I’ll get by with a little help from my friends...

Discussion in 'Lighting and Hardware' started by SquarePeg, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg Nevertheless... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2013
    Messages:
    6,673
    Likes Received:
    4,080
    Location:
    Boston
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    Hi all. As you all likely know, I am not a portrait shooter - landscapes, flowers, nature, puppies etc are more my thing. When I had a Nikon I had a decent flash for it that I could use to bounce the light on the rare occasions that I was shooting indoors but I would not say I ever mastered it - it was mostly trial and error with a lot of errors. I have never owned any other lights or off camera flash. So now that you know my lack of experience with lighting, here’s where I need some help...

    A friend of mine asked if I would help her take photos of her daughters college softball team for some promotional posts on their social media. I assumed she meant in the spring, outdoors, and I’ve been wanting to get to some practice on people so I said yes. Well, it turns out the coach wants to do this two weeks from now, indoors at the school. I explained that I did not have any experience using lighting or flash, and I know she doesn’t either. She’s a good photographer but usually sticks to birds or her other daughter’s stage productions which have completely different lighting challenges. She is moving forward with this and has asked for my help/advice with what she should rent for lights or OCF. The coach has said he will pay for her to rent or buy a backdrop and some lighting equipment and fully understands that she is not a pro and that they may not get anything useful.

    Normally, I would run as far away from this as I could get. I’ve often told others to do the same! But… she’s a good friend and she needs my help and I really could use this as a learning experience. Since they know what they’re getting and have full disclosure about her inexperience and they still want to do it, I guess I’m going to help her. She’s a very funny, friendly person who is very familiar with the team and players so I think she’ll keep everyone pretty loose and keep it fun.

    So, if you were going to buy/rent/borrow one or two items for an indoor portrait session what would you choose? And why? I’m shooting with an X-T2 and she has a Nikon 7200. She can use her Nikon 35 1.8 for group shots and maybe my 105 2.8 for individual if we have enough space. I’ll have my 18-55 kit or 35 f/2 for group shots and the 60mm 2.4 for portraits.

    Please feel free to respond with your warning about what a terrible idea this is only if you also offer some suggestions on lighting equipment. Thanks!


     
  2. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Messages:
    15,766
    Likes Received:
    9,162
    Location:
    Michigan
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    For the X-T2? I use Cactus trigger with Cactus R60 X. But they probably don't rent those. Get a trigger and a couple stobes, 2 umbrellas, and a light meter that can read the flash. Adjust manually until you get the proper aperture you want.
     
  3. vintagesnaps

    vintagesnaps Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Joined:
    Jan 13, 2013
    Messages:
    7,004
    Likes Received:
    2,073
    Location:
    US
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit
    My suggestion about lighting is to check the place out ahead of time and notice where the light looks best to take photos. It may look brighter/better than it will be for the camera, but at least be aware of dark corners to avoid, windows that need to be considered in getting a proper exposure, etc. Not lighting related but considering backgrounds - notice poles, posts, signs, lines, trash cans (seriously) - watch for all the stuff sitting around and maybe ask to move it as necessary. Mostly I've done hockey but have done indoor BBall with no flash, and indoor gym lighting can be lousy. Hopefully at a college it will be decent.

    This also makes me think of past work inservices related to 'who owns the problem?' as in, whose issue or responsibility is it? Seems like this should be up to the coach (or someone else with the team); I'd suggest looking into student photographers. Maybe check with the art dept. or journalism/PR/communications dept. Depending on the size of the college there should be an SID or more than one for various sports; that person or office may be able to suggest photographers they use or know.

    I don't think taking pictures for a team is really the best time to learn/practice, unless maybe if the coach says it's fine but they don't really need the pictures (that they'd just be of a game/practice for fun to post). I can understand you helping a friend, I'm not sure the friend agreeing to do this was the best idea. Once someone takes on the responsibility of providing photos, to me that means it's necessary to provide pro quality work. There should probably be a contract on usage even if for a school program and it's being done as a donation of time/service for the school.
     
  4. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg Nevertheless... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2013
    Messages:
    6,673
    Likes Received:
    4,080
    Location:
    Boston
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    2 umbrellas seems to be the advice of the moment as someone on another forum suggested the same. Thanks JC for your help and advice!
     
  5. jcdeboever

    jcdeboever TPF Supporters Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Sep 5, 2015
    Messages:
    15,766
    Likes Received:
    9,162
    Location:
    Michigan
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    It's not all that hard really. Especially if you have a light meter that can read the flash output. Hopefully someone will chime in with a light placement diagram.
     
