responsiveslider_lol_02 The Language of Light DVD - More
MeetJoe_02 Meet Joe McNally - More
inthebag What’s in the Bag? - More

Rub A Dub Dub in Dobbs….

Jun 29

In Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 11:09am


We really gave small flashes a run for their money at the one day workshops over the weekend. Kristen showed up and it seemed like a good idea to put her in this wash basin. It was a difficult setup , and at the end, we were totally drained. (I’m goin’ straight to hell for that one.)

Actually it was easy. The existing light pattern was already pleasing. All we had to do was supplement light, gently, which is where TTL really shines. There are two SB900 units overhead, through a 3×3 Lastolite panel, and another, very low power, bounced off a silver reflector on the floor. Add Kristin, with her bubbly (I deserve a beating now) presence in front of the lens, and we were done. Clean light. Ouch.



Onto more water sports. Nathalia in the same location, this time with a Elinchrom Ranger ring flash. Ring flashes are cool, in small doses. Considering it is used mostly by orthodontists, it is a light with specific intent, and should be used sparingly, and carefully. Keep it beam onto your subject, and make those hard shadows it produces disappear exactly behind them.


Then Aaron, who is just an amazing physical presence, stepped in front the lens. We are on the second floor of this building, not a particularly conducive height to lighting from the outside, but I had a notion we could push two SB900 units to the max, so we put a hi roller out there by the railroad tracks, about 50 or 60 feet from the windows. Hi rollers, or hi-boys, or hi-hi’s, go to 24 or so feet. Seemed mildy demented to put two of these tiny flashes on the end of a stick that can support a big ass movie light, but in the interest of ongoing experimentation, it was potentially worth the effort.


Of course, some issues presented. Aaron’s main light is an EzyBox Hot Shoe soft box, camera left, boomed up and away from him. We had to trigger that interior light along with the exterior set of 900′s. Hmmmm….. Took two SC-29 cables and hooked them together, and ran it to another 900 on a stand, camera right, out of frame. That way, the TTL signal raked across the soft box light and continued outside to the pair on the hi-boy. TTL control of lights inside and out. Cool. Not as cool as Aaron, but cool enough for the geek behind the camera. (Uh, that would be me.)

Other things had to get solved, too. See the shadow, camera right, on the floor. That’s a Lastolite 3×3, with an opaque reflector on it. Had to block the sunlight that was hitting Aaron. A Tri-grip did the job, but left a curved shadow on the floor. Forensic lightologists would immediately see this as the footprint of the photographer. “Lookee here, Sam, a curved shadow in the shape of a Tri-grip! Yep, and that shadow’s not two hours old. We’ll catch ‘im. Carrying all that gear, that sumbitch can’t get far on foot.” Spit tobacco juice on the floor.

So we went with the imperfect solution of the 3×3 cause it is rectilinear, and fits to a degree the grid pattern coming from the real sun that is hitting the floor. There’s also the touch of it on the far right wall. But it wasn’t gonna stop me from shooting this picture, one of my favorites of late. And, lighting this with 3 SB900 units, at these distances and scale….well, surprising just ain’t the word.

I also knew we were going here….


Moved the soft box down and to the left, and had Aaron basically look at it. But, you know one of the great things about working with Aaron? He shows up with Valarie, his girlfriend.


Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is a plus 2 EV smile. Valarie just walks in and lights up a room. She and Aaron are among the sweetest, most easy going and physically gifted people I have ever met. We were just jazzed by their presence on the set. Got me jumping, trying to show Nathalia how to get some hang time, which was perfectly ridiculous. Will is there on the set, aiming a cannon of a wind machine at us…..


Having fun in Dobbs.  More tk.

28 Responses to “Rub A Dub Dub in Dobbs….”

Craig Ferguson says:

on June 29, 2009 at 11:42 am

Looks like a lot of fun. Just saw my Twitter friend @PicSeshu post from the weekend. Lots of great shots by all.

Ken says:

on June 29, 2009 at 11:48 am

Thanks again for the insight to what looks like a fun time .

Jeremy Beasley says:

on June 29, 2009 at 12:25 pm

I love the concentration on the dudes face with the fan… Classic

Jeremy Beasley says:

on June 29, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Also, forgot to ask – what sort of ratio would the floor reflector be to the main? (in the first shot with Kristen in the basin).

Paul Michael Kane says:

on June 29, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Had a fantastic time . . . you and your staff were amazing to work with and learn from! Took more knowledge away from that single day than any other workshop I’ve ever attended! Thanks so much to Joe and Company!!

Richard Cave says:

on June 29, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Wow what a great location this is I wish I could be over there enjoying it with you.

