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Thanks to the Gang in London!

Jul 24

In Seminars & Workshops at 8:27am

Did a Kelby Tour stop in London on Friday, and honestly, it was a blast. Had good talent to work with on stage, and the audience couldn’t have been a nicer group of folks. They even stuck with me for one situation as I once again tilted at the TTL windmill with virtually no chance of success. But, I figure, hey, it ain’t my job when I’m up there to just do the “safe” thing. Failure is a form of progress, and photographically, a tremendous source of knowledge. Push the envelope. See what might happen.

Did I mention we had fun?


Anna Passey, trained as an actress, had many moods and faces. She was wonderful to work with.


This was her response to my request to project an illustrative mood for a story in a woman’s magazine about “Men Who Leave.” One shoot-through Lastolite all in one umbrella, off to camera left. One SB 900, no compensation, TTL.

Then I asked a very different face in the crowd to come up, and Jim graciously agreed. I told him he looked “professorial” to me, and he just rolled with it. We positioned the new 30″ Ezybox Hotshoe Soft box above him, and shot this.


If you notice though, his eyes are not really sparked. It’s nice light, true enough, but Jim has glasses and pretty deep set eyes, and I had to get something going to spark them just a touch, and snap up the feel of the light. I tried a snooted grid, made by Flashpoint, which, by the way, makes some terrific stuff for small flash. This one is cone shaped, and comes to a very small circle with a honey comb grid at the end to control the spill of light. Fits the face really well. Ran this second SB900 at minus three EV, with Drew hand holding it, camera left.


The difference is subtle, but it’s definitely effective. Drew has gotten to be a master at taking these small, spot light flashes and locating them. What he does is use the test button to repeatedly flash the person’s face, and get the sweet spot of the light just right. The above pic took about 4-5 minutes to shoot, and Jim was a great subject.

Then we went to town with Anna, using Quadras, one in a deep Octa overhead, and another in a smaller Octa just below her.


I told her she could do anything she wanted, and she, uh, embraced that opportunity.


The background is lit up with one SB900, running on SU-4 mode, and popping off the main set of Quadras. These two pix were shot at F8. But, given her exotic eyes, done by the wondrous makeup artist Katie Cousins, I decided to take a look at what a limited depth of field portrait might do.


Time for the 200mm f2! Without a doubt the sharpest telephoto lens I have ever used. The above was done TTL with a 3×6 Lastolite panel overhead of Anna, with 2 SB900 units firing through it, both in the same group. She is just about standing on the silver reflector material that comes with the skylite panel, and there are two SB900′s popping into that, both on manual, 1/128th power. This, by the way, was the identical setup for the first pic of this blog, the group of wonderful maniacs up top. The system followed me all the way, from f5.6 for the group, to f2 for Anna.

Then we switched up to the Quadras, trying min DOF with them. Great thing about these little puppies is that on “B” port, at min power, you can dump them through a sophisticated light shaper like the deep Octa at like, 8 watt seconds. The result is below.


This is just the overhead Octa. The combo of the two lights gave me too much power for f2, so we replaced the low light with a big silver Tri-grip, and we were done. Anna is giving me the eye here, but I still managed to crack her up every once in a while, just with my generally idiotic behavior.


Like I say, ya gotta have fun doing this, otherwise there’s no point to it, ’cause if you don’t have an absolute love affair with photography, it’s just too hard and frustrating to keep doing. I try to accept success and failure in equal and unequal measure, because if you stick with it, you know what the reward is?

You get to do it again. More tk…..

73 Responses to “Thanks to the Gang in London!”

Javier montero says:

on July 25, 2010 at 5:36 pm

Thnks for these so nice pictures And information of them. They are so interesting!!!

Matt Timmons says:

on July 25, 2010 at 9:52 pm

That last paragraph is going into my all-time favorite quotes to remember about what I do. I just got back from L.A. shooting for Elite Model Management and the location was giving us grief. I just kept the models and crew laughing, and told them my similar philosophy. Made the shoot days go very well. Thanks for that quote-

Ban_D says:

on July 26, 2010 at 1:57 am

wow – amazing shots and story again!

Jesse Kay says:

on July 26, 2010 at 3:55 am

Thank you Joe for the best seminar I have ever been to – they are even better than your books. You really gave me a newfound respect for the SB-900s. I never thought of using it as a spotlight across a room. I tried it when I got home and it worked! Amazing. The other big eye-opener was the technique of getting as close with the light as possible for creamy portrait light. Another jaw-dropping tip.

The one photo missing from the above series that I would like to see is the one of Ali in red light against the blue architecture of the seminar room. That was amazing, and again somethin that I tried when I got home.

I hope you can make to London again (I can also recommend Bristol!) say next year. I will be there, and I would pay double the entrance fee of last week’s seminar and it would still be a bargain. Thanks again. Jesse

Richard Parsons says:

on July 26, 2010 at 4:13 am

Hi Joe, would like to echo all the above by saying thanks for a thoroughly informative, amusing and most importantly INSPIRING day.
And thanks to the Kelby and NAPP guys for a very well-run seminar that totally exceeded expectations.
Hope to see you again sometime soon!

