Peachpit Press

Author: Joe McNally

Review by Conrad J. Obregon

My biggest complaint up until now about books about the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS) is that, while those books told you what all the buttons and switches did, they didn’t tell you much about how to use these spectacular lighting tools. Now Joe McNally has filled the gap.

The Hot Shoe Diaries
presents many of the photographer’s images with an explanation of how he used CLS to light the subjects. He starts out with just one speedlight, then goes to two or more and then to “Lotsa Lights”, including one photograph made with forty-seven speedlights! There is even an appendix that tells the reader how to set up a Nikon speedlight for CLS that is the most succinct explanation I’ve ever seen. Along the way the author discusses not only the lights, but methods of diffusion, light stands and other methods of attachment, gels and the way to bring drama to an image. McNally doesn’t even touch the usual portrait set-ups of main, fill, hair and background light, which were covered by earlier CLS books by other photographers. Instead he goes for the use of speedlights to create images with impact, even if they are not realistic, although he shows how to do that too. McNally is a great photographer and his images can help open one’s mind to the “Creative” part of CLS. At the same time he is a money-shooter so he shows you how to get in and get out quickly when you have to.

Even though the author shows you creative ways to use one or a couple of speedlights, he will definitely feed your NAS (Nikon Acquisition Syndrome) when you see what can be done with more and more lights.

But be warned. McNally’s book, “The Moment It Clicks” was as interesting to read for what it revealed of his personality as for what it revealed about lighting. The editors appear to have gone over the top to make this book even more McNallyesque. If deese and dose and dem and non-agreement of subject and verb and twisted tenses and undeleted expletives bother you, or if the Scott Kelby sense of humor puts you off, (although McNally’s is of a different kind) you may have a difficult time with this book. However you will find it worth your while to tolerate the language if you are interested in creatively using flash.

I’d like to say to Canon and other brand camera owners that there is something here for you, and there is, if you can adapt your style, but it’s clear this book is aimed at Nikon users.

This post sponsored by the Digital SLR Store