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It’s Done…It’s Real…..

Feb 22

In Books at 11:59am

Finally…it is done. 320 pages, and the thing kicked my butt, up, down and sideways. I thought, naively, hey, write a book about small flash…cool!

Thing is, you start talking about light, you start talking about color, and exposure, and f-stops, and EV compensation, and white balance, and well, the whole technicolor enchilada. I was really gettin’ stymied. The book….the book……the book. Everyday I tried to write I would plop myself down in front of the computer and stare at the screen with about as much energy and appeal as a big turd that just dropped out of a tall cow’s ass.

I finally turned a corner, thanks to Annie and my long suffering editor, Ted Waitt, with them beseeching me to drop the numbers and the specifics and the half stops of clogged imagination and just write about using a flash. So I mentally put myself at the front door of my house, gear in hand, and just started writing about everything (well, not everything) that crosses my mind as I go out to shoot a small flash job. It really cleared the decks of the tramp steamer of my brain and became a section up front in the book called, “What I Use and Why and When I Use It.” It runs pretty long, surprisingly, seeing as I’ve got the attention span of gnat and a great deal of my memory bank is used up by storing useless movie quotes.

But this really did open up the barn doors and cleared some cobwebs. I went through everything, tips, tricks, exposure modes, types of flash, types of light shaping tools, strategies, EV, mixing light, you name it. It marries up with a couple other sections on holding cameras, and also holding flash, general notions about quality, color and direction of light, and pictures of the whole camera bag, every item that goes out the door. The whole chapter is called, “Nuts and Bolts” or Don’t Worry. As long as you hit that wire with the connecting hook at precisely 88mph the instant the lighting strikes the tower…everything will be fine.”

Also did a back section that is all buttons and dials.

The book is Nikon-centric, obviously, cause that’s the system I use, and to the extent I talk over buttons and dials and where they are and what they do, they are Nikon buttons and dials. But the much larger part of the book is devoted to using light, in this case, light that comes from hot shoe flashes. I try to show progression and the tools that are used, and how to use small flash in an intuitive way.

There’s a bunch of stuff on light shaping tools, cheap and easy, others, more of a commitment….

There’s several sections of the first chapter, in which one small flash is used…only one….

Some advanced stuff too…

I talk a bunch about color, and how to use, quick and easy…

And everybody’s favorite thing….

And I show progression, from the pop up flash treatment, to a sophisticated quality of light, in minutes, using no more than two flashes…

And of course, Numnuts did some sketches…

So…it’s done. It’s a big reason the blog has been intermittent of late. But it is officially out the door, done deal, and it’s up to the printer now to follow the type out the window, as they used to say. The Hot Shoe Diaries, Big Light from Small Flashes, is out March 12. That’s the date it ships, so dunno when that translates to it actually getting on the shelf. You know, it leaves the warehouse in a shrink wrapped pallet and gets put behind Mrs. McGillicuddy’s Ikea order, and the truck shows up there and she’s at the Piggly Wiggly, so they can’t deliver, which means that pallet stays stuck on the truck for another day or so. Then it makes its way down the interstate on an overnight, and it gets delayed a bit by rain, so it sits in the truck in the parking lot of the Extaxy Gentlem, er, the truck stop, and finally it gets to the loading dock, and the crew there is on their lunch/reefer break, and finally it gets on that little cart that they use in the bookstores and out into the aisles and the dude putting the books on the shelf sees the title, “Hot Shoe Diaries,” and puts it in the romance section, or worse, in the adult titles section, you know the one with the opaque plexiglass covers and the big signs warning you that if you go in there you might actually see a breast.

There’s lotsa stuff that could happen along the way. But it is done. More tk….

148 Responses to “It’s Done…It’s Real…..”

SenenCito says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:16 pm

Pre ordered, you’re one of my favorite photographer and your work is more than awesome so im more than happy to pay for what Im pretty sure will be another fantastic piece of work from you.

David Cooper says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:23 pm

I’ve got mine on back order and looking forward to the READ. Goofy stick drawings included I hope.


Robin says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm

a “must have-book” I think. I’ll hang on the lock/date.
Great job Joe!

Tim De Weerdt says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:33 pm

Nice! Looking forward to read it.

