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Archive for the ‘Seminars & Workshops’ Category

So, What Happens In Vegas….

Aug 28

In Jobs, Lighting, Seminars & Workshops at 12:21pm

Doesn’t always stay in Vegas. Especially the silliness.

PhotoShop World, that anchor event in the photo calendar, always has a theme, wrapped in a mini-movie of purposefully dubious production values. This year riffed on Wayne’s World, with the redoubtable Scott Kelby doing a very convincing, capable Wayne and Corey Barker doing just a remarkably loopy version of Garth Algar, Dana Carvey’s character. Corey is a wonderful artist and PhotoShop master. Who knew he could do goofy this well? Especially at this PSW, when he got inducted into the PhotoShop Hall of Fame? Especially with his mom in the audience?

Separated at birth?

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Anyway, it was good fun, for sure, and the typically accelerated potpourri of educational offerings and amusements that is the core of PSW. From Scott and Corey as the dynamically demented duo, to KelbyOne instructor Mia McCormick as the bombshell, to RC Concepcion as the Mexican shaman, to Roberto Valenzuela strumming romantically on the guitar… was, well, schwing!

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Vegas always represents, for me, an opportunity to shoot. At PSW this time around I showed a quick series I worked on last year, thematically referred to around here at the studio as “The Garage Guys.”  The below was shot in good old Vegas.


Ok, ok. Maybe it’s the neon. Maybe it’s the surreal colors and characters of Vegas. I shot the above, well, let’s call it in the spirit of things. Color, smoke, theater. I invited my friend Drew Moore, formerly of the NFL, to be my main character. Robo-mechanic!

Then we broke out some lights. And Oscar the dog. What a wonderful pooch. Not much of a watchdog, ’cause he likes everybody, but a total sweetheart. He and Drew bonded. There’s a lot going on here, so the camera of choice was the highly resolved Nikon D810. The file had to have sharpness, detail and color punch, and there is nothing like the D810 for that kind of mission. The lens of choice was the Nikkor 14-24mm f2.8.


On a set with lots of moving parts, the first and foremost thing is to get your field of frame Not very good English perhaps, but you get the idea, and it’s essential. Figure out the frame. Figure out what is going to be in the photo. Compose, not just the picture, but your damn self. Keep clarity of thought and peace of mind. Lots of stuff to think about, so take it a step at a time, and have fun doing it.


I liked the above angle but needed a place to put Drew. Fortuitously, there was a shell of an old vehicle we were able to drag over. Fit my imagination perfectly, as he is literally coming up out of that frame of an old car, and it gave me a place to hide my lights and gather some smoke.



Lots of different places to light in the photo. Big flash, small flash, shapers, bouncers, you name it. Big tripod job all the way, in this instance our four section Gitzo. Main light was a Profoto beauty dish, running off a Profoto B4 pack. Underneath, creating the creature from the black lagoon smoky warm light were two Profoto B1 units. Perfect place for a cordless battery unit. In the background nooks and crannies, there’s a mix of big flash and Speedlights, and once again an instance that I am very thankful for the onboard slaving capacity of the SB-910.


This is where it really gets to be fun, trying to go with the flow of what be there anyway (at least in my imagination) and having light be the expression of that. This is one of those jobs where reality gets left at the station, and just trying stuff that might look cool, or be informative, or simply try something you ordinarily don’t get a chance to play with.

Like a xenon arc light. They have those in Vegas. Enormously powerful, directed lights. I got a small one for the garage, fearing a big one would superheat the environment and cause some sort of enormous explosion.


I know there’s xenons in Vegas as I went to the top of the Luxor pyramid once, on behalf of the National Geographic, doing a story on light, and photographed the reason there is an huge beam of light shooting to the sky at the top of that hotel. It is the most powerful beam of light on earth, measuring 42.3 billion candela, and deploys 39 major xenon arcs to do it.

national geographic tear sheets

It was hot as blazes up there. I kept wondering about the fact that I was in a t-shirt and shorts, and the worker was in a flak jacket and safety visor. Hmmm…

But, in most instances in the garage, I went a relatively logical path. Like, back where there’s taillights, I red gelled my flashes.


I just follow my instincts when lighting like this. I see what’s there already, most of the time. There was an office in the back right of the frame that had these crazy, green tinted windows. So I augmented that feel with a deep green gel, and bounced a light in there. Hence the greenish tinge that is bleeding into the frame on the right.


This kind of lighting job is just plain fun, really. It allows me to stay in the sandbox of my imagination, and build a photo, block by block, light by light, color by color, and learn things along the way. It also reminded me of the happenstance of location work. We had all the lights and stands we needed, but of course, what we didn’t know we needed was…Oscar the dog. A total gift of the location, absolutely unforeseen. Now I’ve been the recipient of many location gifts, some quite unpleasant, but Oscar was welcome indeed. It gave our big guy, Drew, a chance to react to something other than the camera. And, of course, it being the time and age we live in, Oscar was paid a fee, and photo released.

Any questions about the gear, reach out to the big guy at Adorama, Jeff Snyder. [email protected]

Location photography! A great way to relax:-))

More tk….

A Scottish Seminar!

Jul 27

In Seminars & Workshops at 9:29am

Really looking forward to Scotland in September. Annie and I did part of our honeymoon there, just outside of Edinburgh, which we found to be one of the great “walk around” cities ever. Happy to be going back.

