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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…..”

Joaquim Brissaud says:

on February 23, 2009 at 2:27 am

If I trust what I read around the web, this book is gold, but my question is, being a canon shooter, is it a good call to buy this book anyway ? How much of the book will I have to skip ?
Joaquim Brissaud

mungkey says:

on February 23, 2009 at 3:06 am

I want that book! Thanks so much Joe for being a very good teacher and an inspiration to all!

Glyn Dewis says:

on February 23, 2009 at 3:08 am

Ah man … now I find myself yet again wishing my life away; well wishing March 12th would hurry up atleast :o )

Book looks fantastic Joe; can’t wait to get hold of a copy … another iconic read me thinks ;o)

All the best to you and yours,

Fernie Castillo says:

on February 23, 2009 at 3:39 am

Congrats Mr. McNally!!!
…can’t wait to get it. Absolutely loved the Moment It Clicks, and can only guess that this book will be such a treat. It was a great pleasure to meet you at WPPI in Vegas, you are such a down-to-earth person.
- Castillo

Frank says:

on February 23, 2009 at 4:12 am

That’s great news. I really like ‘The moment it clicks’ and look forward to your new book.

I hope this book does not make the workshop in Venice obsolete which I have booked. ^^

Ted Adnan says:

on February 23, 2009 at 4:20 am


Only about 10 days ago I managed to get a copy of The Moment It Clicks by the Joe dewd (in one of the LEAST EXPENSIVE bookstore chain in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia) and now there’s another one coming out already?

*smack forehead with the back of his hand in frustration*

Tom says:

on February 23, 2009 at 6:20 am

Just checked. I’ve had it on pre-order at Amazon since July 17th. The day I first heard you were writing it. Can’t wait. Going be a best seller. Congrats Joe.

Behind the photo says:

on February 23, 2009 at 6:29 am

Congratulations, Joe. I will look forward to the book. And I love your intro to Groups photo section :D

Serge Van Cauwenbergh says:

on February 23, 2009 at 6:52 am

Congrats with the new book! I already pre-ordered mine!

Ron Mandsager says:

on February 23, 2009 at 8:17 am

Can’t wait to read it! Thanks, Joe, for sharing your thoughts w/ all of us!

Jeff Foley says:

on February 23, 2009 at 8:49 am

Congratulations, Joe! I can’t wait to crack the spine on this book!

Elena Angelova says:

on February 23, 2009 at 10:10 am

Your photos are amazing!!! They are an inspiration!

Bruce Jorgensen says:

on February 23, 2009 at 10:16 am

It is worth buying just for the creativity that has gone into the title – well done!

Michelle says:

on February 23, 2009 at 10:18 am

Rock on McNally, It looks like a good one, I’ll buy it after the hype has gone down a bit, but the last book kicked ass, I’m hoping for the same ;)

Sean says:

on February 23, 2009 at 10:26 am

OMG..I must have preordered this months ago…Amazon kept asking me if I wanted to keep in in my pending orders bin. Thought it would never arrive…can’t wait…:)


Rick says:

on February 23, 2009 at 11:23 am

I have had one pre-ordered for several months now. Can’t wait to get it. I better check my CC card balance and make sure there’s room!

Ziv says:

on February 23, 2009 at 11:59 am

Alright McNally, I pre-ordered another one of your damn books. Once again you have found a way to plunder my meager disposable income. Tell Kelby I won’t be able to pay him… because I payed you.

I hope they have pony rides at the Poor Farm.


John Dutt says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:14 pm

Sakes preserve us Mr. McNally! Is that you yourself sir? Well tis a fine day when when a book gets published by a fine Irish writer. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph just a wee bit late for St. Paddy’s day!!!

I am doing a jig in your honor! Note: Picture tall man pretending to dance in his office! Yiddle, de diddle, de diddle de de!

Congrats Joe!

Eddie says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:20 pm

Congratulations, Joe! Hope you enjoy your new-found freedom. Love the preview pages. The opening few lines about popup flash are particularly good. Glad you’re practicing safe photography.

Nick says:

on February 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Awesome to hear, had this one pre-order for awhile now! Can’t wait to learn more lighting tips from you. Had to good fortune to see you at DLWS in Montana last year. Love your teaching style and ‘tell it like it is’ attitude. Great job!

Tom says:

on February 23, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Awesome! I can’t wait to read it!

Pat Morrissey says:

on February 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm

Have it on pre-order … but I want it NOW!

Matt H says:

on February 23, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Congratulations (that must be a welcome drink), thanks, and that’s me, off to Amazon now. Looking forward to more of the blog – it keeps me sane between 9am-5pm…

Don Howarth says:

on February 23, 2009 at 5:25 pm

Done. Cool! Looks like a winner. I’ve had a pre-order in at Amazon for months.

Sam Fifer says:

on February 23, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I just pre-ordered your book on Amazon today. I know I’ll be looking at the front door way too often until it arrives.

Thanks for all you do, Joe (a.k.a. numbnuts… I had to say that, just to help keep your head on straight.) ;-)


pieter says:

on February 23, 2009 at 9:58 pm

Does anybody know what brand is a foldable lens hood on his 70-200mm ? I’m sure is not original Nikon, one time I did touch it at Adorama workshop(sorry Joe, can’t hold it) and it’s not rubber it’s metal, probably the back side is rubber to make foldable. Anybody know? Joe please?

Ron Martinsen says:

on February 23, 2009 at 11:17 pm

Woohoo – can’t wait! I really enjoyed your first book and long for a good resource on small flashes, so this is going to be awesome!

Ed says:

on February 23, 2009 at 11:29 pm

Congrats Joe :) I will be really looking forward to the day it hits the shelves!!!

