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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Strobes: bounced off the the ceiling or off the wall?
Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 1:11 AM on 12.17.04
->> I need your opinions, on this please.
With all the postings lately on HS BBall and strobes I took my trusty old Norman 800 powerpack to a recent day of shooting and put two lights on stands on each side of the backboard and bounced them into the ceiling, and then I turned them into the wall to experiment on the difference. The ceiling was white and I had the lights high up about 20-25 feet going up, and the wall was grey concrete bricks with red banners all over the place. As usually is the case at most high school gyms space was tight. and to my surprise no one had a problem with me setting up strobes, they actually said it will make the kids feel important.
I doubt it will be this easy at other venues but I hope so if I get there early enough.
I have created a hidden gallery with images from some of the games, they are labeled as to how they were lit, and I included two shots from the first day I was there which I shot with on camera flash. With Strobes I was able to shoot at ISO 200, with on camera flash ISO 1000
Please give me feedback as to which you prefer and any suggestions are welcome.
Here is the link:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/modernexpo/strobes/
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Rick Burnham, Photographer
Enfield | CT | USA | Posted: 8:23 AM on 12.17.04
->> Louis I have done both. I have used walls when the celings were very dark material but I prefer to come off of the celing. I know from the stuff I have done coming off the ceiling is better because it seems that you can spread the light more evenly across the court.
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Stanley Hu, Photographer
Cambridge | MA | USA | Posted: 9:04 AM on 12.17.04
->> Louis,

The shots with the strobes turned into the wall look a lot more dramatic and cleaner. The darkened background because of the flash fall-off gets rid of the distracting background too. Nice work.
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 4:29 PM on 12.17.04
->> I like the dark backgrounds as well from off the wall, but I can shoot the other half of the court as well if I go off the ceiling. Thanks for the input.
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Rick Burnham, Photographer
Enfield | CT | USA | Posted: 12:12 AM on 12.18.04
->> I was just going to say that a dark background equals light fall off. So if you want to be able to shoot more of the court you need to get the lights up.
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Dick Van Nostrand, Photographer
Bay City | MI | USA | Posted: 9:32 AM on 12.18.04
->> When faced with bouncing lights off a gym's dark ceiling I've tilted the lights slightly allowing some spill to light the players. Using the digital camera as a Polaroid I can usually see when the lights are tilted too far and are starting to look "direct". I've found that with experimenting a little with light placement I can shoot with good (maybe not great) lighting in just about every gym I shoot in.
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Sue Jarrett, Photographer
Beaufort | SC | USA | Posted: 12:15 PM on 12.18.04
->> Geez, I thought the oncamera flash shots were pretty good (I went backwards) until I saw both the wall and ceiling stuff. I liked them both! Now I have to run out and spend money on new lights!
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Brian Jackson, Photographer, Photo Editor
South San Francisco | CA | USA | Posted: 6:53 PM on 12.18.04
->> Sue-

Instead of grabbing some strobes, you can also string together several Vivitar 283/285's and bump the ISO up a bit to 400 and get similar results for about 1/4th the price.

Even with 2 flashes in the corners on lite stands will be a dramatic difference in the results from on camera flash. Connect them with some zip cord and away you go ;)
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Joe Nicola, Photographer
Fort Worth | TX | USA | Posted: 8:32 PM on 12.28.04
->> Hey Louis,

I just wanted to weigh in with my latest attempt using BOTH bounce and direct lighting at a HS freshman basketball game today.

I shot on my 20D at 200 ISO, 1/250th at f3.5 on a 70-200 f2.8L using two Alien Bee's B800s. One was in the corner opposite my corner and was pointed at the top of the key, 1/4 power, while the other was right behind me in the other corner, pointed up into the corner of the gym so that it bounced off the walls and ceiling. That light was at full power.

They are images 3, 5,6,7 and 8 in my gallery. Let me know what you think.

Joe
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Jason DeMott, Photographer
Gainesville | VA | USA | Posted: 8:50 PM on 12.28.04
->> Louis,

Your stuff looks good, _almost_ as good as your hs football stuff ;) , which is very nice btw. I think you'll find that people generally won't have a problem with you strobing, the only time you may have issues is when you bounce, especially off a wall. If you want it to be a lock, chat up the AD a bit beforehand and establish a rapport, I wouldn't even mention the strobes, just that you're there to shoot, etc, trust me, this will go a long way.

