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Archive for the ‘Tours’ Category

Blogging from the Bus….

Mar 23

In Tours at 10:05pm

Once again, honored to have Donald in front of my lens. He joined us for Flashbus Albuquerque. He is, quite simply, a walking storybook of a man, someone who has lived life, quite wonderfully and deeply. Funny, when we talk, conversation always drifts towards our honeys:-)

This is two hard lights, with the main being an SB 900 into a Flashpoint beauty dish, fitted with a tight grid. The other light is a raw light, zoomed to 200, fired through a set of handrails on the stage steps, which we cut and crossed with gaffer tape. Handy, found light shaping tool, albeit not particularly portable. Shot at 1/2000th at f2 with a 200mm f2 lens. Focus drop on the near eye. Hi speed sync, TTL.

Wanted to do a lot more with Donald, always do. But happy enough to have once again had a few minutes of his time as my subject. Rolling now out of New Mexico, heading for Dallas. Longest commute of the whole trip. Phil, our magnificent driver, is pushing it down the highway. Texas here we come….more tk…

We’re At 60!

Mar 18

In Tours at 12:55pm

About 60 flashes, that is….

Yesterday, in San Diego. Great crowd, lotsa fun. All flashes run off TTL commander. Wireless command, 3 groups, all manual! None TTL! (Please don’t tell Hobby…..)

More tk….

Paparazzi! TTL!

Mar 14

In Tours at 10:56am

Rolling down the west coast. Just finished the first three stops, all sold out. In SF, we triggered about 30 flashes, TTL, right from the commander on the camera. This is lighting, to be sure, but it’s also fun. Flashbus has been a hoot.

What’s even more fun has been watching David Hobby teach. He elucidates the lighting approach to a scene with such clarity and precision, it is truly amazing. I have learned a lot from him, just in these first stops, and there are still a bunch to go. He does the morning session with calm, cool direction and planning, and in the afternoon, I throw all the flashes in the air and see where they land. Someone the other day tweeted a description of my teaching style–faith in chaos. Pretty close, that.

Folks who attend are having a blast as well….from Twitter….

Big thank you 2 @theflashbus crew for the great day. @strobist + @joemcnallyphoto were brilliant! wish you all the best for the next stops!

From fakechuckwestfall:-) Ask McNally to shoot with some 580 EX II’s, and take pictures of that. We need it for Canon marketing

@strobist @JoeMcNallyPhoto thank you for an awesome show today! #flashbustour

@JoeMcNallyPhoto Thank you guys for coming out! It was a hell of a good time! Great info and great experience!

And Ron Martinsen up in the Northwest posted a review….

Anyway, San Jose today, LA tomorrow, and then we head for San Diego…..more tk….

Flashbus Alert! Call for Characters…

Mar 7

In Tours at 7:08am

Ever wanted to be somebody else? Of course. I always wanted to be 6’6″ and play in the NBA. That didn’t quite work out. Along with lots of folks, I’ve also wanted to be better looking. You know, have that rakish, movie star kind of face wattage, instead of an Irish pug with a nose in the middle of it that looks like somebody took some silly putty and threw it against a wall. My face is such a ragtag collection of disparate elements that in a recent blast about Flashbus, fakechuckwestfall suggested I had been separated at birth from a sock puppet. Geez, that’s a little harsh, doncha think?

At any rate, at every city on the Flashbus tour, anybody who shows up as a character, I will spontaneously try to tailor a lighting solution for and shoot. Off the cuff, come on stage, meet the flash. Now, this is not a contract. If in, say, San Francisco or New York, there are too many decked out people in the audience, I’m not gonna get to everybody. It will be random. An effective disguise does not automatically get you photographed. (Nor does it gain admission….more on that at the end of this post.)

