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:02 am

great job joe and drew

Andy Waplinger says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:23 am

Great stuff! The video and photos (obviously) look stunning!

Is there any chance that you or Drew could talk about your workflow, particularly in post, when shooting video with the D7000 and D4?


joe reitz says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:23 am

Love it. Thanks for continuing to share

Adam Mason says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:24 am

Anyone know what lens he was using during the blues player shoot? The hood looked like the 14-24, but not sure!

Greg Meir says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

That was a great way to start the day. Thanks for posting! I like your style man!

Drew Gurian says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:43 am

Hey Adam,

We used several lenses…14-24, 24-70, 70-200, 85 f/1.4, 24 f/1.4 and 35 f/1.4.

Drew Gurian says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:45 am

It really wasn’t much of an issue using clips from both cameras. Obviously needed to make sure I was shooting the same timecode on each camera, but otherwise, not too much of a concern for our purposes.
I also plan on posting a bit more of a BTS gear/tech blog post, possibly on my own blog in the next few days.


carl sanders says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:48 am

Looks an enjoyable shoot and much fun, thanks for sharing, it reminds of what we should be doing and what being a photographer should be like, best wishes, some people have all the fun! Carl

Bob says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:51 am

just wondering if you considered having people in the stands inside of the tent for a few shots…

Greg Lepera says:

on January 25, 2012 at 10:11 am

Thanks for more footage on Preservation Hall, I just love that place and the folks there. One of the most impressive displays of drumming I’ve ever seen was Joe Lastie Jr. with just a snare and a cymbal inside the Hall. It’s great to see him smile in the photo!

RobyFabro says:

on January 25, 2012 at 11:26 am

Joe, I love your videos, and I’m one of those who get impressed by your use of those exotic words like middle channel, gaffe tape …!
Impressive work, and the stills are awesome!!
I’d love to do the portraits of circus artists!!
How did you crack the back of the D4, by the way?

Mark White says:

on January 25, 2012 at 11:26 am

Hey there! This was wonderful, as always. I do have a question, though. Were all the shots done with Nikon speedlights? These are some incredible setups, as most have been. So, just speedlights, or were strobes used as well?

Thanks so much for posting all of this!

Drew Gurian says:

on January 25, 2012 at 11:42 am

Mark- the shoots were a mix of small and big flash. The circus setup with the elephant, for instance, was mostly large flash, due to the scale of the shoot. We did use small flash wherever we could (you can see some of each setup in the BTS video).

Dan Bailey says:

on January 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm

Awesome! I love the “I don’t know what I’m doing…” part in the early part of the video. Priceless, and killer imagery.

Joe Masucci says:

on January 25, 2012 at 12:57 pm

Excellent video. You guys rock!

Patrik Lindgren says:

on January 25, 2012 at 2:14 pm

Nice to see what happens behind the camera, especially since there is a lot going on there.

David Sargent says:

on January 25, 2012 at 2:19 pm

Abso-freaking-lutely brilliant….but…

1. I now feel completely untalented
2. I want a D4 really really really lots.


Christopher Murphy says:

on January 25, 2012 at 3:06 pm

Hey Joe,
When is Hobby going to get his shorts back? I guess laundry must have been mixed up on the bus. I suppose you can return them in Dubai at GPP this year.

Really appreciate your venturing into new and deeper waters with pictures that wiggle. Whole new world, isn’t it? Nothing says teamwork like video and post production. Kudos to your crew for the high quality, entertaining material of late.

I met you at the last stop of the Flashbus in St. Louis. You gave me The Language of Light. Glad to tell you I am still on the planet. Heart working and everything. Come to Kansas City and I will treat you to barbeque! My cardiologist says its not on my diet, but neither was my visit to meeting you and St. David of Baltimore. Worth the trip!

Phillip Hill says:

on January 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm

Thanks Joe ,
For your books and videos, your humour and your time. You continue to inspire me to be a better photographer .I feel sorry for people who just don’t get the emotion and feeling that photography provides.

Natalie J. says:

on January 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm

What a stunning craftsman! I am blown away by your production… I am starting up a blog myself. Would love your (or anyone’s thoughts!) :)

Keep these videos comin’!

Leandro Nagaoka says:

on January 25, 2012 at 4:31 pm

Muito bom !!!!!!

valéry says:

on January 25, 2012 at 5:01 pm

bravo! sublime!

Thomas Chamberlin says:

on January 25, 2012 at 9:34 pm

Boy, when Joe was told to put more interesting stuff in front of his lens he really took it seriously. Totally freaking awesome. The snake lady blew me away. And the contortionist…oh my my.

Steph Wisnet says:

on January 26, 2012 at 12:59 am

This video is fantastic guys, keep them coming! And of course the photos are stunning, as usual. It’s always fun to get a BTS look, especially when it involves extremely talented subjects, elephants, bulldogs & crazy sets you pop up in the middles of nowhere. I know an insane amount of time & skill go into these shoots, but dang you make it look & sound so easy. Cool, calm, & collected. Ha, I think my voice would be quivering a bit if I had to explain what I was about to do in those situations. Props to everyone involved and thanks for sharing!

Ray Soares says:

on January 26, 2012 at 5:02 am

Beautiful video as always!
I want a D4 too :)

Sandorion says:

on January 26, 2012 at 6:09 am

You should watch yourself not to train Drew too much because otherwise he might be gone one day doing his own stuff. And after being with you for so long probably doing it better than a bunch of other guys out there.

