Haunted Forests and an Upside Down World « Joe McNally’s Blog

Hoping all are staying safe in these uncertain times. Hang in there.

Writing about photography has taken the place of actually doing it, for the most part, right now. Nikon has a large compendium of articles, videos and straight talk from lots of knowledgeable pros about all manner of storytelling and techniques over at their Learn & Explore site. They just posted an article written by long time friend Barry Tannenbaum about our recent Romanian adventure, part of which occurred in the forests of Transylvania, which is a place I’ve always wanted to go, being fascinated by the legends of Bram Stoker, Dracula and Vlad the Impaler since being a somewhat strange child.

Aha! Given the potential presence of the Count, lurking in the misty forest of Hoia Baciu, it was a mirrorless assignment. (Forgive me!)

But yes, we worked the Nikon Z system all the way through the job, from the leafy environs of the woods to a voluptuous, beautifully decayed mansion in Bucharest. We had fashion models and circus performers,  the Z 7, some new lenses, and an invitation to imagine a few pictures.

The picture above was more necessity being the mother of invention than a flight of imagination. Couldn’t drive a vehicle into the forest, but the hard working Oscar the horse was more than capable of pulling his cart, laden with our gear, deep into the woods. And the cart proved so rustically beautiful, it became the stage for Ana Maria who is lovely and mysterious in her caped presence. One light picture, with the new NIKKOR Z 85mm f/1.8 proving amazing sharpness, wide open. Add a little smoke to evoke the spirits of the vampires, and hopefully, you’re done by dark.

The beautiful and perhaps overlooked feature of the Z 7 is that it has resolution through the roof (45.7 megapixels) thus making shooting a square format portrait and using less of the chip a very doable thing. I have always loved the shape and formalism of square format portraiture, and this camera opens that door for me in admirable fashion. This is lit simply with a Lastolite Tri-grip reflector, silver side up, catching sunlight off the floor. It’s like panning for light, and finding a beam here and there, and bringing the reflector to bear.

I was able to fill the square with wonderful members of the Bucharest Metropolitan Circus, who took my mandate at camera to “make strange and close shapes” to a lovely new level. A shot like this is just fun to shoot, as you watch talented, physically beautiful and creative athletes bring your imagination to life in a more fully realized way than you had in your head.

Likewise the below….

There’s a fun BTS film from the forest, and more tech info in the Nikon Learn & Explore article.

Thanks galore to the Bucharest Metropolitan Circus, whose performers are off the charts. And to Ionut Ionescu and Andrei Marinescu who are production wizards, and pulled together all the details of this Romania-based shoot. Their company, Fast Ideas Production, is literally magical in creating visual possibilities. Which is appropriate for magical, mystical performers and locations. Love Romania, loved the crew, loved the talent. Many thanks!

And, of course, good wishes, hopes, and thoughts to all who might stop by the blog. Everyone’s hurting right now, and our industry, no stranger to tough times, is in the mix. I hope first and foremost for safety and health for all. Photographers are a resilient bunch and we will weather this storm. Hunker down, and hang in…..best, Joe





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