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Help! What lighting would you use for basketball team portraits?


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May 20, 2007
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Bolivar, MO
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These are K-1st graders in an old gym with wood floors.

My first bball team shoot :) Anyway, we'll have a team shot, and then individual ones. What lighting setup would you use?

I'd like to only have to use my 430 on a bracket...
for the individual shots, I have seen many great pictures just using a bounce card ala abetterbouncecard.com and a bracket...

I haven't had very much experience with groups. I tend to actually hate groups...sorry.
Would my Fong Lightsphere (clear) come in handy here? or is the gym too big? i'm beginning to think it may work well, though it'll use a lot of power.
In a gym, I would just shoot the flash right at them...because bouncing off the ceiling probably won't do a whole lot. The Fong Dong is at it's best when bouncing off of walls and ceiling...so I think that it would be a waste in a gym.

One concern will be the light temp of the lights in the gym...they probably won't mix well with your flash. You could try to overpower the ambient with your flash but that might leave the background looking very yellow(ish). Another option would be to gel your flash to match the lights.

From what I've seen of these types of photos...I think that simple lighting is best. If you can away with just using your flash, the I'd go with that. You should have much of a problem with shadows, if it's on a bracket...but I'd be careful of putting them up against a wall anyway.

If you can get two lights and have them off camera, that might be best for the group shot...but the one flash may be good enough. Besides, these types of shots are practically 'documentary' type shots anyway.

The individual shots can be more creative but I still think the lighting should be kept fairly simple. (these are young kids after all). If you have a wall that is not too colored, maybe move them close to it and bounce the flash right off the wall.
Maybe get creative with poses and props (ball, hoop, shoes etc). I think that if you get a shot that is sharp, well exposed and has a good expression...it will be successful. Add a prop or two and the parents will be very happy.
I would for individual shots of the little tikes, use direct flash on a bracket... add a bounce card if you like the softer lighting. For group or in other words team photos, if available to you, I would use two portable studio flash units with umbrella's. As a plan B I would use two standard flash units mounted on stands with a triggering device. And if you do not have either capability, you'll have to use a camera/bracket mounted flash but direct, no bounce card. Good luck to you.
I took the pictures, and found a good lighting setup. With the direct flash on a bracket, it still cast shadows and glares even though I had the kids at half court.
With the Fongsphere pointed up, it was a total waste. My flash fired at full power and didn't do anything worthwhile.

However, I pointed the fongsphere straight ahead at the team. It worked GREAT Soft light, no shadows, no glare, WB nice. SUPER!

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