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Shoot: Bar Owner, Evolving the Look

Lesson 8 from: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

Shoot: Bar Owner, Evolving the Look

Lesson 8 from: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

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Lesson Info

8. Shoot: Bar Owner, Evolving the Look


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Location Assessment


Gear Overview


Direction and Wardrobe


Exploring Location and Available Light


Bar Owner: Setting the Scene


Shoot: Bar Owner


Shoot: Bar Owner, Evolving the Look


Lesson Info

Shoot: Bar Owner, Evolving the Look

All right, so somewheres in there. There. Let's leave it at that. Somewheres in there is probably the best that we did so far. Reasonable, kind of, you know, we got a bit of a semblance of the bar. Probably have to lift the background a little bit more, but we're also, you know, confronted with the whole idea of, of, how do we balance like, what's coming in and what we could do with this environment? So, he's, you know, this is important here, this little crucial highlight right in here, a little bit of rim there. All that sort of stuff going on, looking pretty decent. There's more accent lighting I could be doing. This is where a B1 could come in handy in conjunction with your small flashes. Take that B1. I think the Speedlight would die if you threw it into the ceiling, but a B1 at this point might actually just ramp up the room a little bit. But, before we get, you know, go any further with that, let's do this. Can we go now forward to Bob's suggestion about going dark? Okay. So the...

