Darkness in an Urban Environment: Managing Light on the Streets


Lesson Info

Wrap Up

Wrapping Up Night time in the city has really fallen. We started in the early part of the day, went right through dusk, tried a couple a different locations, we tried a couple a different approaches, some worked better than others, some, you know, kind of didn't work at all. I mean, it's the course of a day's shoot. There are going to be things that are better than others. We had, you know, New York City as it evolved into it's night scape. And, I followed those lights. Important things to remember: background, selection of background, control of the background via both F-stop, which relates to your depth of field, and also exposure, how bright, how subtle you want it to be. Control of light in the foreground. Using an appropriate light source, small to large, You noticed with the couple's portrait that we did, we used quite a sizeable light source. For the individual portraits, not so much. So, tailoring your light to the individual situation, no matter what the conditions, is always ...

part of the photographer's necessary task. But, night time compounds the difficulty. Camera stability's important. Lens work is important. How you use different focus modes. I did a couple of different things tonight with focus modes, dropping on the eye, playing with my F-stops to make sure I covered depth of field for two people. A whole variety of things. I isolated exposure, there's a check off in the camera menus that isolates the exposure for the flash, and the exposure for the whole scene. So you operate with two different, independent wheels of exposure adjustment. All that stuff is important to remember. As I always say, it's kinda gotta be like a computer program running in the background of your head, where you're paying attention to your models, you're paying attention to the immediacy of the photograph. But in the background you're thinking all this stuff. More flash, less flash, how's the background, what's the density, what's my shutter speed, can I hold this, all that stuff has to filter through your head, really rapidly. And the result is we got some nice pictures over the course of our evening's adventure as New York descended into its wonderfully convivial darkness and city lights and Broadway and the life of the city, coming out onto the street in the evening in New York. So we just dipped our toe into this, you know, kind of ongoing adventure of night time photography in New York City, for sure. If you felt like this was an interesting class, I go even further into lighting in a Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography class that's also up at CreativeLive. So this is a 90-minute class, short kinda burst of information. The other class is three days. So if you want to tag 'em together, or are you interested in taking this further, check it out.

Class Description

In this exclusive class, join legend Joe McNally, on the streets of New York to see how to bring light to one of the busiest and most dynamic backgrounds. He'll walk through how to prep your gear, scout for locations, direct your models, and incorporate flash to make your subject stand out on the city streets. He'll discuss how to set your exposure and plan your shot to achieve the "bokeh" look of the city glow behind your model. Learn tips for planning your shoot so you're within the city regulations as well as techniques to help work through any troubles you may have while on location. Gain the confidence and know-how to photograph your subjects with flash in what can seem like an impossible environment.


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!

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.


Excellent course and teacher of mastering the shoot in a difficult environment. Mr. McNally shows how to work with the models in NYC in late afternoon and into the night. He works closely with his team to assure that they capture excellent images using the right equipment. I highly recommend this class to anyone that what's more out of photography.