Saturday, July 11, 2009

A lesson in lighting from Joe McNally

Pretty much anyone who takes photography seriously knows who Joe McNally is. He is an amazing photojournalist and portrait photographer. he does a lot of stuff for NatGeo. I was introduced to his work through my boss/buddy Brian and my portraits haven't been the same since.

For those unfamiliar with Joe's work he is the master of using small hot shoe flashes to create elaborate portraits. He does everything from simple one flash and a reflector photos to massive 12, 13, even 20 flash portraits. He goes all out.

Today I went out to my favorite place in the world(yes, more favorite than Disneyland even) to make a portrait of my cousin. A few years ago I took a snapshot of him smoking what would be one of his very last pipes and I got quite a few people offering to buy it. So I thought he'd be the perfect subject for a portrait in my favorite place.

I really just wanted to recreate one of Joe's shots that he took of a fisherman in a workshop. Instead of a workshop I have an old barn full of old, dirty things. And instead of a fisherman I have a retired carpenter. This wasn't a planned shoot. I just showed up. So my cousin is just wearing what he had on. He normally wears overalls, which is what I was hoping for, but no luck today. Oh well.

And instead of a long-winded description of the shoot, I just drew it out(another thing Mr. McNally does).

The sketch still leaves some room for explanation though. I took the shot at about 2 pm so the whole barn was in shadow. I had to light the whole thing. I forgot to put in the sketch that I stopped the camera down by a stop and a half from aperture priority. The auto exposure was adjusting for the dark background and over exposing the whole scene. The Sb-600 with the gold reflector was to light the junk in the back. I used the window to diffuse the the fill/Sb-900(gel'd with a CTO for the warm glow).

I think the shot turned out pretty well. Exactly what I was hoping for actually. I just wish the clothes were a little more fitting to the environment.