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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Need to professionally strobe Gym, Ideas?
Patrick Fallon, Student/Intern, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 6:14 PM on 01.31.11
->> My former high school is renovating their gym, with this there is a budget to provide for a quality strobe setup.

The yearbook and newspaper are highly ranked in the country, including an awesome photo staff. They have been using 2 Alien Bees bounced off the ceiling, but we want to install something more permanent, powerful, and safer.

Basic size of the gym would be 3 hoops wide x 1 court length, but the lights would be focused onto the main center court. Ceiling is painted white. We like the softer look of the bounced light, but are also interested in the difference of direct light. Any thoughts here?

The gym has sports including Basketball and Volleyball.

Depending on direct vs. bounced light:
A preliminary plan would consist of 4 or 6 fan-cooled strobed connected with AC power to multimax pocketwizards on a single channel in three groups.

Currently looking at Speedotrons and Elinchrom. Also thinking about DynaLite and Profoto. There is a budget to do this right, so willing to spend extra for better units that will last. However, I have to look into the logistics of using a head/pack system vs. monoblocks (White Lightening), since there is not an accessible catwalk system.

Reliability, flash duration and durability are important. They will be enclosed in a protective cage (pesky high school PE students love to throw balls at things).

So lots of questions, curious what answers you might have. Perhaps my question could be simplified to ask, what would be a "dream" setup and what would be a more "realistic" setup.

Thanks,
Patrick
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Dave Einsel, Photographer, Photo Editor
Houston | TX | United States | Posted: 6:34 PM on 01.31.11
->> How high is the ceiling? How high is the mounting area? This is important for a number of reasons - flare issues and coverage area stick out in my mind. Access to the units is also important because if you trip a fuse on a monoblock mounted out of reach it will be difficult to reset. Pack and head options might give you easier access to resetting fuses or adjusting power. Lots to sort out. Good luck.
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David Welker, Photographer, Student/Intern
Springfield | MO | USA | Posted: 7:02 PM on 01.31.11
->> Patrick,

Take a look at my website (Turfimages.com) and let me know if you like the look of the basketball photos. If so, Shoot me an email and I can go more in depth about my set up. Also, Dave #1 brings up a good point about the access due to the power issues. If I can be of any help, feel free to contact me.
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Dave Prelosky, Photographer
Lower Burrell | Pa | US | Posted: 7:11 PM on 01.31.11
->> This would be one of those times when I'd find the rep for the brands you're considering and have a conversation with them.
There are scads of folks here who can offer opinions, but I'd make a "request for proposal - or RFP" from the folks who sell the goods. Ask for details regarding coverage, power output, power consumption, controls, air flow, operating temperature range and anything else you can think of that might not be obvious in the online brochure. When you bid the purchase, you'll need some mechanism to tailor the it to the desired gear - even if it's only something like "The flash head shall be assembled using 5 Torx #20 screws"
Remember that you'll also need to get the electrical designer involved to insure there are dedicated circuits, some sort of engineer to certify the overhead installation is sound, and perhaps a fire department sign off as well.
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Corey Perrine, Photographer
Augusta | GA | USA | Posted: 8:10 PM on 01.31.11
->> What is your budget?

How many heads do you want?

How big is the gym?

How tall is the ceiling?

How bright is the ambient light?

Too many variables to give a correct response. Give us more info please.

-C
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Dave Breen, Photographer
Somerset | PA | USA | Posted: 11:25 AM on 02.01.11
->> Something like Buff's Cyber Commander would let you adjust settings from the floor. I don't know how any of their strobes would compare to the ones you mentioned.
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Patrick Fallon, Student/Intern, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 12:34 PM on 02.01.11
->> Thanks for the questions, I'll report back!
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 2:56 PM on 02.01.11
->> I know that it's off topic but.... Why not consider adding additional arena lighting to court area? The benefit being that the arena lights would also aid in TV/video and allow for multiple shooters to capture action at lower ISO/better settings. Sooner or later we'll all be on video and then we'll be screaming for more arena light in general.
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 3:10 PM on 02.01.11
->> Eric.....my thoughts exactly! If they are refurbing the lights and upgrading the ambient light with the new day light balanced tube packs, there is less of a need for strobes. The gym we are shooting in this Sat. still needs the strobes, but 75% of the gyms we have been covering for the last 10 years have upgraded their lighting to the point where ISO 2500-3200 is working for us fine.

Pat...ask about the gym lights. Three groups of strobes, all firing at the same time....I can see the post now: "They won't let use our new strobes"
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Jordan Murph, Photographer, Assistant
Honolulu & San Diego | HI/CA | USA | Posted: 7:28 PM on 02.01.11
->> Patrick,

Every building is unique and different. And not to be a jerk and poo-poo any of this, but it's all kind of meaningless because the only way to do this right is to have a professional come in and do a walkthrough and inspect the building first. There are soooo many different variables that go into something like this. Sharing data on a message board just won't get it done properly.

