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The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes [Paperback]

Joe McNally
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)

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Book Description

March 13, 2009 9780321580146 978-0321580146 1
When it comes to photography, it’s all about the light.

After spending more than thirty years behind the lens—working for National Geographic, Time, Life, and Sports Illustrated—Joe McNally knows about light. He knows how to talk about it, shape it, color it, control it, and direct it. Most importantly, he knows how to create it...using small hot shoe flashes.

In The Hot Shoe Diaries, Joe brings you behind the scenes to candidly share his lighting solutions for a ton of great images. Using Nikon Speedlights, Joe lets you in on his uncensored thought process—often funny, sometimes serious, always fascinating—to demonstrate how he makes his pictures with these small flashes. Whether he’s photographing a gymnast on the Great Wall, an alligator in a swamp, or a fire truck careening through Times Square, Joe uses these flashes to create great light that makes his pictures sing.

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The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes + The Moment It Clicks: Photography Secrets from One of the World's Top Shooters + Sketching Light: An Illustrated Tour of the Possibilities of Flash (Voices That Matter)
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

JOE McNALLY is an internationally acclaimed American photographer and longtime photojournalist. His most notable series is “Faces of Ground Zero—Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th,” a collection of giant Polaroid portraits. He also photographed “The Future of Flying,” the first all-digital story for National Geographic. His award-winning work has appeared in numerous magazines and, in 2008, Joe wrote the critically acclaimed and bestselling book The Moment It Clicks.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: New Riders; 1 edition (March 13, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780321580146
  • ISBN-13: 978-0321580146
  • ASIN: 0321580141
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (269 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #74,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed American photographer and long-time photojournalist. From 1994 until 1998, he was LIFE magazine's staff photographer, the first one in 23 years. His most well known series is the "Faces of Ground Zero -- Portraits of the Heroes of September 11th", a collection of 246 giant Polaroid portraits shot in the Moby C Studio near Ground Zero in a three-week period shortly after 9/11. A large group of these historic, compelling life-size (9' x 4') photos were exhibited in seven cities in 2002, seen by almost a million people. The exhibit and the book, printed by LIFE, helped raise approximately $2 million for the 9/11-relief effort. This collection is considered by many museum and art professionals to be the most significant artistic endeavor to evolve to date from the 9/11 tragedy.

Some of McNally's other renowned photographic series include, "The Future of Flying," a 32-page cover story for National Geographic, published in December 2003, commemorating the centennial observance of the Wright Brothers' flight. Joe is a 20 year contributor to National Geographic, and this story was the first all digital shoot for the magazine. This issue was a National Magazine Award Finalist, and one of the magazine's most popular covers. He has shot cover stories for Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek, Geo, Fortune, New York, Business Week, LIFE and Men's Journal, among others.

McNally's advertising, marketing and promotional work includes FedEx, Nikon, Sony, Land's End, General Electric, MetLife, Bogen, Adidas, Kelby Media Group, Wildlife Conservation Society, and American Ballet Theatre.

In 2008, McNally published his critically acclaimed, award winning book, The Moment It Clicks, which has been touted as, "one foot on the coffee table and one foot in the classroom."

In 2009, McNally published his newest, much anticipated book, The Hotshoe Diaries. Just like its predecessor, it immediately cracked Amazon's top ten list of best sellers, within the first week of publication.

Joe McNally is known internationally for his ability to produce technically and logistically complex assignments with expert use of color and light. As part of his teaching activities, he conducts numerous workshops around the world.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
234 of 252 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Gateway To Understanding Flash Photography March 18, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
'Hot Shoe Diaries' is pure McNally and the best book I've ever read on flash photography. Two words: "buy it."

Joe McNally's photo secrets were kicked out of the closet by the skeletons a long time ago. That's great news for those of us who have become infatuated (and infuriated) with the use of small flash units. Joe's latest book 'The Hot Shoe Diaries' is an exposé that tells all. There's never been a book on flash photography that covers the subject so thoroughly, so beautifully and so humorously. I'm certain that 'HSD' will reign as the undisputed champion on flash photography for a long time.

The first thing to know about 'HSD' is that even Joe has a hard time taking himself seriously. Joe repeatedly demonstrates his understanding of where he stands in the universe by filling 'HSD' with memorable photos - such as the self-portrait where he uses a chicken as a lightstand. Joe's humor is what sets 'HSD' apart from other photo books. It is what protects us from mind-numbing concepts, such as the "Inverse Square Law" (when did Congress pass that one anyway?).

Joe starts with the basics: gear, the fundamentals of digital photography and simple flash. He moves on to talk about one light shots. And two light shots. And lots-a-lights shots. He talks about where to put the lights and what to put between the lights and the subject. He shares a lifetime of stories. He inspires and encourages. Like I said, "pure McNally."

As with his first book, 'The Moment It Clicks', Joe fills the covers of 'HSD' with amazing and beautiful photos. These are the heart of 'HSD.' It's one thing to talk about flash photography.
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142 of 167 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not for newbies April 20, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
1. If you are photography junkie, the book fun to read - feels like you are having a couple of cold ones with a pro, and he is kind enough to tell you about his work.
2. If you already have a solid understanding of flash photography, the book will help you to get to the next level. [...]
3. This book is extra helpful for Nikon shooters.

