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

Archive for the ‘Fun’ Category

A Happy Weekend Blog…

Jun 27

In Fun at 5:21am

Just a quick, lighthearted blog for the weekend. Many thanks to Nikon and the MWW Group for putting together a lovely little video about the couples who stepped up into the Nikon Wedding Truck   a couple weeks ago.

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 2.04.38 PM

And, many thanks to Tina Trinh of ABC World News Now for putting together a fun video piece about the adventures of the truck.

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 1.53.15 PM

If you have a couple minutes for a laugh or a cry, or a remembrance of your wedding, the links above are just sweet and fun for a summer weekend. All best to all!

More tk….

Old School Meets New School

Feb 18

In Field Test, Fun, Gear at 7:33am


Photographers. We always like new stuff, right? The newest, the fastest, the sharpest! You know the drill. I’m right there with the madding horde as well. We walk around the photo shows, hoping to resist, trying to be Odysseus tied to the mast, and thus prevented from making the mad, desperate leap to the rocky, deadly expensive shores known as “new gear.” But, sometimes, we just can’t, or don’t, resist. My garage is filled with things I had to have, things that would make my life easier, things that were just bound to work so much better and on such a scale that well, expectations were high, to say the least. I’ve done it so many times, that my sense of disappointment as I trundle yet another piece of savior technology out to the trash bin of my feverish hopes is actually somewhat dulled.

Sometimes, of course, the new stuff works. Hot off the presses gear, especially now, with the pace of innovation in these digital times, can be a blessing. And, it is advisable to keep up, at least on some hopefully measured, selective level.

But, there is reassurance in working with the old, and the used. The been-there-done-that gear that you keep hanging around the shop, waiting for an excuse to trot it out for the rare excursion. For me, being a lifetime Nikon shooter, there is huge reassurance in the resonant click of a lens with an F mount bayoneting onto the camera. Been hearing the same definitive click since 1973. Hearing the same click, ’cause it’s the same mount. All my old glass works, even my 500mm f8 mirror lens, a catadioptric beast I’ve always referred to as fat boy. It’s a chunky piece of glass.


It’s also sharp as a tack, though historically a bitch to follow focus with. Real narrow DOF, but the resplendent thing about the lens is what happens when the field of view falls out of DOF. The background goes into these wonderfully repetitive little donuts. Especially fun to play with city lights with this lens, say of the type you find in Vegas.


Here’s the cool thing. You put this ancient piece of revered glass onto a D810, and the aperture priority works. You are fixed at f8, and the shutter speed slides around accordingly. The focus confirm works, as well, which is wonderful news for my eyes, straining through this baby at night, no less. And TTL works like a charm. Which is something I get a kick out of, as the lens is easily 25 years old and the camera less than a year. These were shot with an SB910 fitted with an Ezybox Hotshoe soft box as the up front light, and a hand held second Speedlight, red gelled for background. You can tell it’s gelled red as it’s the light flaring my lens:-))) The soft box is perched atop a paint pole fitted with a Kacey Pole Adapter.

Moved fast and had fun out there. Our wonderfully feathered subject, dancer Charlotte O’Dowd, was a trouper, out there in the Vegas night in January. Shot a few with updated glass as well. The below I knocked out with a 200-400mm f4, which is my go to long glass. Sharp, hand holdable on most occasions, except here, at night, I went with the tripod. Also caught some flare on this, from a headlight this time (I swear!) and it turned out to be a favorite of the night.

_JM43871 copy 2


So, old school—  500mm f8 (fixed) Nikkor Catadioptric telephoto. (Go see Efraim at Adorama. [email protected]) He sold me mine, used of course, for something like $300-400 bucks.

New school—  Nikon D810, 200-400mm f4, SB910, Ezybox HotShoe Soft Box.

Nothing like the click of an F mount.

More tk….


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

Dec 24

In Fun, Memories, Thanks at 6:04pm

Into the woods!

_JM63502A (1)

Fog and rain by us this Christmas. Not at all like the day below, when I made the shot below, of my kids, years ago, just in from the snow. Saw both of them today, all grown up. So much to be thankful for. Home with Annie, made it through another year of making pictures. Best to all for the holidays and the new year. Much to be thankful for, much to look forward to. All best, and, as always, more tk….

Claire_Caity_Snow (1)

Available Light? Guilty!

Oct 1

In Fun at 7:37pm

It might be called, PICTURES YOU MIGHT NOT HAVE THOUGHT I’VE MADE. My first one man show opens this coming Friday, Oct. 3rd, at the Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe, and pretty much the sum of a life behind the camera will be on the walls. A total of 54 images, give or take a couple that there might not be space for.

So, over the years, I’ve done flash portraits, flash sports action, flash production. I’ve lit telescopes. I once lit the main building of Ellis Island, fer chrissakes, offering up my humble skills to the great god of the yellow border a the princely rate of $250 per day. I’ve done ridiculous things with flash, and as Clint Eastwood said in Outlaw Josey Wales, “Sometimes trouble just follows a man.”