re's 1/250 of a second. What went missing? The highlight, right, which is kind of crucial. So, let's start, just for an experiment, let's start with background-to-foreground, and we'll just see if anything works at all. I'm going to shut all the lights down, okay, except that TriFlash, group D TriFlash. Where are we? It's outside? All right. Okay. Yeah. All right. Okay. I'm going to put that light. There's a light outside, or lights. There is a TriFlash. So, yeah, let's keep that dark for now. Let me go into my menu. I'm going to kill group A. I'm going to kill group B. I'm going to kill group C. Is that TriFlash on? Hit OK. Make sure group D is all the way up power-wise. So, before I link to them, let's just see where we are. Now. Ryan, come on over here and come on off the set. Lynn, could you come on off the set. Cool? Nice? All right. So, just take a quick look here. (shutter snaps) Okay. Now. We've got a little bit of highlighting there, this and that. Okay. Now, let's see if we get radio transmission, first off. Go back to radio on. Let me get an eye on that. Yeah, if you could get an eye on it, it would be great. (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) Okay. All right. So those little Speedlights kind of gave up out there. I thought I'd throw them out there and see what happens. Can we cut the distance, bring it in closer, please, Ken? Yes. Thanks, Ken. Why are you doing that, Joe? Just a quick question. There was somebody in the chatroom who was talking about, they normally use strobes and they're not as familiar with what you're talking about with the group A, group B, group C, group D with all the different Speedlights. Could you explain that? Sure. Just like any set of flashes or, you know, we're in the age of radio control. So you have groups, and you have zones. You know, sometimes they call 'em different names, but basically, that's it. Your groups can, you can gaggle as many flashes as you want into a single group. Channels is the other, you know, more pertinent to radio frequencies. So you'll have channels, groups, some people call them zones. The channels are the radio frequencies that these are operating on. Those lights are looking for a particular frequency, and they won't respond to anything else. So, that gives you that control. I can message those lights. So what has obviously gone into this technology is the marriage of a TTL, a signal, which is language generated between the flash and the camera married to a radio signal. And that is hugely advantageous. 'Cause if I wanted to trigger those lights now with line of sight, forget it. So I'm gonna experiment with that position a little bit. There'll be more stuff coming out about that. So that's a group D. Let's see if we get any amp up there. (shutter snaps) Hmm. Kick of it. Okay. Callie? Yes. You're here. (Joe laughs) Ken is outside. You're in here. All right. Joe, we're also on a quarter on D. You wanna go to maybe full? Wait a second. Yeah, I thought I was there. Let's see what happens, give that a try. (shutter snaps) It's more definitive. It's more definitive. But it's just not, do you see where I'm struggling here? Do you see where that interface of the amount of available light is pushing back against my ability to control it? So, but that's a good place, that's not a wonderful place to be. I'd love to be able to slam-dunk it, but I'm going to have to play with it, and this is all good lesson stuff to get your heads around. All right, so let's try this. Ken? I like the path and direction of the light. It's nice and clean. But, let's do this. Bring it... Bring it again back over in, there's so much stuff out here. Try right about here. Okay, this way? Yeah, skate it along the bar. Okay. Okay? (Joe laughs) They said, could you please stay outside, and the answer to that was no. (all laugh) No, I can't stay out. I'm not gonna stay outside. You know? We're photographers. We're recalcitrant sons of bitches. I mean, they tell us no, you can't stand here. We wanna stand there. All of us. Let's face it. We've got authority issues. We definitely do. That's part of the reason we get into this. Good? All right. (shutter snaps) All right. That's a little cooler. What do you think? Now, okay. So. It's got a little bit of the TV in there, kind of thing going on. All right. Let me do this. So those are what? Those are white light flashes, right? Do we... Okay, so let's try this. (Joe inhales deeply) (shutter snaps) Yeah, that's the TV right there. Okay. You want me to warm 'em up? Yeah, let's try that. Full cut? Just one? Yeah, let's go full cut on all three. I'll go out there real quick. So, this kind of is where it gets a little bit on the fun side of things, actually, is solving the problem, moving that light. I haven't been locked into any position so far. I'm still searching for the key to the background. The foreground has looked good for a while. The foreground, we could have stopped with that one light, basically, and moved on. We're gonna amp this up, try a few