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Way Down Under

May 18

In On Location, Seminars & Workshops at 8:31pm

Back in Sydney after almost a week in Tasmania, which is as wonderfully out of the way relative to everyplace else as its name might suggest. Lovely land, wonderful people. I was assigned by Tourism Australia to do a somewhat open ended assignment described as the Faces of Tasmania. I fully disclosed to them beforehand that I was a relatively awful rock and tree shooter, and preferred to stick with subject matter that talks back. (There have been location days of course, and people subjects, that have made me dearly wish I was better at the rocks and trees.)

But, I am, resolutely, a people photog, despite (or because of) its unrelenting unpredictability.

By pure chance, and by asking some questions of Sam, our intrepid ATV guide and mentor, we ended up photographing a terrific Tasmanian character nicknamed Muddy. He’s worked the water his whole life, and we asked him to come down to the dock for sunrise, which was a tad earlier than generally required of him. His fee for this was a case of VB beer. Done.

He’s got a wonderful, knowing gaze, the kind that says, in unspoken fashion, something along the lines of, “Get this over with, silly ass photographer and let me get to my work, and my beer.” Which is okay. I’ll gladly ride through any sort of ridicule to photograph a face like Muddy’s. Very brief, but fun, shoot.

Out there on the dock with the Numnuts Ezy box. Really fond of it as a character driven light. The white interior is pretty rich and forgiving, unlike its cousin with the silver interior, which is naturally a touch harder and more splashy. And, even though I only met him for a few minutes, I’ll venture to say that Muddy doesn’t do splashy. Also, for reasons of air travel and price per kilo of baggage, we left behind the c-stands, and used a Manfrotto stacker stand fitted with a extension arm.

Also, it being a portrait, I was able to orchestrate wardrobe, believe it or not. I saw an old pair of yellow slicker pants in the wheelhouse of the boat Muddy was working, and asked him to wear them. The touch of yellow up front resonated well with the blue of the background sky. I didn’t go into color wheel theory with Muddy. I was just happy he was easygoing about putting them on.

We had a another early morning photo session with Rob Pennicott, the Tasmanian of the Year in 2012. An entrepreneur, environmentalist, and sailor extraordinaire, he recently completed the first circumnavigation of Australia in an outboard powered vessel. The feat was accomplished in conjunction with the Bill Gates Foundation in an effort to raise money to eradicate polio.

We got a good portrait here mostly due to Rob’s good graces, and the fact that, pesky photog that I am, I asked him to come down to the dock at 7am, instead of the 2pm slot that the tourist board had originally arranged. Two pm light from a cloudless southern sky is the rock and the hard place, simultaneously, and a portrait shot then could have easily been DOE (dead on exposure). Turned out that Di, our irrepressible guide, knew Rob and made the call. He joked on the phone about whether there would be nudity involved. I answered that, if we headed that direction, it would only be partial nudity, which he was comfortable with. He is, as they say down under, a good bloke.

And, it being a tourism type shoot, I couldn’t leave Tasmania without a portrait session with one of its most amiable and recognizable faces.

Greg Irons and Petra Harris run an animal sanctuary called Bonorong Park, where they take in orphaned or injured animal infants, nurse them back to health and then release them into the wild. With the wombat, such as Petra is holding below, this can be a two or three year process, waiting for the dawn of wombat adolescence, and its naturally rambunctious push for independence.

They are also participating in efforts to discover the cause and cure for a cancer of the mouth that has decimated the Tasmanian Devil population. Called devil facial tumor disease, it can be transmitted from critter to critter, unlike most cancers. The Tasmanian wildlife community is rallying around the devil, trying desperately to contain and eradicate the disease.

Back in Sydney now, preparing for our last Sydney workshop, to be held this Monday. After that, off to Melbourne, where we’ll be for Aussie PMA, and doing another workshop, keynote and seminar. It’ll be a super busy week, and then, home and Annie…..more tk…

Morgana says:

on May 18, 2012 at 8:59 pm

Melbourne is a great town with lots of cool lane ways tucked away just waiting for the Joe McNally touch.Glad you finally made it down under.:) Morgana

Krogers says:

on May 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

In the setup shot for the portrait with Muddy, is the on camera flash providing any on-axis fill in addition to triggering the key via CLS?

Darrell Pearce says:

on May 18, 2012 at 9:04 pm

Great post and shots Joe! Wish I was able to go on that trip down to Tassie with you. I’m really looking forward to seeing you in Melbourne this coming week.

Joe McNally says:

on May 18, 2012 at 9:11 pm

the on camera flash is just a trigger for the off camera light…

Gavin Treadgold says:

on May 18, 2012 at 9:13 pm

One of these days you should go well down under and visit the South Island of New Zealand – stunning scenery! :)

John Macdonald says:

on May 18, 2012 at 9:57 pm

Your photographs of people are excellent and capture the character – this is an artform which is less common than it used to be and very worthwhile! Thank you!

Simon says:

on May 18, 2012 at 11:23 pm

Joe, you’ve really put your name on the map of Tasmania now – I mean that in a completely respectful & non jovial sense of course. I was honoured to have been a part of your life for the four days down there.


Mark Hammer says:

on May 19, 2012 at 12:00 am

First off, I am envious of your trip down under. This just reminds me of how much I want to visit that magical land of Oz. And to answer your question, women are known as “Sheilas” if I’m not mistaken.

