Joe McNally, God of Flashery

When I heard that Joe was having a one day lighting workshop in New York, I was sold.  Actually, when I found out he had a 5 day workshop in the tropical paradise known as St. Lucia I was sold then too.  I just didn’t have any money…  But a one day workshop that’s an hour’s drive from where I live?  I’m there!

Who’s Joe?  You know, Joe McNally! God of Flashery (at least that’s what I’m calling him), author of  The Moment it Clicks and The Hotshoe Diaries.  “Okay,” you say, “there are plenty of really talented photographers out there.  What’s so special about Joe?”  You mean besides his amazing portfolio working with National Geographic, LIFE, Sports Illustrated, and on and on?  Hmmm okay, fair question..  Maybe it’s his likeable New Yorker personality (you definitely can’t say that about all New Yorkers..)  Or it could be his knack for telling great stories.  Or perhaps it’s his openness to share his years of accumulated knowledge and wisdom.  But what took me aback was that for someone so accomplished, Joe is hilariously self-effacing.  And through all the stories he tells, it’s just clear he’s made of the same skin and bones as the rest of us.  That’s strangely reassuring..

Well anyways, when I walked in that glorious morning to see a warehouse full jam packed with lighting equipment, I knew I was in for a treat..

And that’s not even all of them.  There were these monstrous umbrella-like diffusers 4 or so meters in diameter in an adjacent hallway.

Attendee: “Joe, what ya need those for??”
Joe: “Outta everyone here, I got the biggest umbrellas.  *pause* Excuse me while I have a manly moment…”

I love it!

Anyways, Joe and crew had some beautiful models come in and a few talented (serious understatement) makeup artists.  Combine that with a dingy warehouse setting and we’ve got the makings of something incredible.  Now all we need is a dash of good light (or a truck full -your choice) and a photographer to masterfully simmer the ingredients together into a blended work of art.  Oh yes.  You better believe Joe delivered on all counts in spades, baby.

I was amazed at the efficiency of it all.  Big compliments to the crew that made the day flow like water!  Joe will be in one corner directing a model while simultaneously teaching to us what he’s doing and why. And then once he’s nailed the shot, he’s off to another corner of the room starting all over again.  Meanwhile, whoever wanted to hang back can take full advantage of the previous lighting setup.  Many of the pictures here show case the stations that he’s concocted on the fly, and a few of them are from when we were given freedom to work with the models.  Takin’ the wheels for a spin so to speak.  The flashes, not the models!  Okay, horrible analogy.

Overall, I’m really impressed that Joe really pushed himself to keep moving.  If we didn’t get through everything, none of us would’ve known the difference.  But throughout the day I would overhear Joe talking to members on his team about how they had to move faster to bring to us everything he had in mind to share with us.  Wow.  What’s not to love about this guy?

I’ll eventually get around to writing a blog post about the technical aspects that I learned.  I figure it’s just too much to write about it here, so for fellow photographers interested, consider the pictures here a sneak peek!  None of these pictures touched Photoshop.  Only minor tweaks in Lightroom.

Thanks for visiting!  More to come…

Pedal to the Metal on the Fast Track

Exactly one day after my workshop with Bob Davis, I had another workshop. This time it was with Dane Sanders, author of Fast Track Photographer. I first heard about his book from an old note Kenny Kim wrote some years ago. The Amazon rating speaks for itself; I highly recommend it for all wedding photogs.

Although I enjoyed and learned a great deal from the book, I was afraid the workshop might be just a rehash of the stuff in there. Man was I wrong!

This is unlike any workshop I’ve ever been to. By a long shot. Life transforming even. So much so that I’d recommend it to non-photographers if the idea didn’t sound so off the wall.  To all wedding photographers: get in on this workshop, you owe it to yourself. I guarantee you’ll learn so much about your business, making your vision into a reality, and ultimately about yourself.  The workshop (and the man behind it) is legit.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Kenny Kim there helping take care of the logistics. And Kenny Nakai came too on the second day!

But enough of that, let’s get on to the pictures! (Many of the pictures of me in them were stolen shamelessly without compensation from Kenny Kim’s blog post. Thanks Kenny.)

Feelin the love

This is me getting a group hug from the other photogs.  This is not your everyday workshop.

On the afternoon of the first day, Cory and Erika (former clients of Kenny Kim) came down to model for us.  I don’t know what it’s like to get harrassed by a crazy paparazzi gang for 2 hours but they did an awesome job putting up with us!

No privacy

The first shoot was in this alleyway. It’s tight but apparently not tight enough to keep the swarm away.

Personal space?

Dane’s barely managing to cope with the horde =)

With the weather so nice, what's there not to smile about?


Our “amazing” attempt to imitate Mike Colon’s famous image


Out of nowhere, Cory and Erika busted this out.  They’re so fun to work with!


The people in this park must be wondering who these famous people are


We’re playing the game of “How close can we get to their faces before Cory snaps and punches one of us?”

Hanging out with some of the great guys I met there.


I thought we were supposed to pose like a model.. I feel duped! ..and slightly stupid

That’s all for now.  Thanks for tuning in!

Can you seeee the light!?

Nope. But I guess that’s why they call it “flash”. But I understand how to use it a lot better now =)

Roughly a month ago I had a chance to go to Canon’s EOS Speedlite Workshop with Bob Davis. First of all, I have to say Bob is really a great teacher. I fired off a bunch of questions that day and he very graciously answered all of them. He’s got a workshop coming up and from my single day experience with him at the Canon workshop, I can only imagine what a blast his own two day workshop will be!

I’m a bit surprised that I actually don’t have too many photos to share, but here they are!

