Diary of a Network Geek

The trials and tribulations of a Certified Novell Engineer who's been stranded in Houston, Texas.


Brief Joe McNally Seminar Update

Filed under: Art,Fun,Life Goals,Life, the Universe, and Everything,News and Current Events,Personal — Posted by the Network Geek during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening or 10:40 pm for you boring, normal people.
The moon is Waning Crescent

So, I may have mentioned once or twice that I was going to take a photography seminar this past weekend.

To say that two days with Joe McNally, 25+ year veteran of Life, National Geographic, Time and others, learning about flash and portrature was fantastic is an understatement.  I don’t quite know what I was expecting, but I figured that it was mostly going to be over my head.  Still, at a mere $150 for two days worth of access to a brilliant photographer like Joe McNally, anything I might possibly pick up would be worth the money.  I’m so, so glad I took that attitude and just went in with as open a mind as possible, ready to soak up whatever I could.  I learned so much in those two days that I think my brain is going to melt and ooze out my ears.

First of all, I was completely expecting to roll out of that class with a wish list that was filled with all kinds of expensive “big” studio flash and portable power packs.  I was anticipating a list of equipment that ran into the thousands of dollars.  Instead, I was shown what tiny, hot-shoe flashes can do.  I listened to a pro talk at great length about how much we can get out of shaping the light that comes out of many different light sources, but especially how to use these little “pocket” flashes to get big effects.  It was, to say the least, an eye-opener.  It completely changed how I think about light and flash and portraiture.

Secondly, I’ve learned to use my camera in a totally different way.
I now sight with my left eye and use a different stance, which I now think of as the Joe McNally Hold, or the McNally Stance.  It lets me stabilize the camera better, keeping it tight in against my left shoulder and use what turns out to be my strong eye.  For years I’ve known that my left eye was stronger due to my slightly varied perscription, but I’d always forced myself to use my right eye, which I’d thought of as my dominant eye.
I also had gotten used to shooting in full manual mode, but now I’m changing to Aperture Priority mode as my “default”.  Why?  Beacause, as Joe said, using a camera in full manual mode, is “… like driving a Ferrari to church.”  That digital camera is a very sophisticated bit of electronics and not taking advantage of all that built-in smarts is, well, just a waste.  So, now, I’m trying to take full advantage of those smarts for a change.  My learning curve oof photography just got knocked down a peg or two, but I’m okay with that.  I’m hoping that it will result in some better pictures, eventually.

And, finally, based on what I saw this past weekend, the secret to great photography, somehow, is gaffer’s tape.  Man, they used that stuff for everything!

Incidentally, you can see some of the photos I took at the seminar on my Flickr page; Joe McNally Seminar.

If I get time, I may write some more about what I learned at this fantastic seminar.  It’s a little overwelming at times to consider all the “stuff” he poured into our heads.
Again, it was fantastic!

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