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

A Different Kind of Landscape Workshop…

Nov 23

In Seminars & Workshops at 8:12am

Strange things happen when you turn a Moose loose in Times Square.

Yep, the first ever Digital Landscape Workshop Series event in the Big Apple is over. Everybody survived and to my knowledge none of our participants are currently sloshing around at the bottom of the East River wearing cement shoes, or squatting in tiger cages in the belly of a tramp steamer flying the Liberian flag and headed for the West Coast of Never To Be Seen Again. Thank goodness for that.

New Yorkers once again, disproved the universal bad rap of being discourteous, brusque and just generally annoyed. Our group was received with open arms and an almost universally positive reaction to their requests to photograph strangers on the street. To get everybody in the mood, I told that old saw of a NY joke: Lost, desperate tourist on the streets of NY needs directions, but is terrified of approaching anyone cause he’s heard all the stories about rude, nasty New Yorkers. He is irretrievably lost though, so he summons the sand to approach someone who appears to be a “typical” denizen of the urban jungle and asks, timidly, deferentially…..”Excuse me sir, but can you please tell me the way to the Empire State Building, or should I go fuck myself?”

No visit to Times Square is complete without a, uh, photo session with the Naked Cowboy, a regular fixture of that particular neon laced stretch of streets. Now, how he found Moose, and even knew his name, and requested his presence for a photo shoot, I’ll never know. One of those NY coincidences, I guess:-)


We toodled all over the city as well as Jersey based vantage points. From Liberty Park, to Weehawken, to Chinatown, to the Brooklyn Bridge, to Central Park, to St. Pats, to…..you get the idea. Many a mile was legged out. Traveled light and fast. Saw lots of stuff, beautiful views and interesting faces.


As a surprise for the class, I asked Vanessa Moore to join us on the Brooklyn Bridge. She is one of the most exquisitely talented dancers I have ever worked with. I mentioned I was walking on the bridge, and would do a lighting demo, and folks could join me if they were interested. Then I mentioned that they sorta should be interested, because for the next few minutes, I would be very interesting, as opposed to my normal state, which is to be duller than C-span. I started talking lighting theory, and Vanessa swept around from behind one of the bridge towers.



It was almost a religious event out there, wading through the crowd with big Will toting a 3×3 Lastolite panel on a stick and Drew with another stick and arm arrangement with 3 SB900 units firing through the 3×3. Used 3 units cause I knew we would potentially be a bit of a distance from Vanessa and would draw a fair amount of power. Also saturated the heck out of the background at around minus two EV.

I tell ya though, at the end of the workshop, I felt like my brain and body were functioning around minus two or three EV. NY can take it out of you. Recuperated with the gang at my house with barbecue, Fuerza Bruta, dinner at City Hall restaurant, and a bunch of lazing around. Won’t see the DLWS folks again till San Fran in January. Pretty much home bound now, and lovin’ it. More tk….

45 Responses to “A Different Kind of Landscape Workshop…”

Larry Smith says:

on November 23, 2009 at 8:23 am


Beautiful picks of Vanessa as usual. You’re making her a legendary subject methinks.

Jeff Snyder says:

on November 23, 2009 at 8:29 am

Thanks for making DLWS in NYC a huge hit! What a great group of attendees! It’s always a blast being with the crew, lotsa laughs as always, plus some amazing images, and the chance to visit locations only a “native” would know of…

Larry says:

on November 23, 2009 at 8:30 am

Love that image of Vanessa on the girder with the setting sun behind her.

Gary Kieffer says:

on November 23, 2009 at 8:32 am

Beautiful as always Joe. Love the sky saturation. Was there any color correction post shoot as well? Gotta get back to attend another one of your Workshops.

jeremy earl mayhew says:

on November 23, 2009 at 8:42 am

For the longest time i kept thinking DLWS meant dancing with the stars or something!? haa haa. Thank you so much for this and your work, you are really a genuine inspiration and i mean that.

Alex says:

on November 23, 2009 at 9:30 am

Hope some day have the chance to take the worskshop in NYC :)
Greetings from Argentina,

Brian Hatch says:

on November 23, 2009 at 9:30 am

I looked at the Naked Cowboy picture thinking…”Say, that looks like Moose Peterson, naw…can’t be.”