I tell you what, I am the polar opposite of you in regards to subject matter. Though your abilities in capturing the true character of a person in your photographs is uncanny. It really has challenged me, and redefined how I look at portraiture.

Keep up the awesome work!

Jonathan Westra says:

on May 19, 2012 at 12:34 am

Hi Joe
Nice to read you are having a great time here downunder! I am off Thursday to see your workshop in Melbourne! Can’t wait.


ikuma says:

on May 19, 2012 at 3:47 am

Thank you for always sharing your amazing photos and great texts, Joe!
I was wondering about your lightweight boom construction – how did you connect that extension arm to the lightstand and what extension arm is that? I was thinking about using such a setup too as I try to travel light but haven’t figured out yet how to best combine the parts. I’ve instead used an adapter to mount an extension arm to a normal tripod with mixed results…

Gabriel Ponzanelli says:

on May 19, 2012 at 4:01 am

Great reading about your trip down under. I attended one of the Sydney events earlier this month and loved it. I’m now watching he DVD. Thanks!

Dave says:

on May 19, 2012 at 7:49 am

Great images Joe the way you use flash is awesome I enjoy seeing the many ways you are able to capture people in there own element

Jason Burt says:

on May 19, 2012 at 8:48 am

Great stuff Joe. I have learned a lot from your books and your blog. Keep it coming and I hope you come near my area (arkansas) one day so I can meet you! :)

Neil Kemp says:

on May 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

Hi Joe. Great shots as usual. When are you coming to visit us is South Africa?

Apratim Saha says:

on May 19, 2012 at 1:09 pm

Really a great post. Like the way of your writing and photos are also very good.

Scotty says:

on May 19, 2012 at 6:21 pm

Hey Joe, great to see some snaps from my home state! I’m looking forward to seeing you in Melbourne this week but just one quick note – The Koala isn’t native to Tasmania 😛 It’s only found in the wild on “The Mainland” or the “Big Island” as we Tasmanians like to call it!

Jason says:

on May 20, 2012 at 11:13 am

Awesome as always! Which extension arm are you using on the manfrotto stand?

Michael Kummer says:

on May 20, 2012 at 12:33 pm

Hi Joe!

Great pictures – as always!

Did you use a Magenta filter for the shots of Rob? If so, did you have any gel (green?) on the flash and if so, was it diffused by white diffusers?


Guy says:

on May 20, 2012 at 2:02 pm

Joe – great post. Any chance you can elaborate on “Manfrotto stacker stand fitted with a extension arm.” I get the stacker bit but what extension and grip are you using? Many thanks

Adam says:

on May 20, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Great shots Joe! Anyone else think Joe and Rob Pennicott could be brothers? I think there is quite a resemblance. :-)

Nomadic Samuel says:

on May 20, 2012 at 10:53 pm

All of these shots are memorable but the ones with the wildlife are especially precious :)

JPanda says:

on May 20, 2012 at 11:41 pm

Great photos/post Joe!

You have been an inspiration for me every time I look at your work.

Looking at your work, I always get a strong urge to try out more of Flash photography…

Please keep the posts coming. I am sure I will get to learn a lot more from your future posts too! 😀

Yair Haim says:

on May 21, 2012 at 1:37 am

Beautiful photos and great post! I love the way you handle the light with speed lights.

Stewart says:

on May 21, 2012 at 7:27 am

Dosen’t anyone else think that Rob Pennicott looks a like like Joe. When I first glanced at the photo I assumed that it was him. Then I read the story.

Jerred Golden says:

on May 21, 2012 at 7:59 am

Great shots but I could not help notice that Rob Pennicot looks like he could be your brother. Are you sure there is not some McNally blood down under?

Patrick Mc Donnell says:

on May 22, 2012 at 5:46 pm

Another series of beautiful images Joe. I really enjoy your blog for the images but just as much for the thoughtful words which accompany the top class photography. An inspiring combination.

Drew Gurian says:

on May 22, 2012 at 8:40 pm

hey Michael- Nope, no magenta gelling at all. Just cloudy WB, and a half-cut CTO on the flash…we most definitely lucked out with the sunrise.

Drew Gurian says:

on May 22, 2012 at 8:43 pm

Hey Guy,

happy to help…
If you go on to our Whats in The Bag? page, look under the “Grip Gear” section, for links to c-stand parts..

Essentially, we’ve taken these three pieces, and put them on top of a stacker stand…

Andor says:

on May 23, 2012 at 1:26 am

Good post and amazing shots as usual Joe! – especially the last three 😀

Graeme says:

on May 23, 2012 at 11:26 pm

Great post. Excellent balance of morning light with the flash too BTW.

Ah Tasmania. Last time I was there was for channel 7 and the Beconsfield mine accident, I photographed Steve Erwin with a Tasmanian Devil. A month later he was Dead!

Hmmm this post is sounding morbid now so I’ll stop.

Keep up the good work though :)

Christy Harper says:

on May 24, 2012 at 4:16 am

simply beautiful images!! Great job :)

Kurt Wall says:

on May 25, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I have to get one of the Numnuts Ezy Boxes strictly for the name. That’s genuinely twisted; I heartily approve.

Joel DC says:

on May 28, 2012 at 6:50 am

Excellent post there, Joe!

Thanks again for signing my book on Saturday- was a pleasure and an honour to have met you in person :)

Hope you visit Australia again real soon! Take it easy mate!


Cristian says:

on June 3, 2012 at 5:51 pm

Awesome shots!
I like the way you take them just with that NumNuts…


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