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Camera and Lighting Gear on Location

Lesson 2 from: Darkness in an Urban Environment: Managing Light on the Streets

Joe McNally

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Lesson Info

2. Camera and Lighting Gear on Location

Lesson Info

Camera and Lighting Gear on Location

For a night like tonight, out in New York City, important, you probably don't wanna bring the whole kitchen sink, right? You wanna stay light, fast, mobile. This is run and gun photography. We are working on the streets of New York, we cannot put sticks down, so it doesn't, it means we can't like camp out, we can't put a tripod down, can't put light stands up. We have to stay mobile, hence it relates directly to what I said earlier, you need help. And, Mike Cali, known as Cali, is gonna be with me on the streets of New York. He's gonna be the shepard of the gear. He's gonna be kinda talkin' to me about like, stuff that he's thinkin' about, like what's happening in the background. Things I might not be seeing 'cause I'm vectored into the lens, I'm relating to the talent. So he's lookin' around and often times he'll say to me, like, "What about that?". Or, you know, maybe we should move down the block or something like that or all those kinds of things. And Cali's got a really good eye, ...

so we're really blessed to have him at the studio. And uh- Hey, thanks Joe. (mimics New York accent) Hey, yeah, welcome to New York, what ya gonna do? Yeah, I appreciate it, hey what ya gonna do about it. Hey, we'll talk like this for the rest of the night. Let's talk like this. Anyway, so, here our principal camera tonight, the one that we're gonna use is a Nikon D5. And we're gonna be using pretty fast glass. And the reason being, we wanna manage our depth of field. 'Cause backgrounds can get very cluttered, very bright. Also, logos are a big issue now in this highly trademarked society of ours. You don't want somebody coming after you for a picture that you shot like "Well my logo's in the background there". Also remember, graphically speaking, if you're looking at Times Square, tons of logos. Type can hijack your frame, right? You wanna look at the human being, whose the star of the show, whose close to lens. And if you have, you know, I don't know, Walgreens coming out of their head, that could hijack the whole photograph, and the person who's viewing the photograph eye goes there because it's gonna be neon, it's gonna be brightly lit, it's gonna have a design element, all that sort of stuff. I'm talkin' really fast, but that's okay, we're in New York. Yeah, you're in New York, yeah. Alright so, gear. Let's pull some out. We'll be on rollers tonight. These are Think Tank rollers, we take em on the airplane. And we take em on the streets. Believe it or not, this is the way we pack. We don't use the dividers, we use these velcro wraps, and we kinda nestle everything together. We're gonna use D5. We have a back-up D5, right? 'Cause if that D5 breaks, which would take a lot to break a D5, but I'm capable of it, trust me, you have to have a back-up camera. 'Cause if you have one camera and it breaks, you're no longer a photographer. Pretty simple. What else? Back up batteries? Yeah, back up batteries we keep in here, back up cards, we have our transmitters for our flashes that we keep in here. So, it's a mixture. It's a WR-R10 a WR-A10. And the WR-A10 part of it fits right into your 10 pin on your camera. And this is how we control all of our flashes. That little thing there, that's the keys to the kingdom. It's this transceiver, that is your link to your flashes. Very important. One of the things that we kinda graduated on technology wise, obviously we're in the realm of radio TTL photography. Radio TTL flash. Controlling TTL exposure, dictating to the flashes via radio waves, instead of optical pulses. Which is where we were in previous technology. Which is still completely valid. But, on the streets of New York, at night, with cars coming by, and sirens, and fire engines, optical pulses can get confused. Radio is more reliable. Lot of long lens stuff tonight? Yeah, we have a long lens for us, is a 70-200. If I was gonna go out in New York, tonight, with one lens, and one lens only, it would be this guy. The 70-200 F 2.8. Super sharp. Fast, for it's length, to be sure. And to me, this city is an environment that I want to stack up. It's got lots of Urban kinda graphics. Windows and rectilinear buildings. And I'm also doing portraitures, so I wanna get into my subject. And also, I wanna throw the background out of focus. Easier to do with a long lens. So if I had to just say "The heck with everything else, I'm gonna go out there with one lens", 70-200 would be the way to go, for me. And we also have with us, a couple of fast primes. Some wide primes, like a 24 F2, I believe we might have the 35 um- 375 Actually, it's 24 1.4. Sorry, misspoke. 24 1.4, super fast lens. 28 we have right here. We got a 28 1.4 as well. So, that's crucial, that wide open F-stop. Even with a wide look at things, will throw your background out of focus. Pretty helpful. Alright, that's the camera gear, okay? One case, camera gear. Alright, so let's close that up and we'll switch off. Now in this "lighting case", we do have one last piece of glass. And it's a monster, have to admit it. It's a 200 millimeter F2. Probably the sharpest telephoto I've ever used. Love this lens. It's pretty exotic, you know, 'cause that extra F-stop getting to F is worth a few thousand bucks. It's an expensive lens. But, on the streets of New York, if you're gonna really go in on somebody, and throw that background into this just visual cacophony of all this out of focus stuff. You know, this lens is an amazing tool. So, that's in the lighting case. Don't know if we'll get to it tonight, but it's always nice to have it. Alright, lighting. Get right into it. So, tonight with our flashes, we're gonna be using the SB 5000s. Once again, to reiterate, we're gonna be using radio. So those transceivers you saw us pull out earlier, will talk to these guys and work seamlessly. Yeah, no, It's actually- It's the best kinda flash system I think I've ever used. I'm thrilled with the way the radio TTL system is working now. Gives me a really good handle. And, you know, we might be down near Times Square, some really hectic place. And you're worried about everything right? You're worried about your talent, you're worried about security, you're worried about lookin' around like this. The last thing you want to worry about: "Is my gear dependable?" Ya know, are the flashes working? Ya know, that is just gonna kill your head. So, I feel good about the system we're goin' out with. It's all gonna be speed lights, again, conforming to the theme of the night really. Which is run and gun, move fast, travel light. And try to get some nice looking pictures in an off the cuff informal way. One very crucial thing, that will be deployed tonight, are gels for the flashes. Got two cases of em. One is a color correction case. The other is our theatrical gels. Ya know, neon in New York comes in all sorts of colors, so we're pretty prepared for that. To match it, or run counter to it, or warm a scene up, or maybe even correct. Because, you know, the really zoomy aspects of neon and LEDs in New York can just, you know, drive a camera white balance crazy. That's gonna be something we're gonna have to manage tonight. I probably will start with an auto white balance, but I'm gonna move around a great deal and go into fixed white balances and experiment. The key, I think, for lights that you apply, that you bring, into an urban lit environment is experimentation. Flexibility. Now, what's the light gonna go on? Can't go on a stand. We are not permitted for a stand, so we're gonna work with a boom pole, right? We call it a Justin clamp, it's a Manfrotto 175F. Little cold shoe. We throw tape on it because we're gonna be moving pretty fast and this joint up here will get stressed so we kinda tape it up, make sure we're good to go, and it's a really handy clamp. This gives us a lot of reach. Goes, ya know, here and there, probably 10-12 feet. If your model's on the street, and say, you want them to move backwards, forwards, you want them to turn this way, that way, we can pivot the light really quickly. We don't have to take the time to take the tripod up and off the street. Or a C-stand, good Lord, ya know, pulling that around. You don't want anybody tripping on your lights. So you wanna just stay within yourself, 'cause the last thing you need is some sort of complaint or issue on the streets of New York. So we got light shapers. Alright. Start pretty basic, I can show you this guy. Tried and true, use them all the time. It's called a Triflip Kit, ya know. This type of thing. If I take this reflective materiel off, which I can now use it in bounce mode or things like that, it also underneath has a diffuser type of thing, So I can fire a light through it. Again, you saw, you know, it comes in a pretty small case. It wraps itself up really well. Handy location tool. Alright, let's show this guy here. This is Speed-Lite 2 Box. This is a great little speedlight light shaper. Ya know, soft box, very stuffable. Got an interior diffuser. The really cool thing, is that it's got on the- For it's front piece, right? As you can imagine, it's got the diffuser in here, it's got a diffuser that'll go over the front, like this. But, like it's bigger brothers, ya know, this is a very junior junior soft box. But like it's bigger brothers, it's also got the additional, kinda wonderful thing, of an additional measure of control, which is a fabric egg crate. So that really controls the flow of the light. So if you wanna isolate, say you wanna do, ya know, tough guy lights, you know, you have some character on the streets of New York, and you wanna isolate him or her, ya know, with your light, and don't want it spilling all over the place, the fabric grid is very very handy. So that's a very complete and small light shaper that you can stuff in your bag. Alright, and then lastly our EzyBox here. This is basically a bigger version of that. (velcro ripping) Pretty straightforward. Ya know, softens the light in here, softens it again here. This also has a fabric grid, so you can control the flow of light. It's easy to manipulate on the top of that boom pole. And, ya know, we should be good to go. With this rig, we should be able to: A- light an effective portrait. 'cause you don't wanna short change yourself, you don't wanna take so little gear that you feel compromised. But also, will be able to be mobile and fluid in our response, because things could change very rapidly. And who knows, somebody might come along and say "No, you can't be here, ya gotta move", alright, boom boom boom, and we're gone.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Gear List

