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Book Review: Hot Shoe Diaries by Joe McNally

December 12th, 2009 @ 10:00 GMT by Richard Stowey

Hot Shoe Diaries

Since the end of July, I have been much more interested in improving my technical and creative skills when it comes to photography. More specifically to this, off camera flash photography. The end goal is to be able to create a wide variety of creative photos which show character, depth and emotion. It’s a long road, but as with everything, you’ve got to start somewhere!

So my first port of call was the internet, and two main resources in particular, Strobist.com and Flickr. Highly useful info on getting started with off camera flash photography, and plenty of examples too.

Joe Mcnally’s book, The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes: Creative Applications of Small Flashes (Voices That Matter), is the perfect extension of that. And, as a body of examples specifically put together to showcase the extreme versatility of Nikon cameras, speedlights and accessories, it really inspires me towards what can be possible.

After attending a few group strobist events through Flickr groups, and tackling some if my own ideas, the book also helps to bridge the gap between what I’ve learned and where I want to go.

As a professional photographer who has spent the last 30 years behind the lens, Joe Mcnally puts literally tonnes if information into this book. Plus, unlike the free information available on various blogs, including Joe’s own, the information contained within is grouped, well thought about and presented with big colour images of each photo shoot. The other bonus is that you don’t have to spend days in front of a computer screen to get through it all.

The main thing which I have learned is that the creative idea behind the shot is the most important part, the lighting is secondary to the concept. Highly recommended to anyone interested in off camera flash photography, and even worth a browse just for the pictures.