Light is Everything!

Posts tagged “Joe McNally

DIY Light Scrim Upgrade


I thought long and hard about getting a bigger lighting scrim. They are a super versatile tool from the strobist to the natural light shooter. They can block light, diffuse light, reflect light. In short, they rock the set. They are also ridiculously expensive to purchase commercially. I was searching for a DIY version and found Kevin Kubota’s to be about the best one out there. You can watch the informative YouTube vid here.


But I made some upgrades in the design. First of all, I found it was a lot cheaper to purchase the grey conduit rather than PVC for the main frame parts. They are the exact same size so you can still use all the same PVC fittings but the conduit is less money. Wee! ๐Ÿ˜Ž Plus, it looks less distracting than white. And secondly, I found that the design for attaching the ripstop nylon to the frame was a bit lacking. If you only used it inside, it would be fine. But I do loads of outdoor work. So I needed a solution that would hold up to a Saskatchewan wind gust. I thought about it and concluded that the best way was to make basically a “fitted sheet.” I got some of the super awesome seamstress church ladies to sew me a 1 inch seam all the way around the outside edge of the material. Then I simply cut the corners off and fished the nylon elastic cord through it, tying it off to make it fit snuggly on the frame. It works like a charm! It goes together super quick and stays there, even in the wind.

You still have to be careful with it because it is basically a giant kite. But it works flawlessly and only costs a fraction of what the commercially available ones do. This is probably the only DIY thing I’ve ever made that I will continue to use on a long term basis because it’s a super slick design and it works fantastic! ๐Ÿ˜€

Check out these vids of Joe McNally using the same kind of product. The results are truly awesome!



My Take on The Nikon Df Camera


I don’t usually post stuff like this. However, I feel compelled to. ๐Ÿ˜Ž ย Call me a hipster, a wanna be retro mofo. I don’t care. I like nostalgia. I like buttons and tactile dials. I like the link to the past. The inter web has become a flurry of controversy over Nikon’s latest offering. The Df. The name is kind of goofy. DF: Doesn’t Focus, Darn Fugly, etc. But it’s an intentional throw back to the film cameras of legend. It’s a “Digital Fusion” camera. ย It means it incorporates the feel and look of the old with new technology. I instantly liked it. I like the look and style. I like the fact that you get a D4 sensor for less than 3 grand. I like what this camera is designed for. But that is the key. One must understand it as such. If you go into this camera comparing it other DSLRs designed for different purposes then you will be disappointed and drinking a big ol’ glass of hater-aid. ย Like this article from stoppers.ย ย The biggest complaint I see from the blog critics is that it doesn’t shoot video. So flippin’ what?! It’s not designed for DSLR video. If you wanna shoot video, get a 610 or an 800. Honestly. “It doesn’t shoot video.” Every six year old kid has an iPhone that shoots great video. Use that for crying out loud. Not every camera needs to shoot video. It’s a still camera made for still photography. I have a D800 and I’ve never used it for video. If this camera had come out before the D800, I’d have bought it instead.

To me this Df camera is a beautiful mix of form and function. It’s a perfect prime lens camera and an awesome travel camera. And, it can use all the old school Nikon glass sitting in your dresser collecting dust. That’s cool. ย I could see using this camera with a 24mm, 50mm, 85mm and 105mm. I could see using this camera as a wedding machine. The low light capability is fantastic. Strap a 24 on it and you’ve got a your ultralight wide angle madness. Use a 70-200 on another body and you’re golden as an event photographer. I’m digging this camera. The only thing stopping me from picking it up is the yet to be released XPro-2. Fuji is the bomb and they’ve been rocking the retro now for quite some time. ย We’ll see.

Is Nikon just trying to liquidate their D4 sensor stock because an update is coming? Probably. But I think they are really after the heart of still photography with this camera. I’m a firm believer that the camera you use makes you shoot photos differently. I’ve experienced that first hand with my Fuji X100s. It made me into more of a range finder type photographer. I get closer to things than I normally would. I’m thinking that Nikon is onto something special with this camera and I predict that those who buy it for the right reasons will love it a lot. Plus, Joe McNally likes it. What more do you need. Get the credit card out. ๐Ÿ™‚


D.I.Y. TriFlash

OK, this one is for the photo geeks out there who are 1) cheap and 2) handy. Like everything in Photography, gear is expensive. Even things that shouldn’t be all too often break the bank. You should spend money on lenses and cameras and save cash on other stuff. Case in point: a triflash bracket. To buy one retail will set you back between $73 to $169. That’s crazy!! You could do that. OR you could spend less than $30 and make one yourself that is on par with the $119 dollar Joe McNally version. It’s a no brainer to me. ๐Ÿ˜€ Check out the vid.


Here are some sample shots I took using the bracket. They’re in the YouTube vid but I provide them here also to check out the awesome power and options available to you when you gang up your hotshoe flashes. You can overpower the sun or do a nice ambient/flash mix all without taxing the living heck out of one flash unit. Sweet! ๐Ÿ˜Ž

Merry Christmas to me!

