Bus_Rider_Mexico_NS306Girl_in_Doorway_NS307Ironman_Underwater_newMcNally_283_G_v3 copyRwanda-Pano_NS026.tif
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 ‘Lighting’ Category

Shaping Light in Shanghai!

Sep 19

In Lighting, Seminars & Workshops at 8:18am

Very happy to report I’ll be going back to an amazing city, Shanghai, this fall, and working once again with peerless wedding shooter Louis Pang. The two of us have always taught well together, taking different paths to a picture, and using skill sets that complement each other well. Louis of course is the master of the wedding, orchestrating and posing people in wonderful fashion. Me? Well, I’ll be engaging once again in a bit of hopefully creative mayhem with speed lights.

I’ve always loved shooting in Shanghai, which is one of the most vibrant places on earth. Louis and I will be teaching there from November 19th through the 23rd.  Here’s the schedule and links to the workshops and seminars offered..

Workshop: http://slshanghai.com/shaping-light-in-shanghai-by-joe-mcnally/

Seminar: http://slshanghai.com/shaping-light-in-shanghai-seminar/

Here’s just a few shots I’ve done in Shanghai over the years, and I’m excited to head back to teach!

More tk….

 

The Sky is the Driver

Aug 14

In Lighting at 7:01am

As I usually mention when teaching flash lighting, the most important light to observe and work with is not represented by that carton of flashes in the trunk of your car. It’s the ambient light level you encounter on location. Even if you go into a coal mine, and there is no light, that lack of ambient illumination becomes the driver for your flash solution. Likewise, outside, on a sunny day, that nuclear blast of photons up in the sky pushes you to light…or not. So, ironically, when you go on location as a “flash photographer.” no matter how many watt seconds you are packing. the ambient light is the key light to observe and react to. Read the rest of this entry »

Knocking Around With Flash

Aug 11

In Lighting, Seminars & Workshops at 5:48am

It’s been a busy year, so much so, I didn’t get around to doing a KelbyOne live seminar until late June. They are fun to do, and it looks like I’ll do a few more as the year progresses. The Kelby folks actually changed the name of the tour in the middle of things (thanks guys:-) so it is now called “The Power of One Flash.” Good example below. A very patient lady helped me out by coming out of the audience in San Jose for this one flash snap.

It’s a one flash deal, but the flash is ping ponged off a white foam core board. It faces away from the subject, hits that board, enlarges and softens dramatically, and then hits a 3×3 Lastolite Skylite Rapid Diffuser, which is very, very close to her face. When the already bounced light translates through that, it gets really glowy and soft. It’s basically a home made soft box I make on stage.

At the top of the blog, the pic is three flashes, but I don’t get to three until the fourth hour, and only use the that many for about 10 minutes. The rest of the day is pretty much one flash treatments, which I regard as a serious act of restraint on my part.

The gentleman in the hat is lit with two rim lights, off to the sides and behind him. I shot in tungsten white balance, so the white light SB-910 units go blue. With a little underexposure, they get dramatically blue. The front light is a little beauty dish that used to be made by Flashpoint. Sadly, they don’t make it anymore, but I loved the controlled snap of the light, especially when used, as it is here, with a honeycomb grid. It’s tight, and really pops the subject, but let’s the other lights do their thing, as it’s overall field of coverage is really defined and narrow.

Also experimenting with a new style of umbrella. It’s big. (Called a 4 in 1 by the Lastolite folks, it is 51″ so the coverage is excellent.) Used in reflected fashion, it easily drapes Brad and Jan here in rounded, soft light. (This big source gets trotted out in the last hour, where I show some Profoto large flash units, and contrast that approach with multiple speed lights into one shaper.)

Then, with the addition of a tri-grip silver reflector, and some banter, we ended up here. These lovely folks have been together a long time, over 20 years, as I remember. Many thanks to them for coming onstage.

But turn the umbrella into a shoot through, firing only through the center port, you can make it a character driven light, such as the treatment here of Chet, also a wonderful volunteer from the audience.

The above pix are shot with the exact same light source, the 4 in 1, but configured in a different way, which yields decidedly different results.

Next one of these stops is Cleveland! Having fun doing these, and many, many thanks for all the gracious folks who come up onstage and help me out during the day. Most people don’t imagine at the beginning of the day that they will end up with a photo session in front of 300 plus people, but for a few, it works out that way. Hey, I get a great subject to work with, and they get a new Facebook profile picture. All good……more tk…..

 

Profoto at the Opera!

Jun 26

In Jobs, Lighting at 2:35pm

It is always advisable to travel light going into China. It is a country of many rules and regulations, and that age old photog ethic of “Damn the rules I’m here to make pictures!” can be blunted a bit if displayed to the wrong, say, customs official. Hence, I was exceedingly grateful that Profoto USA, Sweden and China all pulled together and offered the assistance of a strobe package for my latest visit.

The city of Beijing is a fascinating place, filled with practitioners of ancient and time honored art forms, such as Chinese opera. I was very lucky to work with these actors and actresses for a few hours.

I was using mostly B1 units, for the first time. First experience in the field, for me, with these guys, was all positive. They’re not just good, they’re terrific. Solid state, built like a little armored vehicle of light, and just locked on in terms of the getting the signal from the air remote. (I always approach the transceivers, signalers, radio remotes, or smoke signal system associated with specific lighting brands with a bit of trepidation. In some instances, it feels like an afterthought, and performs like one. No worries on these. Even at distance, reception was reliable.)

For the basic light setup, I had a 4×6 RFi soft box overhead of camera, and a 2×2 under for beauty fill. As I backed off, to incorporate the actors in their staid, traditional poses and stage personae I noticed the ornate ceiling of the theater was going black. I put one B1 back there and just banged it into the ceiling, and it had more than enough juice to bring out the detail.

All the above were shot at one second on a D800E, which is a super resolved, sharp camera. Hence I really relied on the power of the flashes to chisel out the details. In the tight beauty portrait above, for instance, the right side of the frame does have the vapor of motion about it, which I ended liking in that instance. But most of the time I’m keeping my tripod steady, and encouraging the actors to make their moves, and then hold, hold, hold.

I love working over in Beijing. The folks I work for are pretty exacting in what they want, but you also get to have fun as well, such as with a legendary chef and his helpers in a famed duck restaurant. Below, I’m just blasting some B1 light through a shoot thru umbrella, working fast, and hoping to get out of this busy kitchen’s way before the chef decided to take a cleaver to the annoying photographer.

I learned a lot on the trip, and had a blast with, what was for me, some new lighting gear. I’ll be continuing to experiment, which at the end of the day, is what a career as a shooter is all about.

Quick note: Tomorrow, Friday, I’m in Seattle teaching The Power of One Flash Tour for KelbyOne. I’ll be using B1 units on stage for the first time, which again, is a new wrinkle for me, and it should be fun.

More tk…

A Postcard for FDNY

May 29

In In The Field, Lighting, On Location at 7:51am

Ten House is located on Liberty St., spitting distance from the World Trade Center site. They just got two new rigs, and it fell to 10 Truck chauffeur, Aaron Burns, who doubles as the house photog, to shoot a postcard of these brand spanking new machines. A postcard, and maybe a shot to put on the wall, if things worked out. Read the rest of this entry »