    • Like Like x 1
  6. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2005
    Messages:
    42,147
    Likes Received:
    12,977
    Location:
    Victoria, BC
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I would think a university would have lighting gear kicking around somewhere, but if it doesn't, do they have a theatre? I'm not a fan of continuous light for portrait work, but a stage spot can be a pretty decent source of light. Bounce it off of a large, white reflector or V flat and you should have work-able with lighting at a live-able with exposure. As far as the team? Do them outside; rather than let everyone complain about the weather, make it a part of the shoot. Have them on a snow covered diamond or something like that.
     
  7. SquarePeg

    SquarePeg Nevertheless... Staff Member Supporting Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2013
    Messages:
    6,673
    Likes Received:
    4,080
    Location:
    Boston
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    The coach is checking to see if they have anything at the school that we might be able to use, will know by the end of this week. My friends daughter is going to check out a couple of locations that are available in the school and send us some cell phone video of what the rooms look like and what the lighting and window situation is. It’s in Maine, about 90 minutes away, not really something I can go see during the week and I don’t know if I want to make that trip two weekends in a row so it’s gonna have to be done without an advanced recon trip.
     
  8. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2009
    Messages:
    41,369
    Likes Received:
    15,653
    Location:
    USA
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos OK to edit
    I would be tempted to rent a 1,200 to 2,400 Watt-second power supply or a monolight of 1,200 Watt-seonds,a 13 foot tall heavy duty light stand, a 60-inch white interior umbrella, and just light the group with one umbrella about 25° to 30° off axis, coming in onto the group from the left of the camera. I cannot stress this enough: ONE, big, light source.

    I think with a big, 60-inch umbrella at 20 feet or so, you'll have perfect lighting that will create a nose-shadow and a bit of under-chin shadow that will help create some modeling and shape to the faces and the torsos. NO need for a fill light! Keep in mind, on many group photos, the people are seen very tiny in either a game program, or in a yearbook, or on-line; you want the shadowing, because a side-of-the-nose shadow and an under-the-chin shadow makes each face more "readable"-especially at the small size seen in team photos.

    This is where the more-powerful lighting units really,really come into their own. Something that has PLENTY of flash power will make this work the best; you can keep the ISO at 100 or so, and shoot at f/8 or even at f/11, so you have plenty of depth of field. A 1,600 Watt-second flash unit would make this kind of shoot super-simple and super-easy. A 2,000 to 2,400 Watt-second pack-and-head system (Dynalight or Speedotron or whatever) would deliver plenty of light,and also super-fast recycle times.
     
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2018
  9. ac12

    ac12 No longer a newbie, moving up!

    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2017
    Messages:
    904
    Likes Received:
    296
    Can others edit my Photos:
    Photos NOT OK to edit


    Recon, recon, recon.
    Her daughter has to scout the places as best she can and shoot pix of the locations, so that you can determine lighting issues.

    Personally, I would try to AVOID using anything more complicated than a single shoe flash, at least a foot above the lens.
    As has been said, an important shoot is NOT the time and place to learn.
    Example, the first time that I used 2 flashes for a group photo, I did not know that the shadows from the 2 flashes would be problem. IT WAS, and I was upset.
    Even with a single flash, you NEED to really think about where the shadow will be, and adjust people/flash accordingly. The simplest is to put the flash a foot or more straight above the lens, and position people as you stand right at the camera.

    My preference would be for outdoor open shade with a medium to dark background.
    But the background depends on the color of their uniform, which you want to stand out, and not blend into the background.
    I do not light side lighting, as people with deep set eyes will look like tunnels.

    Indoors, the gym is always a good location for shooting teams.
    Lighting while not optimal, is even and usually decent.
    A gym is good for large teams, as you can have the bleachers pulled out, so multiple rows of players are easy to manage. Shooting many players on flat ground can be a posing problem.

    Bring a tripod, to make sure that there is NO camera movement.
    I would shoot at 1/125, to try not to get subject movement. I don't trust kids to be STILL
    You will need to use a medium aperture f/8 to give you the DoF to get all rows of players in focus. A DoF chart would be nice to have and use. With multiple rows, it is critical to focus on the correct row/focus plane, so that all the rows are in focus. You don't want the front row in focus and the back out of focus :-(

    Just for curiosity, to see what the exposure would be at my gym, I did this exposure chart. This is based on center court lighting, so it may be maybe up to a stop lower on the bleachers.
    Horizontal axis is the aperture, vertical axis is ISO, inside is the shutter speed (orange is marginally slow, and red is too slow).
    gym exposure.jpg

    gud luk
     

Share This Page