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Notes from the Islands

Oct 24

In In The Field at 9:18pm

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Ever run into somebody you just really all of a sudden need to photograph? Such a thing occurred last week in St. Lucia, at this year’s edition of our class that should be called, “let’s take some flashes and go someplace really, really nice.” That really nice place once again was Anse Chastenet and Jade Mountain, truly a piece of heaven nestled by the Piton Mountains in St. Lucia. It routinely ranks as one of the top destination resorts in the world, and exists because of the audacious creativity and tenacity of its’ owner, Nick and Karolyn Troubetzkoy.

My good friend Michael Allard introduced me to Barbara Cadet, who at that moment was sending beautiful sounds from her alto sax into the Caribbean night from the Jade Mountain Club. She has long been a fixture in the island music scene, a powerhouse not only with her saxophone in her hands, but also in terms of nurturing Carib musical talent. She exudes sweetness and soul, and when I shook her hand, I was pretty determined to get her in front of the camera.

Turns out it was a fortuitous meet, as she is coming out with a CD, and needed a picture. I kinda said, hey, you know, I’ll shoot it for you. She thought I was doing her a favor. Turns out, it was the other way around.

That’s ’cause there’s certain folks out there who just step in front of the camera and own it, plain and simple, and she’s one of them.  Lighting was dead bang simple. Quadra pack into a deep Octa, Drew holding it on a paint pole.

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I’m of course sitting in the surf, flopping around like a Beluga whale who took a wrong turn, with the incoming waves funneling sand into my shorts with the speed and urgency of a high powered cement mixer. My wife Annie, who found herself at the shoreline with a new P7000, managed to run some mildly embarrassing video while I was, as I noted at the time, in the process of being involuntarily exfoliated:-)

It was a great week in the islands. Scott Kelby came down, and did his usual amazing class in Lightroom and Photoshop, making the mysteries of post production truly simple. He had a blast, check out his post over at Photoshop Insider. The class had a great time as we also visited the guys at the Soufriere Fire Department. Garvey Charlemange is in the middle, flanked by Shian and Henry. Many thanks go out to the SFD, as they really rolled out the red carpet for the class.

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We managed to tackle shooting groups, hi speed sync, dragging shutter, flash and blur, gels, flash at sunset, light shaping tools, you name it. We used Tri-grips of various sizes, Lastolite panels, hot shoe flashes, Quadras, c-stands, and VALS. We did lots of experimentation with very expensive electronics near or in large bodies of water, with no casualties, I’m happy to report.

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All in all, for the folks who live down in St. Lucia, it was just another week in paradise. For us, though, it was truly special as the hotel staff once again bent over backwards to help move us about in vans, boats, in the jungle, on the beach and in town. Back home in the Northeast now, happily watching the leaves fall. Have a big lighting class at PPE this week. LIFE Guide is out–went to top in three categories last week for a bit, which was fun, at least for a few minutes:-)

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…..more tk….

50 Responses to “Notes from the Islands”

Alex Grace says:

on October 25, 2010 at 11:00 am

Wonderful shots, Joe! I hope to join you guys one of these years!

Edwin says:

on October 25, 2010 at 11:11 am

Its always a pleasure to see your St. Lucia photos (this is the second one right?)

Chase says:

on October 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

Great stuff Joe, I wish I could have that epic of a shot of me playing the saxophone. That being said, she’s holding a tenor saxophone, not an alto like you mentioned above. If I wasn’t a player I wouldn’t care too much, but since I am, I figured I would let you know!

Best,
Chase

Chase says:

on October 25, 2010 at 11:19 am

Great stuff Joe, I wish I could have that epic of a shot of me playing the saxophone. That being said, she’s holding a tenor saxophone, not an alto like you mentioned above. If I wasn’t a player I wouldn’t care too much, but since I am, I figured I would let you know!

Best,
Chase

Mason Trullinger says:

on October 25, 2010 at 11:22 am

Nice stuff as usual Joe. Your St. Lucia workshop posts always remind me that I’m long overdue to take a Caribbean vacation.

What gels did you use on the Quadra to match the warmth of the sunset?

Mason

Mike T says:

on October 25, 2010 at 11:27 am

Thanks Joe for the excellent course! And of course Drew and Stephanie who both rock. I learned alot from everyone including the other people on the course. Cheers, Mike from Calgary..