1. If you are a newbie, phrases like "so I just dialed up the shutter speed to kill off the extra ambient light I didn't want in the shot" may not mean much. (not quoting here, just relaying what is sounds like)

The book does not contain many specific instructions a la Scott Kelby "the shutter speed controls the ambient light, and therefore when you reduce the shutter speed you are letting in additional ambient light which works great in certain applications for dimly lit scenes" right next to picture showing the difference. (Scott Kelby obviously sounds better than this)

Newbies want specific instructions with detailed settings information, and before and after samples! Most likely the book wasn't written for newbies (like myself) so can't really complain about it (I guess).

2. I love Nikon products just like any other loyal Nikonian, but sometimes the book sounds a bit like infomercial for Nikon products we may not need to get. For example, yes, SU-800 the wireless off-camera flash commander is great because it makes it very easy to control multiple flashes in multiple groups. Can't my D90 do the same thing (albeit for fewer groups)? Yes, one can take the SU-800 off-camera and put it in direct line of sight with flashes while I can't do that with D90 - ok, but then wouldn't Pocket Wizards / Radio Poppers do a better job anyway?
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Amazing Master Course in Flash Photography March 23, 2009
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have been following Joe McNally via the Nikon DVDs featuring him and his incredible work. If you ever wanted to look right into the mind of this photographic genius and see how he thinks in regard to portable flash, this is the book for you.

In 25 years of photography both as a professional freelancer and full-time photographer, I have never learned as much in one sitting as I have from Joe McNally's new book. He goes in-depth and answers every question you could possibly have and then goes way beyond into exquisite (never boring) detail.

I have been a fan and follower of the Strobist techniques and have longed for a clear, detailed explanation of the concepts in one place. This book does that and then delivers far more.

The cost of this book is worth more than any course you could take: it is a master course with a true master. If you love photography and want to learn how to make portable flash your main light source, buy this book today. I am so happy I did.
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56 of 65 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambivalent April 15, 2009
By F64
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I have mixed feelings about this book. For anyone who has had some experience with mixed lighting, color management, etc., it is written in a very "easy to understand" sort of style, and contains great food for thought. For a newer shooter, you will drown in this technically.

My three problems with it are that it is completely Nikon centric and he advocates using TTL or some form of it in every situation. That may work for Nikon gear, but I have found Canon's flash exposures to be all over the place when left in "Auto" mode. You need to be aware that there is little to no guidance or advice other than that in this book. It is all about Nikon electronics and which buttons to push. If you are looking for advice on using speedlight flash manually, it's not here.

I actually wondered as I was reading it whether Nikon sponsored the book. Way too much emphasis on Nikon gear and specific settings. As a result, it is less about small flash and more about about Nikon small flash and "CLS". That should have been part of the book's title I think.

And to be clear, this is not about Nikon vs Canon and who is better. It is irrelevant. I just think that to do a book like this, it should not rely so heavily on one manufacturer's technical exposure system.

The second thing is that there are not enough scene diagrams. Joe describes the set-ups, but it would have been better to show more sketches as he did in just a few examples. Diagrams help to visualize the distances involved; whether he was working alone using stands for the remote flash, or having assistants moving and holding them, among other issues.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes.
Joe Does it AGAIN. A wonderful book for all who want to understand flash photography.
Published 3 days ago by SCP
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Useful for learning one strobe photography
Published 4 days ago by Don Stayner
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this for inspiration
The writer's tone is incredibly condescending. However, his work is incredible. You won't get much instruction with this book. Read more
Published 23 days ago by DataScienceNStuff
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written and illustrated
No matter if you like to read or just watch photos to get the idea on how to do it,
this book provide it both.

Well illustrated and well written how-to's
Published 1 month ago by Yaniv
5.0 out of 5 stars This is a must for Nikon users
Joe McNally explains the Nikon CLS system better than any other person out there. It is a must-have book for Nikonites.
Published 1 month ago by Orrin B Iseminger
5.0 out of 5 stars A great Book
Joe McNally is an excellent photographer and an excellent teacher.
Very informative and easy to read.
Well worth the money spent!
Published 2 months ago by Eugene
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great read.
This is a must read for anyone curious about lighting and anyone wanting to understand the intricacies of Nikons Creative Lighting System. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Jerrry Dalton
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Excellent Book from Joe McNally
Really enjoyed this book and it's one I'll return to over time to refresh my memory on some of Joe's Techniques that he explains quite well throughout the book.
Published 2 months ago by Michael J. Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Being an amazing photog doesn't make you an amazing writer
The book has amazing photo's in it, just like his website.
Unfortunately it's not a book that even a beginner will learn much from, it's more of an inspirational book than... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Rob
1.0 out of 5 stars Whatever the content this book is badly written
No matter the message this book is so badly written it is almost impossible to read. I wish I could give it back
Ian McLaren
Published 4 months ago by Ian Mc Laren
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