things 'cause that's what we're doing here today, and seeing how far we can expand this notion. All right. You get it, Ken? You don't wanna trigger the lights. It's really mean when you're assistant's working. I've never done that to you. I disagree. I disagree too. (all laugh) We good? Fire. (Joe laughs) Good. Now I feel like I'm on Star Trek. (shutter snaps) All right. That feels a little better, right? You know, kind of pushing it into the warm zone. Now, let me do this. Let me get off the tripod for a second and do a little bit of a wander around this room. (shutter snaps) I feel a little early morning in that, you know. (Joe sighs) Okay, Brad. Please take down the chairs and put 'em against the bar the way they ordinarily would be. Callie, can you bring in that bigger box? Yeah. Ryan. Would you mind coming over here, right about... Slide this way just a bit. Okay, let's bring the light from this side, please. Squeeze past you. Okay, guys. Do me a favor and lower the lights outside. All right. About two, three feet, Brad. Keep coming. Come down. Keep going, keep going, keep going, keep going. Right there. Cool. Absolute precision. There is nothing left to chance. That light is in the exact position... No, I'm bull, you know. All right. (shutter snaps) See what that did, lowering the light? Can we go back one? See how it's narrowly cut? The window is cutting the angle of the light. I lowered the light, so now I have more full play on the bar. Okay? All right? Okay? Yep, right, perfect. Right like that, right like that. Get your frame. Think I'm in it? Yep, just a touch. Now, he's sort of looking away from the light, but I think he's comfortable there. I may have to reverse him, but let's see if the light wraps around him enough. I'll give it a try. Generally speaking, not the way I approach the light. I usually... What I oftentimes do is I take my shoulders, my subject's shoulders, and I make them equivalent in angle to the play of the soft box. That way, I know that their body is going to accept the light in the most full way possible. But, he's looking really good just the way he is. So let's see what happens. (shutter snaps) We have a gel in there. So where are you now with white balance and gels? Back to auto, just to start off with. Probably going to go to daylight as I migrate through this. But right now, we're on auto white balance. And the three lights outside are gel? The three lights outside have a full CTO on them, making them the color of morning light. Now, remember this. Look at the light now. Soft, cloudy, Seattle rainy day light. What's its color? It's blue. It's cool, right? Very cool light. Sunlight traveling through all those clouds is gonna be cool. So if you're going to do kind of a warm tonality or just a soft, cloudy light kind of day, okay, just remember, that's probably going to be a neutral tone. If you do an edgy light, as we are directing it right now that has a low angle to it, where's golden light? Sunrise, sunset. That's got a low angle to it. So, remember, if I took a white light here on that hard angle like that, that would be a psychological disconnect. So, remember, the angle of the light also plays into the color of the light. So you have to remember that. All right. (shutter snaps) All right. So, nice light on him, but I'm going to reverse it. I like the light, but I'm going to reverse it. Turn in. Open little bit more to me. Callie, feather this way, please. Cool. (shutter snaps) Okay. So now, I've got him. Now, if I wanted to take him backwards, now, I've got him a distance. What's my golf now? In between here and there is kind of darkness. So let's go back by the bar. Let's just flip it that way. And let's circle that way, Callie. All right. Ryan, come this way. Keep coming. Callie, go that way. Cool. Right, yeah, right about there, good. Okay. Feather in? Yeah, that's nice. Cool. (shutter snaps) Okay. All right. So, now we've got like a lot of early morning light bleeding into this, or it's hard directional right. Remember, I'm at 250 at 5.6. So now let's soften up the effect of it a little bit more. How can I do that? Shutter speed? Let's open up some shutter speed. Let's try, just for laughs, let's try 1/30 of a second. And let's try f/4. That background should get brighter, right, because that's on manual, and the TTL light should follow me. 'Cause this is TTL. That's manual. (shutter snaps) All right. So now I've got a golden feel to the bar. Probably too much shutter speed. I've blown it out just a touch. But do you sense where I'm going with this? Do you like where I'm going with this? It's got the bar. It's got the detail. I can pull the shutter speed back in. Let's try that, and I'm gonna crop now in. I'm gonna turn myself in of get rid of the meat slicer. 