John A. says:

on October 25, 2010 at 11:34 am

I’ve never been to St. Lucia so I just have to ask, are the sunsets there like that all the time, or does the force just happen to be with you every time you’re there?

Simply beautiful stuff as always!

Shannon Cayze says:

on October 25, 2010 at 12:55 pm

Hi Joe,

I wanted to say that the shot of Barbara playing the sax is simply stunning, and basically every positive adjective that I can think of!

I had a quick question, though, if you don’t mind. How would you compare the results if you had used a hot shoe flash and the 24″ Ezybox? I ask because that’s the setup I have and I’m wondering if you can achieve anything remotely close to quality of light with it. I’m already pretty invested for a guy who doesn’t make money on this stuff, so looking at the pack, head and Octa makes me sweat.

Thanks so much!
Shannon

Ken Toney says:

on October 25, 2010 at 1:03 pm

Joe, I hope to make that trip one year!

Tim Skipper says:

on October 25, 2010 at 2:16 pm

Love those colors. I’m assuming there is CTO gel on that flash to warm the colors cause it looked warmer than just shooting with cloudy white balance.

I love shooting musicians, I’ve so far only go to do it a few times but I am working doing more. I know Zack Aries says you shouldn’t but there is something special that happens when you hand your musician their instrument and tell them to play while you take pictures. My first CD cover was one of those. I thought it was an OK shot the artist and studio fell in love with it. I had another one that I thought they would die for and they basically wasn’t impressed with it. Go figure.

Gianluca says:

on October 25, 2010 at 2:34 pm

Ciao from Santa Monica Joe! I’m running to Barnes & Noblet to buy your last book!

Bob DeChiara says:

on October 25, 2010 at 3:23 pm

Joe McNally, you totally rock dude! I get jealous every time I read your blog! Youda man!

stephen says:

on October 25, 2010 at 3:45 pm

Epic photo of Barbara. I love your work because of shots like that.

Nikki says:

on October 25, 2010 at 4:49 pm

Wow, what a gorgeous photo, just amazing.

James says:

on October 25, 2010 at 4:55 pm

“…flopping around like a Beluga whale who took a wrong turn..” Ahah, your scene of humor brightening up another day of mine.

Deb H. says:

on October 25, 2010 at 5:07 pm

Hi Joe,
Thanks to you and Drew for a fabulous class! I learned more than I can even remember right now and can’t wait to put it all into my photography.
Fondly,
Deb

Kathy Winter says:

on October 25, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Love the photos and really appreciate the video. Looks like everyone had a blast. One day, I hope to take that trip!

Barry Frankel says:

on October 25, 2010 at 5:14 pm

Great stuff as always….thanks for sharing the video. Curious about your wireless set up. Was that the new PW mini on the camera,or is it an Elinchrom trigger?

Louis Pang says:

on October 25, 2010 at 6:18 pm

I’m gonna get that Deep Octa…it has a quality that is different from a softbox. You gel it with CTO right? How do you gel a bigger light?

Josh Chapel says:

on October 25, 2010 at 6:51 pm

Wow, gotta love it when all the elements come together. Great subject and unreal sunset. My guess is you shot it white and then warmed the white balance in post to bring even more warmth into the sunset?

Regardless, awesome photo!

Ryan Neufeld says:

on October 25, 2010 at 6:53 pm

Joe, your work is an inspiration to a startup like me.

Thanks for sharing your knowledge, and these wonderful images.

Joe Duty says:

on October 25, 2010 at 8:21 pm

The name Joe McNally is all that needs to be said, you know the photo will rock! The light is so awsome, I can’t decide if I’m inspired beyond words, or just ready to hang it up due to the fact that perfection has already been done.

Ziv says:

on October 25, 2010 at 10:12 pm

Extraordinary shot of Barbara C. …. but, me thinks that is not an alto sax.

Eric Toles says:

on October 25, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Joe, The light that comes through your eye to our mind through your camera is awesome! As manager of the Jade Club it was a pleasure serving you at Jade Mountain. I can not imagine listening to Barbara this Saturday night in any other light!

Claire Gardiner says:

on October 25, 2010 at 10:26 pm

Fabulous image, thanks for sharing it. BTW, she’s playing a tenor sax, not an alto!

