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|| News Item: Posted 1999-02-04

High School Gym Lighting
By Brian Vanderbrug, LA Times

I've been lighting high school gyms for a few years now. George Wilhelm and I would do it here and there when the light was very poor, but since it improved the look so dramatically we're kind of stuck doing it every time we shoot in one. Here's how I light them:

I use two Norman 400B's with Pocket Wizard radio slaves. I attach the strobes to anything available with Bogen Super Clamps. Even in a gym that look like there's nothing to clamp on to, I can always find something. The usual spots are bleacher railings or electrical conduits running along walls, but anything protruding from a wall will give the Super Clamp something to bite on to.

I try for a spot as high as I can get and aim the strobe heads between the top of the key and center court, and slightly up toward the ceiling. I try to secure the battery pack by hanging it around something with the strap and use gaffers tape to secure the radio slave receivers.

Since I'm basically lighting the center of the court, it gives me nice feathered light falling off on the near basket, and flat even looking light falling off on the far basket. I shoot with and 80-200 on the end I'm sitting on, and use a 300mm to shoot the far end. I have a Radio Shack mini-phone splitter so I can shoot with two cameras on one transmitter. Using 800 speed film and the strobe pack at 50 watt seconds, I can usually get f4 to f5.6 on the near side and f2.8 to f4 on the far end without pushing the film.

The usual variables which could cause any problems include really big gyms, gyms with dark-colored walls or unusually high ceilings. Bumping up the power to the heads usually solves the problems but at the expense of recycle time.

As far as setup time, I try to get to the gym early to scout out a good spot to clamp the lights up. Some gyms are familiar and some aren't but I probably average less than 10 minutes to set them up and meter it.

I've had one coach object to my lights but only after I asked him first. He said no. So I don't' ask for permission anymore. I haven't had a problem since.

If you have any questions or comments feel free to let me know. You can call 818.772.3322 of email me

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