I was spoiled rotten for Christmas this year โ€“ and I love it! ๐Ÿ˜Ž I got an MB-D10 battery grip for my D300s. I’m totally stoked! First of all, it lets you bring an extra battery with you as part of the camera, meaning you’ll never run out of power ever. Not in a zillion years. Second, it gives the camera a beefier grip, making it look like a full frame camera. Making me look . . . professional even! ๐Ÿ˜‰ People will look at my suped up D300s and think, “Wow! He’s a professional! Just look at that big beefy camera!” Even pros will see it and think, “Oooh! He’s got a D4!” ย Can’t beat that. Ergonomically, it makes the camera way more fun to use. It allows me to take portrait orientated photos without having to contort my upper body like Harry Houdini clambering out of a 2×2 box. And in landscape mode, it’s far easier to handle and makes it easier to execute Joe McNally’s “da grip” technique. Pure awesome for low light, slow shutter speeds!


da grip

Portrait Orientation

The other way cool thing is that it comes with an additional carriage for 8 AA batteries. Pumping them in gives you slightly more frames per second, and versatility. Like, if you’re in pheasant rump Saskatchewan and you realized you forgot to charge your camera batteries, you can run your camera off the double AAs you keep in your glove box! Sweet sassy. Make sure you keep Ni-Mh batteries on hand vs. normal alkalines though. They might get hot & nasty.

It’s a tremendous little device, but it’s also a colossal ripoff. Cheap plastic and it doesn’t even come with a spare battery! It’ll run around $350 Canadian bones. Hundred bucks cheaper in the US . . . but you can’t get them. Massive shortages in Japan and they are back ordered. Turns out there was some kind of electrical device law changes in Japan and these don’t fit the bill. They’ll make a 2cent change and up the price another $45 I’m sure. But what you gonna do? I asked Santa for one and that fat bastard jolly old elf came through! ๐Ÿ˜Ž All in all, it’s amazing and makes me 17% happier as a photographer!

Separation Anxiety

Photo Fun ~ Day 6

Challenge of the Day: Books.

Joe McNally is my Hero

I love Joe McNally. He rocks the set. His knowledge and experience when it comes to lighting are some of the best in the business. I just got his book The Hot Shoe Diaries from the Library but I will be buying it in the future. It is incredible! ๐Ÿ˜€ For anyone wanting to learn more about small flashes and flash photography, this is the book for you – even better if you shoot Nikon like Joe and all the really good photographers do ย (but Canonites can learn from the principles) ๐Ÿ˜‰ The book takes you through various photos that Joe has made using creative lighting. He talks about all the tips and tricks used to get the shot which is really helpful for people just beginning. After reading the first half of the book, I decided I would to and try out some of his principles when it comes to off camera flash. I include here the sample image and a diagram of how I setup the shot.

Flash triggered by SU-800

Photo Geek Info: ISO 100, f/4.0, 1/4000, 16mm, Exposure Compensation -1 ev, Flash Output +3ev, i-TTL Mode with Auto FP enabled. Phew!

Book Review: The Moment it Clicks

Good day! I did another book review and posted the video to my blog’s YouTube channel. Why not subscribe? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Anyways, I decided to review Joe McNally’s Book “The Moment it Clicks.” It’s an awesome book that brings technical lighting, awesome photography, wise insights and a whole lot of easy to read fun together in one place. Definitely one of the best photography books I have read to date. Check out the full video review.

Kelby Training

There is all kinds of information on the internet about photography. There are countless blogs, endless articles and an eternity of tutorials available. For the most part it’s a huge blessing! Free knowledge is a marvellous enterprise. However, there is a lot of crap out there too, and even more jibba jabba. ๐Ÿ˜‰

One excellent resource I have found is Scott Kelby’s online training for Photographers, Graphic Designers, Illustrators, Multimedia Artists and Hobbyists. It simply rocks the set! There are high quality videos from leading photographers on nearly all aspects of photography. And not just technical f/stop this, light meter that stuff. There are really great videos that speak towards creativity and finding your own photo style in addition to more technical items like the finer points of lighting, etc.ย 

Some of the best courses are simply photo walks with different renowned photographers. The Day with Jay Maisel comes to mind. He and Scott Kelby walk around the streets of New York taking pictures. It’s pure awesome, almost like being able to learn along with him in the same room. Other videos I have found helpful have been with Cliff Mautner a photo journalist turned wedding photographer. He has a wealth of experience and insight when it comes to “what makes the shot.” I’ve watched his videos time and time again. Joe McNally’s lighting stuff too. Also, Jim Schmelzer has some awesome videos on lighting for high school kid portraits. They are all excellent resources that I can’t recommend enough. Watching these dudes is like being in a room with giants! ๐Ÿ˜‰ Very inspiring stuff! It truly is “education for creatives!”