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Archive for the ‘Thanks’ Category

Much to be Thankful for…..

Nov 22

In Friends, Fun, Thanks at 5:21am

This picture, despite the somewhat disastrous consequences for me, and my camera, when all 330 pounds of Nate Newton hit the water of the pool that I was actually in, floating sort of underneath the diving board, always brings a somewhat reflective, rueful, and at the same time thankful smile to my face. After all these years, and tons of really ridiculous sagas in the field, stemming from the alternately frustrating, fruitless, heartbreaking, satisfying, thrilling roller coaster of seeking to make a picture, I still have a camera to my eye. The adventure continues.

To all who occasionally stop by the blog, many many thanks. There is so much to be thankful for in this amazing world. And while the above is not exactly a “Thanksgiving Day” photo, to be sure, perhaps it will have a bit of resonance for all those who might be gathered around a table for a while today, and then gathered around a TV, engaged in the popular American mix of food, family, and football.

All the best to all….here’s to more leaping, bounding, splashing adventures still tk….

In Transit….and Many Thanks…

Apr 30

In Fun, Thanks at 7:33am

Flew home yesterday from Dusseldorf. 18 hours here, and then another plane (hope it’s really big and has lots of engines cuz it’s going over lots of water) to Sydney, and magical land of Aus. I had a blast down there during the Olympics and this is a return visit I’ve been looking forward to for a long time. Here’s a tour link for our itinerary down there.

But, before anything, I just have to thank the incredibly wonderful folks who came to Essen for this past weekend’s Nikon Solutions. The whole Nikon team did amazing stuff, but I really have to single out Yasuo Baba, of Nikon Germany. Where he gets the energy to do so much of the creative and logistical planning a huge event like this requires, I’ll never know.

Mostly, though, I have to thank the folks who came out to the expo. They were amazing and gracious, and made Annie and me feel so much at home. Throw in great beer, good coffee and lots of laughs, not to mention an elephant, Marco the amazing body builder, a ballerina, and a couple of wonderful models from the Czech Republic, and well, you’ve got a fun weekend, that’s for sure. Once again it was my honor to teach with all the shooters there, and of course my long time bud, sports shooting legend Bill Frakes. He had basketball players, rhythmic gymnasts, heavy weight lifters, you name it.

When you’re shooting live and stumbling around, essentially doing a location shoot in front of 400 plus people, you really feed off the participation and energy of the folks in the crowd. Once again, thanks to all who hung in there during some fun shoots…..all best, and Annie and I already can’t wait to return!

More tk….

That’s LIFE….

Jun 7

In Links, News, Thanks at 6:00am

LIFE.com announced the winners of its’ 2011 Photo Blog Awards, and this little rambling collection of thoughts ended up winning one. Very honored, especially when you look at their roll call of winners….Lens, from the New York Times, Bag News Notes, Time magazine’s Lightbox, and NPR’s Picture Show.

The blog is fun to keep up with, albeit at times a bit daunting. I find myself writing on planes, or airport lounges, or in cars on the way to location. Thank goodness for hot spots! Thank goodness, too, for this amazing adventure. Thirty five years with a camera in my hands, and still going. New Geographic assignment coming up in July, and today, for instance, into NY for an ongoing portrait series on the 10th Anniversary of 911. Stuff just keeps happening, and the blog, for me personally, has become a good way to check my pulse.

Life’s comments on Numnuts….

“The thoughts, notions, and ideas here come from thirty years in the field as a shooter,” reads the text in the upper-right hand corner of this blog, underneath a smiling stick figure and the casual, handwritten words “Meet Joe.” It’s that juxtaposition of the serious and the playful that make Joe McNally’s Blog such a treat. With bona fides from Sports Illustrated, National Geographic, and LIFE (for which he was a staff photographer), McNally tells stories and gives advice from behind the lens, pulling from his travels and his vibrant, extensive portfolio to riff on newsmakers (like the Navy SEALs, whom he once followed in training), share deeply personal memories of favorite shoots, and totally geek out on lighting technique and gear (explaining, as only he can, the best clamps, lenses, strobes, etc.). With eloquence, humor, and passion, McNally makes every post a love letter to his craft.”

That is pretty much the way I feel. Still in love with doing this. Still crazy after all these years. Very, very thankful to any and all who stop by for a bit of rambling. Many thanks, and as always, more tk….


What We Rolled With…

May 2

In Equipment, Thanks at 5:16am

Done. Home. 12,531 miles. Flew out. Drove back, and not in a straight line. Life on a bus. A three foot wide, moving, turning, stopping and starting bed. It was like sleeping for five weeks in one of those beds that have the magic fingers, and the bus was a never ending supply of quarters. It was, you know, fun. But then, I have a broad definition of fun.

