Lighting action portraits: Joe McNally on the importance of knowing your subject


posted Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 5:00 PM EDT


We recently covered a collaborative video featuring Joe McNally and Daniel Norton which discussed using the radio-equipped Nikon SB-5000 speedlights for a portrait. The duo are back with more from McNally, this time focusing on how he creates athletic portraits, a type of portrait he is particularly famous for.

When photographing athletes, McNally likes to use backlighting. However, it is not as simple as placing a light behind your subject. There is much more to it in order to get the best results, which McNally discusses in the video below.

In this situation, it is critical to get the rim lighting as good as possible. Typically, photographers concern themselves with front lights before back lights, but McNally wants to work from the back first when shooting athlete’s portraits. When using a powerful rim light, you need to be careful to not let the light spill all over the set or cause lens flare, so McNally uses a modifier to focus the strobe and prevent as much spill as possible.

There is much more discussed in the video, including different light modifiers, how to work with your subject and being able to adjust on the fly, so be sure to watch it until the end. For more on set videos with Daniel Norton, see this playlist

(Seen via Fstoppers)