New Workshop! Lighting 3 | Advanced Off Camera Flash

Tips & Tricks

Time to Break Out Your Speedlights | Advanced Lighting With Joe McNally

By Chris Nachtwey on July 24th 2014

I love the speedlight! They’re small, portable, and versatile. I carry no less than 3 with me on a session (just in case I need to do some three point lighting) and even more on a wedding day. Joe McNally is a wizard when it comes to using speedlights in many different situations and always comes away with great images.

In the Nikon sponsored video below, Joe shows us how he uses four Nikon speedlights and a smoke machine to transform a boring hallway into something more dramatic for a action-styled portrait.


Nikon D800

Nikon SB-910

Nikkor 70-200 f/2.8



Joe’s technique in the video is more advanced, but not all that hard to do yourself. Using four speedlights, Joe sets up two in the background that are gelled to back light the subject, highlight the fog from the fog machine, and create some nice contrasting colors in the hallway.

He then uses two speedlights in front of his subject, one high and one low, bouncing off a silver reflector. The two speedlights in the front bouncing off the reflector creates a more dramatic, punchy light, illuminating his subject. Joe uses the hallway to his advantage, using the shape to bring all the viewers attention to the subject.




I always love the tutorials Joe does, because they are easy to understand and can typically be replicated by readers at home. I like the use of the silver reflector to bounce the two speedlights in the front to create dramatic, punchy light that was hard, but not unflattering. I think this video is a great example of how versatile a few speedlights can be. Go grab yours and create some dramatic images!

Via: Nikon USA YouTube Page

Images captured via screen grab.


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Chris Nachtwey is a full-time wedding and portrait photographer based in Connecticut. He is the founder and creator of 35to220 a website dedicated to showcasing the best film photography in the world. Chris loves to hear from readers, feel free to drop him a line via the contact page on his website! You can see his work here: Chris Nachtwey Photography

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Basit Zargar


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  2. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for sharing the creative lighting vídeo from the Godfather of Speedlights! I love to watch these tutorials and try to learn from them. I would love to see if he using TTL on all four of them by setting his on camera flash to Master to operate all the other 4 units.

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  3. Andy O’Dowd

    I really need some more practice in using more than one speedlite. Especially balancing 2 of differing power to eliminate shadows caused by that difference.

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  4. Phil Bautista

    Sorry Joe but, if this is the shot you were after, I’m sorely disappointed. Right arm at an awkward angle, right toes chopped off, left leg looks like it’s chopped off at the knee (I know it’s actually behind his thigh), expression looks like he’s taking a dump. Well lit though.

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  5. Greg Faulkner

    What kind of stand is it in that second from last picture? The one with the feet that look splayed out flat?

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  6. Nick Viton

    You know what’s really impressive, is that he’s triggering with CLS. People knock CLS all the time. I’ve used it and sure it has some limitations, but I’ve found that it generally works better than you’d expect it to.
    (p.s. Grammar police: I don’t usually end my sentences with a preposition, but I’m lazy today.)

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