Dancers in Flight with Beautiful Light, with Joe McNally

Join Joe as he employs a series of lighting setups, from big flash to small, that demonstrate different ways of capturing the grace and beauty of these dancers in flight.

What do you get when you team up world class dancers with internationally acclaimed photographer Joe McNally? In a word, brilliance! Join Joe as he employs a series of lighting setups, from big flash to small, that demonstrate different ways of capturing the grace and beauty of these dancers in flight. From soft light to strong, Joe dives deep into the thinking that goes into each lighting decision as he grapples with the challenges each situation presents.

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Course Lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction (Duration 06:51)

Join Joe on the set as he introduces the class and dives right into his process for creating a strong photograph of the first ballerina in a sculptural way with light.

Lesson 2: It's a Process (Duration 05:49)

With the ballerina on set it is time to start shooting, and Joe is courting disaster a little bit by mixing light sources, using a slow shutter speed, and capturing a moving subject.

Lesson 3: Small Flash Done Big (Duration 04:40)

Joe and his assistant create a huge softbox from six speedlights and a strip light from three more. The end result is motion stopping flash duration while still providing a big broad cover of light.

Lesson 4: Leaping Through the Roses (Duration 09:36)

Time to put the speedlight setup from the previous lesson into action as the dancer leaps through the wall of rose petals. Joe follows up with an in-depth look at the lighting setup.

Lesson 5: Working in a Minimal Way (Duration 06:05)

A new day and new dancers brings a change in lighting to a very sparse and elemental look to compliment the physicality of the dancers.

Lesson 6: Final Shoot (Duration 10:55)

The last shoot of the day brings in a new dancer and a lighting change that frees up the dancer to create in the air. Joe wraps up the class with an overview of all the concepts that were covered.

Meet Your Instructor: Joe McNally

Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed photographer whose career has spanned 30 years and included assignments in over 50 countries. He has shot cover stories for TIME, Newsweek, Fortune, New…

16 Comments

  1. Wow! This was an incredible experience. Thanks, Joe! A lot of the info re multiple-multiple flash settings were over my head but I was mesmerized by your entire process. I love the way you think and the way you played with the light on those amazing dancers. It was obvious you were having fun and it was contagious. You covered almost every kind of light on those fantastic ripped muscles. You showed how to get the most out of the light placement, giving almost 3-dimensional depth to them. The only thing I was left craving was some shots mainly back lit leaving the dancers in silhouette with maybe a little outer glow. Maybe next time... Thanks for the lessons, Joe. You're an inspirational coach.

  2. Good course. It's interesting to contrast the shooting style of Joe to someone like Jeremy Cowart. Jeremy works for paying clients and got some many different looks in a short amount of time. Joe really worked the lighting setup, but didn't produce as many different looks per setup. Great course.

  3. The review of pictures taken from the various lighting setups was a great addition to this course but maybe could have been shown during the final discussion of each setup Previous lighting courses would have been much improved with this addition.

  4. Excellent video as always from Joe. Very informative and inspiring. Getting to see Joe's thought process throughout the shoot is highly beneficial when trying to put things into practice.

  5. Like a good essay, Joe tells you what he is going to do, he does it (shows you), and in his conclusion tells you what he just did, what you saw during the shoot and why there were some changes. It doesn't get much any more perfect than that, as we see the photos as they are happening. This series illustrates how Joe sees and how he executes. Brilliant.

  6. I liked the concept of the flowers initially when i saw the photo of the dancer I was wondering how it was shot. I will apply this concept in my wedding photography. Great tutorial J.R Fondjo

  7. Very informative! In the last two videos, Joe referred to the background as "white seamless", however the white on the floor was much more shiny than my super white seamless. Was that some type of vinyl material, or something else?

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