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The Logic of Light: Lighting Lessons from Joe McNally

Tip: Make Light Available

Is the only good light available light? Yes.

When I was in school, I wanted to be W. Eugene Smith. He was a legendary staffer at Life, a consummate photojournalist, and an architect of the photo essay. He was also kinda crazy.

That was obvious when he came to lecture at Syracuse University and put a glass of milk and a glass of vodka on the lectern. Both were gone at the end of the talk. He was taking questions and I was in the front row, hanging on every word.

"Mr. Smith, is the only good light available light?" came the question.

He leaned into the microphone. "Yes," he baritoned, and paused.

A shudder ran through all of us. That was it! No more flash! God's light or nothing!

But then he leaned back into the mic, "By that, I mean, any &*%%@$ light that's available."

Point taken.

[How to Get This Type of Shot:]

This shot was taken outdoors at dusk in Jaipur, India, during the Festival of Lights using available light. It was taken with a 180mm lends at f/2.8. The soft glow through the veil was provided entirely by the candles.

Excerpted from: The Moment It Clicks. Photography secrets from one of the world's top shooters.
By Joe McNally, Copyright 2008 Used with permission of Pearson Education, Inc. and New Riders