1/30 at four. Let's go to 1/125 at four. (shutter snaps) Looks good. Now, that feels like it's falling down a little bit. So let's do this, gang. We have one last flash, or a couple of different... We have one right here. Let's put it on a tall stand. Let's put it on group C. Let's make that group C. Take the dome diffuser off. Or actually, no, let's leave the dome diffuser on. So we'll get... The dome diffuser does what to your flash? It gives you a 360 spray. So let's see if there's any efficacy at all about just putting essentially a bare tube up kind of in that corner. So you wanted it back in the corner, Joe? Yeah, feels like... Yeah. Where the chair, where the adjustment clamps are, just kind of in that neighborhood, about 10 feet high, and point it straight at the ceiling. Maybe kick it just slightly towards the back wall, just a little bit. Doing all right? Sorry? It's kind of big, yeah. Let's lose it, let's lose it. All right, pan it this way just a little bit, Callie. Let's just see what happens here. Hang on. (shutter snaps) All right, hang on. What did you program it as? Did I say group C? Yeah, you have C on there? Well, I will. (Callie laughs) There we go. All right. Cool. Good luck, good luck. (shutter snaps) All right. It's out of the TV. It's a little bit polished wood. There's a special place in hell for people who paint wood. There's a little bit of hit up in the corner, up in here. Yeah, right there, okay. So let's go even a little bit higher, if we can. Do we have more, more juice in that stand? Yeah. Can you go back one? That's the TV. That's actually sort of cool, in a way, you know. That's the TV. All right. (shutter snaps) Looking good. All right, so I'm going to take group C down, say, minus 1.3. I'm going to take my outdoor lights down just a tiny bit, too. (shutter snaps) Okay. So. The bottles are getting a little bit bright. But it's starting to feel better to me. What do you guys think? Feeling a little better? Let's take this down just a tiny bit, 'cause it's gotten a little too bright. I opened up. That's still a little bright. Now. What we could do, okay, to de-emphasize some of that wash in the background, I could take it down f-stop wise. Could we do one more light? Have we got another light? Can we put it on a stand, and let's put, Callie, could you put a grid on it? Kind of a vertical honeycomb grid, or something like that, tape on of those grids onto there? Use the straight flash? Just the straight flash, yeah. Okay. Let's see what we got over here. Where's that flash case? Okay. Here we go. Cool? (shutter snaps) All right, getting there. Plus one on this light. (shutter snaps) Okay. Now, has anyone speculated as to where I'm going with this gridded light? Again, those damn bottles in that black bookcase there. Kind of a difficult thing to manage. So we'll see what we can do. I don't think we have an actual, just a regular grid, but we do have like, the beauty dish grid we can use. I can just pull the middle out. Sure, yeah, yeah. Just put the tight grid in that and use the beauty dish itself. Yeah. Yes. At what shutter speed are you comfortable shooting without going on a tripod, or would you be on a tripod for this? I don't shoot with a tripod a lot, but. Yeah, your tripod is your best friend, in many, many ways. But, you know, in the field when you're moving fast, it's not the time for a tripod. I have shot, I've worked really hard at holding my camera steady at slow shutter speeds over the years, so much so that, you know, I've been challenged, like National Geographic will put me in a helicopter and you're at night, and you're shooting, you know, high ISO, but you're shooting at shutter speeds you should not be able to shoot from a helicopter. So the answer there is to burst really, really hard and really fast, and the laws of physics cross over and work with you at a certain point in time. But I'm comfortable, with a flash assist, I'm comfortable with 1/30 of a second, 1/15 of a second, with a flash assist. With available light, no, you'd wanna be a little bit higher on the scale, 1/60. You might be lock-solid, but your subject might not be. At 1/60 of a second, you could get subject movement if they're energetic. All right. Yeah, I've got one from online. A couple people are wondering if they could get clarity on when you choose to use TTL versus manual on the different flashes, and how you kind of approach that. Why are you using manual on some and TTL on the others? I started off with the manual flashes outside because I felt like I needed power. Now, I've moved 'em in closer, so I have that kind of control over them. I've left 'em in there because that's, again, one variable I don't have to worry about. I'm still bouncing around on my f-stop, so the TTL up front is keeping pace with me. As soon as I get this kind of locked down a little bit better, I'll go probably with a manual solution for everything. 