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This Has Been One Long Ass Trip…..

Mar 8

In Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 5:22am

Like Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”

I went to Vegas on Feb. 10, fresh as a daisy. Then I placed  the Vegas Casino Forced Indoor Air Mask over my nose and mouth for a week and got soggy, you know, like a 24 hour old bag of MacDonalds fries.  Our first order of business was a Vegas casting. That got the trip off with a bang.

Word musta got out beyond the agencies somehow, cause a couple of these young ladies came by with their, uh, agent, and, uh, well, I looked over at Lynn and asked if she had placed a call to the local Roller Derby. She shook her head “no” vigorously. One of them got out on the seamless and asked if she should pose “like this” with a voice from the deep end of a barbershop quartet. First time I ever saw Drew nervous behind the camera.

Truth be told, there were some lovely young ladies who did show up, some truly talented people, and we were very lucky in our choices.  I was blessed to work with a stunning model out at the Pioneer Saloon, in Jean, Nevada. Great place. Stop by for a beer, or a shot. Actually, that’s all you can stop by for cause they don’t serve food. Got this.

D3X, 14-24mm f2.8 lens, one SB900 out in the parking lot, gelled with a full CTO, and triggered TTL with an SU800 running off of 2 SC29 cords. To sorta borrow a phrase from my bud Martin Prihoda, who runs a terrific workshop called “Big Lights Far Away,” this is “One Small Light, Far Away.”

Smoke is courtesy of a hazer, which I highly recommend over a smoke machine. Smoke machines burp out a big dollop of smoke which you then have to spread out by running through with Tri-grips or flat boards or your winter jacket and flap around like you’re doing an interpretive dance. Hazers just put out a steady, ongoing smog. Think of it as having Dr. Phil on the set with you all day.

Then I drove to Santa Fe. 10 hours, 650 miles. It went quick though, cause about midway some dude in an Escalade with kids in the back just about sucked out my headlights blowing past me and I noticed he had “The Phantom Menace” playing on the ceiling monitors. So just tailgated the shit out of him so I could see the action. I got the dialogue pretty well memorized, so all I needed was the moving pictures. Really made the trip go fast.

Great week in Santa Fe, even with the kebab factor. We tulle’d up Mawgie in what has become my favorite garage in Santa Fe.

Mawgie is the mother of the irrepressible Maddie, who you may remember from an earlier blog.

Then it was onto Vancouver, and thence to Tampa, all the while having DLWS in Hawaii in my sights. (Kept telling myself, “You’ll make it, you’ll make it.”)

Hit the plane, ate a bite and fell asleep over Nebraska (why not?) and woke up about to land in Honolulu. Wheels up again to Kauai and I was in the exit row, so I got the speech, which was slightly more elaborate than I’m used to. I was cautioned…”in the event of a water landing.” Like there’s another kind in the South Pacific?

Then I was told, “Please remove the emergency door and first look outside to assess whether the situation is dangerous.” Hmmm. So. What am I supposed to do if the resounding belly flop the plane just made that was the equivalent of a dinner bell for the local sharks and there’s a bunch of those finned fellas  queued up by the exit door like a bunch of old folks waiting for the Saturday morning Ihop buffet special? Stay inside the sinking plane? Try to distract them by throwing out a bunch of those Bischof cookies?

I think not.

Then she cautioned about the door weighing 41 pounds. “Please throw it away, and don’t hang onto it it. It is not a flotation device.”

No shit. And here I was gonna try surfing with that puppy.

But I made it, and well worth the travail.

CAUSE I FOUND A MOOSE IN A TUNNEL!

I tell ya, you look around, and you never know what you might find. The ever gracious Peterson’s worked out a trip for the DLWS staff to float aimlessly (we’re good at that) through the irrigation canals and tunnels that used to serve Kauai’s massive sugar cane fields. Very cool. So there we were, Moose and I, with our butts screwed into inflatable cheerios, drifting uncontrollably through these hand carved tunnels and waterways. Dueling Coolpix!

Check out catching the flash….couldn’t do that on purpose if my life depended on it. I mean the Coolpix are way cool, but usually you can press the shutter, go out for coffee, walk the dog and wash the car, and come back and the little pocket darling is still making up its mind. DLWS, Hawaii style starts on Sunday. More tk….


35 Responses to “This Has Been One Long Ass Trip…..”

Mo says:

on March 8, 2009 at 5:42 am

Hehehe nice funny post and wonderful pics as always… we get worried about you when you’re inactive on your blog. Can’t wait for the book to ship. Keep inspiring us with the good work Joe.

-Mo

Bo Boswell says:

on March 8, 2009 at 8:50 am

Great shots, and sounds like one heck of a trip.

Haha, as soon as I saw the shot with Moose, I was trying to figure out how you’d captured the flash. That’s great.

Mark K. says:

on March 8, 2009 at 9:25 am

Good golly Ms. Molly…that Saloon image is incredible.

