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 ‘Upcoming Events’ Category

Notes, Thanks and…. In the Beginning, There Was Greg….

Oct 22

In Friends, News, Thoughts, Upcoming Events at 8:41am

Lessee….bunch of stuff….this just in, from David Hobby….many thanks to him from one half of JoeBob….me and Bob Krist did have a punch up on the new 900 video, and we’re thinking of doing a tag team guest appearance now on WWE;-) I loved Joe Bob’s reviews. Just loved ‘em. My kind of movies always scored well, in other words, those kind of movies where stuff blows up, the women are as fast and sleek as the cars, and there is a subtle exploration of the nuances, depths and shadings of the human condition…you know the kind of movie I’m talking about….sort of a “Harold and Maude Meet the Killer Bugs from Ice Planet X” type of thing.

David’s onto something with that chainsaw. I think I’ll put it in my cargo bags, and it’ll be the first thing I bring out on location when I get to someone’s house. Kind of an ice breaker, ya know? More on that tk…

Many thanks to Scott Kelby for the mention of the Geographic cover story this month. I’ve shot for the yellow magazine for over 20 years now, which is wild to think about. For me, it’s just humbling to share ink with folks who have gone before, like Jim Stanfield, Bill Allard, Sam Abell, Jim Richardson….list goes on. More on adventures with Wilma, our striking cover subject, in blogs tk.

Ahh, location work. Shooting the spread above, we slid into a Spanish national park at sunrise, because it offered the only glimpse of the type of rocky terrain Wilma and her cohorts most likely experienced in their day. The cave where they found the new Neanderthal DNA, about 30 klicks away, is now surrounded by deciduous forest. I was a tad nervous, as we unloaded things, cause we did not have a permit to shoot in the park.

I’ve snuck into more places and shot pictures from more spots that I ain’ supposed to be than I can remember. Nothing unusual about that. Most photogs wouldn’t have a portfolio to show if they actually listened to the word “no.” And there are lots of folks out there with the word “no” already teed up on the tips of their tongues. I call ‘em the walkie talkie assholes. Give somebody a 3 week course, a flashlight and a walkie talkie, and they can ruin your day. But I digress.

I was more worried about the light. Sunrise was not looking good. Pulled out an Elinchrom Ranger pack, which is my field light of choice. Gelled it warm and slapped a tight grid spot on it. Made some decent pix, but there was no rationale for this warm golden light hitting Wilma’s face, while the rest of the world was obviously gray.

But I should remember this morning the next time the light don’t work out, but, being a photog, I probably won’t. A slice of sunrise came through a break in the Eastern clouds, and hit the rock face behind Wilma. It was all I needed. I got about 10 frames and we were done.

Then we decided to move Wilma and give it another go, as it were. She is, well, not a delicate flower. She is 200 pounds of silicone wrapped around a steel frame. The best way to lift her is to circle round back, crouch a little bit, throw your arms around her ample pelvis, and basically give her a good, hard shag. Up she goes off her pedestal, and then you can trundle her, rather ingloriously, wherever you want.

We were in the process of doing this when around the corner came a patrol car with two Spanish National Park rangers in it. “Hola!” “Yes, she is naked!. But she’s not real!  No, its not what you think. See? She’s not inflatable!” The whole thing had to have looked hinky and kinky at the same time.

Luckily, one of our party spoke fluent and evidently persuasive Spanish, and engaged the officers while I told Brad to take the shot cards and put ‘em someplace the sun don’t shine. We were allowed to leave, along with Wilma. I miss her, actually. When she was wrapped back up in bubbles for her drive back to the Netherlands, it was quite emotional. I told her it would be alright. Even if we never see each other again, we’ll always have Spain.

Photo East is coming up, and the toy warehouse will be spilling all over the Javits Center in NY, with widgets, gadgets, biddybops, thingamawhooziewhatzis, fast glass, smart cameras, whopper hard drives, and a lot of yakkin ’bout pictures. I’ll be doing some of it myself, teaching small flash on Thursday morning, doing a couple stints in the Nikon Booth, and signing some posters for Epson.

A word about Epson and Dano Steinhardt. I ain’t exactly Moose Peterson, JP Caponigro, Jay Maisel or any of these kind of master printer/shooter guys, but Dano continues to be an enormous source of faith and support for my studio, year after year. He is one of those guys who stays in the background, facilitating photographers, showing them the latest and greatest Epson stuff that in turn makes their stuff look great, and all the while, one of the best kept secrets in the industry is that Dano is one helluva shooter. He makes incredibly beautiful imagery out of things most of us walk right by. I think the key here is seeing photographs. He sees. And then he distills all the jumble and cacophony that attends just about any walkabout of modern life into clean lines and stunning symmetry that makes sense, not to mention beautiful pictures.

Same thing can be said about Kriss Brungrabber and Mark Astman of the Bogen Corporation. Their commitment is unflagging in support of photogs, and photographic education. If we decide to do something together, we do it on handshake, and its a done deal. Good people, and Mark in particular, who has been out on a bunch of my workshops, is a striking presence as a photo subject. Sort of a William Holden who knows everything about Elinchrom flashes:-) I’ll be hanging in the Bogen booth a bunch, with my buds Bill Frakes, Drew Gardner, and of course, Moose.