'Cause at this point, you know, having spent a lot of time trying to photograph Ryan, I would, presumably, if I was on assignment, shoot 100 frames of him. And at that point, I'm going to lock it into a manual solution. But the TTL gets me into the ballpark really, really quickly. How we doing? You wanted this on the bottles here? Well, where I'd like it, actually, is right here on a stick, right at that. All right, so watch your eyes, 'cause I'm going to continue to kind of do a couple of things here. Hang in there. Way to go, Ryan. You're terrific. (shutter snaps) Okay. Better, better, better. So this is going to be group B. Group B, cool. This light, I'll go into TTL to deal with a question like that. I'll start it off in TTL at 0,0. We're going to see if we can just pick up a little bit of a highlight in there. All right. So bring that in a little closer, Callie. Okay, cool. (shutter snaps) All right. So, is there a gel on that light? Nope, I got one right here. Okay. Let's put a full cut on that. See what it's doing there? Now, I've got control over that bottle cabinet, and I think it actually, as I modulate it, put a little color into it, I think it's kind of work pretty well. Good? All right. Now, going to school on that, I'm thinking let's take a stop out of it. One stop down. (shutter snaps) All right. Now, I gotta, you know, a little bit of a crop factor over here. You know, 'cause I'm not going to mess with this highlight on the wood. This, I'll crop out. This is pretty well lit. This has got good balance. A little bit of detail up in here. He's nicely lit. Now, I've never met anybody I couldn't over-light. So is there anything missing here that you might like to see? A little skip off the floor down in here? Tungsten gel? Just a little bounce off a gold card, if you don't mind. Oughta go 50 on this? Sure. Okay. Yeah, 50 millimeter zoom on that. We're gonna bounce it straight down. When I bounce light, I tend not to angle it. Like, if I'm going to light Bob here with like a bounce light, I'm not going to have the light skipped like this like a 45 degree. Why? Because he could possibly see that surface of the light, which means some hot photons could come out of the mouth of the light and skate right towards him. So when I bounce something, I tend to resolutely straight-up bounce it or straight-down bounce it. No angle. No skip like that. I let it go down, and then I let it drift up. So that's what we'll do with this light. Now, Brad. Could you get a silver tri-grip for me please? A small one, or, do we have silver-ish? Now, let's see. Come in over, stand over here if you don't mind. Okay, let's go silver, silver all the way. All right. Let's do this. And you're E on your bottom light here. Cool. You know, that's not a magic number. I'm sorry for this. I ended up at five lights again. (shutter snaps) Okay. So now, that's too much light. Let's take a look at a TTL response. Let's go minus three with that TTL response. Here we go. (shutter snaps) All right. That's pretty good looking picture. That's pretty nice. We've got enough detail. Now, I do have a little bit of, I've kind of turned him into a bit of a hobbit over here, if you notice. So what we're going to do is we're going to flag that light off of him with just like three pieces of gaffer tape. Oh, Joe, do you wanna mention the .jpeg to manual or .jpeg to raw transition? Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. We've been shooting .jpeg fine, but to do a Photoshop treatment on this, I'm going to switch over to .jpeg/raw. Yeah, actually, I'll just grab the beauty dish. All right. You guys with the program here? 'Cause we're just getting started, all right? I'm going to shoot, let's see, where am I on this lens? All right. Is this thing a little bit big, or do you want me just to wrap it all around? Yeah, let's do this. Just see if you can corral it so that... We just need, it's coming up from here. So let's just barn-door it there. Now, what's the price I'm going to pay for this? I'm going to lose a little bit of the spread of the skip. But we'll see. Also, did you notice what the silver fill board did? Can we go back one, please? One more, maybe? There, kind of character-driven light. Now come in, go forward. See how the little skip kind of, it's very subtle, but there's a little bit of a feel to it, and you see it. In the lower quadrant of his eyes, there's a little bit of highlight or catch light from the silver skip. So if you notice, what I did with my main light, I angled it down so that I would spill onto that board. If I have it just going straight, the board's not going to do anything for me. But if I angle it down and skip it, it's going to have a little bit of an inflection to come back up into him. All right. Nice and tight on that. Cool, cool, cool. Good. Way to go. Fantastic. (shutter snaps) So, you see we lost most of the inflection that was... That, I can live with. There's a tiny little highlight off the tip of his ear. The other one was too strong. So that's three pieces of gaffer tape on the light. And you can continue to play with it. You can turn it a little bit. I don't know. What are you thinking? I think it's pretty good. I think it's just about where it should be. So let's take it apart for a second. This is where you get into this sort of issue, like, this is all darkness down in here. So you have