And who wouldathunkit….Moose in caves. And in tubes, no less! What a place for a lighting workshop!

Nathan Rodger says:

on March 8, 2009 at 11:34 am

Joe –
Awesome post as always – I love your stuff.. The bar portrait is awesome! I just switched from 10 years of shooting Canon to Nikon. My kit was pilfered, and I’m non-plussed by the current offerings from Canon. Thus far am LOVING my D3 and the Nikkor glass!

I’m now wondering if I should ask my dealer if I can trade my unboxed D3 #2 for a D3x. You – Chase and Moose are all VERY BAD influences. No really. My bag full of black and gold says its true.

Now – how can I make going to Dubai next month an option?

Cheers, Nathan.

Diego says:

on March 8, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Nebraska has some unexpectedly interesting things. Maybe you should come over for a visit.

richard cave says:

on March 8, 2009 at 1:42 pm

cool post, slightly put off by the tunnel of love experience you had with moose, did chuckle at you watching a film by tailgating.

Have a great one,

Rich

Craig Mitchelldyer says:

on March 8, 2009 at 1:48 pm

Joe, as I was walking around the trade show at WPPI in Vegas, I passed the nikon booth and saw a familiar photo (of yours) on the screen. Then I saw you speaking and was thinking “holy shit what is McNally doing at a wedding photographers show” then I planted it and watched your entire presentation and it was the best thing I saw at the show. Your a stud. Glad you were there.

Ranger 9 says:

on March 8, 2009 at 2:02 pm

‘Then I was told, “Please remove the emergency door and first look outside to assess whether the situation is dangerous.” Hmmm.’

Laugh it up all you want, but it’s only funny until somebody gets hurt. That plane that landed in the Hudson? It took on a lot of water because some passenger pushed past the flight attendant and ripped open the rear emergency exit without checking outside first to notice that it was submerged. You should be encouraging people to pay attention to “the speech,” not cracking jokes about it.

But then, what should I expect from the kind of bozo who would tailgate an SUV full of kids at 65 mph average so he could watch their in-car movie?

Greg says:

on March 8, 2009 at 2:09 pm

Funny stuff man! Great on a sunday morning or any time.

Lewis W says:

on March 8, 2009 at 2:48 pm

hen I was told, “Please remove the emergency door and first look outside to assess whether the situation is dangerous.” Hmmm.’

Laugh it up all you want, but it’s only funny until somebody gets hurt. That plane that landed in the Hudson? It took on a lot of water because some passenger pushed past the flight attendant and ripped open the rear emergency exit without checking outside first to notice that it was submerged. You should be encouraging people to pay attention to “the speech,” not cracking jokes about it.

But then, what should I expect from the kind of bozo who would tailgate an SUV full of kids at 65 mph average so he could watch their in-car movie?

Mom, is that you?

Mawgie says:

on March 8, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Joe, you are the man in every way, shape and form! What a gift you are. Apparently, not everyone has a sense of humor.
You crack me up and I cannot wait to see you again! Of course Mad is excited to be on your blog again.

Fred Troilo says:

on March 8, 2009 at 3:48 pm

inflatable cheerios – that’s funny!

Nir Dremer says:

on March 8, 2009 at 4:39 pm

As usual, great post with awesome photos!

Joe McNally says:

on March 8, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Yo Ranger 9—guess we have a grey area where reality and humor collide….of course I didn’t tailgate that puppy all the way to SF…did hang back there to check out the movie, though. As far as the emergency exits go, I have nothing but respect for people who react well in a tough spot. I just spend so much time on airplanes (10,000 miles on this one trip) that I just am kind of fatalistic about what generally happens when one falls out of the sky. So I try to humor my way through the trip by thinking odd thoughts.
Always enjoy your pithy comments, though. checked out your website. Man, you kinda got it in for professional photogs–geez. I’m a thunderthumbs on the computer but it didn’t seem that your name was anyplace to be found on your site. Whazzup wid dat? Keep reading and keep posting! Always enjoy a different point of view…Best, Joe

Mike Ignatov says:

on March 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Amazing shots. Gotta get me a portable Dr Phil. On second thought…

Ranger 9 says:

on March 8, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Yo Joe — Okay, fair enough about reality and humor colliding — I should have realized you were exaggerating a bit for humorous effect. I often exaggerate my outrage for effect, so I should have known better…

…and it’s not so much that I’m down on professional photographers as I am on the hero-worship thing that some amateurs seem to have going on. I used to be in the agency business, so to me a photographer is just a guy you hire — like a plumber. People need to remember that. But when the toilet is clogged, I’m still really, REALLY glad to see the plumber… and ditto with professional photographers who can “unclog” creative problems!

Thanks for being a lot more courteous than I was! Regards,

–R9 (now a corporate zombie who has to remain anonymous)

Troy says:

on March 8, 2009 at 9:23 pm

ranger9=Jim Williams per http://www.whois.net

Matteo says:

on March 9, 2009 at 8:44 am

Great shots… as usual.
Thanks!

