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Small Flash, Big Machines

Jul 23

In Lighting at 10:40am


James, who’s a welder by trade and a heckuva nice guy, picture above to the contrary, posed for my Santa Fe Workshops class yesterday. Shot this as a quick demo. Worked three SB units in this scene in an old power plant out there in the desert. Top light, gelled blue, is zoomed to 200mm on the SB900. Packs a pretty good wallop, even though it is literally two stories up from our position in the basement. The main light is a speedlight with a Lumiquest 3.0 softbox. Backlight, another SB, gelled warm. Pretty easy to do…the small size, far away position of the blue light makes sure the shadows from the floor grate stay sharp and defined.


Quick hit. Busy week. Really love it here. Always unexpected. After all, it’s New Mexico, where as they say, reasonable calculations based on experience elsewhere…..fail. More tk…

35 Responses to “Small Flash, Big Machines”

Will Duris says:

on July 23, 2009 at 10:41 am

Joe = great artist on pen and strobe

Jonathan Martinez says:

on July 23, 2009 at 10:48 am

great and simple blog. i hope to see more of your examples like these. it inspires me!

Craig Ferguson (@cfimages) says:

on July 23, 2009 at 10:58 am

That lighting diagram is looking suspiciously like it’s in a book and not a Dunkin Donuts napkin. What’s going on?

Seriously, great image. Thanks for sharing.

John Remus III says:

on July 23, 2009 at 11:15 am

Incredible work as always Joe. Love your updates. Miss seeing you and the Nikon crew at the shows though. I’ll have to make it back one of these days.

Herkus says:

on July 23, 2009 at 11:46 am

Yes, I am also very ancious about napkins, and the shot is great (light, colours, composition…) maybe the boy is too calm? ;)

Bruce Walker says:

on July 23, 2009 at 11:58 am

Joe is keeping notes in that book for Hot Shoe Diaries II: The Rise of the Welders.


Nathan says:

on July 23, 2009 at 12:08 pm

Sick shot and thanks for the diagram man… yea where is the napkin?

Michael Wiesman says:

on July 23, 2009 at 12:21 pm

Great shot Joe, as always. I really like how you see things entirely different. You always are using your surroundings and what many would think as obstacles, as advantages. For your lighting workshops, do you get to check out the location before time to plan out shots, or are you doing flying by the seat of your pants? Either way, great photos!

Rob says:

on July 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Wow, Joe, really inspiring. I love all of your work but this one just jumped of fthe screen and kicked me in the face as soon as I saw it.

Your work with light and color is unbeatable.

Philip Karklinsq says:

on July 23, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Wicked setup there Joe. The photographs you can make with small flashes is amazing. I really like the background on this one. That big angry face in the background is subtle but with his expression the same it works wonders.

John Young says:

on July 23, 2009 at 1:00 pm

We are not worthy Joe! – nice shot out of very little once again.
Love your work and, like many others, feel inspired by what you do.

Tombo says:

on July 23, 2009 at 1:32 pm

I dig the freaky smiley face on the boiler.

Juan Garcia says:

on July 23, 2009 at 1:47 pm

Joe, when can we expect one of your workshops here in Europe?

Kind regards.

Charles says:

on July 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Great post again, Joe. When I first looked at your diagram of the setup I thought you had labeled James as “Numnuts” and I thought, “Man that’s kinda harsh.” Then I realized that is the photographer (presumably you). Funny stuff, man.

Alim says:

on July 23, 2009 at 4:03 pm

Joe, very cool shot. Love the even light and how the subject pops. This one definitely jumped off the page.

Is the soft blue light on the subject from the softbox due to the spill from the overhead light OR is it due to the coolness of the flash itself (as the softbox flash was not gelled)?



David says:

on July 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

as usual, fantastic work! Thanks for sharing the knowledge!

Timothy says:

on July 24, 2009 at 12:13 am

awesome shot, your book Hotshoe Diaries has really changed my view on flash photography.

UncleSam says:

on July 24, 2009 at 3:41 am

Liked the setup, especially the light placed above the grid which gave the stripes on the background.

rick says:

on July 24, 2009 at 9:31 am

Great image, as always. It looks pretty straightforward after you explain and show your lighting diagrams. Thanks.

David says:

on July 24, 2009 at 9:55 am


Now I ain’t no marketing guru, and you’ve probably already nailed this one down with a book publishing group. ….
Those little diagrams in that book sure would make a nice “How-To” type manual for us less knowledgeable folks.

Exactly how you have it to: Complex in your mid simple on paper.

Just a thought.

Love your work.

Alan B says:

on July 24, 2009 at 9:56 am

radio waves….

Would those be simple, “fire the flash NOW”, waves or more interesting “fire the flash at xx power (or better yet TTL with +/- adjustments)”?

martin says:

on July 24, 2009 at 1:31 pm

I gotta ask…is this done with TTL?

شات الشله says:

on July 24, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Very good work .. Thanks

Matt Ballard says:

on July 25, 2009 at 8:49 am

Great shot Joe! Love the effect from the gelled blue toplight!

Louis says:

on July 25, 2009 at 10:16 am

I was right there when the photo was constructed and captured. Truly awesome & inspiring experience. I’ll bust my ass to get you to Malaysia!

David says:

on July 25, 2009 at 12:18 pm

Just to let you know than i just find your blog and i love it ! i follow you class since a long time with kelby training and i am a huge fan of your work ! thanks Joe

Marshal says:

on July 25, 2009 at 10:47 pm


I agree with David about publishing a book with the diagrams accompanying your photos.

caroline says:

on July 26, 2009 at 11:48 am

Wow, what a totally badass photo!

Pedro Moreno says:

on July 27, 2009 at 3:07 am

Joe… man!!! what a good shot… when are you coming to Spain!!!!
Great stuff… so much to learn from your tips & Tricks… love your books… I learn and laugh at the same time.

jakob says:

on July 27, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Wonderful Joe, as always!!! Love yr work and the way you write!

Eric says:

on July 28, 2009 at 1:34 am

Great shot. Love the light you were getting from the main, and the blue/ yellow contrast is very nice with the other flashes.

Keep up the good work.

joshua says:

on July 28, 2009 at 10:01 am

Needs some steam I say! :D

Graham says:

on July 29, 2009 at 10:47 pm

Hotshoe Diaries must be selling well if you can afford a proper notebook now :)

Jason Joseph says:

on July 28, 2011 at 5:32 am

Fantastic work as always ! I wonder….does anyone else see the big smiling happy face in the boiler behind this shaggy haired lad?? The upper circles make the eyes…. The lower, obscured by his shaggy dome seem o connect behind him…forming a wide grin. It is nearly all I see.


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