If you want this done right, you should get in touch with Don Liebig, Darrell Miho, Matt Brown, Nils Nilsen, or Shawn Cullen, all of whom are based in So-Cal. Hire them as consultants, bring them in to do a walkthrough, see what they would do, and it will be done the right way.

Good luck Patrick.

Aloha,
Jordan
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Robby Gallagher, Student/Intern, Photo Editor
Brookings | SD | USA | Posted: 7:52 PM on 02.01.11
->> Well I use two Alien Bee 800s in Frost Arena at SDSU. They work pretty well, but would be better if I had four like SDSU's PR photographer. I like the look of the two and I think it works really well.
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Jason Heffran, Photographer
Tarentum | PA | United States | Posted: 8:31 PM on 02.01.11
->> +1 JORDAN

Bring in an "expert". I don't think you want to be the one on the "hot seat" should something not perform as expected. I wouldn't.

In my experience, unless it was spelled out in the RFP that a specific amount of this budget was to be used for photography/video lighting, you definitely don't want to be the one that the school board points at when there is an issue or a disgruntled person questions the financial decision.

Have that question be asked of anyone that voted against the budget and you could potentially find yourself with a headache when all you were trying to do was be helpful.

I'd rather be a photographer than a politician...
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Doug Keese, Photographer
New Orleans | LA | United States | Posted: 11:47 PM on 02.01.11
->> I would also consider hard-wiring all the lights using zip line and then connecting your wizards, etc. at a position where you can easily access to turn it on/off, switch channels, etc. SI rarely lights a place w/o hard-wiring all the packs. As for getting them to put in brighter lights, just remember that the brighter the ambient light, the more power you're gonna need from your strobes to overpower the ambient and avoid ghosting in your images. It's technically easier to light a dark gym than a bright one. And I second the idea of getting Shawn Cullen or any of those guys.
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Patrick Fallon, Student/Intern, Photographer
Columbia | MO | USA | Posted: 5:00 PM on 02.02.11
->> Hi Jordan. As always, you have the best answers.

Thanks for your help. I should have mentioned that the school adviser had contacted Mr. Miho before I posted here and is looking to hire a professional consultant for the final plan. This was to get a few preliminary thoughts, ideas, concerns to think about. Obviously everyone here has been very helpful, but as you said, the best thing to do is to hire a professional consultant.

They are going to be installing brighter lights, but as Doug mentioned, you need more power to overpower the ambient light and avoid ghosting - hence our intention to have a more powerful setup than just two alienbees.

As for politics and budgets, the department has been very good at managing advertising resources to pay for projects like these directly from yearbook/newspaper funds that make things like 300mm f/2.8s, D700s, remote cameras, and other quality gear and printing. The staffs work tirelessly to product a great product that highlights the students of the school every year. For example, with the surf team, the photo staff wanted to shoot more than just from the beach...
http://www.yearbooks.biz/assets/images/showcase/main/411.jpg

Thanks everyone for your help!
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Matt Cashore, Photographer
South Bend | IN | USA | Posted: 6:13 PM on 02.02.11
->> This is a HIGH SCHOOL yearbook?!?! Wwwwwwwow.
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Octavian Cantilli, Photographer, Assistant
Columbus | OH | United States | Posted: 6:48 PM on 02.02.11
->> Damn Patrick! Where did you go to HS... so I know where to move if I ever have kids! lol
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Matthew Bush, Photographer
Hattiesburg | MS | USA | Posted: 9:30 PM on 02.02.11
->> Damn........ Your ad guys want to come work for my paper ?
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Radu Rosca, Photographer
Tirgu Mures | MS | Romania | Posted: 3:50 AM on 02.03.11
->> A little off-topic, didn't wanted to start a new thread. Any ideas on the average life of the AB-800? I found a couple to buy, they are 5 years old and were used as an amateur. They look pretty nice in the images but i'm a bit concerned by their age.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 9:03 AM on 02.03.11
->> 2 of my b800's are 5+ years old. One went in for service last year and the other is still going strong. These two were used in a damp environment for extended periods of time and that was what corroded the one that needed service. If they look in good shape and didn't spend lots of time in a pool or hockey rink I wouldn't bee too concerned.
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 10:28 AM on 02.03.11
->> "a damp environment"...note to self: DO NOT go into Eric's steam bath! The bright lights you see are not from the disco ball hanging from the ceiling.
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Jon Longo, Photographer
Independence | KY | USA | Posted: 9:54 AM on 02.08.11
->> 4+ years on my AB800's. The tubes have easily exceeded the 250K flash ratings. Oddly enough, they both blew within an hour of each other this past weekend. Just keep some extra bulbs on had. For $39.00, its cheap insurance.
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Patrick Murphy-Racey, Photographer
Powell | TN | USA | Posted: 11:45 PM on 02.11.11
->> patrick, let me know if you want any help with your gym's strobe system... I've consulted on many installs and work closely with Dynalite on their newest arena system that is amazing... pm-r
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Thread Title: Need to professionally strobe Gym, Ideas?
Thread Started By: Patrick Fallon
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