Jeremy says:

on March 9, 2009 at 11:34 am

Great post, Joe.
I come here every day, hoping for more, and you always deliver.

(P.S. If I ever see you on a plane, I going out of my way to be deliberately annoying, so I can appear in your blog. I’ll be the guy beside you, slurping his soup loudly while watching “High School Musical IV: Troy Gets Beat Up In Shop Class” on my cranked-up iPod… then telling you why Nikon sucks.)

John Dutt says:

on March 9, 2009 at 11:43 am

Joe

I enjoy your humor and self-deprecating wit especially on a dreary Monday back here in CT.

Remember sun-block! Grab some SPF 1000!

Cheers!

JD

PS – “I came here for an argument, no you came here for an argument. No I did’t, yes you did!”

Tyler says:

on March 9, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Joe, what’s it like to never sleep outside of a plane?

Troy says:

on March 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Actually, I should clarify…Jim Williams is the registered owner of Ranger9.net per the Whois site

Sebastian says:

on March 9, 2009 at 12:54 pm

Dear Joe,

I have been a big fan and admirer of your work for quite some time, but the shot at the pool table has got to be my most favorite one of yours. Maybe my favorite photo, period! It’s outstanding!

Thanks for sharing it!

Tim Vailoces says:

on March 9, 2009 at 2:31 pm

I don’t know why come around to check this blog anymore. Is it the awesome pictures? the lighting tips? or is it just to be able to laugh till I cry!!!!
Tim

Fred Troilo says:

on March 9, 2009 at 3:50 pm

Joe – keep a look out for a package coming your way, just went out the door today. When I told the marketing manager the work you do with the military photogs he came running back to my desk with the brand new Chinook shirt. He’s a former LTC and pilot.
Take care,
Fred

Taryn says:

on March 9, 2009 at 4:43 pm

Joe-
Your photos of Magwie and Maddie are hauntingly beautiful.
It was a pleasure to see you again in Vancouver.
Taryn

Bill Rogers says:

on March 9, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Dr. Phil Hazer – steady, ongoing smog. Haw! What a concept.

Craig Ferguson says:

on March 9, 2009 at 10:15 pm

The saloon shot is brilliant. Great smoky atmosphere.

Rex says:

on March 11, 2009 at 12:16 am

Why not add RadioPoppers to your small strobes and eliminate line-of-sight concerns?
Nikon doesn’t have to know.

Mark Griffith says:

on March 11, 2009 at 12:33 am

Dude (I hope its ok to call you that, and I’d guess you’d probably “Abide” just like “The Dude”)

Your funny as always. The shots are so good, especially the one of the little girl. The thing I love about all your stuff is it never “looks” lit, the strobist stuff is always so STRONG on the light its like abnormal. I gotta buy your book, I’ve got some light stuff but I am clueless so far in how to use it. Which runs contrary to what you say, its EASY to take landscapes, the light is there (it’s called the sun, and its big and yellow and comes up and goes down at regular times) and nothing moves :)

Cheers
mbg

Billy Mitchell says:

on March 11, 2009 at 12:22 pm

About “Ranger 9″. As a professional photographer, I don’t find Ranger 9 that far off. I would guess he has not met/heard/read every professional photographer out there, but he has a good view. There are professional press, magazine, art, portrait, wedding, commercial (what ever that is), product, food, model, etc., photographers. (God, the list goes on and on). But that doesn’t mean a professional photographer can’t write a book or teach a class to an amateur or that an amateur can’t take a class from a professional. Writers do it all the time. Hey some places call it education. Lot’s of professionals do it. Maybe doctors should do it… I always wanted to do heart surgery. People just want a little more out of life and for some it’s just a vacation to go take a class. And I applaud Joe for allowing Ranger 9 to share that view here. Way to go, Joe.

David Griffin says:

on March 12, 2009 at 8:30 am

Thanks for the tip on the Hazers Joe, this is something I have just been looking into ! Top tip

Dave says:

on March 14, 2009 at 10:40 am

Folks, the real beauty in these blogs of Joe’s is the writing… loved the Dr. Phil reference. Oh, and a couple of “by the way here’s an incredibly-lit sorta grabbed fly-by shot I happened to cobble together with baling wire and duct-tape” images to boot.

Made my day.

Josh says:

on March 17, 2009 at 11:36 pm

Fantastic shots! And sharing a little bit about how to do this stuff is *really* appreciated.

would it be possible to say what a CTO is? I don’t recognize the acronym

cheers!
-Josh

Yvonne Muller says:

on December 27, 2009 at 10:06 pm

Joe,
So sorry to bother you but I can’t find a reference anywhere to your suggestion of what kind of stand to put an off camera flash on while shooting a wedding. I remember hearing that among the chairs this thing is so much better than a normal stand, and in crowds. What could it be that might keep people from walking into it? An assistant?
Thanks, YM

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