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Doing a week long shooting/lighting workshop with the estimable Liza Politi, Sept. 6-13, but, prior to that workshop, on Sept. 4th, we have a one day flash seminar staging at the Apex Hotel in downtown Edinburgh. Hit this link for details. It will be the usual–pictures, Speedlights, live shoots, Q&A, and most likely, quite a few laughs along the way. I mean, I won’t be teaching the CLS system in the hysterically profane way Robin Williams explained the glorious Scottish game of golf , but, I’m sure there will be a pithy comment here and there during the day.

The day is described below…

Joe McNally is thrilled to finally teach in Edinburgh! McNally will begin this very unique one-day lighting seminar with one basic Speedlight and quickly move through a series of scenarios, developing more sophisticated, off-camera lighting setups using multiple Speedlights as the day goes on. Emphasis will be placed on moving fast and using the intuitive capabilities of TTL wireless flash photography to create portraiture and beautifully lit scenes. The issue of successfully managing light will be up for discussion, as well as diffusing it, bouncing it and creating drama and shadows. The three main areas of using light are color, quality and direction, and all three will be shown and discussed during this seminar. We’ll have live models for the day, but McNally also pulls subjects from the crowd, which always results in lively exchanges and great fun! In addition to the images shot live, he will show examples of light and light theory, while engaging the audience in anongoing Q&A and offering tips, tricks, stories and survival strategies derived from 35 years of shooting.

Nikon UK will be on hand during the Joe McNally seminar with a table display to showcase the latest Nikon equipment and answer questions. PLUS Nikon will have a giveaway for each participant!

We’ll look at all manner of light from character lighting to beauty light, on stage, with every picture going straight to the screen for comment and discussion.



Again, here’s the link, and Scotland here we come! Many thanks as well to What’s On Edinburgh for the mention of the seminar day.

More tk…


PopUp! Flash! Seattle!

Jul 16

In Seminars & Workshops at 6:34am

So, here’s the skinny. Hobby, Arias and Heisler himself will be in Seattle, together, teaching all manner of photographic wizardry and skill sets, on Sept. 19th and 20th. Hit this link for all details. I’ll be there as well, for comic relief and to carry Greg’s bags, manage David’s twitter account (oh, to dream!) and convince Zack there’s nothing wrong with more than one light.

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My dear friends Mohamed Somji and Hala Salhi have built a world class photo oasis in the midst of the deserts of the UAE, in the topsy turvy city of Dubai. They are now extending their educational reach by literally, popping up GPP events all over the world.

Their signature event, the yearly Gulf Photo Plus, has been a mainstay on my photo calendar for years. The camaraderie, the excellence of the instructors, and the essential oddity of Dubai has always been a magnet. I mean, where else could you rope down the side of the world’s tallest building?


And then, literally, the same week, go out into the desert and shoot exotic fashion work?


And likewise, in terms of the Seattle PopUp, where else could I get to hang with these three intrepid, excellent photogs and teachers? Here’s the real deal, actually. David, Zack and I are all good guys, good teachers, etc. etc. All fine. Then, of course, there’s Heisler. Literally, the exception to every rule. I think it was David who had t-shirts made once that said something like, “It’s okay, I’m only here for Heisler.”

Which is an accurate sentiment. I would travel across the country to listen to Greg. When I teach at events he is at, my conduct is just this side of stalking. His photographic wisdom is endless, entertaining and the skills represented in his portraiture know no bounds. His 50 Portraits book is a compendium of some of the best portraiture done in photography, ever.

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The PopUp in Seattle promises to be fun. That area is a creative hotbed, and the photographic community there is passionate and talented, and the range of topics the four of us cover is wide indeed. Hit David H’s blog post for the full skinny, and reasons to attend.

September in Seattle!

More tk…

Back to the Desert

Feb 10

In Seminars & Workshops at 6:03am


Heading back to the perennially wonderful GPP, and the company of photogs from all over the world, not to mention some of the best instructor/photographers on the planet. It’s a visual festival, not only in the classes and the locations where we go to shoot, but just in the fact of Dubai itself, this odd erector set of glass and steel improbably springing from the eternal sands.

Hosted by dear friends Mohamed Somji and Hala Salhi, we convene first for Photo Friday, a non-stop swirl of short classes, with quick hits of information and discussion in bite sized dollops all day long. Then, the longer classes begin. Everything from Photoshop to wedding to fashion to editorial to lighting to night shooting, day shooting, and you name it kind of shooting. It is a huge week of instruction and camaraderie, pictures and tall tales, and of course, a beer at the end of the day with the favorite photo legend of your choice. David Hobby and I discussed a couple years ago that we would walk around in T-shirts that simply said, “It’s okay, I’m just here to meet Heisler, too.” This year the talent amassed is staggering, and makes me wish I could forgo teaching and just go to the classes.

This year, once again I concentrate on lighting, both a bit on the basic side and then on the decidedly advanced side. In my Fast Flash, Bodies in Flight class we concentrate on the problem of lighting athletic prowess effectively, both when the athlete in question is in motion, or repose. Last year we used a splash to good effect with a bicyclist.


We also take a day and try to do something truly aggressive, win, lose or draw, based on multiple flash pops, and motion.


We will take a day to investigate techniques involved in creating a picture like the below.


Also teaching a class that looks under the hood of simple, small flash, with the emphasis on speed and quality. Portraiture nicely done, but done fast, with small amounts of gear. Called Exploring Small Lights, we go after wringing the most quality we can out of the small flash in your bag.


And then, in between, while I’ve been there, I’ve managed to take a picture of my worn out boots which found their way to an unusual place. I’m still wearing them.


More tk….

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..



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….