How to improve this lighting

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by Nwcid, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Last year I was asked to shoot the sports images for a small local school. I saw what the previous person was providing and I knew I could do at least as good. I got great feedback from the athletes and parents, however I want to do better. I will be shooting this school again this year and I would like to pick up a couple more.

    I feel like I have a lot of it figured out, but one is still a huge challenge to me. When shooting I try to capture the athletes in their setting. So in the case of the basket ball team I wanted capture the hoop in the background. I also wanted it to standout from the wall as a secondary focal point.

    Using the equipment and knowledge I had at the time I used 2 manual speed lights set at 1/1 to light the hoop. Since I did not want to light the whole wall I used a regular sheet of black construction paper to basically make a snoot for each light. I used a main strobe with a 40" shoot though umbrella to light the player.

    I have added 2 images, not ones I provided (nor are they processed), but this pair is the best to show when the speed lights did and did not fire.

    I would like some feedback about the overall shot, the lightning, if there is a better way to do this. I have my own thoughts about the image(s) but I don't want to share them yet so they do not sway your thoughts.

    NP winter sports-085.jpg NP winter sports-086.jpg


     
  2. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    To be honest, the lighting is the last thing I'd worry about here. I like your idea of trying to 'put the player in his/her environment' by bringing the hoop into it, BUT... there's soooo much else going on it gets lost. The shadows and banners on the wall, the doors, the big black area behind the player...
    Is there somewhere that the school emblem is painted on a wall that you could use as a backdrop? Failing that, how about shooting on a dark background and adding the school emblem and maybe the player's name as text layers?

    As for the lighting itself, there's two ways I approach this sort of work; dramatic or non-dramatic. Nor non-dramatic, I tend to go with a fairly basic two-light portrait setup, with a medium (~36") key, and a large, on-axis fill. For the dramatic, I use two lights, equal power, one on each side, just a bit forward of his body center and aimed right at his side, with tight grids. I usually do both in one session by setting up each one on a separate power pack and on a separate PW channel, then all I have to do is flip channels and get two totally different lighting setups.
     
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  3. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I really appreciate the feedback, even though it was a bit tough to take. I will better explain how I ended up in this location not to justify, but to get to "best" solutions.

    This is a very small school of about 170 kids from K-12, my wife teaches the entire 3rd grade class and only has 10 students.
    They do not have any outside logos or logos anywhere else. The black area behind the player is the wall pad under the basket. The doors and banners just suck. Shooting toward the opposite basket is even worse as it is also the stage for many events. I have added an image of what that direction looks like. I had considered shooting one of the 4 side baskets and using the closed bleachers as a backdrop, however those hoops are the poor looking half round, solid white ones.

    I had considered shooting on a backdrop, or even a "green screen" and doing some kind of composite or overlays. I just felt like if that was done it really could be a picture taken anywhere. My goal was to "attach the player to where they play", however that also needs to be balanced with a quality image. This is where I am struggling. I want something the players can be proud of and be a reminder of the time they spent at that gym.

    I had even considered shooting multiple images of the gym and heavily modifying it to be "clean" and then "green screening" the players onto that image. At the moment I do not possess that skill and seems (not sure, I have never done it) like it would be a lot of post production work.

    You lighting description makes sense.



    DSC_9110.jpg
     
  4. smoke665

    smoke665 TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    Been a lot of years since I've shot any basketball players and then it was during a game for the paper.

    My first impressions are, as TI said above I like the concept but the background is to busy. Next your lighting setup provides no separation of the player from the background so he gets lost in the confusion. Finally I've never been a fan of a shoot through umbrella. Light goes everywhere, and you lose a lot. In a big open area that could be problematic. On my small screen, it looks like the center point of the light is on the chest, with the falloff lighting the face, leaving the eyes looking dull.

    Just a suggestion, but I would likely try four lights. A 36" gridded softbox off camera axis as suggested above for the main, though I'd probably raise it a bit higher then suggested to get more light in the eyes, (and keep my catch light in the upper quadrant of the eye), and a large gridded rectangular softbox opposite off axis for fill. A 7" gridded reflector for a kicker on the hair and shoulders to separate him from the background, and a 4th light with a long snoot on the rim if you want it to show. This needs to be a tightly focused light to keep as much of the spill off the background as possible. I'd try starting 2 stops under on the hoop and adjust from there, so as it doesn't compete with your player for attention.

