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

Island Light…

Jul 13

In Friends, history, On Location, Seminars & Workshops at 5:48am


Had a blast in St. Lucia this week, hanging and shooting at one of the most amazing places I have ever been, the Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain Resorts. I fell in love with the place from the very first time I went there, some 15 years ago. And just this week, during our first annual hot shoe flash lighting workshop, came the news that lots of other folks really love it, too. Travel and Leisure named Jade Mountain the number one resort in the Caribbean, and number three in the world. Anse Chastanet pulled in at number four in the Caribbean.

And here the place was letting us run around with a bunch of cameras and speed lights. Considering it’s the occasional home of celebs, famous football players, and even more famous “girls next door,” all of whom were in attendance last week, we could have been built in, go to paparazzi corps. No need, though. We had great subjects, witness the pic above.

Victor is the best dive buddy you could ever have. He had, by last count, a bit over 27,000 dives. He’s on a first name basis with most of the fish who abound on the Anse Chastanet reefs. He is one of those hardy souls who defies time, and gravity. This portrait was done with a new unit I am pretty batty about, the  Elinchrom Quadra. At 400 watt seconds, it is small and incredibly light (the heads weigh .5 pounds each)  and it can fit onto a big light shaping tool, like the deep Octa. Check out Scott Kelby’s blog for a cool production shot of this pic. Another episode in my ongoing adventure with expensive electronic equipment and large bodies of water.

What was even more special about the week was my wife Annie surprised me by just showing up, unannounced and unexpected. And my dear friends Scott and Kalebra Kelby came down as well. Scott took over the reins for the last afternoon of the class, doing real time Lightroom magic that had everybody jazzed. Scott’s artistry with that program defies belief.

We had thirteen participants, and we cruised through lots of flash stuff…..blending exposure, light shaping tools, hi speed sync, rear curtain, flash and blur, portraiture, you name it. Then we wrapped the week with real time shooting in Soufrieres, the little fishing village a short boat ride from the hotel.


Way cool. Even in this tiny little Carib town, there is the power of the internet, and the reach of Scott Kelby’s voice. We wandered into the local fire department and met a wonderful guy with the improbable but terrific name of Garvey Charlemagne, firefighter, photog, PhotoShop enthusiast, and…reader of Scott’s blog.


Scott walked into Garvey’s firehouse and I thought we were going to have to turn the hoses on him to calm him down. It was just great. They rolled out the red carpet for us, and a bunch of the class had a blast shooting around the house.


Then, on Friday afternoon, it was time for Junior and the flambos. Lighting up the beach at Anse Chastanet is a long held tradition, just a bit longer than the tradition I have of photographing Junior doing it. He is remarkably patient with me, seeing as the first time I shot him firing up flambos was in 1994.


Once again, Junior lit up the beach and the sky for our class. I first did this with him 15 years ago, shooting with a Fujica 617 Panorama camera. Times have changed, and this was done on a D3 with 7 SB900 units, running on manual and triggering off of a Pocket Wizard. No going TTL here. It would have been possible, I think, with a little sleight of hand at camera, but we hadn’t tried PW triggering of manual flash during the week, so we played with that.


Following light in one of the most beautiful places on earth. You know, sometimes, when you don’t have a client or a deadline to worry about, and you haven’t got a wire service editor calling you names, and the gear is working as well as your eyeballs, and the world just plays out in front of your lens in a wonderful way…..being a photog….doesn’t suck…..more tk…..

36 Responses to “Island Light…”

Chance Lay says:

on July 13, 2009 at 6:02 am

Who is that ugly little guy ion the left of the firefighter….oh wait, that’s Scott Kelby. LOL Just kidding. Awesome photo, I must say, of the small flames in front of the blue sky. I long to one day achieve such photography greatness as you. They don’t call you guys the best for no reason. Look forward to seeing more.
Chance Lay
Bayou Design
500 Degreez Photography

Jamie Willmott says:

on July 13, 2009 at 6:21 am

The shot of the diver is fantastic. Love the lighting and the contrasting colour of the goggles.

Kristof Pattyn says:

on July 13, 2009 at 6:40 am

The life of a photog can sometimes be sweet! No rants from you this time ;-)

That portrait of Victor does the trick for me… One man put into his own environment and then lit beautifully again…

Makes me wanna take my gear and go skinnydipping too.


Jack Fussell says:

on July 13, 2009 at 6:49 am

beautiful set of photos. I would love to do one of these workshops…they look amazing.

John says:

on July 13, 2009 at 7:39 am

Joe, thanks for all the information from the week. It was a great time, with great people in a great place. If nothing else Joe is one smooth operator. I saw him standing at the top of a 15′ ladder on top of a roof to damn near getting into a fire truck to move it himself (I bet he could have). They got into NY at 2 am and left again for the next shoot at 5 am. The main thing I learned from Joe is don’t be afraid to ask someone to do something. It’s amazing what crazy things people will do if you only ask. I swear if he asked the firefighters to start a fire, they would have asked what color. You’re the greatest Joe!

fozan malaysia.. says:

on July 13, 2009 at 8:04 am

im very like 1st pic… and no 5…

Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) says:

on July 13, 2009 at 8:32 am

I hear you spent the 4 days shooting HDR :)

Gene Hilton says:

on July 13, 2009 at 8:36 am

awesome shots…I’m jealous…saving pennies :o )

Ben Yew says:

on July 13, 2009 at 9:09 am

great stuff!! :)

Sathish Mantha says:

on July 13, 2009 at 9:28 am

Spectacular as usual Joe. I addicted to your blog now. Everytime i check my mail, i look for the rss feed. The moment i see it, i just cant stop reading the latest story of NumNuts!