to drive the light fairly hard to get any sort of influence in here. That's naturally going to drift up in here just a tiny little bit. So let's do this. Let's shut off all the lights. (Joe laughs) But you just spent all that time! Let's see where our ambient level is. Callie, could you grab the 24? I already turned it off. Oh, okay. No, it's not gonna do any good. 24 primed? Yeah, please. So that's what we have with no light. That's what we've got with no light. So, let's do this. So, I have to find that now. It's 1/125 at 5.6 at ISO, oh, we bumped to 640. How did we do that? You know. Sure, sure. So let's call it 1/125, 640, so that's like half a stop. Okay, so let's just figure ISO 400, 1/125 at 5.6 is what, as we go up and down the scale? If I do this here, (shutter snaps) almost nothing there. If I do this at 1.4, I got a lot of information. So where do I go? Let's go to, you know, we could do the math, you know. 5.6, four, 2.8, two, 1.4. That's four stops. 1/125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000. Let's see what happens. Now, if I go into like a 1/2000, 1/1000 of a second, what's going to happen to the power of my lights? They're going to go down, because this is auto FP high-speed sync. Are there any people chiming in with like, what the hell is he doing now? Getting myself into more and more trouble. But that's the fun part of this. So let's go upwards here. Let's go to, try 1/1000. See what happens. (shutter snaps) Let's turn on the flash, see what happens. You know, Callie, can I go with a 35, 'cause I'm picking up that highlighted edge there. One little kind of, see, that's what I don't look for. Lynn saw that from other there. She noticed that. Now you're getting closer to your end picture, I'm just feeling like this hand would be better. This is just, it looks a little too, like, chopped. Too chopped. So this is... Better? As long as it's comfortable. Sure. Make it be comfortable, and then it just works better. We actually don't care if it's comfortable. Just do what Lynn says. All right, cool, cool, cool. (shutter snaps) Too little bar, or what do you think? Callie, let's take this light and just, tell you what. Put it on another stand. This small one? This small one, and fire it from here going that way. Barn-door it still on this side, but push it that way. Okay. Okay. Do you want to keep that on the bottom there? Keep what on the bottom? The gold. Yeah, if you don't mind. I don't mind at all. All right, good. Good. I'm very pleasant on the set. You know. I'm kind of relaxed at this point in my career, 'cause, you know, I've kind of seen a lot of stuff go south, and I always tell, like, Callie's great about it. All the assistants are great about it. You know, the last thing you want to do on a set, especially if there's a client, is like, if something is not working, if something is broken in the background or something, don't announce it. Come to me and whisper in my ear. Don't stand across the set and say, oh, the background lights aren't working, man! It's a disaster! Oh my God! That doesn't help confidence levels on the set. Whisper in my ear, and I'll just, I'll acknowledge at some point. If the lights are going down and they're not working, I'll actually keep shooting. I'll keep shooting another five or 10 frames. Then I'll just say, you know, can we just take a break her except for a second? I'm gonna make a little technical adjustment. Hair and makeup. That's where Lynn comes in really handy. She'll direct the hair and makeup to come in. I just need five minutes of brain space. So, I mean, he's fine, but I'll say, oh, hair and makeup, could you do, I don't know, do something. I'm totally, totally, you know, kind of just blowing smoke at that point. All right. How are you. Let's bounce, bounce. Oh, bounce it, okay. I thought you wanted to skate it. Yep. So, let's bring the, yeah, yeah, push it that way. Cool? Yeah, cool. Let's give that a try. See what happens. All right. Over here? Yes, definitely, definitely. All right, cool. All right, cool, cool. Playing with this. Okay, nice. (shutter snaps) No, we're still having a problem with this. Let's put it on the flip side of that light. Over here? Yep. How does this feel? Cool, right about there. Nice. (shutter snaps) That feels pretty good. What do you guys think of that? Callie, what do you think? Yeah, I really like it. I feel like we can maybe just get a touch more light, like right in right here or even, maybe even a touch over here. I feel like we're losing his arm into the black space. We are, we are a little bit. So I would maybe... You know what we could do. It might spread to those. Let's take that bounce that we just put over there, and let's put it over here, very, very weak. Okay, this one right here? Yeah, the floor arrangement. Let's put it over here and see if we get a little inflection under his arms. A tiny little bit, and that's going to be a very weak sort of bounce. Can you lift this leg up for me? Sorry? Give me that in just a second. I think