Michelle Jones says:

on October 26, 2010 at 4:00 am

Just wanted to say – great post, thank you for sharing it and the video was amazing, thanks :D

Joe McNally says:

on October 26, 2010 at 5:05 am

hey guys….up at the club, she was playing the alto sax…but in the waves it is a tenor sax…sorry, didn’t make that known. she’s got like 3 different saxophones, which may or may not be typical of a sax person. of course, I chose the tenor to do the shot with…..the biggest, heaviest, and hardest to hold:-) In the waves, no less. She was terrific and a good sport about it. But the darn thing gets heavy! Joe

Rick Joy says:

on October 26, 2010 at 5:20 am

Hey Joe the photos look amazing. I just read a little bit of new book on Amazon and I can’t wait to see the rest of it when it arrives. I noticed you used the paint pole to hold the octa. What brand is that so I know what to look for at Home depot?

Paul says:

on October 26, 2010 at 6:51 am

I take my hat off to you. Superb, crazy shot.

just a word of advice though, Joe: don’t ever sit like that in the surf from the North Sea (you do remember your days on a North Sea trawler, right?)… you’ll lose not only your concentration, your camera, the model, who will have run off screaming but also the reasons why you’re of the male gender!

Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful work. Someday when my ship comes in… I hope to attend one of your courses. Till then, I’ll keep taking the pills and reading your blog.

:)

All the best,
Paul

Eric Muetterties says:

on October 26, 2010 at 10:51 am

WOW! Fantastic top image!

Did you mess with the color toning? It looks like some I have done where I add some color in the split toning section of LR.

Great place to shoot!

alisveris says:

on October 26, 2010 at 1:44 pm

I love to be there, I really wonder so much and my curios is growing up with this kind of article, cheers.

Omar Ibrahim says:

on October 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Loved the shoot, the shoot and the way you steer everything there. God Bless

Omar Ibrahim says:

on October 26, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Loved the shoot, the shot and the way you steer everything there. God Bless

Brandon says:

on October 26, 2010 at 11:21 pm

Looks like a great place to shoot, great job.

And this might be a bit music nerdy, but that appears to be a tenor sax not an alto sax she’s playing.

Glyn Dewis says:

on October 27, 2010 at 1:05 am

Hey Joe,

Absolutely stunning!!! I knew from reading Scott’s blog and his BTS posts on Facebook this was gonna be good but geez, totally loving the Sax Player shot!!!

Question for you if you don’t mind…has Drew adapted the Quadra bracket at all to take the weight of the Deep Octa? If so are you able to to say what?

Thanks again for a great post,
Glyn

Esam Kabli says:

on October 27, 2010 at 10:11 am

unbelievable photo, the color is just out f this world.

Joe McNally says:

on October 27, 2010 at 10:30 am

Hey Glyn…no adaptation…we are just using the normal Elinchrom adapter ring they offer. So far, so good. It seems to handle the weight well….all best, Joe

Csaba says:

on October 27, 2010 at 11:33 am

Amazing pictures. I hope you are planing to have a workshop in Paris also :-)

marcus says:

on October 27, 2010 at 12:47 pm

“Involuntarily Exfoliated” would make an awesome band name.

Tyler Branston says:

on October 27, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Joe, first off great pics! That last one is unbelievable!
Quick question not really related to this post but I figured you would be the man to know if the new pws (that i hear your testing) have high speed sync if used with sb600/800/900, or even with other flashes?

Thanks!
Oh, by the way, look me up when your in Vancouver Canada next month, I would love to treat you to some local beer and talk some shop!

David Hill says:

on October 29, 2010 at 4:41 pm

“Quadra pack into a deep Octa-on a paint pole” My 7th grader played football this fall-I was all prepared-but those refs would not allow that rig on the field! Touchy!

Eric Muetterties says:

on October 29, 2010 at 8:22 pm

Dumb OT question…
…how do you get a profile pic to show here?

Eric Muetterties says:

on October 30, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Nevermind ☺

Trisha M. says:

on October 31, 2010 at 11:25 am

Joe, you truly are a master of lighting! The sax (and its musician) looks really fine. :)

tcknight says:

on November 1, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Wow Joe. On the video you just chimped the first shot and started shooting from there. Lord, I would need to chimp the first 10 or 20. Crap, more work to do!

kabin says:

on February 3, 2011 at 9:14 am

its very nice and amazing project.

mp3 says:

on August 13, 2011 at 3:09 am

Loved the shoot, the shoot and the way you steer everything there. God Bless

borsaforumu says:

on August 30, 2011 at 10:27 am

great post thanks a lot good article…

prefabrik says:

on December 30, 2013 at 8:50 am

I hope to make that trip one year!

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