Skip to main content

Flash: Large and Small

Lesson 21 from: FAST CLASS: Lighting, Logistics, and Strategies for a Life in Photography

Joe McNally

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

21. Flash: Large and Small

Next Lesson: The Biz: Production

Lesson Info

Flash: Large and Small

light is light. Is it window lighters? A big flash. Okay. They might You know the name Julian Bond. Classic, gentlemen. And one of my heroes, um, photographed him for life. Sadly, he has passed on, um, available light. No eso 1600 with a 28 millimeter. 1.4 inside his office. Outside is a lot of snow. And my assistant at that time, John cas Paedo is struggling with a pro photo Octa fighting his way through the bushes and two foot drifts trying to get a B one on that window because that's the only light source. But im my strategy for magazines. I'm making every minute with my client count, okay? Or my subject, Because that's their That's their charge to me. So I don't care about John very unsympathetic at that boy. You know, get through the snow, get that light in the window, you know? And so I'm photographing Julian Bond. And then there's the light. John calls to me. I put a radio on the camera. Boom. I've got light throughout the room. Soft light, Same kind of window light effect. But ...

it warms and makes the room feel more appealing. And all of that boom move fast. But then, after all of that trouble, you go to the Vietnam Wall and there's beautiful natural light and the flashes stay in the trunk of the car. And that was the picture that ran. All right. Small flash can look like window like to All right. That's little Joe Lassiter, the legendary drummer at Private Preservation Hall. I woke up one night literally in the middle of the night. I was in the middle of a job on I was thinking about locations and what I could do. And I just said to Len, Get me into Preservation Hall. Uh, Lin got us into Preservation Hall, which was wonderful. And he's a wonderful subject, right? But there's two Windows and Preservation Hall right here. There's his drum set, one window. Has anybody here ever been to presidential? Um, another window here. My lights were out on the street. There's bedsheets over the windows, right? Making it look like soft daylight in here. My cameras here. I'm linked to him. This is line of sight. I'm linked to my flash right here. This might trigger flash firing. This way goes through those silks picks up those lights out there and I'm speaking to him. T t l also along the way. It sprays this way and picks up to other lights that have full cuts of CTO on them. And the full cuts of CTO are just informing this back in here, just lifting it a little bit. So the rest of Preservation Hall doesn't go dark, and that was the set up there. And we were very efficient about it because there was a time factor with Preservation Hall. But true enough, when you get into the realm of Big Flash, there's nothing like it's a wonderful, simple thing to do. A big pop of life. Five foot doctor camera left, done deal. Put her there. One light. You can see how she's kind of split lit, you know, just, you know, there's there's editorial lighting, and then there's other kinds of lighting. Principally maybe, or or one of them being corporate lighting. Do you think if she was the president of some huge company, do you think they'd be happy with that kind of lighting and their president? Uh, no corporate lighting? Move that light around, Put a little fill in, make sure that Mr and Mrs Big Shot is like, nicely lit. Fully lit hair lights, styling, power light this in that This is mood light. One flash off to the side. I don't need to see her whole face. The whole thing is more about an vocation of a feeling than it is about identifying her. You could make a look like the setting sun. Another one of our wonderful models down there. This was an ancient temple where they used to have human sacrifice. Okay, so she was styled and kind of this warrior sort of way, you know, with the metallic wrap around her. If I shoot her with the available son, what happens to that monument back there? Mildly Brown, as opposed to kind of rich and defined. Okay. The shadows or week, All that sort of stuff. So I took a pro photo, be one. She's looking right at it. So if that the TV is her, this light is I know another 10 feet that way with a CTO on it and a reflector pan, and it's bang into her and what it does and full power is lift her by about a stop and 1/2 or so that gives me control over her and allows me to saturate the background. Then I feel the background with the monument, and then I have control over foreground and background. And I haven't disturbed the flow of light because my warm, jelled flash over there looks basically like setting sun. It's on the same angle just, you know, at the same kind of heights. Roughly because the light is coming this way. I have a lot of stand and we're done one like, picture simple. You could make it look like the noontime sun. This is not good light out there. This is hard noon kind of equator lights, you know, awful. Um, I knew I couldn't do anything with it, really, But I wanted to get this picture because we were kind of move and fast and John Kasich Paedo. See, these pillars here are right along here, and John's hiding behind one of the pillars. Just hand holding and be one raw white light. Nothing. Just bear tubing it, bang at her. Why did I do that? Without a shaper? Because the sun is doing that to her. And I didn't want to disturb the flow of that light. So just sunset light I'm matching my life to the sunset. I'm matching my life to the raw daylight In the terms of the pro photo stuff that I used. This is a section here, All of this stuff. We're going to have a pdf right of all of the gear Okay that I have used during this whole thing. And it is the gear that I used. There's no differentiation between like, OK, I'm gonna come here and teach this stuff, but it really don't use it. This is stuff that I use all the time. My favorite kind of my favorite light source is probably the one by three in many ways so small. It's versatile, it's character driven, but you can also make it look nice and soft. And then, for athletes a one by 60 K That's a beautiful set of lights. Um, I have to won by six off boxes. And so if you have an athletic persona in front of your lens and you edge those back, I call it three quarterback putting lights back in here. Not at the plane of the shoulders. What will happen if the lights like, side lit, like direct sideline Going to clip the face. Right. You're gonna put highlights on the nose, so you have to have him back in here, so ah, bunch of the light actually goes past and it just lines the body with light. What does that corollary problem that it could that could create for you at camera flair? Right. So hence egg crates are very, very valuable. They control the flow of that like control the spill of it modulated. So it really collects on the body and