We’ve got a lot of people to thank, first and foremost all the folks who came out to a stop. Lots of gracious, easy going flashinistas investigating light out there. Good crew, good questions, great enthusiasm.

Our ever wonderful VALs, or volunteers. In every city, they were terrific. We could not have pulled this off every morning without the consistently willing, good-natured groups of folks who were there when we stumbled off the bus at 6am, looking and feeling our best. We would rub our eyes, look around at the loading dock or dumpsters, and mumble, “Where the hell are we?”

Adorama. They put the gas in the tank. Harry Drummer, Jeff Snyder, Monica Cipnic, Brian Green, Jerry Deutsch–all of them made the wheels on the bus go round and round…and round and round…and, well you get the idea.

Heard on the road: Me to David after the entire crew knocked a few back before boarding the bus. “David, I’m concerned that we’re losing control of this bus.” Grippi, walking by, without missing a beat. “Shut up old man.”

We had sponsors. David and I reached out to folks we know and respect in the industry, and tried to make the Flashbus a worthwhile day. They all pitched in, and what they pitched in with, attendees walked out the door with. Schwag bags, and giveaways galore.

Manfrotto and the Manfrotto School of Excellence helped out big time. We rolled with a ton of their stuff, from Lastolite gear to stacker stands to tripods for still and video, fluid heads, monopods…you name it.

Heard on the road: Jeff Snyder to me in the morning. “You look like Nick Nolte’s mug shot.”

We gave away about 100 Justin Clamps. They easily have to be the most popular clamp in the industry, at least for small flash folks. What we have done to customize ours’ is to fit them with Frio cold shoes, another free item in the bag. Yep, Frio gave out freebie coupons for thousands of their cold shoes, with free shipping.

A forest of Frios! David H sold me on these guys. No moving parts, one size fits all. (Or any that I know about.)

We rolled, literally, with Thinktank. They are simply making some of the most intelligent stuff out there to put gear in. What I’ve done with their rollers is take out all the dividers, wrap all the cameras and glass in velcro protective wraps, and snug everything in there.

Heard on the road: Joe, struggling with TTL, turns to the crowd…”Okay, what do I now?” From crowd…”Call David Hobby.”

Our staff fell in love with two Thinktank numbers; the Retrospective bags, and Shapeshifter backpack.


Life on the road. Annie was concerned about me getting sick, so she fixed me up with these Hibistat high powered antiseptic wipes, which she swears by. We had lunch on the road together and wiped down with these guys so thoroughly the table we were at  smelled like an ICU. Both of us finished our pre-meal cleansing, and,  holding our hands up like surgeons, started giggling like idiots. I was like, “Okay, honey, want me to scrub in on the mozzarella panini?”

Pocket Wizard supplied posters, which were a big hit, even though David and I both cautioned everyone that when we sign something, the value drops. They are showing us the doorway to the future that is radio TTL. Controlling lights you cannot see. Bye-bye line of sight. The future awaits!

All the images were captured on Lexar pro cards. Plus we gave a boat load of them away. They really came through for everybody. Every stop, David and I gave away screaming fast 600x 32 and a 16 gig card for answers to questions and challenges that ranged from “Who shot the first cover of LIFE?” to “First one to hold over their head a human spleen wins this prize!”

Stuff happens on the road. Drew, trying to manhandle an overstuffed cart of equipment down a ramp, lets too much velocity build and is danger of being crushed by 1,000 pounds of photographic irony on wheels when Phil, our intrepid driver, steps in and stops it. Phil’s comment: “Black man to the rescue again.”

Speaking of heavy gear, all our big stuff got stuffed into Kata bags. Their sling bags are basically indestructible.

Lumiquest was out there with us, big time. Not only for stuff we shot, but as giveaways galore. They anted up with an UItrastrap for everybody, and light shapers as giveaways. It was our honor to have Terry White at the Grand Rapids show, and he captured an LTP in action, perhaps not in a way everyone might choose to use it.

Everybody was gellin’, courtesy of Roscoe and The Strobist. The gel pack in everybody’s bag represents the basics of color control for your small flash.

After spending years in the tethering woods, and breaking platform after platform, one of our sponsors, Tether Tools, came to the rescue with an incredibly well designed platform with a undercarriage for hard drives. Awesome. Plus they make repeater USB tether cables that just don’t quit, and we gave those out at every stop.

