Joe Mcnally

Some­times a splash of light is enough…

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Some­times the an­swer is a lot of light. Some­times all you need is a splash. It’s a splash, dash, mod­icum, a touch, a pop – call it what you will. But it is also tiny but pow­er­ful – it speaks vol­umes, in a small voice.

Speed­lights are per­fect to ex­e­cute a splash of il­lu­mi­na­tion. They are de facto small, and gov­erned to af­fect a small area. You can fire them via ra­dio, TTL light pulse, or old-fash­ioned man­ual slave mode. What this lit­tle ex­tra piece of light does is en­hance the con­ver­sa­tion your pic­ture is hav­ing with your viewer, or even bet­ter, di­rects the con­ver­sa­tion. In a sub­tle way, this ac­cent of light is say­ing, “look here, this is what’s most im­por­tant right now.”

Like the cross in the main image; the amaz­ing Pas­tor Grier is lit in straight­for­ward fash­ion, via a grid­ded Ezy­box up and slightly to the right of the cam­era. But the brass cross is the heart and soul of the pic­ture; I put a Speed­light ac­cent on it, with a warm gel, and all it does is draw at­ten­tion. Gen­er­ally you need to play with these ac­cents in terms of power. I of­ten find some­thing around a +1 EV rat­ing will do the trick, with­out blow­ing up the area in ques­tion, ex­po­sure-wise. That ended up be­ing very sim­i­lar to the cross in the in­set fire­fighter image. A Speed­light, with a small snooted grid, and a bit of warmth. Mike lost his cousin on 9/11; that cross is made of World Trade Cen­ter steel, and is the emo­tional cen­tre of the photo, so it felt nat­u­ral to ac­cent it in the pho­to­graph with light­ing. A snooted, grid­ded Speed­light gave the cross a tiny bit of ad­di­tional at­ten­tion-get­ting high­light.

Then, of course, you can use enough splashes of light to fill the whole il­lu­mi­na­tion pool! There’re a lot of Speed­lights in the car work­shop image – about a dozen, if I re­call cor­rectly. All lights, in­clud­ing the main soft­box, a Las­to­lite Ezy­box Hot­shoe soft­box, are grid­ded to con­trol their spill.

Grids, gaffer tape, and gels were the watch­word of the day in this rather old garage. And of course we had to get our won­der­ful char­ac­ter up front, Evan Kamin­sky, who looks right at home with an oxy­acety­lene torch in his more-than-ca­pa­ble hands.

The brass cross is the heart and soul of the pic­ture; I put a Speed­light ac­cent on it, with a warm gel, and all it does is draw at­ten­tion

11The amaz­ing Pas­tor Grier is lit in straight­for­ward fash­ion, via a grid­ded Ezy­box up and slightly right of cam­era 2 About a dozen Speed­lights were used to pull this com­po­si­tion to­gether in a garage in San Fran­cisco 3Mike lost his cousin on 9/11. The cross is made of WTC steel, and is the emo­tional fo­cal point of the photo

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