Nick says:

on July 26, 2010 at 4:59 am

Really disappointed! I did not know you in London – a keen follower of your blog, I would have been there like a shot. Please put me on your mailing list for when you are here again!

Fen Oswin says:

on July 26, 2010 at 8:49 am

Hi Joe – Fabulous day, was good to see how you put everything in the “Hot Shoe Diaries” in to practice. Still fantasising over the 200mm lens ;)

John Lewis says:

on July 26, 2010 at 9:38 am

Hey Joe. Thank you for one of the most inspiring photographic days of my life. I could not say a big enough thank you for all the stuff I have picked up from your teaching. I have read and re-read your books but seeing it all up close and personal was just amazing.

Also the two guys Drew and Adam worked extremely hard getting everything ready and flowing from one set up to the next. And Drews knowledge to the equipment was just fantastic.

My sincere thanks for a great day, cant wait for the next one. Can I just say that if you liked London you would love Belfast or Dublin.

Best wishes John

jim markland says:

on July 26, 2010 at 9:52 am

Many thanks for a super day …LOL …and my professorial portraits



Mark Nolan says:

on July 26, 2010 at 10:16 am

Hi Joe,

Really glad I got along to your London seminar at the Business Design Centre. I’ve been trying to get my off-camera flash techniques together for some time and nothing compares with actually seeing it all come together – or not coming together as happened on occasion! Compliments to your team also, everything was professionally run and everyone was very courteous.

A great day which left me inspired and ready to tackle the crazy, complicated, frustrating and utterly fantastic world of off-camera lighting – I’m sure my Canon system will be up to the task too!

Maciek says:

on July 26, 2010 at 1:25 pm

To be honest, I was expecting something else.

Joe, you were simply great. It was a pleasure to see you fighting with flash gear. All those mistakes or ttl faults were interesting – I thought that guy like you with more than 30 yrs experience doesn’t need to try the light. It was cool to see you trying, thinking etc.

But all these napp/onone/kelbystuff ads flying here and there were simply weird. I like Scott, but the movie about joining napp was a waste of time compared to what you could show us.

I travelled 1000+ miles to see you and it was worth it, and not because you are a high calibre pro, because you were really cool on the stage :)

Jonathan Thompson says:

on July 26, 2010 at 5:30 pm

Hi Joe,

like everyone else who was at the London seminar, I thank you for an amazing day. It was so cool to see you in action with the successes and failures. I found it very inspirational and now I think I will have to change to the dark side from Canon, just for the flash system alone. It makes so much clearer sense compared with Canon.

Many thanks to all the guys at NAPP and all your crew for putting this together and I hope you can get some sponsorship to bring your day classes to the UK. I’ve never learned so much and been so inspired by anything before whilst having so much fun. How you do that with jet lag is outrageous. No matter what my level is I would come to your seminar again for nothing else than entertainment, but I know I would always learn something new, Joe, you’re a fantastic teacher and I’m very fortunate and honoured to have attended such a wonderful class.

Don’t be a stranger. Cheers!


Sina says:

on July 26, 2010 at 9:20 pm

love it Joe…

Casey Gutteridge says:

on July 27, 2010 at 3:03 am

Really enjoyed the workshop – still think Joe has a special lighting camera which can not be given out to others!!

Below is my capture.




Maciek says:

on July 28, 2010 at 2:46 am

Got one question Joe.

You set your ISO to 400, why don’t use the native sensitivity for your cameras that are around 200?

Fen Oswin says:

on July 28, 2010 at 1:33 pm

Some photos from the audience at the event


Steve Meddle says:

on July 28, 2010 at 5:22 pm

Fantastic day…come again soon.

Tesh Parekh says:

on July 28, 2010 at 10:12 pm


One of the best things I ever did as a photographer was to buy your “The Hot Shoe Diaries”! Your work is fantastic! Thank you for teaching the rest of us! You have taught me that it is important to learn and even more important to have fun! I hope to attend your workshop one day.

- Tesh Parekh

Tom says:

on July 29, 2010 at 4:38 am

@ Maciek above. The answer is almost certainly to reduce the strain on the SB900s.

Addey Kehinde says:

on July 30, 2010 at 9:27 am

Thoroughly enjoyed the workshop at Islington. When’s your next visit??

Desmond Louw says:

on August 14, 2010 at 3:02 am

Wow Joe, so cool to share this lovely thing we call photography with you.
I sometime ask myself why I love it so much and I cant really awser that, its just what it is or what do you think?
Lovely work and I would love to meet you when I travel to your country :)


Wushi says:

on August 5, 2011 at 5:04 am

So so coll Joe!
Thanks for sharing.

Props from Mozambique

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