maybe hopefully doesn't necessarily mess with your lens. That is why I religiously I'm sure you've seen this for. Timers are out there, and they've got their lens hood on backwards. Okay, so this is a little grid. This is a B two over here with a tiny little grid on it. Boom. Shot with a 400 millimeters under 2 to 400 millimeter lens. Reason I did that as I wanted to graphics back in here to kind of go away a little bit. This is a pro photo B B one into a five foot Octa. And then there's a skip off the floor This is in a studio beauty dish. Hard and soft all at once. Okay. It's kind of nice. Edgy light favorite, obviously, among fashion folks. Okay, Uh, that's one light. That's it done. Deal. You can see the shape of it. Circular shape, like a big salad bowl. I tend to use him with, ah, sock over them and a grid so that I control the flow of it, so it doesn't go absolutely everywhere. I tend to have a preference for beauty dishes that have a white interior, not a silver, just a personal thing. I mean, the silver ones tend to me to be pretty snappy. It's not to say that they're not excellent, and people do great work with them. For me, for my taste. A little bit on the contrast. Decide. See what I mean? We didn't really re touch his skin, if you can believe it. I mean, this guy gets in front of camera and he's just a picture, you know, And this is a umbrella box. Couldn't be simpler. And that umbrella box, you know, the light is going into the umbrella and then coming through a sheet of diffusion, you know, it's kind of Ah, you know, Ah, halfway measure to a soft box, Full blown soft, but very cheap. Many of them are available. Okay, Um and it is right over my head. It is literally like I don't scale here, but it's it's less than two feet from his face or two feet and change maybe. And I'm wedged in there with lens and that that light sources right here. So maybe so. Maybe it's four feet. Maybe I'm exaggerating a little bit. It's is right in this neighborhood, and I'm in here, and this is like maybe a 35 or something like that at 1.4 and we were on a set. And that's the cameraman back there. The video camera man. Applying a variety of skills on a big commercial job. So you've got this toolbox, right? You've got some small, flat stuff, a bigger flash. You have expertise in terms of the array of camera devices you're bringing into the field. Your F stops, shutter speed, your lenses, you know, all that sort of stuff. So you apply a variety of skills on a big commercial job. Now, this was fun to do. This is millimeter fisheye. And the pooch, of course, makes your day, You know, completely makes your day, and and, uh, this is done with small flash speed lights through a six foot square silk. Last light makes thes the column skylights, and you drop it right over. Okay. And it's a big, beautiful light source. Looks just like a massive soft box. And and then the accent lights on the on the on the theater curtains. But this is Big Flash. This is a big flash. A lot of smoke, if you know, you know, through some smoke into the background of a circus. Here. Okay. And we'll talk about this a little bit later as well. With Lynn how she had to go and find a circus for me. Okay, this is in the studio. Okay? This is a big flash overhead, okay? And I had sent the ideas to the agency, and the one was body painting. One was about reptiles and animals, and they said, put them both together. So we've made this solution happen on the set. And so she's part of your body painted, and then she's also wearing a snake, as one does. You know, um and so there's an overhead soft box here, but there's a board underneath her and there's to speed lights bouncing into it. Little Freddie King King the blues down in ah, New Orleans. Wonderful man. Um, window window again. Look at where the light is coming from. I put a three by six scrim last delight skylight in this window because, oddly enough, they make him to kind of the size of a window. Small flash picture. Little Freddie. Little Freddie is down by the Mississippi here across the river from New Orleans. And we got here, and it was it was basically dark. We were behind. I mean, I felt so bad, cause he's like, Well, he's in better shape than I am. He's like 80 you know? But I'm like Freddie, We gotta hustle. We gotta hustle. And I'm common, you know, has got guitar. You know, when the two of us are kind of hobbling our way along the causeway there and then I get down on the ground with a 24 millimeter lens, and then we use an extension pole and a shoot through umbrellas. This Ah, again. You know, this is pretty easy. You can see the umbrella right there. I could retouched that out. You think I was sure he touched that out? I don't care. Is you can see the shimmer in his coat down in here. Okay, that's you know, easily. One second exposure somewheres in there. You know, Preservation Hall again. There. I threw this in there, too. You could see the two windows. This now upfront is lit with a big flash. That's what triggering the lights outside. Okay. And the screams that are over them, okay. And that that is a done deal. At that point, that's a fairly simple picture to do. And then you do the ridiculous. Yeah. Again, this is the Lord of the Rings thing again. I'm sorry, man. You know, um, I had this vision of this lady in the swamps and stuff like that on. So there we are, in the swamp in Florida and dragging her out that Scott Holstein very fine photographer used to be our first assistant. Now, down in Florida, there's lights in the woods and fog and smoke. There's our smoke machine back in there. That water is nasty. Oh, my God. It's nasty. is bugs everywhere. I mean, and Scott's here with a wind machine. I've got that point out that I was using older Ellen, Compaq's and boom. I mean, none of this stuff should happen in a swamp. Absolutely none of it. I mean, electricity and water and alligators and snakes. But the thing is, I was shooting. This was for the D four campaign, and this was, you know, prior to, like, Photoshopped being able to process a d Ford F because the cameras weren't on the marketplace yet. There's a prototype camera. Okay, so, um, you can't see it so well here. You know, um, it was hard to do, but that this is electrically fired. This is not Photoshopped in afterwards. So she's got electrical court running right upper back and down her arm and firing that lamp, you know? And then we just touched it out afterwards, but its all down his poor model, she was very patient with us. And, um, the picture sort of halfway got there. It's not exactly what I wanted, but it's It's okay. Sometimes you leave the location and think all right. I fought the good fight today, and I delivered a really good professional product, but it doesn't soar in the way that I hoped for it

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Gear List
Lighting Diagrams

Ratings and Reviews


Oh. Wow. This is a must-see class for everyone who is passionate about photography.

Student Work