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…..
Eileen Ludiwig says
Love reading your travels and blog post. Nice job with great explanation and thank you for being so human in your blog. Your personality invites everyone in.
Bravo Joe it was a fantastic seminar. I learned so many little tricks but most importantly, BE TENACIOUS!
I had a great time at the seminar! Was definitely worth the trip over from Brussels! Thanks for putting up the highlights on your blog!
Jason S says
A great day in Islington. Joe, you make it look so effortless, but have the grace to let us know truly how hard it is sometimes, and the continually experimental nature of what you were showing inspires. Anna was a great find too, I’d hire her in a heartbeat.
“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”. Great quote and so true. Joe you make learning photography fun and a little less frustrating. Thanks!
Nana Kofi says
Amazing as always 🙂
So… when are you coming to hold a workshop in Ghana?
Think about it and let me know 🙂
David Kelly says
Joe, glad to read you had a great time with us all in London yesterday – I enjoyed it too. Lots of great photo’s taken on the day but I really like the fun shot of Anna and her “bodyguards” growling (though not sure if that’s what David on the far left was actually doing at the time).
Thanks for all the tips & advice, and great to get to meet you in person at last.
Thanks Joe – the best day yesterday !
Everything about it was well set-up and you, and the crew, rolled with everything the kit and the venue could throw at you.
Incredibly valuable, insightful, funny, fast-paced, exciting, packed with information, tips, techniques and work-arounds – and the best value seminar I have attended for a very very long time – and without a doubt the best ever technical one.
Ben Gould says
Love the blog post. I need to come to one of your workshops soon, come through Dallas.
Greg DT says
I thought the day was going to be good but didn’t appreciate just how exceptional the seminar was going to turn out to be. Even the free coffee was pretty drinkable 😉
Watching as Joe (and the rest of us in spirit) battled with the “executive amongst the share-holders” set up was oddly the highlight of the day for me. I know Joe was having a nightmare with it, but as he talked through the problem, worked round the TTL failures and worked through the solution it was pure gold for all of us. Had we had a little more time it’s clear Joe would have worked his magic and nailed the shot (to be honest I thought the last picture of that set up was pretty damn good.)
Thanks for coming to London and have a safe trip back. Now I just have to work out how to get myself over to the US and onto one of the workshops.
Karl Bradley says
Joe, firstly really enjoyed the seminar. After reading so much about you, was great to see you in person.
Secondly, the TTL gremlins when you were shooting the model in the audience. I may have an idea why it went wrong. From what I saw, if you check the photos, I think you recomposed slightly and a fluorescent light came into the picture……
Craig Murphy says
I think the snooted grid on Jim makes all the difference. Great portrait.
Jason @ Replica Imaging says
Great to finally see you in action “in the flesh”!
Superb day all round from the venue and event planning though to the effort you and the crew put in to make it all understandable whilst keeping up the pace. Congrats to all involved.
Must say that one thing we commented on during the return journey was watching how you treat the crew, and especially how that pays back when things go “wrong”.
Drew was always step with you and even appeared to be doing a little mind reading at times.
As you said respect for everyone involved and keeping things positive is almost as important as the latest kit and choice of location.
Any plans to do some small group workshops in the UK anytime soon?
Best regards and thanks again
Graham Bridgeman-Clarke says
Joe, you ignited the spark to make us all have fun when photographing and to keep on till you get itright.
Nour El Refai says
I just love the over-under technique
In the shot with the lit background, I guess would be better if all was white, I think the degraded color from blue to white orient my eyes to the white area next to her face ! If it was all white, it won’t distract me like this and my eyes will be looking only on her face ! It is my humble opinion.
I love all the other shots with their dark backgrounds
Richard Danter says
It wasn’t just Anna you were cracking up yesterday! We all had a great time laughing and learning together.
Thanks for a great day,
Nick Redman says
Really enjoyed the day Joe . Loved the long throw shots at the end with the cross shadows. Definitely stealing that one 😉 come again soon. 🙂
Richard O says
Thanks for such a great seminar! I learned loads and had a wicked time!!!
Denis B says
Absolutely brilliant day. Was expecting Joe on his own with some local help and equipment but no. The whole crew was there with everything bar the kitchen sink! Professional to the last, packed with information and great fun too. It was great to see the shots evolving from start to finish and fantastic to meet the man himself eventually. Well worth the trip from Ireland.