Life on the road. I can report that Cali, who fell in love, long distance, with a beautiful young lady whom he had never met, has now met her, and is absolutely over the moon about her, which is, of course, terrific. They’re both talented, wonderful young people, and they appear to be soul mates.  I’m glad it worked out ’cause we gave him a ton of shit about it on the road. Which he richly deserved, because he was consistently acting like a love smitten high school girl, albeit one with a lot of body hair. I mean, I would watch him lift a case, get an Iphone buzz, smile, put the case down and text. Half of me was, “Awww, that’s nice,” and half of me wanted to split his skull with my Gitzo.

Spyder kicked it with the donation of discount cards for everybody, and a giveaway Spyder 3 Pro Calibrator at every stop. Yowza!

Phil, our driver, was super cool. He was like a surgeon with the bus, and he’s a trained bodyguard to boot. Great guy who could boil down any discussion into a stunningly accurate, pithy, five word observation. Bartender to Phil: “You want a glass with that beer?” Phil: “Nah, I’m from the hood.” Raised up in Newark, NJ, he’s out there now driving a vet. Yep, a vet. Here’s what the bus looks like.

Hmmm… Phil and this guy. Can anybody out there say, “Odd Couple?”

NIK Software came along for the ride, with discounts, and, at every stop….drum roll….. a free Color Efex suite, or a Viveza suite of post productions marvels. People went crazy, especially those who were blessed by their parents with the names, Nick, or Nicole. Often these namesakes walked off with complete sets of software goodies.

And Peachpit came through for the readers in our crowds, discounting all manner of terrific books, even though I tried to convince everybody the coupons were only for mine:-) That didn’t work. It was cool to have them out there with us.

For five weeks, we were out there on wheels. Couldn’t have met a nicer bunch of people. Couldn’t have had more fun, and also, couldn’t have learned more. I tell ya, watching the Strobist in action, you learn some stuff, which I will share in an upcoming blog….more tk….

Gear still life pix shot by Cali at f1.2, his favorite f-stop…..:-)

Pause for Thought…

Apr 14

In Thanks, Thoughts at 10:33am

We are goofing our way across the country, in our last week of life on a bus. It’s been a fun ride, mostly because of the people we have met, the passion we have encountered, and the incredibly warm welcome we have received from Seattle to NY to Grand Rapids to Atlanta to Albuquerque. We have taught, laughed, screwed up, thrown flashes in the air, logged over 11,000 miles (so far), and just in general, made light (ouch!) of everything. Just a bunch of bucketheads on a bus. Then, in the midst of a laugh, you get a note that’s like a quick snort of smelling salts. It clears the head, and removes the fog that sometimes descends after a bumpy night’s sleep in a rolling, two foot wide bed. It snaps you back to the wonderful reality of just how being involved in picture making on any level gets into the very marrow of your bones. If life is a patchwork quilt, photography can be the stitching.

From one of our attendees……

True Story about the day…

4 weeks ago the light of my life, business partner, and ongoing source of… umm… determination; was diagnosed with terminal, incurable, ultra rare, neuro-endocrine cancer. 2 weeks ago when we were meeting with the oncologist to discuss treatment, Eric informed his doctor that he refused to start any kind of treatment until after April 12th because he didn’t want to be ill for the date. I have been a follower of Strobist since I stumbled accross it a couple months after Strobist began. Eric has worshiped Joe McNally for years and we now own all his books. Off camera Nikon strobes is what brought us together. Between the 2 of us; the event of Joe and David finally coming to the Midwest to speak was a nearly religious experience.

So to Joe, thank you. I was the one with the snarky comment that you gave the disks to, it made me happy and it overjoyed Eric. We had already decided that we couldn’t afford the DVD’s. That was a gift with a double whammy that will make the trip to Indy so special for us for the time we have left together. I really can’t thank you enough or tell you how happy we were to be there. Neither of us are the kind to gush over celebrities and I NEVER write to them; but, thank you, thank you, thank you.

To David….. OMG I got to stand near DAVID HOBBY, the man made of light! And shake is hand! Seriously, it was funny sitting there listening to you and to have Eric lean over to me and say, “I understand why you think he’s so cool, he’s been hugely influential on every aspect of your photographic philosophy”.

Thank you all so much for a great day of laughter and light!
Kat

You get a note like that, and it is humbling, overwhelming, and motivating all at the same time. It makes you want to shoot better, teach better, and just be better. It makes you want to call your wife or husband. It makes you want to take more pictures of your kids. It reassures you that this lark we’re on has a good reverb.  It reaffirms that as a shooter, it’s about being in the trenches, keeping your eye in the camera, pushing through the mistakes and the misgivings and the slumps. It’s about sharing knowledge, and pushing each other. Giving back is so much more important than pixels.

Kat and Eric…sending light your way…..more tk….