My personal opinion is that direct light up and off the court shot down to the key looks best. It's a bit contrasty but really gives the images life. Your shots bounced off the ceiling still give some good contrast but the light looks a bit portraitlike for peak action sports images. The wall bounced images even more so. Also, when you shoot direct, you'll be able to get more light hence higher over ambient and get some sharper stuff.

One more thing about bouncing is that you can't control the spill and you end up lighting the whole place, not sure it's a desired effect with a drab high school gym background. The dark backgrounds just make the players pop.

I'm far from an expert on the subject but wanted to give you my opinions.

Regards,

-Jason
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Matt Barton, Photographer
Lexington | KY | USA | Posted: 9:10 PM on 12.28.04
->> Louis-
I gotta second Jason's comments. I find direct is the way to go for numerous reasons. Cost, lighting control, rim light, color, sharpness, etc, etc. A search will reveal dozens more. But you have some solid action shots regardless. Nice work.
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Clark Brooks, Photographer, Photo Editor
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 10:23 PM on 12.28.04
->> Sue:

I'm with Brian Jackson. The ideal kit is 2 each - vivitar 283s, bogen super clamp, vivitar vari-power adapters, pocket wizards or wein pro sync receivers and one transmitter for either, and two pc cords. Optional would be two quantum battery ones for faster recycle times. Set the vari-power adapters to 1/2 to 1/4 power and you can shoot 1/250 @ 3.5 at ISO 800. Add a third, flash and you'll be able to shoot both ends of the court pretty easy.

Best part is it all fits in one nice little camera bag you can shoulder in out of a gym with ease. No fuss, no mess, no light stands haul or electrical sockets to hunt down. Plus you won't even have to worry about someone tripping over you lights.

Set up time and tear down time at most is 10 minutes total. For more details go to:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/message_display.html?tid=1054

PS - don't look at the images in my profile - those were all shot with a experimental set up this time around. If you want examples just ask and I'll post a few. Later this week I'll be shooting back with my normal road kit.
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Jason DeMott, Photographer
Gainesville | VA | USA | Posted: 10:50 PM on 12.28.04
->> Clark,

I'd love to be able to carry my lighting kit in one small bag, however...For a typical gym, 1/250 f/3.2 ISO800 is only about 2 stops over ambient. With that much ambient, I don't see how shooting 1/250 would stop the action enough for a crisp shot. Could you post a few so we can see ?

Thanks,

-Jason
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Louis Lopez, Photographer
Fontana | CA | USA | Posted: 10:57 PM on 12.28.04
->> Joe, I like the look of your lighting as well, I will be at Ayala's Best of the West Tournament this week and I will post some images trying a few of everyones suggestions. Thanks Jason for the compliments and the suggestions as well. I will try to remember to shoot the setup to show.
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Michael J. Treola, Photographer
Neptune | NJ | USA | Posted: 11:14 PM on 12.28.04
->> Bouncing off the ceiling means you're lighting the rafters of a high school gym. Why anyone would want to see the rafters of a high school gym I don't know. It's ugly up there so why show it!

Without question direct lighting a floor is the best method for lighting a small gym. If you do the legwork of aiming your lights right and setting the power properly you can cover the entire playing surface easily.

Also on a number of the photos there is significant light fall off both on the players and the playing surface. This won't happen with direct light if done right. I think your images nicely show peak action but are hurting in the lighting.

Happy Holidays Everyone!

Tree
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Clark Brooks, Photographer, Photo Editor
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 12:45 AM on 12.29.04
->> Jason:

The flash sync speed on a 1Dm2 is 1/250 so there is no choice there. Here are a few shots from earlier this season. This was my second game of the season and before the latest Canon firmware upgrade so they are not that exciting.

http://www.sportsshooter.com/wolverine/bballflash/index.html

FYI- the images in my SS gallery were shot with a White Lightning 10,000 and a 283. The WL, set at 1/3 power, was my main and the 283 the backlight. I was shooting at ISO 560, 1/250 @ F4.5. This is one of the few gyms where I have easy access to AC.
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Michael Stevens, Photographer
Phoenix | AZ | USA | Posted: 1:38 PM on 12.29.04
->> You've got some great "typical" gyms in your neck of the woods, Jason.