Well, whaddaya know? It is.

Good clean fun right there.

Dwayne D.C. Tucker II says:

on November 23, 2009 at 9:54 am

I am here still staring at the lighting on Vanessa the images are sooo beautiful!

Nassau, Bahamas

Network Geek says:

on November 23, 2009 at 10:35 am

I know you’re a fantastic photographer, but, somehow, using Vanessa seems like stacking the deck.
Also? The fact that I even looked at the sunset amazes and stupifies me. That indefinable ability is what sets the greats like you apart from the herd. And I very much appreciate that you have the greater skill and patience to teach. Thank you for sharing your skill and experience and vision.

Kelly Heck says:

on November 23, 2009 at 10:54 am

The photos of Vanessa are gorgeous and it looks like the workshop was a lot of fun!

Jeff says:

on November 23, 2009 at 11:02 am

Classic Moose portrait Joe! That has Christmas gift written all over it. 16×20. Just thinkin out loud here…

Cindy Farr-Weinfeld says:

on November 23, 2009 at 11:23 am

Gorgeous shots, Joe! I love the two of the dancer–amazing light in the background to go along with your superior lighting techniques as always. Love the photo of Moose and the Naked Cowboy! lol! Cindy

Greg Lepera says:

on November 23, 2009 at 11:41 am

I think Moose and the cowboy should’ve switched outfits…

Paul Aylett says:

on November 23, 2009 at 11:54 am

Great post as always! The last shot of Vanessa against the skyline is breathtaking. Truly inspiring!!

Joshua says:

on November 23, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Absolutely beautiful! Man, I’m sorry I missed this one… I’ll be in NH in 2010, though!!!!

Mike Neale says:

on November 23, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I don’t know how you keep up that crazy pace,…job well done!,…blessed with 2 great grips!,…and a myriad of talented models.

Thanks for sharing,…”Miller-Time!”,…get some rest!…..;-)


tom says:

on November 23, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Moose should be really quite happy.
He looks very natural with Naked men. Must be the good lighting. :)

Ziv says:

on November 23, 2009 at 3:02 pm

Joe McNally, Vanessa Moore and 14-24f2.8… that’s a combination that’s hard to beat.


cooksfriend says:

on November 23, 2009 at 3:22 pm

which one was the “cowboy”?????


Linda Kennedy says:

on November 23, 2009 at 3:29 pm

Greetings from England. I found your blog a few months ago via Strobist site and I’ve been following it ever since.

I visited New York a couple of years ago and fell in love with it. Hope to get back there soon.

I really liked the dog picture, that wavy tongue just seems to echo its wavy coat. Cracking image!


Myron says:

on November 23, 2009 at 3:49 pm

So what’s the point of this Blog not having any technical lighting information?

Is anyone really interested in the stream of consciousness dribble?

David Hobby blog actually has quality information.

T Surratt says:

on November 23, 2009 at 4:41 pm

Joe, I absolutely love the shot of Vanessa in the air with all of the diagonal lines running back in space to create that depth. And that little shadow of her feet showing her altitude.
So many really nice things about this shot. I’m sure the crowd of people with you were amazed at her appearance.
You’re my hero..
Tim Surratt

J.P. says:

on November 23, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Gorgeous shots of Vanessa! I married a ballerina and it’s the smartest move I’ve ever made. I wonder if I could get her out on the Brooklyn Bridge in pointe shoes…

Carroll Owens says:

on November 23, 2009 at 11:38 pm

I guess Myron won’t be back.

Mark says:

on November 24, 2009 at 12:10 am

Geez….great stuff. As usual.

Dave says:

on November 24, 2009 at 12:15 am

Speaking for the Loyal Opposition:

Myron, It’s a blog, not a lighting seminar. Get over yourself and get behind a camera

joe mcnally says:

on November 24, 2009 at 7:10 am

Hi Myron…I believe the word you are searching for is actually “drivel,” which in certain dictionary sources is defined as “to talk childishly or idiotically.” You chose “dribble,” which describes “letting saliva drip from the mouth; drool.”

I’m actually quite good at both these activities. Many thanks for the input! Joe

(And you’re right, my good friend David Hobby has created an astonishing trove of valuable information, flash and otherwise.)