And, quite happily, I teach flash. Large flash, small flash. You name it, I’ve pretty much used it, or tried to, sometimes well, sometimes badly. But, you know, if you stick with it long enough, some folks might come to regard you as “that flash guy.”

So, why are the majority of pictures in this show available light? Hey, wait a minute buddy! Is this some sort of hoax? I’m hauling you in front of the judge! You got a lot of explaining to do!

JUDGE: What are the charges?

DISTRICT ATTORNEY:  The defendant in question, your honor, appears to be guilty of the use of artificial light in wanton fashion. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, he seems to be engaged in natural light photography! It’s a criminal hoax of astonishing proportions! Those Wall Street charlatans have nothing on this guy.

JUDGE: I see. Is the defendant aware of the serious nature of these charges?

COURT APPOINTED DEFENSE COUNSEL: Your Honor, I don’t think this man is legally competent to stand trial. After that many pops of a 2400ws unit, well, the brain just sort of gives up.

JUDGE: Nonsense. The state can proceed.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Thank you, your Honor. Now Mr. McNally, a search of your premises did reveal an astonishing stockpile of flashes of all types. There were also wires, cords, battery packs, and enough double A batteries to light all of Manhattan and run the subways for at least three seconds. Does this equipment belong to you?

DEFENDANT: Yes sir, I believe it’s mine. Though a couple might be David Hobby’s. We were on a bus together for six weeks, and, well, I saw a couple SB-800’s in his bag, and you know, they don’t make that flash anymore, and I figured he’d never miss them, so, I, uh……..(Defendant begins to become emotional.)

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: And in fact you have used these lights in absurd and criminally excessive ways, have you not? (His voice rising in indignation and scorn.)

DEFENDANT: Well sir, I thought using 22 speed lights was pretty reasonable, you know? (His outward veneer of calm is breaking down.)

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: 22! Reasonable?  (The D.A. sneers.) You mean to try to tell us that’s normal? That’s necessary? And I suppose we’re to believe in the tooth fairy and that mirrorless cameras will make your life better!

DEFENDANT: (Begins sobbing.) Well, I actually think the tooth fairy uses a Sony mirrorless. You know it’s lighter, and….

JUDGE: Stop rambling! Answer the question!

DEFENDANT: (Now, a thoroughly broken man.) Yes! I did it! I used lots of flash! Was it excessive? Yes! Was it necessary? No! (He composes himself.) Was it fun? Well, actually, uh…..

JUDGE: Silence! I think we’ve heard enough.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: And, to make matters worse, while you were publicly experimenting with all those flashes, getting people to try them, secretly, you were using available light all along! Disgusting!

DEFENDANT: Well sir, available light is there, you know, and sometimes it’s just so tempting. Except when it’s not there, you know, or when it’s just really bad and makes your subject look like a turd that just dropped out of a tall cow’s ass, and well, you gotta go flash….and well….

JUDGE: Done! I’m convinced of this man’s guilt. I just read a review of one of your books on Amazon. Hand me exhibit A. (He adjusts his glasses.)

It says here, “After reading the book, one has to ask, Does Joe, himself not know how he got the shot? Or is he intentionally just trying to keep us all in the dark, hoping that we’ll buy more of his books so that one day we’ll come a little closer to a better understanding? Is he afraid that if he tells us too much we may all become his competitors?”

And this one: “If you own a boatload of lighting equipment, this book is for you. It will show you how to use all kinds of strobes and softboxes and other major lighting assets. If not, there are about 4 or 5 pages that will fit your equipment profile. If you shoot existing light, save your money.”

DEFENDANT: If I may say, your honor, over half of the pictures in that book were shot available light. It’s obvious the person didn’t read it, or maybe I critiqued his Flickr stream once at a convention and he’s still, you know, pissed.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The state rests, your honor.

JUDGE: Bailiff place him in a holding cell, a really dark one, pending sentencing. Given the fact that an examination of his Delta Airlines account reveal he has flown over 1.9 million miles on that carrier, I deem him to be a flight risk and revoke his bail. I am personally confiscating your equipment, especially, ahem, that 200mm f2. He is hereby remanded to the Ambient Light Wing of the State Correctional Facility for Photographic Offenders!

BAILIFF: Your honor, that facility is currently overflowing with inmates. It was not designed to house this many people who have committed photographic crimes.

JUDGE: I don’t care! Lock him up! Put him in solitary, that cell with one window. He can spend his days watching the sunlight pattern travel across the stone walls! Better yet, lock him in a cell with a….landscape photographer!

The defendant collapses in grief, and is dragged screaming from the courtroom.

COURT APPOINTED DEFENSE COUNSEL: Your honor, I protest! Cruel and unusual punishment!

More tk…..










GPP, London, This Weekend

Sep 25

In Fun at 4:40am

Over in the UK right now, and actually taking a couple days off, though I was on location yesterday, and made this little Iphone snap of the idyllic countryside where we shot. Once again, the UK reminds me that it is one of my favorite places on the planet.

Read the rest of this entry »