Arena Lighting

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by jc77, Nov 3, 2009.

  1. jc77

    jc77 TPF Noob!

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    I do a lot of rodeos and horse shows during the summer months when they are held outdoors during the day, but I have to turn a lot of work away during the winter and at nights as they are held indoors and I don't have a lighting system.
    There are a few other rodeo photographers in my area, but they are not interested in helping me as I am the competition.
    My question is... what kind of lights should I buy? I know I need at least 2, and some pocket wizards. I am just clueless here... Would the 1600 AlienBees be powerful enough? The conditions are ranging from very, very dark outdoor arenas, to dimly lit indoor arenas. They are all action shots too, so they need to be bright enough to stop action. And yes, like most of us, I am on a budget... name brands are good.. then at least I'll know where to start looking .
    ANY thoughts or ideas are appreciated. :mrgreen:

    Jamie

     
  2. GeneralBenson

    GeneralBenson TPF Noob!

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    I"m surprised you're allowed to use flash when shooting horses in competition. Don't the horses freak out?
     
  3. jc77

    jc77 TPF Noob!

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    No, but if someone asked me to not shoot when they were up I definatley wouldn't. I don't want anyone to get hurt.
     
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I don't know much about rodeo photography or horse arena photography, but I do know that the arenas are large areas,and the throws from the flash units to the action would be quite a bit longer than in many indoor locations. I looked at the Alien Bees specification page at AlienBees Specs Chart
    and I see that the 1600 models with the 50 degree 11 inch reflector is listed as having an ISO/Feet guide number of 450 at full power. So with the light set up at 90 feet from the action, the aperture at ISO 100 would be 450 divided by 90, or f/5.0.

    Bumping up the ISO on the camera would allow you to shoot at a smaller aperture, or with a slightly lower flash power setting for faster recycling time. If you REALLY jack the ISO up, to say 1,000 or 1250 AND use flash, you'd get really fast recycling and your flash pops would be very short, less-noticeable pops. A portable battery/pure sine wave inverter like the Innovatronix Explorer XT will give you two AC outlets to plug in two lights, and reasonably rapid recycling--especially if you use higher IOS settings and thus reduced flash output.
     
  5. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Actually, with AB lights, the higher the power level...the shorter the flash duration. Although, the higher power 'pops' are louder (and obviously brighter) so are still more noticeable.
     
  6. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    Actually, I had already checked out the flash durations before I made my post, and was well aware of the AB's flash durations, which range from 1/1800 at Full power to 1/900 second at 1/32 power, so there's hardly any flash duration difference between a maximal power flash and a minimum power flash. I'm gonna estimate that at with the ISO dialled to ISO 1000 to 1250, somewhere around 1/3 to 1/4 power will be fine,and will give a flash duration around 1/1400 to 1/1200, which ought to be fast enough to stop most motion, but maybe leave a teensy-tiny bit of blur on only the most extreme motion to be found in rodeo. What people and animals notice isn't duration, but output level. An event that lasts 1/1400 versus 1/1800 second will seem to be indistinguishable in length to a human or a horse, but if the volume of output is cut down 66 percent to 1/3 total output, people will notice "less flash" than if the flash is fired at full power.

    What people are sensitive to however, are very high light output levels,like amounts that appear to "light up the night", so to speak. Running from an inverter, the reduced flash power will speed up recycle times quite a bit, which would be important on a bull ride that lasts 8.0 seconds for a full ride; less if the bull's better than the cowboy. That's also why I specified the Tronix Explorer XT--its more-powerful,dual-battery system also will give faster recycle times than the Vagabond II.

    I would be tempted to look at the exact setups the competing horse/rodeo shooters are using and just buy whatever they have, provided their photos look technically good. Speedotron Black Line and DynaLite are actually the two defacto "standard" arena light brands most high-end sports shooters have, and are the "house lights" at most all larger indoor US arenas, but AB's would seem to be up to the job,especially outdoors or where it's amply cool.
     
  7. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 TPF Noob!

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    This is interesting. I have friends involved in cowboy shooting. Most of the events are indoors. I have not tried flash because the effect on the horses is unknown. A bad reaction could get someone killed.
    Input from experienced horse photogs could be very useful to many.
     
  8. Plato

    Plato TPF Noob!

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    I've recently begun learning how to photograph riding horses and I would never consider using a flash. The owner of the stable told me that it's not a problem but I don't want to be responsible for that "once in a million" occurrence when the horse throws a rider because of my flash.
     
  9. GeneralBenson

    GeneralBenson TPF Noob!

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    I thought flash duration was always faster when the intensity is lower...? Are AB's different than other units?
     
  10. traceyge

    traceyge TPF Noob!

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    Are you implying that Alien Bee's get too hot to use indoors during warm weather for indoor arena/horse shows? If so, what are the problems and under what conditions?

    I'm a pro horse show shooter and I am buying AB1600's because many of the top pros throughout the US and Canada us the AB1600's for action such as Reining and Working Cowhorse (the latter being just as fast as rodeo) and one fellow (top in the world) uses AB1600's and has for years, with much success and no problems during anytime of the year and in some of the hottest, dustiest, closed-in arenas, so I'm curious as to what your statement is saying.

    Thanks

    Tracey
     
  11. gsgary

    gsgary Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I shoot horses and most places in the UK do not allow flash
     
  12. Rifleman1776

    Rifleman1776 TPF Noob!

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    Thank you. We will be doing some testing with the horses under controlled conditions. However, even if all goes well, I will have to limit my flash shots to the horses we test with.
     

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