This has always been one of my favorite headshots, done some years ago at our long lost Dobbs Ferry studio, by the Hudson River. Maggie Hood, the model, is a wonderfully lovely subject, with flaming tresses and a beautiful intensity in front of the lens.

Was teaching recently, and trying to explain how an all-flash exposure looks and feels different from one that incorporates available light into the final f-stop/shutter speed concoction. The above is such a slam dunk, all flash, all-the-time type of photo, shot with a large Octa camera right, at 1/250th at f8. Fun to do, and couldn’t be simpler. One light and her mood and look are frozen through the lens by the power of flash duration. Hair blowing with a studio fan just gets locked in beautiful, flowing waves, as it plays out in the wind. You could shoot like this all day and every piece of the photo would be under your control, chiseled into your pixels by the stopping power of flash. The light has lovely softness, but it also has power and direction.

But, add a little available light, the mood changes, as does the flow of the hair.

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The above is still a flash picture, and sharpness in her eyes is retained at 1/20th of a second at f2.8. Again, a fan does its work, but the hair is now being blown back into a zone governed by available light. The flash control gives way to the vagaries of Maggie’s hair literally blowing in the wind. She remains steady, thus sharp. The hair has a will of its own at this point. The light here is V-flat lighting, which is open and soft and has very little in the way of direction. It’s a tribute to Maggie’s command of the camera that she can turn virtually any kind of lighting to her advantage, and make the photog look good. She is doing a lot of acting now, having graduated from NYU with a BFA in Theater. All I can say is, film world look out, as she is up and coming and extremely talented. You can find her over on Instagram at maggiehood4.

Just a quick thing about shutter speeds, f-stops, light, and hair in the air.

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.