    A reflective light meter reading on the background roughly 4 stops under the reflective reading on the subject will take the background to black. By adjusting your 4th light closer or farther away from the rim you can control the amount of spill on the background to keep it from going completely black, at least around goal area. As can adjusting the off camera axis on the key, and fill, and or adding reflectors to bounce soft light on the background.

    Lastly I like the rim in the shot, but not anywhere close to coming out of the head. Moving the player right and forward so you can get all of the head on the logo on the floor in the frame, IMO would be an improvement and move the rim farther away from the head.
     
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  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Your thinking makes sense to me, unfortunately, the environment doesn't seem to support it. Given how small a school, and how few children you're dealing with, why not just shoot some samples, let them look at them and vote, and whatever style gets the most support is how you shoot them.
     
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  6. zulu42

    zulu42 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    There's just too much ambient light mixed in IMO. Boost your flashes and/or your shutter to kill the ambient. There's enough separation from the back wall that your key light should fall off before lighting the wall. If you flag or snoot your "hoop lights" well, then you should be left with just the player, some of the floor, and the hoop lit - which I think is a cool idea.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  7. Designer

    Designer Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    If you can't get the floor logo and a hoop in the same shot, why not just choose one of them instead?

    IMO, you should be able to frame and light a fairly decent shot of a player posing on the logo, and just skip the hoop. Make the background go dark. Or have the player making a shot at the hoop, although that one will be difficult to light properly. (artistically)

    Speaking of artistically; have the players pose with more "personality".
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2019
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    there are many ways this could be lighted, but unlike the poster above I think that you should not try to kill the ambient light, but rather make it more equal with the strobe light on the foreground. I would do this by tripod mounting my camera and slowing my shutter speed down, so as to allow the ambient light to record. This might entail balancing of two different color temperature light sources meaning you might have to gel the flash while setting the white balance to the ambient light, which I would guess is probably some type of incandescent lighting, but it might be fluorescent lighting.

    One thing that I do not much care for is the reflections on the vinyl banners that are hung in the background.
     
  9. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Thank you for all of the feedback. Sorry it took so long to reply, this rotation at work was very busy.

    Last year I was only able to get into the gym on the day of the shoot, and basically just had enough time to set up and shoot. This year I am going to find an evening when I can get in just to practice. I will be able to try a couple of different lighting/positioning set ups. I will look around the school for a possible better location, however for basket ball I am not sure there is a better option.

    At this shoot, I used an umbrella as there was a ton of separation between the players and the background. Also, it is what I had at the time. I do now have a variety of modifiers and will practice some of the things you suggest smoke.

    I will practice some different angles and mixing more ambient and dropping out the background and see what works best. I do have gels and can match lighting (with more practice)

    Derrel, I do not like either, and one of the main answers I was trying to get to, was how to light the rim, without casting those shadows. On one hand the shadows do create lines that point into the player, but I do not like them overall. They are the shadows of the structure holds the hoop to the wall.
     
  10. ac12

    ac12 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I prefer the 2nd shot.
    • The darker net and board does not detract from the player, as #1 does. And you avoid the shadows on the wall from the basket supports.
    • You can see the basket well enough. And if you wanted to see it more, I would increase the ambient exposure just a bit.
    I don't like the placement of the basket by the head. It reminds me of the "telephone pole growing out of the head," that I was taught to avoid. But, I'm not sure where I would place it. Nor do I like the idea of putting his head in the backboard. This would be one of those, get a few of the players and experiment.
    • Try some facing the retracted bleachers, with the player on/behind the painted logo.
    • Maybe forget the basket, and put the player on the key, and shoot towards the wall, or the retracted bleachers. Most people would recognize the key, just as they would the basket.
    • Get input from the kids. They may have a workable idea.
    Sometimes, there is no GOOD solution.
    And the solution is picking the best out of several less than good alternatives.

    I like the idea of trying various shots, then discuss with the coach and team, which one they prefer.
     
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  11. Nwcid

    Nwcid No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    ac12 I will try a few of those alternate shots when I get in to practice. I have a good vision of what I want, now just trying to make it happen while dealing with the space provided.

    Just to clarify again, neither of these images were delivered, they were just go comparison of with and without the back lights on the rim. While I did have a couple that were much closer to the rim or net then I would have liked, usually with the tallest kids, most had plenty of separation.
     

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