Thank you for a thoroughly entertaining and informative seminar! It was particularly useful to see that the problems that occur with flash are quite normal, and like you said we just need to be tenacious.
The photographs you took on the day were fantastic. I learned so much.
Cheryl Johnson says
Thank you for reviving my love of making special light 🙂 Pls remind me of the name of the singer from the slideshow
Ingo Meckmann says
It was a great seminar, I can just just recommend it to anyone who hasn’t experienced it yet. Something missing in above post is a picture of Joe in action, so here is one I took of him: http://www.flickr.com/photos/meckimac/4821180873/
Good fun day though I had enjoyed most of the early stuff in an online seminar before at Kelby Training. Always inspriring. Immensely enjoyable.
Fine live work – would love to have seen Anna jumping [with or without those heels] before the end…
Hey Joe. It was wonderful to have a portrait taken by you. Please remind Drew to send me the photos so that I can show my grandchildren one day. Hope to see you again soon in the States next time around. tk
Richard Budd says
Truly an amazing day, learning all about speedlight photography. What to use, when, how and why. The creative elements to the day were 100% – loved the high hands lit from the back of the room at 200 zoom power. Nuff said Joe! Massive thanks for a great day – I trust you guys get home safely and continue to do great things.
What refreshing… enjoyment of it all. After endlessly endless tech talk (which I love) and the pressure for perfection, your approach is equally finessed but fun and lighthearted.
Keep up the vision… for imagery (and life)
Tony Meikle says
Great show Joe! Plenty to think about with lots of inspirational content: Thanks!
Steve Lavelle says
An Amazing experience…
If you are thinking “Should I go to one of these McNally gigs ?” – don’t hesitate, just book yourself on it. Joe’s talent is genuinely awesome to see at close range. He charmed, enthused and inspired that group of photogs, myself included – the energy level in the venue was TRULY phenomenal. Thanks mate !
(BTW He is also a Nice Guy, both polite and witty. In every break, he was patiently signing autographs, talking to the photogs and answering every question thrown at him.)
“The” photo Rock Star of our generation (I’m not on the Kelby/McNally payroll – honest!)
Ross MacLennan says
It was an honour to be there.
Way beyond expectations!
Tim Driver says
I had a great day out Joe and learnt a load – Thanks for putting on such a well run show its nice to have slick presentation at some uk events
Joe, This was the best photography seminar I have ever seen. It was fantastic to see you in action and see how you worked your way through problems in an experienced logical manner. I will take away the methods that you have shown and maybe try the CLS system some more. It was apity it all had to end at 5pm. I could have gone on watching and learning forever.
Thanks to you and your well drilled crew for a great day.
It is really good to see some of the pics you made published here too.
Anyone else thinking of going to one of Joe’s seminars or workshops should stop thinking and just do it!
Have a good trip home.
Gary White says
Although yours was the name on the ticket, we all secretly know that Drew was the unsung star of the show.
I found your seminar really interesting for two reasons:
1. I have a newfound appreciation of the gridded snoot.
2. I can give up looking for a way of getting my on camera SB-900 to work autofocus assist when acting as a commander. I really need an assistant with a video light.
Eric Muetterties says
Great stuff! I love the Sacramento, CA seminar. Can wait till the next one in the Bay Area. I am working on implementing what I have learned already from the seminar and Kelby vids.
Alan West says
Thanks Joe, had a blast on Friday. Learned a lot and met some cool people. Thoroughly enjoyed your method of tuition and sense of humour. Well done to all the team. Alan
Joe, thanks for posting so many images from the day, it really helps to have a closer look at them. I’ve already commented on this in another post, but I want to echo what Greg said above. The shot with the guy in the audience was the most valuable part of the day for me too. That kind of thing is my daily battle and it was excellent to see you work through the problems. Please come back next year and get that beauty dish up on the stage before the time runs out. Either that or we will lock the doors and refuse to let you leave until midnight! Thanks again for a terrific day.
Geoff Penn says
Thanks for coming to London Joe; it was fascinating to watch that tenacious, dog-with-a-bone, ballsy approach to nailing the shot.
I learned so much not only about technique, but about attitude too.
Come back soon!