Doug Wittrock says:

on November 24, 2009 at 9:27 am

Wow, what a great time it seems you had. That picture of Moose with the Naked Cowboy is classic. Hope I can catch one of those seminars soon.

Phil says:

on November 24, 2009 at 10:29 am

We know that there were 3 sb’s and a lite panel. We know you love to shoot ttl. But if you dont tell me exactly where that panel was then how can I mimic the shot!?

DaleG says:

on November 24, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Phil: practice, practice, practice ;-) )

Joe: looking forward to meeting you in Moab in May

jakob says:

on November 24, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Amazing Joe! Love those bridge shots! Just fantastic! Love `em all!!!

Cheers Jakob

GlenF says:

on November 24, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Hey Joe,

You need to come out to Australia. We need you – the light is all upside-down down here. Vanessa would look much better with the Sydney Opera House behind her I reckon. Let us know when you’re arriving and I’ll get a steak on (shrimps are so pre GFC). You will be dribbling for sure – even the new guy at 1600 Pensylvania wants a piece (but he can wait.)

Just read your ‘Hot Shoe Diaries’ – keep your consciousness streaming, it works – paint the scene with a broad brush, show what’s possible and then skip to the Appendix for the LCD shots.

Danté Bell says:

on November 24, 2009 at 11:32 pm

wow, why can’t I take my eyes away from these pictures? I guess that’s what art is all about! What an inspiration.

Simon says:

on November 25, 2009 at 7:13 am

Great stuff as always Joe – appreciate your valuable time sharing your knowledge and experience with us. I love your drivel (or whatever the f#*!! Myron was trying to say) too – keep it up.

Bill says:

on November 25, 2009 at 6:05 pm


I’m really curious why you decided to use two people, the panel, and the 3 SB900s-on-a-stick, instead of having just one person hold a shoot-thru umbrella rigged with the 3 SB900s.

Is the light from the panel more directional or something than a shoot-thru umbrella? I prefer to keep my setups as simple as possible, but if you have a specific reason for using the separate panel/strobes I’d really like to know.


(a former student of UPI sensei Larry D!)

Iden Ford says:

on November 25, 2009 at 8:37 pm

The whole workshop was beyond all my expectations.
I learned so much and the generosity of all the teachers was like no workshop I had attended before.
A zillion thanks for answering all questions and being such a great coach.
And what can you say about Vanessa, beautiful and gracious.
DLWS in NYC is akin to running the NYC marathon which I now can say I have been lucky enough to have done both.
See you in the future. thanks Joe and Drew and your whole team.

Jake says:

on November 26, 2009 at 1:29 am

Joe writes, “3×3 Lastolite panel on a stick and Drew with another stick and arm arrangement with 3 SB900 units firing through the 3×3. Used 3 units cause I knew we would potentially be a bit of a distance from Vanessa and would draw a fair amount of power. Also saturated the heck out of the background at around minus two EV”

Sounds like good technical lighting info to me. Thanks Joe. I have about 40 bucks in the jar for your next book.

Jim Powell says:

on November 26, 2009 at 8:21 pm

The picture of the dancer w/ sunset is incredible. I’m a bit surprised you were allowed to shoot it with her up on the ledge like that. I’ve been given shit from cops for shooting on bridges in NYC before. I would think especially something like that would draw attention.

Cheap boat insurance quotes >> Tips on getting boat insurance quotes ... says:

on November 27, 2009 at 9:07 am

..]other must read source of tips on this issueis ,www.joemcnally.com,..]

zorro says:

on December 2, 2009 at 1:06 am

thank you for give us so many greet time!

Shaun says:

on December 4, 2009 at 2:36 pm

Pedro says:

on December 4, 2009 at 10:10 pm

I especially love the last shot of Vanessa, she’s perfectly lit!

Anna Begum says:

on July 25, 2010 at 1:41 pm

landscaping is very cool coz you got to rearrange new stuffs on your yard.”,~

Edward Mendes says:

on August 18, 2010 at 4:52 am

Great take on landscape images.

David Cannon says:

on February 4, 2011 at 6:54 pm

Joe, have you ever read “The Great Bridge” by David McCullough? You’ll never look at (or photograph) the Brooklyn Bridge the same ever again.

Leave a Reply