Nothing like lighting on the fly, inside a small, silver box. That was pretty much the order of the day last week when I collaborated with Samy’s Camera to shoot a series of portraits of super hip, super delicious food trucks in LA. We shot stills, all lit with Speedlights, and in the backgroun,d we had a great video crew from local film schools documenting the process. Look for a series of lighting videos up on the Samy’s site soon. Got lots of questions on social media, so I wanted to answer some now…

First up was Blast Ice Cream truck – cool looking truck, with a challenging interior to sort out. The saving grace was having a terrific subject, Court Hackworth, who makes ice cream with liquid nitrogen, right there in the truck. The flash freeze of the nitro is so quick, it makes the ice cream really creamy and crazy smooth. He’s got a great look, and of course, the vapors make it appear he is creating a weird science experiment in there, as opposed to fruit-laden, delicious ice cream. The truck is, of course, a shiny cube on wheels, which makes lighting an interesting proposition.

All Speedlights, SB-5000 units. Two are behind him, one with a warm gel and the other with a deep theatrical blue gel on it. A third, also gelled warm, is up above the mixer with a snooted grid, providing some light for the nitro fog. Outside are two more SB-5000’s, fitted into a brand new Lastolite strip soft box, with a fabric grid. (This soft box is just out, and basically about 1’x6′. Nicely designed, really works. More tk on this shaper, as I will be using it a lot.) The strip nature of the box outside the truck window mimicked the shape of the window itself, so it seemed like a natural thing to do.

Below is a BTS pic, shot by Jason Ryan, a good shooter, based in LA, who was kind enough to assist on this series. I shot all the food trucks with a Nikon D850, and in this instance, a 16mm f2.8 fisheye lens. I figured with wonderful subject matter like food trucks, it was time to have some fun and pull out the wilder lenses.

Heading to San Fran next and working with the folks at Samy’s for a lively give and take about pictures on Wednesday, August 1 (7:00pm – 9:00pm) where we’ll talk about recent shoots like the LA Food Trucks. A fun part of the night will be critique and discussion of pictures sent in by folks who are going to attend. Did it in LA and had a great time. Event tickets here: Town Hall Evening at Samy’s Camera San Francisco.

More tk…..

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Joe McNally
Joe McNally is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning photographer whose prolific career includes assignments in nearly 70 countries. McNally is known world-wide as not only one of the top, technically excellent photographers of his generation, but his charming demeanor, confidence and humor make him a sought-after choice from CEO’s to celebrities to commercial and magazine clients alike. He is among the rare breed of photographer who has bridged the world between photojournalism and advertising, amassing an impressive commercial and advertising client list including FedEx, Sony, ESPN, Adidas, Land’s End, General Electric, Epson, MetLife, USAA, New York Stock Exchange, Lehman Brothers, PNC Bank, and the Beijing Cultural Commission. McNally is equally comfortable climbing buildings or lighting a telescope to capturing quiet, sensitive subject matter with confidence in medical surroundings. He has shot numerous cover stories and highly complex features for the National Geographic, LIFE, and Sports Illustrated, where his research skills and unmatched preparedness were highly valued.