Chris Nemes says:

on January 26, 2012 at 9:51 am

So how did you get the crack at the back of the camera, Joe? :)

Aeron says:

on January 26, 2012 at 11:14 am

I loved this video, it’s like what I imagine doing if I were to shoot such amazing subjects. Honestly for years I had a fascination with contortionists and when I saw them give her a bow and arrow in this video- I went nuts (and felt envious lol) Awesome stuff Joe!

Jim Cummins says:

on January 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm


What type of optical spots were you guys using to create the focused circles of light on the female performer in the red dress? For example, the spot of light on her feet in the video’s thumbnail.


Hank Dinardo says:

on January 26, 2012 at 4:16 pm

Joe a lot of people on the web are saying that you’re not saying much about the D4 IQ. Can you tell us what your thoughts are regarding the cameras IQ?

Valentino Kyriakides says:

on January 26, 2012 at 8:15 pm

We all did know that Joe McNally is an outstanding and brilliant photographer, but now Joe and his team show that they are also brilliant videographers. – I’am impressed, a very nice made video, keep on the good work guys!

Hope to see you all one day also in north Germany…

Best Valentino

Greg Collins says:

on January 26, 2012 at 9:48 pm

Lots of people having a D4gasm because of you Joe.

Jennifer Stanford says:

on January 27, 2012 at 12:05 am

Joe, I think I saw a documentary about you quite awhile ago. I loved it, and now it seems I’ve run into you once more. I’m not a photographer, but you make me want to be one. I don’t know what the heck a Nikon D4 does, but I think I need one. Anyway, your photos are stunning, rich and full of life. It was a pleasure happening upon your blog. Best wishes.

Donfer says:

on January 27, 2012 at 5:45 am

Joe, ur are the best teacher and my only master always !

Darren Elias says:

on January 27, 2012 at 6:51 am

This was an awesome watch. I think I went through it at least 4 times. There’s a few second clip there when you’re seated at camera, and just sort of looking around, clearly deep in thought or something, like you’re searching for a handle on the moment. Would have loved to know what was going through your head then!

Lynn says:

on January 27, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Hey all – Lynn DelMastro here….
I just had to respond to Kent Weakley’s comment about Joe hiring a circus to do a shoot. Let’s just say that when Joe came to me and said, “oh yeah, Lynn, about the Nikon shoots I need you to produce, get me a circus, okay? (as casually as “order me a turkey on rye”, no biggie). I was like, “oh, cool, no worries, guess I just call 1-800-find-me-a-freakin-circus.” WTF are you kidding me? Gotta love him……. :-))

jason harry says:

on January 27, 2012 at 3:56 pm

love this video, your best.

some of the best images i have seen you make in the last few years are in there, the bow and arrow one… really good loved it.

music with the video just perfect, great production. J

Darren Elias says:

on January 27, 2012 at 5:23 pm


yuriy says:

on January 27, 2012 at 5:24 pm

Amazing lighting, I love the set up!

Scott says:

on January 27, 2012 at 11:29 pm

Watched at least 10 times now. Great video that makes me wanna get out and shoot! Fun and inspiring stuff. Hoping for full DVD release of a long-form version of this!

Karen B says:

on January 28, 2012 at 7:48 am

Lynn, We need some more behind the scenes “Lynn isms” I’m sure you have a few more gems to share. :) :) We love all of ‘ya!

Rich Cave says:

on January 29, 2012 at 2:59 pm

Hey joe,

love the shoot with the contortionist archer amazing. I am finally picking up my D4 later this year.

love the lighting setup on cora,


David G. says:

on January 29, 2012 at 7:31 pm

Hey that’s awesome Joe. Thank you so much for sharing. Wonderful video! Glad you were picked for a D4 trial :)

Dene wessling says:

on January 30, 2012 at 3:49 am

@lnnn. Im sure he will you ask next time can you get them to move that building there as it would look better in this shot or move the sun to go north and south ……. Well its joe mcnally so the world will rotate which way joe wants am i right :). ……. Great job again joe you need to come to australia some time

Joe McNally says:

on January 30, 2012 at 7:53 am

on the way, in may!

Sascha says:

on January 30, 2012 at 12:46 pm

Germany too!


Hank Dinardo says:

on January 30, 2012 at 7:03 pm

Joe other then the video how is the IQ of the D4 compared to the D3s?

John W says:

on January 31, 2012 at 2:43 am

Man – that is SO GOOD – thanks for sharing! Very inspiring (not just the shoot, the photography and the laughs, but the video production is great too.)

Gary says:

on January 31, 2012 at 8:55 pm

This is just great entertainment…I’ve watched it over and over and could watch it for hours.

Paul Tortora says:

on February 2, 2012 at 6:22 am


Bravo! So inspiring, absolutely beautiful images, and very captivating. Pure joy! Thank you for sharing this with the photo community, you never cease to amaze us.

Hank Dinardo says:

on February 3, 2012 at 7:49 pm

Why are all the early testers of the D4 not talking comparison with the D3s?

George Quiroga says:

on February 5, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Great images Joe. You are truly a master of light. The performer with the bow and arrow is unreal and the first thing I thought about was how you love photographing dancers and performers. Right up your alley.

michaelJ says:

on February 9, 2012 at 6:22 pm


It’s always a privilege to witness talented people coming together. The master of light combining with some really talented performers (the bow and arrow shot in particular) producing some stunning images.

Long been a big fan and follower Joe and always astounded at the work you produce as well as your willingness to share your hard earned experience.

By the way I’d highly recommend a circus or local performing troupe shoot to anyone, they are real fun, here’s a couple of images of mine I’d like to share

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