Basketball Cross-Lighting - Speedlites vs Alienbees

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by keith204, Dec 30, 2008.

  1. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Last night I hauled a couple bees, lightstands, cables, you name it to the court before the game, to setup a cross lighting setup on one end of the court. Ended up not being able to find a place to mount everything, and let alone plug in everything.

    Talked with the athletic director, and he is willing to help find a place to mount them. I'm thinking it'll be too much work, so shoot, maybe I'll order another 580EXII. I have the super clamps, the brackets, the skyports, etc, and this would take up quite a bit less room and be much handier than dealing with lightstands & long extension cords.

    Aha, the trick here. How long will a set of AA's last in a 580EXII for basketball cross-lighting? The strobes will be about 20-30 feet from the corner of the court, and 10 feet above the ground.

    Does anybody have experience with doing this?
     
  2. Dubious Drewski

    Dubious Drewski TPF Noob!

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    I don't know how many shots per minute you're going to try to crank out, but when I go nuts shooting a model with my strobes and my AF540 on a set of fully charged (rechargeable 2500Mah) energizers, I can usually shoot for almost two solid hours before the cycle time gets too slow and I need to swap out.
     
  3. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Amount of power needed AND recycle times are the deciding factors, Keith.

    I was going to write a whole big detailed thing, but let's do it the easy way becuase you can figure out a lot of this by yourself... no need for me to hand-hold you through some of the minor details ;) :D :

    Concept: You would need 4 BARE UN-DIFFUSED speedlights to do an entire gym, but lets look at setting up one half of a gym court... the other half is set up identically. Also, think higher-wider for flash placement.

    Two battery powered flashes set at about 20-25 feet off the ground and placed at the 1/2-way point between the court center-line and the hoops (maybe a touch closer to the hoops if you are not getting the lighting you need in the areas where there is a lot of action, closer to the hoop). They should be gelled to match the local ambient lighting. In a standard width gym, put them right up to the walls and as long as they are under 80 feet from the center of the gym to the strobe, they will have the effect you need.

    You do not really want to be setting the flashes much higher than 1/2 power becuase you want the light fall off to be much more more gradual giving you a much larger area to shoot vs blasting a small area of the court causing a very small sweet spot. Using more than 1/2 power also drains the battery faster, but if it turns out that you really have no choice, at full power, you should be able to get 200-250 shots before needing to replace the batteries. Assuming good 2700mah batteries (they come in 2900mah now and cheap), and a 1/2-time break in the game (when you would change the batteries whether they needed it or not), thats a 400-500 shot capability WITHOUT anything special. For your needs, that is more than adequate, no?

    Also, when aiming your lights, do not point them at the floor at the center of the court... you want them to overlap each other about 25% and aim them so that the beam is about 5-10 feet off the ground at the center of the gym. This will help feather the light in from all directions, making it smoother and giving you a much larger "sweet spot".

    If this setup is not enough... time to pull out your better cameras and start cranking up the ISO so that you can comfortably hit maximum sync speeds and apertures between F/4 and F/5.6. If you can do good exposures at F/2.8, ISO 100 and 1/60th shutter speeds, you are a simple walk in the park away from some good shots without motion blur. Crank that ISO!

    Your goal is not to blast the court with light... but to get JUST ENOUGH to enhance it.

    Oh... this is no problem for PWs to trigger at these distances... and also a walk in the park for a properly modded set of Cactus V2s triggers too. ;)

    Do a walk around on the gym floor if you can, before the game starts and get an idea of if you will need to relaign your lights differently or change aperture in specific areas. Your goal is to get soft even coverage from one side to the other and as wide as you can. Feather in the lighting a lot from top to bottom and from side to side, this helps.

    Final consideration... recycle times. You will be good for 2 pops close to each other (one second apart) and then a wait of about 2-3 seconds but don't be afraid. Batteries cannot kill your strobes so feel free to push them hard. This is a good technique that will give you time to get pics close together, but not really overtax the ability of the batteries to recharge your caps for the next volley. Now if you were to add external power packs, they are strong enough to let you go full power at 1 second recharge times, but now there is a danger! You can overheat and blow your strobes very easily if you do like 20 consecutive shots at full power! In this case, it will be up to you to take 2-3 shots... wait a few seconds and go again.


    Pics please!

    Edit: Camera suggested settings:
    - Spot metering
    - Aperture priority mode
    - Continual focus mode
    - WB set to match the conditions of the gym

    The goal is to keep shutter speeds as close to your max sync speed as possible, but consistent 1/125th is still fast and will net you some nice shots too!

    I hope this helps! :)

    Addendum: I was thinking how nice it would be to be able to place 4 1200 watt studio strobes in a place like this, incredible lighting! But man, that would be SO ANNOYING for the players. Less is more in this case in many ways.

    I love the ISO 6400 on my camera... almost makes flashes useless except as a form of artistic expression!
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  4. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you are seriously thinking of going with strobes for sports then take a good hard look at the Elinchrome Style RX 1200's. They are well suited for sports photography, of course with a price that matches their suitability. Studio Flash Systems - Digital Flash Systems - Elinchrom Flash Systems

    Their short burst time and fast recharge rate are outstanding for sports.
     
  5. tsaraleksi

    tsaraleksi TPF Noob!

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    I'd suggest trying to set up the Bees, the more light the better and with big strobe heads you can really produce a lot of light. If you can't get them set up right, then of course go with the workable option.
     
  6. keith204

    keith204 No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Hey guys thanks for all the info - it's exactly what I needed.

    Jerry, spot metering & aperture priority? If I'm using manual flashes off-camera, how on earth does this produce accurate results? I've always switched to manual mode when doing off-camera NON-ETTL work.

    I'll be using Elinchrom Skyports, not the Canon ETTL system. If what you're saying is true, then I have been missing out on something pretty cool I have a feeling...


    **just thinking this through - in Aperture priority mode, the camera's going to expose the image as if I didn't have a flash (since no flash is hooked up). But, the flashes are still triggered, adding more light to an already properly exposed image - thus making it too bright. Is there some way that the metering reads what type of output the speedlites are putting out?
     

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