6 Lighting Tutorials from Joe McNally

At the time of writing this post it is a gorgeous spring day and I have no doubt our readers are out shooting and enjoying it. If you have opted to stay in, these six videos provided by Lastolite and taught by the best-in-our-business Joe McNally are what you should be watching... no studying. Seriously. If you absorb every bit of information/advice in these videos you will be a better photographer than you are right now. Joe is not only a master of photography, in the literal sense of the word, he is also a master at thoroughly breaking down what he does and why he does it. Simple, clear, brilliant.





Ezybox Hotshoe


Skylite Rapid with Masks


4 in 1 Umbrella


Ezybox Speedlite Plus


via [ISO1200]

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Logan Sorenson's picture

very nice, simple videos =)

Matthew Odom's picture

A solid set of learning tuts for those looking to understand light :)

Got a chance to meet him as week at PSW

deha sezgin's picture

I watched the 4 in 1 umbrella. Not sure if its the best way to explain the results of a modifier mixed with heavy sunlight! It doensnt help to understand. It would have been better in a studio. I really liked the 4in1 idea. I wish square ripping part was round!

By far the most pleasant set of sales pitches I've watched in a while.

The danger to Lastolite is that they are teaching photographers to use
other equipment. The benefit of this "soft sell, but shoveling it on"
approach is that it draws attention to using quality equipment and
creates demand for it. I love this approach. because it is educational
and differentiates the sponsor. If the sponsor helps me become better, I'll listen to their soft sell all day long.

Chris Newman's picture

I love how Joe has a Nikon Professional Services strap on his camera.... since he's probably the only one on the planet that gets good service from them.

hehe and they are such crappy looking straps too :)

Andrew Barros's picture

My only question is (maybe I missed it but...) does he mention if he's using the flash on his camera as just a CLS trigger or is it adding lighting to the image as well?

I was wondering the same, I believe it is just a trigger as he points it off in weird directions that don't enhance the light on the subject but do enhance the light sensors on the remote flashes.

Joe Schmitt's picture

I went to his One Flash Two Flash seminar in Pittsburgh last year and he mentioned that he uses the flash only as a trigger as he preferred off camera flash almost exclusively. He even went so far as to snap a photo to show that the flash wasn't producing any usable light. By the way, it was an awesome seminar and got me to fall in love with light...flashes, reflectors, soft boxes, gels, PocketWizards...I love it.

I use to shoot with the plastic diffuser on my flash all the time but found that it is a real waste outdoors or in big rooms because the flash doesn't bounce off anything. I now use a white card and it works well.

Well, it doesn't make a lot of sense outside as you say - the purpose of the domes is to send some light sideways, and outside, this just heads off into the distance. I suspect it does have a subtle effect on the light coming out of the front too though - I must test this someday - Joe almost always has them on and I'm guessing he noticed some sort of difference. Same deal with the white interior on the softbox - it shouldn't make an appreciable difference as the light bounces about and radiates off of the fibres on the front diffusion panel so the interior of the box shouldn't matter - expect for maybe a few hotspots, but the proof is in the testing :) It does of course give you the option of using it without the diffusers as a big square white reflector

Lots of good hints from Joe. he is a great instructor. Met him and went to his workshops here in Melbourne and would go again.

Looks like the videos were shot by a wedding video guy. Lots of closeups.
Would have preferred wider shots showing position of lights, etc. Too much zooming and not enough of showing the results of the lighting equipment.
The videos are missing something visually.

Nick Viton's picture

These videos make me want to buy stuff.

Bob Bell's picture

Good stuff.

I'm totally diggin' some of the Lastolite products. no joke.

Could you tell at least some of the camera and flash settings. I mean exposure values. Did he have to turn on high speed sync. on flashes? Let say the video Ezybox hotshoe. I'd be thankfull.

Hi Richard - on the video in the orchard with the Ezybox, yes I'd say the light drifted in high-speed-sync as the aperture looks wide open to get that limited depth of field (so the shutter speed was probably above 1/250th). You don't need to turn HSS on with Nikon - it'll start doing it as soon as the shutter speed goes beyond x-sync (which you can set up to 1/320th). Of course as soon as it does, it's no longer flash photography, as the pulsing HSS light lasts the entire exposure time - just like the ambient, so shutter speed will affect it - but the system sorts this out. As far as values go, it doesn't really matter - just get the background looking how you want it in manual exposure mode and with the light in TTL,the exposure on the subject will be "correct". You can then adjust it using the compensation value on the lighting group.

Great short comprehensive videos,

I wonder why Joe worries so much about the flashes seeing the commander and not just using something like pocked wizards or yongnuo 622.

I still use the optical system sometimes - it's less gear to carry and set up (and go wrong) and that little tri-flash bracket is a very compact and useful thing, however I do mostly now use the Yongnuo YN622N units you mentioned on my Nikon flashes with a YN622N-TX on the camera. It works perfectly - all the time :)

Joe is great. Yeah, these are product videos, but the guy can't help educating.

As someone said, it makes me want to buy stuff too. Even though Lastolite's pieces of equipment are probably of good quality, I would be ready to compromise on quality if I can get something similar for much lower price. Here's what I found:

Lastolite Triflash: $140
Selens similar triflash on eBay: $14.80

Lastolite Ezybox Hot Shoe Softbox Kit - 24x24" : $150
Meking equivalent on eBay: $42

And so on...

Even though these chinese copies are no doubt of less quality, I could replace them a few times and stil save money.

Of course, if you can afford the real thing go for it, but that's not case for everyone.

Nice tuts Joe.

I have always enjoyed Joe McNallys tutorials, these are no exception. You don't have to buy, but you can still learn.

the "model" was ex Skids singer Richard Jobson (a great filmmaker and Creative Cloud user) (for anyone over 40 who remembers the Skids - they went on to become Big Country minus Richard)