Skip to main content

Shoot Set Up: Athlete Portrait

Lesson 24 from: 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

24. Shoot Set Up: Athlete Portrait


Class Trailer

Class Introduction


Location Assessment


Gear Overview


Direction and Wardrobe


Exploring Location and Available Light


Bar Owner: Setting the Scene


Shoot: Bar Owner


Shoot: Bar Owner, Evolving the Look


Lesson Info

Shoot Set Up: Athlete Portrait

And now, we're gonna try to desperately squeeze in an athletic portrait. And this could be a utter, abyssmal failure. We'll see. These are not classically the windows I would pump light through because they're already so beautiful and they're so diffused and it's frosted glass and all that. But I'm gonna see if I can get kind of an arc of light that's a beamy kinda light. We're gonna drift some smoke into it and then, I'm gonna light selectively and athletic portrait. Post workouts, drenched, kind of sorta thing. And she's gonna live in this neighborhood here. So MacGyver had asked, "How do you deal with different color temperatures and office spaces?" So back to when we started doing the office shoot. Especially fluorescent lights and the newer daylight LED lights where the color temperatures are a little bit off. Do you use a color meter? Or do you just as he says, "Wing that puppy?" I wing that puppy. I do have a color meter. At the basic, end of the day I'm not... We can't be, ...