But what it will do is win you a free Language of Light DVD set, autographed and handed to you, right there, for what is judged to be the best or most outrageous outfit. Whoever shows up in what either myself or the crowd determines is the best costume or character, gets a free DVD, one per stop. Decision of the judges is arbitrary, and final:-)

But, this kind of thing can be fun. Up in Calgary last year  we had Captain Jack and Oompy the Clown show up. (Those wacky Canadians!) Did my best, spur of the moment. What I will do is tweet the day before we get to a stop, as will Drew and the rest of the gang on the bus. In that tweet, I’ll put it out there–looking for bikers, athletes, rockers, outdoor types, bureaucrats, politicians, preachers, waitresses, you name it. You could even show up as a serial killer. From what I understand, they look like everybody else. Might even call for a ballerina or two, who knows. So in honor of our first stop, Seattle, I’m calling right now for highly caffeinated garage band rockers. And given the fact that we’re right next door to the great North Woods of Canada, and one of my favorite cities, Vancouver, home to a bunch of good friends and terrific shooters, anybody who shows up as a dancer, or a lumberjack, well, we’ll see what we can do.

More on Flashbus: The list of sold out cities is pretty lengthy at this point, and there are generally over 100 people on each city’s wait list. We’ve had lots of calls about just showing up, and getting in at the last minute. Ain’t gonna work, apologies. We have strict limits on the numbers of people in the venues we’ve booked, and folks in charge of such rooms and convention centers are gonna be on the lookout for overage. If your name’s not on the list, you won’t get in.

The intrepid Karen Lenz has been working through lists of VALs, and is pretty on top of it, considering we had 600 requests. She’s gotten back to most folks, I’m sure, and if you haven’t heard yet, it most likely means she filled the volunteer list already. Again, apologies.

And lastly the Flashbus itself is somewhere in the country, heading for Seattle. We’ve had numerous reports of sightings, but nothing concrete yet. Again, thanks to fakechuckwestfall, there was this snap of the bus. I mean, something this underpowered should be easy to spot, yes?

Then there are those who insist the bus has not been seen yet because it’s not in the country. Evidence of this comes from Jonathan Bowcott, over in England.

The game’s afoot! More tk….

And Now, A Word from (actually) About our Sponsors

Feb 17

In Tours at 7:52am

Apologies for the long post. Worth it, though, ’cause there’s a lot of stuff in the Flashbus schwag bag. Seems David and I made a few calls:-)))))  That’s the good news, and plenty of it, so read on. The bad news is that for certain cities, the window has closed. Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, DC, New York, Boston, Buffalo, and Chicago are sold out. In fact the tour itself is already nearing 80% sold out.

So, what would you say if somebody came up to you and said, hey, wanna help out a couple cartoon characters who are getting on a bus in Seattle, driving around the country and ending in St. Louis 5 weeks later? “And they’re doing this why?” And the answer is, well, they’re going to teach about small flash, manual mode, TTL, hi speed sync, PocketWizard radio TTL control, light stands, light shapers, light modifiers, light blockers, digital cameras, and pixels in the sky, They’re going to tell stories, offer up 60 years of accumulated wisdom laced with nonsense, fall off stages, explode flashes, and pull people out of the audience and light ’em up. They’re gonna do a free form, no boundaries (well, maybe a few) Q&A everyday, and throw expensive photo stuff into the audience in response to a particularly enlightened query, or one that is just plain funny.

Write that down on a loan application and walk into Citibank with it, and see what they say.

We walked into Adorama Camera in NYC and spoke the above to Harry Drummer, who seems to keep everything running at the shop, and he looked across the table and said, “Okay.” DH’s head and mine did a synchronized tilt, like a pair of trained felines. “Really?” Harry said yes, again. He, methinks, is a wise man, with a mischievous streak, and he enjoys an adventure. I don’t really know what his title is. On his business card, it probably says, he who knows all and juggles all, who is capable of making more cell phone calls in an 5 story elevator ride than anyone else, and keeper of the keys to the lightning fast decision. Hmmmm…that would be kind of long to put on a business card

Maybe it just says “magician.” When he walks through the store, all the cameras tend to hover slightly off the shelves. I’ve seen it. At any rate, he and the team at Adorama worked some magic, and conjured a bus ride for David and I. Without the efforts of Adorama, Harry, Jeff Snyder, Monica Cipnic and others, the wheels on the bus definitely don’t go round and round. They are good folks, which is why they’re up on my blog, and partners in the effort to keep the Faces of Ground Zero Giant Polaroid collection together.

There are more folks who are helping us out. What DH and I have found, remarkably, after all this time in this nutty biz, there’s still some people out there in the world of making photo stuff who can still stand us. More than that, actually. They’ll listen.