Strikes me a whole bunch of the yakkin’ about to occur on the West Side of NY is gonna be about light, and lighting, which means flash. Hmmmm…..interesting thing, this flash stuff. Lots of folks playing with it, yanking it around, trying different stuff, myself included. It’s all good, some of it is even really good. But it gets me to thinkin’, always a dangerous thing.

I really feel alot of the conversations about flash and light we’re having nowadays wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for Greg. When I say “Greg” I mean Heisler. To me, he’s always been one of the one name photogs, up there with Annie and Avedon.

Greg changed the way we all see. He burst onto the magazine photo scene in NY, oh, about 1980 or so, trotting out Norman 200B’s, gels, camera work and color that popped our eyes, stopped our hearts, and made for legions of imitators, myself included. He started working for Geo, LIFE and doing annuals for outfits like RCA (Remember that name? Remember the dog and the victrola?) and doing special projects like Day in the Life Australia.

His take outta the land of Oz just flat out flattened folks. He brought to the pages of that book color and drama that had legions of experienced shooters looking around and going “Wassup???” And of course the next question was, “How do I do dat?”

In the years since, Greg has shot about a bazillion TIME covers, and done it all, from the movie lots to the halls of state. No one has done it better, or with more panache and versatility. He single-handedly changed magazine photography by introducing a “look” (I might call it style) that all of sudden re-directed the missions of magazines and editors everywhere.

Olympic athletes have been one of his fortes. I’ve been involved with Olympians to a degree as well. You know, every four years, you get a call and start working with these amazing athletes. Its been fun to do.  And every four years, like clockwork, I have had my ass kicked. I would shoot somebody, think it worked real well, and then Greg bombs into town for a day, no less, and leaves with this ass kicking TIME cover. Frustrating. Maddening. Inspiring. Head shaking. In a word….Greg. A look see at his website is a must.

The Hot Shoe Diaries

Aug 26

In Lighting, Upcoming Events at 12:42pm

Back in the country, and back on the internet. Couple of reasons for blog lite (or, truth be told, blog zero) over the last two weeks. I’m shooting a Geographic story and they moved the sked up one month on me, which takes away a month for scheduling field time. Kinda compresses things. Another is I’ve been writing like a banshee on my new book, due in December, “The Hot Shoe Diaries, Creative Applications of Small Flash,” which you can find at Amazon and Barnes and Noble. I wanted to call it HSD, Big Light from Small Flashes, but the above is okay by me.

I’ve always been a bit interested in noir, and crime novels, and my buddy Mark is the perfect subject. He’s a good guy and a good photog, so don’t jump to the wrong conclusions about him from all these mean streets pix of him. K-man, shot with small flash, just may be a recurring character in the book. Above, K-man on the streets of Gotham. Who knows where he’ll turn up next?

You can blame David Hobby, at least a little bit. When I told David the title, he was like, cool, you should shoot some noir stuff, and make stories. Fits, I guess. Remember Rear Window? Jimmy Stewart catches the bad guy with…flashbulbs.

The book will not be an instruction manual. Basically, it will be an irreverent brain dump of my whole history using small flash, back from when I first got my hands on flash powder to the SB-900. There will be sections on buttons and dials, batteries, flash attachments, light shaping tools from gaffer tape to umbrellas, and sketches. Along the way, of course, there will be lots and lots of pictures, some good, some not so. (Some will even outright suck!) I’ll show the ups and downs and sideways of using flash in the field. Mistakes, which I’m very open about, come with the package. There’ll be other notable sections, too, like one devoted to the instruction manual titled:

TTL! BL! FP! WTF!

An homage, if you will, to the lucidity and riveting nature of instruction manuals everywhere.

Another event in the history of small flash will be noted….

THE BIRTH OF SPEEDLIGHTS!

And of course, the current transition from SB-800 to SB-900 will be discussed.


In Tucson right now for the Geographic. Continuing true to my history with them of going to places at the worst time of year. Arizona in August. Siberia in February. See below.

Above is noon time, Lake Lavozero. The Russians were impressed that I suffered on the ice all day with them, and that of course led to a vodka soaked dinner at the polar observatory where we were housed. It was an upgrade, actually, from the hotel I was staying at. In my room the day previous, I heard a repeated smashing sound from down the hall. Again. Again. Smash! I walked down to check it out, and this enormous woman, chef for the hotel restaurant, was lifting chunks of ice out of an ancient freezer. Inside those chunks of ice were chickens. She would then raise it over her head, and violently throw it down on the floor, freeing the chicken parts. Dinner that night? Chicken soup!

Anyway, one of the guys at dinner turned out to be the police chief of Murmansk. The next morning he opened the trunk of his car, which was filled to the brim with automatic weapons and handed me a Kalashnikov. He gestured at a row of milk bottles in the distance and took the safety off. “Shoot, yes?”

In the macho outback of the Motherland, one does not turn away from such a command. Honestly, it ain’t hard to chew through a buncha milk bottles with a machine gun, so it went very well. This lead to a conversation that became an opportunity to engage in one of the most depressing nights in my life. I spent the whole night in the drunk tank in the city of Murmansk.

I was doing a story on light for Nat Geo, and they sent me up there to where the cold and the dark lead to a lot of alcoholism and suicide. The drunks leave the bars in the wee hours and stagger into a snow bank and are dead by morning. The police send out patrols to look for these guys, and drag ‘em into the cozy confines of the drunk tank to dry ‘em out. Brutal.

Come to think of it, Arizona’s really nice in August… More tk.