Light Shaping Tools, with Joe McNally

In this course we'll examine various light shaping tools and how to speak with light.

In this course we’ll examine various light shaping tools and how to speak with light. We’ll investigate how these light shaping tools can produce dramatic and different portrait solutions.

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Course Lessons:

Lesson 1: Introduction (Duration 02:03)

Course Introduction from Joe McNally

Lesson 2: Studio Hardware (Duration 02:16)

Quick introduction into light shaping tools.

Lesson 3: Small Flashes (Duration 01:06)

Overview of the SB800 system

Lesson 4: Tripod Setup (Duration 01:20)

Explanation of custom tripod setup.

Lesson 5: The Umbrella Light (Duration 03:23)

The Process of placing the light.

Lesson 6: The Model and the Light (Duration 02:43)

Making the studio comfortable.

Lesson 7: Establishing Trust (Duration 04:31)

Relating to your subject.

Lesson 8: The Light and the Face (Duration 03:48)

How the direction of light affects the portrait.

Lesson 9: Size and Distance of the Light Source (Duration 02:57)

How the size of the light affects the feel of the light, while introducing the diffuser.

Lesson 10: Diffusing the Light Source (Duration 04:07)

Continuation of the diffuser in front of the main light, and adding the tri-grip reflector.

Lesson 11: Shoot Through Umbrella (Duration 03:09)

Diffusing the light in a different way.

Lesson 12: Changing Power Ratios (Duration 01:20)

How you affect power output and F-stop.

Lesson 13: Control of the Light (Duration 04:59)

Changing the power and distance of the light source.

Lesson 14: Centering the Light (Duration 04:00)

Changing the angle of the light.

Lesson 15: Over / Under Combination (Duration 06:04)

Adding a low fill card.

Lesson 16: Skirting the Light (Duration 04:42)

Techniques for gradating the light source.

Lesson 17: Working with the Soft Box (Duration 07:04)

Soft Box construction and approach.

Lesson 18: Keeping Your Subject Involved (Duration 01:35)

Working your way towards a good picture.

Lesson 19: Shapes of Soft Boxes (Duration 04:42)

Square? Octa? Choosing your light shaping tool.

Lesson 20: Using a Fill Card (Duration 02:37)

How a fill card opens up shadows.

Lesson 21: Different Looks (Duration 03:51)

Noticing things about your subject and following up.

Lesson 22: Closeness and Direction of the Light Source (Duration 02:58)

Achieving a dramatic effect.

Lesson 23: Beauty Fill (Duration 06:17)

Using the floor as a light source.

Lesson 24: BONUS: Ring Light (Duration 02:16)

Fashion and Fun on the set.

Lesson 25: BONUS: Ballerina in the Air (Duration 04:44)

Location strobe at sunset.

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…


  1. Great and informative! Joe really knows what he's talking about. Although I don't use studio lights, I learnt a lot about the different light sources you can purchase and how to use them!

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