Danny Douglas says:

on July 13, 2009 at 10:39 am

Wow, Scott and Joe look a lot like brothers.

Ben Madden says:

on July 13, 2009 at 10:58 am

Small bunch of photog’s having a good time in a beautiful setting – a very positive start to my Monday morning reading.

The only caveat is that my gut reaction to the first image was “Joe, give it a rest with the watery head shots with a sunset in the bg.”

Arnaud says:

on July 13, 2009 at 11:32 am

The first picture is amazing…. what a light !!! Elinchrom quadra has excellent results !!

Blake says:

on July 13, 2009 at 11:43 am

The diver at sunset photo is superb.

Ed Hannon says:

on July 13, 2009 at 1:10 pm

If you want play in the water without the drama consider getting your hands on a Nikonos SB105 (underwater) strobe. They are fine at the surface as well. Small size, adjustable output, and function as a slave strobe. Best of all, if it goes in the water, its just an oops and not something more colorful. Just a thought. Thank you again for your inspiration in Kauai.

Myron says:

on July 13, 2009 at 2:24 pm

Joe wonderful images again and again and a exciting time jumping from one spetacular spot to the next. I like to suggest that you might add a few lines in your blog about the technical aspects and the setup. Even something as simple as “ambient window light from camera left was accented by … blah blah blah” or we had two assistance one holding a blah blah softbox and the other holding the battery overhead camera left. Your readership will improve and multiply

Myron says:

on July 13, 2009 at 2:29 pm

or how about I had 2 VAL in the Ocean, the worlds most perfect conductor, holding high voltage battery powered strobes. They really lit up the shoot!

Bob Towery says:

on July 13, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Gorgeous shots and a fun read. Thanks for sharing both!

Clint says:

on July 13, 2009 at 5:30 pm

Best. Week. Ever.

Pol says:

on July 13, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Great photos, the first one of Victor is really amazing. Makes me wish I could dive.

Randy Frost says:

on July 13, 2009 at 10:17 pm

You guys were in the carribean, and at the end of the week you guys still have the pastiest legs I’ve ever seen!!! The only one with the tan is the lovely women in the middle of the group picture. Whats up with that?!! Great shots, make me wish I had the funds to make the trip. I espically like the picture of the white reflector or I mean Joe in the forever pool making the headshot(two blogs ago). Sorry, been to busy to type in the other comments. Great Job to all involved!! I’m so jealous!!

Mark Holloway says:

on July 13, 2009 at 11:02 pm

Joe, I literally “stumbled” on “Clicks” in a book store the other day. You’re work is simply amazing, and truly inspiring. I’ve fallen in love with photography again, after years working in another field. Clicked.

thank you.

Evert says:

on July 14, 2009 at 2:43 am

fantastic! I’ve been to St Lucia in 2008 and I can understand why you like the island so much, especially the bit down south near Soufriere. So much better than the busy nothern part of the island.

Ben says:

on July 14, 2009 at 8:34 am

This is the stuff that makes me simultaneously inspired and depressed with photography :)

*Love* that first shot – spectacular!

Jim says:

on July 14, 2009 at 8:44 am

Hi Joe. Would you be able to tell us how high you had thos new Quadra heads powered? At 400ws with a huge silk on it against sunset I would love to know if you had to fire it at full power as it would explain how much sun-blasting you could get away with.

Chris Biele says:

on July 14, 2009 at 10:38 am

What an amazing workshop you put on with a heavenly setting. I hope to attend someday.

S. Allman says:

on July 14, 2009 at 3:34 pm

I noticed that your sweat stain on your green shirt was anatomically correct (i.e. it’s shaped like a heart and in the right place). Nice touch.

Steve Rogers says:

on July 14, 2009 at 4:55 pm

Joe, Thanks again for the great session in St. Lucia! I learned just as much by watching you and your team handle the situations around the shot as much as from the shooting itself. It was a great time all around! -Steve

Jim White says:

on July 15, 2009 at 11:45 am

This is a truly awesome workshop that I plan to attend. Joe, you are truly an inspiration to every photographer who needs to learn how to use “light” . .

Marshal says:

on July 15, 2009 at 10:50 pm

All wonderful shots from St. Lucia! :)

Anthony C says:

on July 17, 2009 at 11:48 am

Joe is drifting toward Pocket Wizzards, I can feel it.

Mario Lorenz says:

on July 28, 2009 at 9:38 am

Amazing shots but the image of the diver is particularly striking!

Benjamin M says:

on September 25, 2010 at 12:47 am

The stuff you come up with just blows my mind. Beautiful work. The Diver shot is awesome.
Srudio Benjmain

Jennifer says:

on October 9, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Awesome picture of the firemen! My husband was a fireman I love it!

Leave a Reply