Ratings and Reviews

Janis Shetley

This behind the scenes class is great for those that already have a solid understanding of how to use their flash off camera. I really learned a lot watching Joe work with the models, seeing where he put the flashes, where he stood, how he framed the shots, how he had the models move - especially in the "movement" segment. The three light segment was also interesting - I would have never tried putting the reflector on the pavement with a flash firing into it - so cool. If you need detailed instructions on using your flash and camera - this is not the class for you. If you want ideas on how to get the most out of your flashes on the street - this is it. Great class. Plus Joe is just a great teacher and fun to listen to for 90 minutes!

Benjamin Lehman

One of Joe's most magnificent qualities is his ability to be *real* while teaching a class: Is everything going haywire, or are there troublesome problems that are challenging to overcome? Joe doesn't shy away letting you, the student, realize that even the pros have to deal with constant, unexpected problems. His other strength is showing you how to persevere and overcome those hurdles; and one of those biggest hurdles all photographers run up against time and time again - Light! Joe will go down in modern history as the father of small (and large) flash photography. He's not afraid to use the entire US output of flash watt seconds on a single photo, but he's also quick to remind us that flash is a tool, and not a crutch. This was a great course for those photographers who want some experience out on the street before ever leaving their house. As you grow and learn more about your camera and what it means to be a photographer, you can always come back to a class like this and learn new things that may have seemed alien to you the first go-around.

fbuser 4d17acbc

I like the class. It is a good primer for getting an idea of some of the things that you need to think about when you are doing a night shoot. This is a quicky class Joe just touches on a bunch of stuff so you don't get a lot meat and potatoes on this class, but I found it helpful. Worth the cost.

Student Work