I'm at 1/1000 at 1.4 at ISO 400, auto white balance. I'm not sure beyond that. Is there another setting in the camera? I have a question. Sure, yeah. If you're shooting at ISO 400 at 1/1000, why not drop it down to 100 and shoot at 1/250 instead? We could do that. That's also an option. Just to get a little cleaner image or something like that. Yep. I haven't even thought about it at this point. Okay. As we start to evolve towards a final, that would probably be something that would come into play. Okay, all right. I like the composition though. Yeah, yeah. Let's see. Okay. Cool. I'm on autofocus single, by the way. And I'm back-button focus. So I'm dropping my cursor on his eye, you know, and then releasing it. So critical focus at 1.4 is a concern. (shutter snaps) All right. That definitely helps a bit with his... You're getting a little separation? Little separation there. That is what group of light, Callie? I believe that's E. E. That's minus three. Yeah, that's E. Okay. Let's bounce it up one stop. (shutter snaps) Now we're actually getting a little fill on his face from that. You know what we could do? Have I lost my fill board? Come on in, 'cause you will actually shield a little bit of that. Come right into here. Yep, same position. (shutter snaps) It's slower, right, because I'm pumping a raw file now. But you see the little glow on the lower part of his arm? Helpful, right? Helpful. And what was happening before, his whole face was getting filled? I cut that off by putting the fill board back in. Now there's just a narrow sleeve of light that is going up to his arms, and the fill board is back in. That's controlling his face. Cool? Helpful? Maybe I'd shoot one more or two and just come back a touch, give a little more room on the... Yeah, I'm definitely gonna shoot a couple more. I'm still a little concerned with the chairs. Over here? I can get another light. Get another light? What if we just, I mean, I don't know how much this I gonna go, but we can bounce it. Maybe this will resonate off just the natural floor. Let's just go off the floor, and let's take that big fill card, the tri-grip over there, the big one, and we'll just lean it against the light. And we'll make almost like a lean-to out of it so that no light pushes this way towards his ear, okay, and it'll all push that way, in theory. (Joe laughs) See, that's the thing, gang. Light does surprising things. Could I have imagined that I was gonna light his ear with that light? No, you have to experiment and figure that out. And then you have to be prepared to do all sorts of shenanigans to make an adjustment in the silliest kind of like, minor f-stop realms. Now, I may be, am I belaboring this point? Do you guys think, like, this is ridiculous, you could just take that down in Photoshop? Mike? (Joe laughs) Yeah, but you see the school I came out of, you know, for many years, I shot thousands of rolls of Kodachrome, and I wouldn't even see 'em before my editor at Geographic would see 'em. It would just get dumped, 300 rolls of Kodachrome would get dumped on his desk, you know, and get processed, and I had no control over that whatsoever. So what comes out of the camera, to me, is very, very vital. Yes? I feel like it is a lot like editing in Photoshop. Like you said, you're editing in the camera. Because you just never know when you're really done. Oh, yeah, no, I do know when I'm done. I'm about to be done with this picture. You know, I've messed a bit. Yeah, just the feeling of it. But I could do more. But I could do more. Well, you're also looking at somebody who has worked for as long as five days on a single photograph. You know, big production stuff, you just generate and push and push and push until you finally get where you need to go. So, this, you know, this actually, I'll be straight-up with you guys. This is much more difficult than I thought it was gonna be. This bar has been confounding. The combination of mirrors and the dark painted wood and trying to light from the outside, which we finally seem to have gotten a decent angle on that light, 'cause nothing out there is working for me. The popup tents, the angle, the size of these windows. It's really kind of a pulled tooth. It's a charismatic, interesting location. Before I let Ryan go, I've got another situation I wanna shoot with him. And we'll see how that does. (Joe laughs) All right. So you said lean-to? I just wanna clarify what was in your mind. Well, let's see. Like, set it like that? No, 'cause that'll be in the photograph. So where do you want this to go? Let's do this. Let's push it this way, and just... (Callie laughs) Okay. This is group F. What, you think that won't work? It was just a little bit different than what I had in mind. (Callie laughs) Well, I'm sorry to disappoint. No, I'm interested now. (Joe laughs) All right. Cool? Yeah, silver, get in there. That's good, that's good. (shutter snaps) All right. We got a little bit of play, I think, on the chair. You see it there? Can we go back