Joe McNally Shares Some Incredibly Useful Lighting & Basic Photography Tips

Joe McNally knows a good bit more about lighting than many photographers out there, and in this short video he shares a great deal of information pertaining to both TTL flash lighting as well as adapting to a situation and using natural light.

McNally starts off the tutorial by shooting a model with a diffused speedlight attached to his camera, showing us the less-than-ideal results. Then he quickly creates a much more aesthetically pleasing solution by using an off-camera flash shot through a 1-stop diffusion panel. This method effectively turns the single speedlight into a much larger light and more pleasing light source, almost giving the light a softbox-esque look.

After demonstrating that, McNally gets a bit distracted in the best way possible by the natural light streaming into his studio space. And so he decides to go off-topic and demonstrate that, when it comes to capturing photographs, you need to always be aware of the changing environment.


Noticing the very beautiful natural light, he drops his flashes and has his model move over into the glow from the windows for some absolutely gorgeous shots.

As McNally explains, we need to be opportunistic while out in the field, making use of the best resources available to us. This is a black background, flash photography tutorial; but when McNally saw an opportunity to take it in a different direction, he didn’t hesitate.

The video will only take up three and a half minutes of your time, but McNally manages to squeeze in a great deal of very useful information that you won’t want to miss out on.

(via ISO 1200)

  • Aezreth

    Incredibly useful? More like incredibly basic.

  • Always Learning

    So for people who don’t know as much as you, it is useful. The title does say basic, if you are beyond basic then don’t waste all of three minutes watching it.

  • Pierre Bourgault

    Pay no mind to those who sadly troll the internet in search of attention. :)

  • Sergio De Bona

    I think the point Aezreth tries to make is that with all that set up, he should be showing off more impressive results.

    For a lighting sesion I find it rather unfocused and resource wasteful.

  • OtterMatt

    For a lesson that probably took about five minutes to set up, I thought it displayed the points well and did a good job going over the concepts. If it’s too basic, then go shoot something and teach yourself.

  • rockthepic

    That looks like Dobbs Ferry. Kinda thought he was out of there.

  • Deveron

    I just saw this presentation at Photoshop world. The video is better than real-life!

  • Aezreth

    Calling anyone who holds a different opinion than yours a troll is pretty pathetic, how about adding to the conversation instead?

  • Aezreth

    This video had two points, 1.) You can diffuse your flash, 2.) You can use available light. Did you really not know these two things?

  • Sinareo

    Pot, meet kettle.

  • Sinareo

  • David Vaughn

    He had a speedlight, a diffusion panel, and a background. How is that soooo much set up?

  • David Vaughn

    This only one of the videos. There are several more that are much more in-depth if you’re looking for something beyond the basic basics.

    Of course, you might find those too basic as well, so I’m not going to go beyond telling you they exist if you’re interested.

  • greenarcher02

    Dismissing basic stuff is condescending and rude and outright arrogant. It’s not merely an opinion, it’s being completely arrogant. And it’s not even an opinion, it’s a fact that it’s basic, but that doesn’t make it any less useful. In fact the basic stuff tend to be the most useful. It’s pretty pathetic that you hide your condescension and arrogance behind the i-have-my-opinions veil.

  • greenarcher02

    Some people don’t. Obviously you’re god who knows all the things. A condescending god. Why are you even here if you know all these stuff? Why are you not out there proving you’re beyond basic?

  • Joe

    Literally evvvvvvvverything Petapixel posts is incredible. Or jaw-dropping. Or Amazing. Or Haunting. Or breathtaking. Or supercalafragilistic.

    one week on this site and you’ll see the same ridiculously overused and
    abused adjective used in no less than 37 headlines!

    It’s the Mickey Mouse school of click-pandering journalism.