Joe, numnutz the character in your set ups is just pure genious, hope we get someday the scoop of his biography :D !


John Leonard says:

on February 24, 2009 at 12:13 am

Ah, about time! I mean what’s not to love here. McNally + small flash + Nikon Gear =)

You know this will become the new CLS bible right?

Grega says:

on February 24, 2009 at 4:34 am

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes!


Dalantech says:

on February 24, 2009 at 9:46 am

Congrats Joe! How can I obtain a signed copy?

Matt says:

on February 24, 2009 at 10:53 am

Add me to that long list of people pre-ordering your book. March 12th suddenly seems so far away.

Ryan Brenizer says:

on February 24, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I’m blocking out that whole day to devour this.

Mark S Elliott says:

on February 24, 2009 at 9:50 pm

Hi Joe,

I have to tell you you are driving me crazy and costing me a small fortune.

There I was, a contented lanscape photographer until I came accross your work, your video tutorials and The Moment it Clicks….and I’m blown away. I now want to photograph people, I need to photograph people. Mountains and lakes suddendly don’t do it for me like they did. I’ve been McNallyised.

I’m buying strobes, stands and sandbags. I’m velcroing gels to my hotshoe flash and buying wireless gadgets. I’m collaring everyone I know to model for me (most say no) I’m posting ads on websites and shop notice boards asking for models. (Which feels odd and a bit seedy).

I think I’m addicted. Worse still, my efforts at taking pictures of people make me feel as if I’m starting my photography all over again. I’m way out of my comfort zone and some of my recent efforts have been truly embarrassing. Only days ago, I managed to light a beautiful girl and made her look very ugly.

I’m going to keep at it because I’m hooked and I love it…and you are to blame Joe. So – thank you!

I look forward to reading your book. Congratulations and best wishes from accross the ‘pond’.

Ed says:

on February 24, 2009 at 10:17 pm

Well its about time…. !!! How dare you keep us in suspense for such a long time. I’ve pre-ordered my copy, and so has a coworker- I look forward to reading it (ok, well at least looking at the pictures, even though they’re Nikon :-) )

I’ve greatly enjoyed your work and your Blog, keep up the excellent work.

Stephen J. Zeller says:

on February 24, 2009 at 10:59 pm


I can’t wait to get my copy! I really enjoyed “The Moment It Clicks” and I have do doubt that “The Hot Shoe Diaries” will be just as spectacular. Thanks again for sharing with us!



Gary Thom says:

on February 25, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Preordered – Looks great

MD Torres says:

on February 25, 2009 at 4:41 pm

After I got The Moment it Clicks I have been waiting for news about when Hot Shoe Diaries was going to be ready. Just ordered mine at Amazon. Very good news it will be out of press very soon. Congratulations. You are a light genius!!!
By the way, it woul be woderful if your books where available in spanish. If you need photographers who also are translators, just contact me!!!

Desde el momento en que recibí The Moment it Clicks, he estado esperando noticias de cuándo estaría listo el libro Hot Shoe Diaries. Acabo de pedir mi copia en Amazon/ Muy buenas noticias que estará saliendo muy pronto. Felicitaciones. Eres un genio de la luz..
Por cierto, sería maravilloso para muchos fotógrafos que estos libros se consiguieran en español. Si necesitan traductores fotógrafos, pueden contactarme!

Jani Sourander says:

on February 25, 2009 at 6:02 pm

Pre-ordered mine! Oh yeah, and I’m blogging now in english. Just if anyone’s interested.

Bruno Monteiro says:

on February 25, 2009 at 8:23 pm

Pre-ordered mine yesterday, will be delivered in end March, I believe.
Just bought it because of the gorilla pic, of course. Of course, kidding! :)
Though I’m a Canonist, I’m sure there’ll be something worthy for everyone.
And that cover image is pretty awesome!

Keep up the good work!

Bob DeChiara says:

on February 25, 2009 at 9:35 pm

Can hardly wait!! Go get some rest will ya!


Tyler says:

on February 26, 2009 at 1:49 pm

I’m always looking to do more with less. Viva la Hotshoe!

Tim Vailoces says:

on February 26, 2009 at 3:33 pm

congratulations !!!
I am sure my copy will be dog eared just like my copy of the “The Moment it clicks”. Can’t wait!!!!

Roger Botting says:

on February 26, 2009 at 8:16 pm

After that goofy time in Yellerstone, i had to order a copy to see what else you could get into.
Any shots of Laurie”s locks?

Sami says:

on February 27, 2009 at 11:07 am

Just pre-ordered! The Moment It Clicks is great so can’t wait to get my hands on this one.

Congrats, Joe!


Jerry M. says:

on February 27, 2009 at 11:44 am

Congratulations on finishing your new book! I’ve been waiting for this one for a while now. Pre-ordered it today on Amazon. I’m a big fan of your work and of “The Moment it Clicks”–keep up the great work.


Bob says:

on February 27, 2009 at 1:24 pm

I’ve read Clicks about 5 times.. :-)
See you in Santa Fe mid July

Tommy Lynch says:

on February 27, 2009 at 7:17 pm

Awesome!!!!…..looking ofrward to a copy of it soon!….Thanks Joe!


Rafa says:

on February 27, 2009 at 11:11 pm

Congrats Joe. I want to buy it now, haha… It was a great moment when you showed to us at WPPI the cover of the book.

Rafa (from Mexico)

darko pevec says:

on February 28, 2009 at 10:25 pm

Amazon.co.uk had just e-mailed me that the new optimistic shipping date is 08.04.
can’t wait it!! :-)

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