A word about David, if I may. He remarkably knows the intricacies of the web, and how to use the web to intelligently, coherently teach and amass knowledge, get news out, and display his prodigious skills as a shooter and educator. It is nothing short of astonishing.  For a great deal of the planning stages of this tour, I have sat at tables with the crew, blinking in bovine amazement as he leads the discussion of SEO’s, Google analytics, and DVD editing and organization. At tour meetings, everyone is summing up complex thoughts, notions and details, finishing their coffee and getting up from the table and I look down at my note pad and there’s a few words, painfully scrawled….”JOE AND DAVE GET ON BIG BUS…..”

Back to our sponsors, one of which is Manfrotto. Marco Tortato, the originator of the Manfrotto School of Excellence, shouted out from Italy, “Va bene!” Over here in the states,  Kriss Brungrabber and Mark Astman both said, “Are you nuts?” and then said okay. They are chipping in with all manner of camera and video support systems, stands, clamps, grips…and about a hundred Tri-grips and Justin Clamps that the Strobist and I will wing into the audience at various stops. Lastolite is in as well, of course, and the stage will be littered with diffusers, reflectors, Ezybox soft boxes, and a new line, influenced by ideas and suggestions from someone implausibly named Numnuts. More on that tk….

Adorama and Manfrotto are definitely putting gas in the tank, and making sure we get David to a Chipolte at least every other night. Which brings us to the question of…


What David and I did was just start talking to people we know who make stuff we use. And they all said yes. The result is a schwag bag which will be given out to all attendees that, potentially, if you use it all, has STUFF IN IT THAT COULD BE WORTH MORE THAN THE PRICE OF AN ADMISSIONS TICKET.


Thinktank…Has a branded Flashbus Pixel Pocket Rocket in there. Adorama is the biggest distributor of Thinktank stuff on the planet, so they’re a natural fit.

Peachpit has a coupon thrown in that gives a discount on a selection of their books.

Lumiquest chipped in with an Ultra Strap. (Which really works, BTW. Most secure way of attaching a light shaper to a small flash I’ve come across.)

Spyder’s got a Flashbus notebook, and a promo code for discounting Spyder monitor calibrator purchases.

Rosco chipped in a Strobist Collection Gel Kit. It’s got a collection of gels in there that you really, actually use, hand picked by the Strobist himself.

Pocket Wizard designed and printed a poster. Which when David and I sign it will be worth less than what it would be unsigned.

Frio…very cool. They’re giving away their cold shoe accessory, which rocks. In the bag there is a promo code. Use it, and they will send you one, free.

NIK software is in for a 15% off coupon for any new NIK software or upgrade.

Tether Tools, which makes fantastic computer platforms and connectors for working tethered, has a promo code in the bag for free Jerk Stopper Cable Retention Device with a $100 purchase. I have pulled out my cords from the laptop so many times that I think the “jerk stopper” was named for me.

That’s a bunch of cool stuff, and we will be doling out bags at every stop. Given the vagaries of shipping, and the fact that the bus is a moving target, this announcement is not a done deal guarantee that every item will make it into every bag in every city. But we’re sure gonna try.

And then, there’s the stuff from the stage. During the day, and in the Q&A, David and I will be distributing cool stuff like Lexar pro cards and readers, Manfrotto Justin Clamps and Lastolite Tri-Grips, Lumiquest LTP’s and Softbox III’s, a Spyder3Elite Monitor Calibrator at each stop, and one Tether Tools USB tethering cable at each stop. NIK is winging in with one Color Efex Pro 3.0 complete edition, or a Viveza 2, or a HDR Efex Pro software giveaway in each city. (A word about the Lumiquest LTP–it rocks. I’be been using it a lot, and it pumps out a cool, punchy but soft quality of light.

Did I mention this is all Drew Gurian’s fault, by the way? He has this (literally) hazy history of his days as a rock ‘n roller. He won’t discuss it much, because of all the well publicized travail with the various groups he drummed for. Seems he was always filling in for some poor previous drummer who exploded on stage, or drowned in their own vomit. You know, the typical rock and roll tale of woe. It was Drew who said last year, “Like, why don’t we get this, you know, tour bus…..”

More tk….