Pierre Vignau says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Today’s my birthday and this is a great present (the news of the Release I mean). I got your book pre-ordered as a Xmas present by my sister in law who called me earlier today to say that she was sorry that the book wasn’t even in my hands for my B-day (being a Xmas present).

Can’t wait.

Michael Hultström says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:40 pm

Wonderful. Just don’t search for “hot shoe diaries” on favourite online book shop if you are at work…

“Red shoe diaries: The forbidden zone” anyone?

No, how about “The hot womans handbook” ?

Well, judging by the company it keeps, I had better get two.

Thanks for your hard work Joe, I hope to learn alot.


Kenneth Verburg says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Preordered! Loved The Moment it Clicks so pretty sure this one will be worth it as well.

Dmitry Zaslavsky says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:47 pm

Pre ordered mine long time ago ;) , Can’t wait

Elja Trum says:

on February 22, 2009 at 12:59 pm

Looks geart, congratz on finishing it!
I’m certainly going to get it as soon as I can!
Looking forward to it.

Robert Theoret says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Congrats on doing the done. I am looking forward to all that juicy material. I am practicing my speed reading as I write this note. My only question is, will it be delivered in Canada, Alberta, Calgary, by the same truck and drivers that you use in the US, and if so, can I expect an August delivery? “Just kidding”

I will be placing my order at my local book store today!!!

Thanks also Mr. McNally for the good chuckles that I get from reading your blog, I always enjoy the reads, and always look forward to them.


Jeff Snyder says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:02 pm

Your face was priceless as you showed us the cover proof last week in Vegas…In your quiet little way, you were glowing…I’m excited for you! Can’t wait to read every page!!

Harry Pocius says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:06 pm

Yay! Congrats on putting this puppy to bed! Got mine on pre-order too so I guess that makes me fan-boy #3 (at least as far as these comments go)

Ray says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm

I’ve had it on back order since the day you announced it. Love your writing style. Accessible and profanely funny real world anecdotes.

youraveragemat says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Always been a fan of your photos. Will definitely get this book.. Will check it out on the shelf.


Bruno says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:19 pm

How did you know? Just as I’m starting to get interested in the whole lighting / flash business you write a book about it?! Love the first clippings, i’ll amazon it once it gets there!


Oleksandr Photography says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:21 pm

Going to preorder my copy.

Ian Spector says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:22 pm

This post sent me straight over to Amazon. No one tweaks the nipples of lighting quite like you, Joe; and there is no finer and more generous teacher in the business. I am delighted it is finished and look forward to that brown paper package tied up with, er, glue.



peter filewood says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:36 pm

Had mine on back order since october 2008,looking foward to it popping through the letterbox.

Lou H says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:38 pm

I can’t wait! I’ve just pre-ordered mine here in the UK, so my wait may be a long one. Your previous book was the first time in my life I’ve I’ve learnt so much while laughing so hard.

Tyke Tyler says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:45 pm


Cheers for writing this mate! I can’t wait for my ore order to get here. All the best!

Kai says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:49 pm

When will it be in the stores? I can’t wait to read it.
I’m coming over to Oldsmar (near Tampa) from Europe 2nd of March working there for two weeks.

Does anybody know a good shop for photo gear (Nikon) around Oldsmar/Tampa ?


kathyt says:

on February 22, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Yippee — been waitin’ for this one, had mine pre-ordered for months. The first book was great, am sure this will be just as good or better. Thanks for sharing all your knowledge and humor, always enjoy that. –Tell Annie thanks for all her help also!!! Looking forward to the delivery of your book!!

Frank (cooksfriend) says:

on February 22, 2009 at 2:01 pm

That’s good news Joe, posted it on a NAPP forum. Can’t wait till middle of March.


Jason says:

on February 22, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Finally! My inbox was clogged with “your order has been delayed” notices from Amazon!
If this book is half as good as ” moment it clicks” it’ll be well worth the wait. Of course, I’m travelling in March so won’t get my hands on it until April…..

Steve W says:

on February 22, 2009 at 2:04 pm

Congrats on getting the book completed. Mine is now on order.

Larry says:

on February 22, 2009 at 2:26 pm

I have my copy on order too. Hopefully, you have a couple chapters that talk about shooting off a tripod. That’s because after reading your stuff, I’m usually laughing so much that it’s hard to hold the camera steady.

