Bring The Light….McNally Style

A few months ago, when I heard Joe McNally was again holding his lighting workshops again up in his old studio in Dobbs Ferry, New York, I was really hoping I could attend one. Wasn’t sure if it would happen, but I recently had the great experience to attend one of the day-long workshops.

And…what a day it was.

Alarm went off early and by 6:30 a.m. I was out the door and headed for the NJ Turnpike. By 7:30 I was at the GW Bridge and 10 minutes later I was on the Major Deegan. Pretty soon, I was crawling through downtown Dobbs Ferry looking for coffee.

From there the day took off. The workshop was held in Joe’s old studio which is housed this great old hulking building next to train tracks and the banks of the Hudson. Old brick, peeling paint, rust. It was perfect. After gathering my gear, I went inside and knew immediately it was going to be a fun day. I hadn’t seen Joe since last fall when he did a workshop at Adorama in NYC, so it was nice to say hello in person to him, as well as to Lynn DelMastro, Joe’s studio manager, whom I’ve known for a while, Drew Gurain, Joe’s top-notch assistant (and photographer in his own right) and others on the workshop team.

As Joe and I caught up, he called over someone to introduce me to too, none other than the fantastic Syl Arena, he of the killer PixSylated blog (if you don’t read it, start to. Now.)..and, well, hair. It was great to have Syl there since he knows all things Canon flash.

Then the whirlwind starts. Joe went over some of his photos and then BANG! it’s hands on. Lighting equipment (big and small) are ready to go, and models step in.

McNally Model

Joe starts off, describing what he’s doing, why he’s doing it. Hey, it’s a real class. The first images out of his Nikon don’t always work to what he wants. *shrugs* Doesn’t that happen to you? Figure out the problem and overcome it.

Right from jump street, we get to start working with the talent. They were a great bunch of models from Emmanuel Models in New York so it’s a little intimidating. Each time I’d step up to shoot them, I’d say hello, tried to make them feel comfortable and then got to work. Bead of nervous persperation running down my fce. You only had few minutes with them, better make it good.

As luck would have it, I worked with Jaira more than anyone else. As Joe said, she’s about 6′ 17″….plus heels. Great gal though, sweet smile. Kinda hard to take a bad shot of her.

Jamira blue

The other models and dancers that joined us were stellar as well.



And one of my favorites from the whole day. But shhh….don’t tell Joe. This image is actually natural light. Like I said…hard to NOT take a good picture of Jamira.


Sure, a lot of times we stepped into a set-up that Joe had already orchestrated. We knew what to program into our cameras and the lighting was already set. Still, it was nice to produce some cool images. Taught me that while it takes experience and knowledge, it’s not as intimidating as it all looks. Just takes some thinking…and, of course, doing.

As the day went along, everyone’s nervousness calmed down. I chatted more with Syl, with Mark Astmann from Bogen, and Gary Astill, chief designer at Lastolite. What great people to talk with.

But best of all, I got the chance to meet and speak to fellow classmates. They were all really good shooters -These folks knew where it was at. Not all were pros and everyone had different specialties, but man, they knew their cameras and situations. Breaking into the small groups, it was as much fun to work with, and chat with, them as much as it was to work with the models and the instructors.

All in all, it was a GREAT day (even despite my car battery being dead when I came out of the class). I can’t believe how much I learned about small -and big – flash. If you get the opportunity, enroll in this day class. You’ll enjoy it….and you just might learn something too.

Here’s a short video I put together. I think it really captures the day. Let me know what you think.

© Mark V. Krajnak 2009 | JerseyStyle Photography | All rights Reserved
Unless otherwise noted, images captured with a Canon 20D, SanDisk digital film, finished with PS2 and Nik Software

9 thoughts on “Bring The Light….McNally Style

  1. Pingback: K-Man Rocks at Dobbs Ferry! « Serious Amateur Photography

  2. Yeah Joe may have orchestrated some of the setups but give yourself some credit. We DID take Jaira out on our owna nd set up our own lighting and posing and those images we REALLY rocked.

    and FWIW…I did some natural light shooting with Jaira and Jillian! 😉

    It was great meeting yout here Mark! Good luck with everything!

    and thanks for pointing out that I made Joes blog… nothing like a Canon front and center at a Nikon sponsored workshop! lol

  3. WONDERFUL! How cool was that?
    Mark, the images here are stunning! The first one of Jaria is really perfect.
    I’m glad you were there and the video turned out great.

  4. Mark…Sounds like you had an amazing day at the workshop. I would love to attend one of his workshops and reading your blog makes me want to more. Thanks for sharing and great images you were able to capture as well. Nice video too!

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