The shot you had Kristen in the tub wow! reminds me of 1940s glamour art that you see on warplanes.

Remember there is a beer with you name on and its been waiting ages

Rich UK

Chris says:

on June 29, 2009 at 12:37 pm

Great work there Joe.

Loving the expression on Kristen’s face in the first photo.

It’s a shame you don’t do workshops over in the UK. :(

Rod says:

on June 29, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Fantastic shots as usual! How are you controlling the amount of flash coming thru the window? Perfect balance.

Doug says:

on June 29, 2009 at 12:44 pm

Joe, I love your work, but really, w/the 900′s outside, I think it might have just been time to break out the wizards. You certainly are good enough to get the power on the 900′s right the first time around, and if not, could have just compensated w/your aperture. I may be wrong, but it seems like you made extra work for yourself for the sake of sticking with CLS.

Ranger 9 says:

on June 29, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Any chance you’ve got a photo of setup #1 before you added the flashes? It’d be educational to see the difference…

dudley says:

on June 29, 2009 at 1:12 pm

I’d love to know how you get the Octa up in the air Joe. I love seeing these update come in via RSS. I tried to get on the Venice workshop only to be told it had sold out LAST OCTOBER! Please come to the UK and do some workshops. Please?

Mats Lie says:

on June 29, 2009 at 2:12 pm

Never fails, your blog always makes me smile :)

The power of the sb-900 seems ridicolous compared to its size and price – must get some..

Ben Madden says:

on June 29, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Fun stuff, Joe. Really like the light in the first shot.

Mark says:

on June 29, 2009 at 5:26 pm

That first photo just rocks the house. What a great use of shadow grids as well.

Uh, Joe…the Knicks won’t be calling with that un-hang time. Sorry.

Johnny Yuma says:

on June 29, 2009 at 5:29 pm

Can’t wait until you share your latest Nat Geo setups!!!!!
Absolutely love it.

But Kristen and Nathalia? Daaaaaaaaang!

Tim Donnelly says:

on June 29, 2009 at 6:39 pm

You are a dead set crackup…gotta love all those puns! Thanks for making me smile first thing in the morning..its always a joy to read your blog!

Gonzalo says:

on June 29, 2009 at 7:30 pm

Hi Joe,

I had the opportunity of being with you on your very first workshop day, I must say it was an awesome experience, so many things unfolded before my eyes, it all became pretty clear and simple (if I had all that gear and all those great assistants and beautiful models and ballerinas… oh well!) I think that being there and watching you work and tackle problems has been a very unique experience.

Yet I still have this doubt: How can I make my non-models work, pose and be like beautiful models (I usually photograph weddings and brides don’t necessarily know how to pose). I’m having a very hard time figuring that out.

Also, in Kristin’s picture, I see you are using a large silver reflector for the bouncing floor light, does the size really affect there? or could you have used a TriGrip for basically the same look?. I ask this because it seems that the lower flash is pretty close to the floor so I guess a super large reflector can’t be filled by that flash and thus won’t really have a huge impact on softness.

Thank you very much, I hope I can have the chance of attending another workshop with you, probably down in Santa Fe Workshops, in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Best wishes, love your blog

Doug E says:

on June 29, 2009 at 11:19 pm

I’m very lucky and totally thrilled to be heading to the July 1st workshop (just missed on the January workshops) this Wednesday! I’ll likely not sleep much Tuesday night – getting up at 4am as is – sleep well, umm, it’s sleep well lost.

(Big Cheesy Grin & laughing as Renfield)


Jamie Willmott says:

on June 30, 2009 at 5:17 pm

Loving the windows projected onto the back wall for Aaron’s shots. Great expression for that first shot of Kristen too.

Geoff says:

on July 1, 2009 at 10:07 pm

I had a great time Joe. Thanks for organizing these workshops.

Doug M says:

on July 2, 2009 at 1:39 pm

A technical question about the shots of Kristin, if I may…

What was your sink speed?

Royal Shi says:

on July 6, 2009 at 11:28 am

Hi Joe,

I am an amateur photographer living in Fuzhou China, may I turn this workshop case into chinese on my blog? I believe the light pattern of Kristin portrait should be useful for chinese amateur, I will use two or three pictures to explain the light pattern, of course I will show the URL link of your website. Hope you can permit it. Tks.


Jake McDorman says:

on February 13, 2010 at 11:56 am

What is captcha code?, pls provide me captcha code codes or plugin, Thanks in advance.

forex magic bullet ea says:

on April 9, 2010 at 1:38 am

Hey extremely good website!! Man .. Stunning .. Remarkable .. I will bookmark your blog and take the feeds also…

Leave a Reply