Bruce Cleghorn says
Hey Jo : What a top day. I knew I was coming along to learn a heck of a lot about working with flash, but I didn’t expect to have such a laugh whilst we did it. I was sure if it was Jow McNally or Billy Connoly up on stage at time. Looking forwards to putting everything into practice at my next studio shoot. Looking forwards to next year !!! ???
Dario Dusio says
Thanks to you and your crew for the wonderful seminar. What you teach is invaluable and seeing in first person how you approach a shooting session is a lot better than readin in the books 🙂
Ian Mylam says
Joe, thank you so much for a fantastic day. It was inspirational, educational, and a whole lot of fun. Watching you work through the occasional TTL glitches and lighting problems to produce a great image was a revelation – ‘the light came on’ for me in a big way. In addition to being an amazing photographer you are brilliant teacher and presenter. Look forward to seeing you again whenever you are in the UK.
Doe Flashpoint have a website?
Does Flashpoint have a website?
Louis Pang says
Love affair with photography. ABSOLUTELY! I know what you mean…just finished teaching the last two days and banged out some shots I had never attempted before. This is such a cool adventure!
Richard Hales says
Thanks for a great presentation, it was all very informative even when everything was going to hell-in-a-handcart! I assume the guy who asked about group shots won’t be ob your Christmas card list?
Only problem with the show was that i now really want an extra 10 SB900s and a 200mm f2, think the wife might divorce me if I succumb to the gear-lust.
I hope Drew & Adam had some time off to experience more of London than the interior of that dreary room, they certainly deserved it after all their hard work.
Joe McNally says
oh they did;-) Trust me, they saw quite a bit more than the inside of a hotel room….
Hi Joe, thanks for a great seminar. Learnt so much throughout the day and loved your sense of humour. Perhaps the most important learning though was that you just have to keep on going to get the shot you want. This was a fabulous event, hope you come back to London sometime soon.
Coventry Bob says
Joe the master arrived and with his great New York wit from the get go had us all mesmorised. He delivers with a passion which is not drowned out by f stops, shutter speeds and other techno babble – be tenacious was his message and he amply demonstrated that with his afternoon session. I have often stumped up my hard earned cash for events in the UK but this was excellent value which far exceeded anything I have attended before. This event was high powered with techies Drew and Andrew working their socks off to keep Joe on schedule – a great way to spend a day in London. Come on Scott (Kelby) let’s have more bookings for Joe and some of your other stars for 2011.
Thanks Joe you have given me lots to think about – I’m dusting down my speedlights as I type this…
Howard Pitkow says
Joe thanks for this set of photos and set up details. I continue to learn and improve by reading your lighting set up information. I keep trying and maybe it’s viewing it on my iPad but I just can’t see the difference with the male model (Mr.professional) and Drews hand held flash to light his eyes. Can you point out the difference even though it’s subtle? Thank you!
Ian Pack says
Hi Joe, thanks for a great day. Your enthusiasm and professionalism are infectious. It was good to see the process of creating a shot, warts and all. You have proved to many that creating images with flash can be a rocky road but well worth the journey.
Good luck and I can’t wait for your next UK gig.
Thanks for a very entertaining and informative day. Although a Canon shooter, I found it not too difficult to translate. The time flew by.
Paul Everest says
London, Friday 23rd July 2010. I learned that I need more equipment, a couple of intuitive and talented lads to move it around, a couple of great models to work with, a great tutor and lots more time and patience. I loved every second of it.
Javier montero says
Thnks for these so nice pictures And information of them. They are so interesting!!!
Matt Timmons says
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-
wow – amazing shots and story again!
Jesse Kay says
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
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!
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
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
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
Many thanks for a super day …LOL …and my professorial portraits
Mark Nolan says
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!
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
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!
love it Joe…
Casey Gutteridge says
Really enjoyed the workshop – still think Joe has a special lighting camera which can not be given out to others!!
Below is my capture.
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
Some photos from the audience at the event
Steve Meddle says
Fantastic day…come again soon.
Tesh Parekh says
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
@ Maciek above. The answer is almost certainly to reduce the strain on the SB900s.
Addey Kehinde says
Thoroughly enjoyed the workshop at Islington. When’s your next visit??
Desmond Louw says
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 🙂
So so coll Joe!
Thanks for sharing.
Props from Mozambique