as editorial photographers, we can't be specialists in color management. I mean there are people who have devoted their lives to color theory and managing color and all those differences. So we have to do our best in the field, but more often than not we are absolutely winging it and moving fast. At the end of the day, I go for skin tone. If I get a good skin tone then I'm reasonable about what the other lights are doing. Okay Those are things that maybe could be somewhat kinda softened up in post production. Okay. But I go for a good skin tone. That's my basic guide post for everything. Great. I just want to make sure the folks at home are still totally understanding how the triggering systems are working. Sure. So Revender asked, he said, "Yesterday you briefly mentioned when you used the Profoto B1 Air and how you trigger the Profoto B1 Air and the Nikon SB flashes simultaneously?" Yes. We have found that is an effective way to work over time. The Nikon system, with the new radio-controlled flashes gives you six radio-controlled groups. It still will mesh with an older line of sight style of flash like an SB910. When you hotshoe a line of sight commander, like a to a D5 or a D500, it drops out the first three groups out of radio-control and reverts them to line of sight. So ABC becomes old style line of sight. DEF remains radio. Same thing happens when I hotshoe that Profoto Air remote trigger. I put that on the hotshoe, that's a single to the Nikon camera system inside... Lord knows how this happens, but the camera knows and it shifts into DE and F. So I have three zones of radio control with the SB5000s and the field via the 10 pin connector, the WRR10 put into the WRA10 adaptor. And that's right here, living over on this side of the camera. The hotshoed Air remote will govern the Profoto lights. So I can effectively mesh the two systems and work with them together as I did yesterday. I'm talking to the Profoto light which was outside and I'm talking to the interior SB5000s all via radio signal, all simultaneously. Thank you. Sure. Thank you for breaking it down again. Let's see, so a couple people asked about continuous LED lights. For example, is that something you might throw in the mix like when you are illuminating the computer at her? Would you ever use LEDs? Possibly. You know LEDs are wonderful, small packages of light. They're completely efficient in certain levels, or certain specific scenarios. I'm not sure it would have been all that effective in this scenario 'cuz I was at a .25 hundreths of a second at ISO 100. Okay. And, you know, face it, a small flash with four battery operated units in it... I could look and if someone's right here, I could look and get F16. Bang. I put up and LED, it's a long while for that puppy to get to F16 given the fact of shutter speed, intensity, etc. They're just not as bright. So, in this instance I believe a flash scenario was the best scenario or best option for me. So do you want to (background noise) Are you going to move around? I'm probably going to move around. I'm actually going to be a low angle so... Oh, you're going to gov up. Yeah. Okay. I'll crank the stand. Thank you. Yeah, no worries. Eh, I probably won't use it. Okay. I probably won't use it so I actually You want the stand in? I'm gonna get this guy here as my camera dolly. Good. All right. Okay. So Andrew, we gotta take this one by three off the set for now. Sure. Just clean it up. Let me know when those lights are hot please. Outside. Outside ready. Okay. What's the group? I'll make sure. All right. So what's my enemy here? My enemy is the available light really. So, I'm gonna go manual. I'm gonna go 200th of a second. I'm gonna go F11. (click) And our model is ready for you Joe when you are. Okay. All right. Hang on. Hang on to this for a second. Yeah. Absolutely. All right. You need to open... Oh, Okay. No, no. It's okay. Ken, can you go out there, and talk to Callie? _ One B. One B. All right. Full power both or full power... Are they up high like we had 'em the other day? Yeah, did you want it to kinda go flush? Or do you want it to go up and then .. (unintelligible) I want angle down. Okay. That might be a bit of an issue but we'll give it a go. All right. As long as they are clustered and up high, we should be fine. All right. So in this instance... and those lights are gelled are they? Yes, CTO So I'm going to get out of auto white balance. I've used the auto white balance a lot, but I'm going to get out of auto white balance and I'm going to go into cloudy. Cloudy is already a warm response. I have warm lights outside, let's see how that looks. One of the reasons I'll get out of cloudy here is that I want a warm response, and I have those lights outside warm, they just don't look like they're high enough. They are, hmmmm.... You missed the second light because you actually blinded it so... Oh, sorry, but remember the other day when we threw the light up there it was way up high in here? These are completely maxxed. How close are they? They are where they were on the side of that sidewalk. Okay, all right What are the settings on these.. Just do a ... Try it again, cause we were just fixing them at the end. Okay, all right. Allright, that's better, looks better. (click) Yeah, that's a new way. Okay. We're up high, hmmm... interesting. Oh, did you have a mini boom arm on it? Ah, we can throw the mini boom up there. I don't know if I did. We can throw one on the mini booms. Yeah, why don't you, hmmmm.... You're wanting it to come from up... Yeah. Up in here someplace... We won't even get, we'll probably get right in the middle here with the mini boom. Okay. All right. Okay, lets give that a try and see what happens. Like that option? Yeah, all right, cool. I am not concerned. Joe, for the folks at home, what was it that you were just looking at and seeing what you wanted to change? Well, I was seeing if I could try to get more height out of the lights. Okay. And I kinda threw a light out there the other day when I first came up scouting and I was like , "Yeah, might work" so we'll just see. Cool. We'll just see. I'm going to go to ISO 100, 200th of a second at F16. Gimme a shout so I don't blind anybody. I'll give you a check for now. (chuckles) You doing all right, Sweet? Hang in there! Actually, if you want to come on over, you stick with us? Ugh! Alright, cool. Lemme just see... kinda float out in that area, please, Sweet? Kind of out in here...yeah, right about in there. Okay, come closer, come closer, go this way, if you don't mind. Okay, cool. So no posing or anything necessary, this is just all kinda preliminary. Are we maxxed for that Brad? Go a little higher if you can. (faint background discussion) All right, is that left one as close as possible? Yeah. We all right? As close to the other one as possible. I'm very nervous about letting those lights loose, cause they're a thousand watt-seconds apiece, they're Profoto B4's, and if someone is staring at it, Bad news. It's a wake up call from hell, you know. It's the worst cup of coffee you've ever had in you life. (laughter) Get them as close as possible to heads. It's also something that happens to every assistant. Oh, God. We used to do it purposefully, I have to admit. The poor new guy, oh my God, it's just terrible. The lights used to arc, the old speed-o-trons used to arc and when you put a metal pan on 'em they would just explode. Just POW, 2400 watt-seconds; that would be the first move for the new assistant. "Here, can you put this pan on that head?" (laughter) BOOM! Knock the kid across the room.. "Welcome to the crew!" All right, we okay? - Last adjustments on that light... This is where you just have to be calm as a photographer, like, "Is this going to work out? Do I look nervous? No, I'm not nervous, I'm not nervous at all." We'll see what happens, this is just a wing and a prayer, this is like an extra that we're trying here today. (click) That's better.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Joe McNally Gear List
McNally Lighting Diagrams

Ratings and Reviews


What is there to say, this is a master at work. I feel like I owe Joe a hundred lunches for the information I’ve learned from him and used in jobs through the years. Personally I relate to his slightly self-deprecating style quite well. Joe’s a confident, supremely knowledgeable and incredibly experienced photographer who doesn’t need to wear that on his sleeve to get the point across. He is also clearly a great leader who has built a terrific team. I snap up everything of Joe’s I can find and use it as a library, where every time you watch you take away something new. Thanks Joe, you’re a legend and good on Creative Live for offering this wonderful and beautifully curated course.

ileana gonzales photography

When I saw the chance to learn from the great Joe McNally I jumped through the screen at the chance to be in the audience. It's one thing to see how a fantastic photographer works, thinks, composes and styles, but to get a behind the curtain view at the way his entire shop operates was truly amazing. By allowing us to see Lynn's processes and Cali's workflow it encouraged me to diversify before taking the plunge into the business side of photography. Truly an amazing team and an unforgettable learning experience.


Joe is fantastic! The wealth of information, experience and extraordinary talent he shares is invaluable! He's also a very engaging, humorous instructor who keeps an audience a part of the "discussion." Don't miss a Joe McNally class, seminar or workshop opportunity!

Student Work