one? Got, well, yah. See, now the background there, the low background on the left is black. Now go forward. See, it's there, and there's no, there's no influence on his ear. (Joe laughs) I can't believe that worked. And that's actually kind of a really nice-looking photograph, finally. Finally. Just stick with it. I gotta be like a dog with a bone. I am, you know, a lot of hyperbole gets floated around the internet about like, you know, Chase comes in here and says, oh, my God, Joe. Look, I'm a good working photographer. That's all I am. Circumstances can defeat the best photographers in the world, and I am decidedly not one of those. Luminaries, greats, legends go out. I guarantee you, they've shot bad takes. I guarantee you. You just don't hear about 'em. So, this kind of process is the kind of process I've gone through my whole career. 'Cause I tend not to get easy assignments. I haven't in the past. For, you know, 25 years, I was kind of, you know, I would do jobs for the National Geographic that were, you know, let's call them challenges. You know, lighting a telescope. You know, the world's largest binocular telescope. You know, you'll see it tomorrow. I mean, that's a big flash job, FIY. It's a 22-story building on top of a 11,500-foot mountain. And I shot it from a 175-foot boom crane, and there were 35,000 watt seconds of flash inside the telescope. So, you know, and you have 15 minutes to succeed on that, because the sun is falling and, you know, everything's going to blackness, and you have to make that happen. So those kinds of things I'm used to. So this, to me, is like, it's a little frustrating here and there, but it's fun, it's fun. I feel great right now because I finally turned a corner and got a decent photograph of Ryan. So, let me shoot a couple more, 'cause I'm uncertain of my focus. You know, 1.4, dicey territory. You wanna check those out? Yeah. Shoot off a couple? All right, here we go, here we go. Cool, way to go, fantastic. (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) Watch the bottom of the frame. Yep. (shutter snaps) All-righty. All right. Let's take a quick look at that, see how we do. I'm not going to be overwhelmingly concerned. Now, poor Karina has been waiting for a while, but I'm not going to let Ryan go quite yet. Ryan, you made an expression at me. Shoot a couple more. Shoot a couple more? Yeah. Your mix, but just to add a little, five or 10. All right, cool. All right, here we go. (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) (Shutter snaps) You hear the audibles outside? That's the reason I keep 'em on, 'cause I can tell how hard those flashes are working and when they're recycled from in here. (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) Now, I know that in certain instances, I'm getting a little bit of my edge of my soft box up in here. Kind of playing with it a little bit, trying to get past it. Let's lift this. Just raise it just a tiny bit, like an inch. But, you know, there's stuff on the edges of some of my frames. At a certain point, I'm going for it. If there's the edge of one of my light stands in the frames, screw it. It's there. (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) (shutter snaps) All right. Cool. All right. So now, this is Ryan's fault. We're good. We're good? Ryan, could you come on over here for a second? Everybody can stay right where you are.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Joe McNally Gear List
McNally Lighting Diagrams

Ratings and Reviews


What is there to say, this is a master at work. I feel like I owe Joe a hundred lunches for the information I’ve learned from him and used in jobs through the years. Personally I relate to his slightly self-deprecating style quite well. Joe’s a confident, supremely knowledgeable and incredibly experienced photographer who doesn’t need to wear that on his sleeve to get the point across. He is also clearly a great leader who has built a terrific team. I snap up everything of Joe’s I can find and use it as a library, where every time you watch you take away something new. Thanks Joe, you’re a legend and good on Creative Live for offering this wonderful and beautifully curated course.

ileana gonzales photography

When I saw the chance to learn from the great Joe McNally I jumped through the screen at the chance to be in the audience. It's one thing to see how a fantastic photographer works, thinks, composes and styles, but to get a behind the curtain view at the way his entire shop operates was truly amazing. By allowing us to see Lynn's processes and Cali's workflow it encouraged me to diversify before taking the plunge into the business side of photography. Truly an amazing team and an unforgettable learning experience.


Joe is fantastic! The wealth of information, experience and extraordinary talent he shares is invaluable! He's also a very engaging, humorous instructor who keeps an audience a part of the "discussion." Don't miss a Joe McNally class, seminar or workshop opportunity!

Student Work