There's one Jr. College gym in town that I know of that gives me ISO 800 1/250 f/2.8 and that is exceptional light. The more typical gym here is more along the lines of ISO 3200 1/250 f/2.8.

Mike
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Jason DeMott, Photographer
Gainesville | VA | USA | Posted: 1:50 PM on 12.29.04
->> Michael,

The statement was :

"For a typical gym, 1/250 f/3.2 ISO800 is only about 2 stops over ambient"

1/250 f/3.2 ISO3200 would be the two stops referenced.

Regards,

-Jason
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Devin Dahlgren, Photographer
Everett | WA | USA | Posted: 2:51 PM on 12.29.04
->> Jason,

It is the flash duration speed that freezes the action. Not the shutter speed of your camera. Flash duration is the amount of time the strobe takes to turn on and off. It is this blast of light that is freezing the action. So as long as your strobes are giving two stops or more over ambient, It will freeze the action at what ever the duration speed is. This is why it is important when selecting a strobe package to know what the duration speed is. I use Elinchrom 600 which have a duration speed of 1/2050th of a second. That's Fast! Typicaly though, as long as your strobes duration speed is 1/1200th or faster you should be getting really sharp images. This being said, if your sync speed is 1/125th, or even 1/60th, you can still freeze the action as long as you are able to get two stops over ambient. Although, getting two stops over ambient at those shutter speeds could be tough.

If you have any questions feel free to contact me?

Devin
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christopher koutsis, Photographer
huntington | ny | USA | Posted: 3:11 PM on 12.29.04
->> Hey guys, I know this is probably unorthodox, but would some of you mind posting a link to your "ORIGINAL" unedited photos along side your edited ones. I'd just like to see what they look like out of the camera (and not just your best ones). I like to consider myself a pretty good adjuster, but I know when I shoot a game and post images, that I don't want to edit all 100-200 pictures either. If you guys are making pictures this nice without adjusting I'm going to be very impressed! Anyway, if anyone has the time that would be great, if not, no sweat! Great work guys, these strobe lighting threads for bball have been a great resource! Oh, Devin, I never thanked you for posting the pics of your setup from your first thread... Too bad you don't live less than 3000 miles away... I believe I at least owe you a beer for that!
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Jason DeMott, Photographer
Gainesville | VA | USA | Posted: 3:49 PM on 12.29.04
->> Devin,

I appreciate your input, but I know the relationship between strobe/ambient/shutter speed/aperture. I'm not sure why everyone is getting hung up on this shutter speed issue, it's 1/250 for most of us since we mostly shoot MkII's.

I think the issue regarding the # of stops above ambient in order to freeze action is a subjective one and comes down to one's perception of acceptable "freezing". I personally don't think 2 stops over ambient is going to look as crisp as I'd like it to be, to each his own.

-Jason
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Clark Brooks, Photographer, Photo Editor
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 4:34 PM on 12.29.04
->> For clarification - the exposures I gave in my post are NOT the ambient readings. Those are flash exposures. Most of the gyms in my area are about ISO 3200, F2.8 @ 1/125 or worse. The settings above with the flashes set at 1/2 power work in every location.

Devin is correct, and SS member Patrick Murphy-Racey I believe will back him up with this, in saying that the flash duration makes a difference.

One of the reasons I use the 283s at ISO 800 is because the lower the power output setting, the shorter the units' flash duration. I've tried them at ISO 400 with the output at 3/4 and full power noticed ghosting in some images depending on the movement of the players. At 1/2 power the duration is about 1/1200 of a second I believe.
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Devin Dahlgren, Photographer
Everett | WA | USA | Posted: 5:22 PM on 12.29.04
->> Christopher,

Ask and you shall recieve. I've posted some shots on a hidden gallery with captions.

I've posted three images from three stops over ambient, two and a half stops over and two stops over. (Ambient being, 1/250, ISO 200, f1.8) Tell me two stops over ambient doesn't look great. Any blur you see is actually shallow depth of field issues, not motion blur.

http://www.sportsshooter.com/devilman/editvsuneditedbball

Oh, and about that beer. If ever we meet you can be sure I'll take you up on your offer!

Cheers,

Devin
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Thread Title: Strobes: bounced off the the ceiling or off the wall?
Thread Started By: Louis Lopez
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