Mark K. says:

on February 22, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Awesome! Can’t wait to see the finished result. Looks like you got a little “JerseyStyle” noir going on there. Not bad for a New Yawker.

Glad to see that “Gellin’” chapter…I was alittle worried that I’d be included in the “How To Light An Elf” chapter (then again…I very well may be given my vertically challenged predicament. The Sixers ain’t callin’ anytime soon.)

Congrats, buddy. Looking forward to it!

Frank McPartland says:

on February 22, 2009 at 3:44 pm

Congratulations! I pre-ordered last August — I look forward to each of the 320 pages!

Norbert says:

on February 22, 2009 at 4:01 pm

Going to preorder the thing (can I still call it a ‘thing’ or will that be offensive to you?) right after writing this message. I think you’re a great photographer and a great writer. I really enjoyed reading The Moment it Clicks and this won’t be any different.

Thanks for the comforting words on group shots, btw.

Jay says:

on February 22, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Congrats Joe – looking forward to Amazon dispatching my copy soon.

cw says:

on February 22, 2009 at 5:48 pm

Thanks Joe! Just pre-ordered. Can’t wait.

Todd Brase says:

on February 22, 2009 at 5:56 pm

Rock on. I pre-ordered it yesterday from Amazon.

Jason Allen says:

on February 22, 2009 at 6:29 pm


I’ve missed your regular blog updates… I’m sure that the time off from writing your blog will have been worth it though! You know, you are a hero to “shoot and scoot” photographers like myself who aspire to photographic greatness and struggle with flash technique. Perhaps now I will be able to make heads-or-tails of my SB-800 and family of SB-600s… :-)

“The Moment It Clicks” was inspirational to me… I look forward to reading your latest masterpiece… Preordered!

John says:

on February 22, 2009 at 6:30 pm

Absolutely awesome! I’ve had this book saved in my wish list on amazon.com since before Christmas!!! Really looking forward to it. Congrats on getting it finished!

Tony says:

on February 22, 2009 at 6:48 pm

God Bless Joe McNally! A talented hard working man with the skills and humor to help us schmucks with our photography. Showing us the tools and the thoughts that make this form of communication so much fun and a pain in the a**. Thanks Joe, we love you!


Robert Busch says:

on February 22, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Hey Joe,

Congrats on the book, can’t wait to get my hands on it. It was a pleasure meeting and “working” with you at WPPI in Vegas!!

All the best.

Alan says:

on February 22, 2009 at 7:07 pm

Pre-ordered here as well…. thanks for your blogging and inspiration Joe, looking forward to the next time you’re up in Vancouver!

Michael Warf says:

on February 22, 2009 at 8:26 pm

Congrats! A huge undertaking, but very appreciate by the rest of us.

I can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Billy Mitchell says:

on February 22, 2009 at 8:38 pm

…and what f: stop was that?

Joelene says:

on February 22, 2009 at 8:42 pm

How exciting!! I can’t wait to get my copy!

Noel Eiffe says:

on February 22, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Had mine on backorder for some time time. Congratulations…and, well, we’re eagerly awaiting. Any idea when it actually ships??

Noel Eiffe says:

on February 22, 2009 at 9:25 pm

(Just saw March 12. Awesome…)

Stewart says:

on February 22, 2009 at 9:37 pm

Really enjoyed The Moment It Clicks and your talk at the Planetarium in Vancouver so I have pre-ordered this book as well……..

Looking forward to a good read……..

Are you coming back to VPW this year again?

Marc Lanciaux says:

on February 22, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Preordered it in August from Amazon! Can’t wait to get my copy!

Lindsey says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:00 am

***running off to pre-order my copy now***


Eric B Photography says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:08 am

Just pre ordered. I am soo stoked for this book. Joe is such a hero of mine. This book can’t come out soon enough.

Robin Ng says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:14 am

awesome job! cant wait to have it in my hand!

Sensei mike says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:14 am

been per ordered since Dec, I loved the Moment It Clicks.

when are you going to a gig in the Toronto area?


Ryan McBride says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:49 am

awsome, can’t wait

Jason says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:50 am

I pre-ordered before xmas, and really looking forward to giving this a read.

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