Bob giving us a quick demo of flash limitations in noon day light

It’s a weird feeling being surrounded by others who also understand all the technical jargon and equipment.. This is one of the first photography workshops I’ve been to so I’m not used to that yet.

The next two photos I snapped with a single Speedlite through a softbox. Nice, soft, even light even in indoor lighting conditions.

The next two are macro ring shots:

One light camera left with a spot grid

The side light really brings out the texture in the flat scene.

Speedlite shot through a water bottle to give the light some character

To the photogs out there

Going in, I think I had a pretty solid technical grasp of the Canon Speedlite system, but I definitely picked up a lot of hard won tips and a lot of confirmed hunches. I’ll rattle off a few:

  • Canon’s Custom WB (where you set the WB to a white wall) seems to go too cool for flesh tones
  • Adobe’s default handling of Canon’s RAW color profiles seems to mess up the yellow/orange colors
  • Usually dial in a Flash EC of +1/3 to +2/3. Otherwise the scene tends to come out underexposed

Probably the biggest thing walking out is getting a solid knowledge and experience on how to use my Canon 580EX I & II’s. I just wish they had a better interface than that darned LCD and convoluted sequence of buttons!! The ST-E2 is a big step up but c’mon Canon, no ‘C’ group? No manual control? Seriously?

That’s all! A quickie post -thanks for visiting!

Related Links

  • Find Canon Workshops here. (Click on the calendar after the page has loaded)
  • Visit Bob Davis’ blog

Maine & Canada Part II – I'm Lovin' It

In one of our massively long drives to somewhere that I forget, we stopped by a McDonalds for a quick lunch

Hmmm.. something's fishy...

Notice something a lil different?

It’s a lobster roll!  (three to be exact)  I love how McDonald’s has specialty food depending on the region.  I wasn’t in the mood for more lobster, so I got a blueberry & raspberry sundae instead.  (I was carsick from trying to edit pictures in the back seat…ugh makes me want to puke just thinking about it)

Ad on the outside door

One of the cool things we saw while we were up there was Thunder Cave in Ovens Natural Park.  It’s really similar to Thunder Hole in Acadia if you’re familiar with that.  If not, look below!

Nature's fart (shart?)

I’m no expert as to why it occurs.  A quick google on it suggests that there is a cave slightly below the water line.  When the ocean pulls back, air is allowed into it.  But when the water comes back with the next wave, the air gets compressed until the pressure is so high that the air rushes out resulting in a thunderous sound and an explosion of water.  Maybe.  Whatever the reason, it’s pretty fun to watch and wait for the next big one.

Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick

Another neat place [if you can stand the mud & swarms of mosquitoes] is Hopewell Rocks.  It’s got nifty rock formations that you can go up to and explore.

Snails!

Brian and I started exploring the place and when we got close to the shore there were all these little black rocks under our feet. Crunch, crunch.

Except.. wait a minute.. those aren’t rocks!  They’re thousands of snails!  I wonder if those suckers are edible?  There’s enough to feed a small nation.

In the bottom left picture you can see all the trail patterns in the mud made by these snails.

Hopewell Rocks at high tide

This is what the place looks like at high tide. It happens really quick! Probably cuz this place holds the world record for highest tides (up to 14 meters!)

I will remember you, J

Ah yes, as “guessed” from my first post, we got our grub on in Portland, Maine at J’s Oyster.  But alas, their famous bucket of clams were out of commission due to the deluge of non-stop rain.  Apparently, concerns about pollution from runoff due to the heavy rains caused just about all of Maine’s clam flats to close down.  Arg!  You win again, nature!

So we “settled” for mussels and lobster.  Not half bad.  Notice what’s missing in the lobster roll.  No mayo and celery.  Oh yes, the pure, unadulterated, virgin lobster roll.  And it’s stuffed to the brim!  And nicely wrapped in lettuce and a toasted buttered roll.  Deeeelicious!  (And for only $12!)

Three Fishermen

Here’s a pic I snapped of some fishermen at Two Lights State Park in Maine.  Seems kinda ballsy of them to stand so close to the surf!  But they probably know what they’re doing.

Well, that concludes my super quick recap of the last 3 days of our trip.  And as usual, here’s the rest of the post of some of my favorite pics!

 

More Pics I Like

 

Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Lunenburg’s a World Heritage Site famed for its brightly colored buildings and unique architecture.  Bright is right!

My brother hates cilantro

‘Em be some intense colors!

Tucker's Tunnel

Yet another sea cave (in addition to Thunder Cave)

Lichen covered tree

Fern wave

Bend of Light

I had my brother pose for me in this one.  I really like the way it came out!

Blue sky??

The sky at last! Except we were in our car leaving Canada.  I took this picture through the car window.  But man, look at the beautiful clouds!

Portland Headlight

Driving home from Moncton, New Brunswick takes 14 hours so we split up the drive and spent a night in Portland.  The next day we decided to explore the area real quick before embarking on another 8 hour drive.

This is Portland Headlight, the oldest operating and most photographed lighthouse in Maine.  It’s located in Fort Williams Park -a reaaally pretty place for a date (or an esession) if you bring your significant other ;)

It was partially cloudy plus you can see a thick layer of fog looming in the background.  Can you see the tiny dark speck in the fog close to the horizon??  It looks like it’s a piece of dust on your monitor (except it follows the image when you scroll).

Phantom lighthouse

Here’s that speck zoomed in.  It looks like a ghost lighthouse.  Pretty neat, yea?

Cloud and fog

The fog’s starting to get closer. Eh, time to leave!

Happy flowers

Crashing Surf

I really like the way this last picture came out. It has kind of a serene feel to it despite the foaming sea.

Thanks for visiting and come again!