shooting in a gym

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by jjabrady, Jan 26, 2012.

  1. jjabrady

    jjabrady TPF Noob!

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    I am very new to photography. I've been interested in portrait photography since I had my own senior pictures taken over 10 years ago, but haven't made time to learn until now. Just got my first "real" camera, a canon rebel XS in December. My goal is to take portraits, mainly kids' senior pictures and photos of kids. I have the opportunity to take the end-of-season basketball portraits for a local junior high girls team. It would be the group photo and individual portraits.

    I went to the gym to see how my equipment would handle the low-lighting situation. Well, everything turned out awful! I simply could not get enough light into my camera with the lens I have and had to open up to full aperture and then still dial down the shutter speed to so slow that blur was inevitable. I have thought of a few options that may help, but since I already got suckered into a low-end lighting system (which is worthless...came with 45Watt fluorescent bulbs that didn't do much good at all) I'd like to run the possibilities by people who know more about the subject than I, as I don't have money to waste. I learned that the hard way!

    My ideas:
    1. A faster lens with 1.8 or 1.4 aperture. The two I'm looking at are Canon 85mm f/1.8 and Canon 50mm f1.4
    I like the idea of the 85mm for portrait lengths, but would having a f/1.4 be a great advantage over a f/1.8? I realize that I wouldn't really be able to work with shadows/contrast/highlights without using a light and that this would just let in the light so it wouldn't be grossly underexposed the way the pictures turned out with the 3.5/5.6 aperture capability I currently have.

    2. A Speedlight 430EX II to provide light via flash, but up higher or even off camera. I would try to do some bouncing and reflecting of light in this instance. At first I thought this would be a great way to work, but then I noticed that the cord that attaches it to the camera for off-camera work is something like 2 feel long. So I didn't know if having the light 2 feet away from the camera would even help much.

    Any suggestions on those ideas? Would any of them work to get workable light for the situation? I know the ideal situation would probably be to have strobes, but I can't afford that, and a faster lens and Speedlight are both pieces of equipment I'd like to pick up anyway, just can't afford both right now.

    Thanks a lot!





     
  2. Big Mike

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

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Did you try raising the ISO? Using a higher ISO will give you more digital noise, but it will also allow you to use a faster shutter speed. And an image with noise is still something you can work with....while an image that is blurry is fit for the trash. Of course, there will be a limit of how high you will want to take your ISO, but don't be afraid of going up to 1600 for example.

    Yes, that would certainly help. There is not a huge difference between F1.4 and F1.8, in terms of how much light they let into the camera, but the difference is there. But if you are comparing the 50mm F1.8 to the 50mm F1.4, they are quite different lenses. I'd certainly recommend the F1.4.
    But also consider that the aperture you use, will affect your depth of field...and image quality. So you probably wouldn't want to use either lens at their maximum aperture in this situation. Firstly because the DOF may not be deep enough for a group shot, and secondly, image quality isn't at it's best at the largest aperture. But if you used them at something like F2 - F2.8, the quality would be plenty good enough (not sure about the DOF though).

    So yes, adding your own light is probably the best way to go. Using continuous type lighting isn't really a great option. As you have seen, low wattage lights don't really help, so the wattage that you would need, would be pretty high, and that's going to mean a lot of heat as well. Flash is your best option. You could probably get by with putting something like the 430EX on the camera. It would add enough light that you could shoot at F5.6 or F8 without blur. However, flash from the camera position doesn't make for the best looking photos. Now, this being a team/group shot, it's not so much about making a beautiful portrait, it's about documenting the players who are on the team. Moving the light off-camera is almost always a good option, but with most team shots, you'd use two lights so that you could have one on either side, getting even lighting across the group. If that's too much for you at this time...having the flash on the camera may be a simple solution.

    As for using the flash off-camera, most people these days to it wirelessly. You can get cheap radio flash triggers...or you can get expensive radio flash triggers. For professional type work, I'd lean toward the more expensive ones. The forum is filled with posts about off-camera flash (OCF) so try searching some older threads.
     
  3. DiskoJoe

    DiskoJoe Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    You can probably rent lights. But it sounds like you got a gig that you are not prepared for here. Even if you rented the lights using them is a different story. People can give you tips but this will not replaced experience. This is definitely a shoot you would need some strobes on to light them properly indoors.
     
  4. KmH

    KmH In memoriam Supporting Member

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  5. jjabrady

    jjabrady TPF Noob!

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    Mike, thanks for the info! I hadn't considered raising the ISO because I was afraid of the noise. But I will have to experiment with that. For the group shot, I was pretty sure I'd have to shoot it outside to get enough light. But I was hoping to find a solution to the individual portraits inside. You've given me a lot of info on the options I was considering. I'll have to think it over and consult my budget!

    DiskoJoe, thanks for your input. I want to clarify that I do not have "a gig I'm not prepared for." I have the *opportunity* (as I stated in my original post) to do this, and I am now in the process of researching what it will take to do so well to see if it will even be possible for me. I know that tips here will not replace experience, but asking experts who have "been there, done that" for equipment advice seems like a smart idea to me. It may very well be that I will not be able to obtain and become proficient with the equipment needed in time. I fully understand that. Just seeking info at this point.

    KmH, thanks for the great links. Look very informative. I will check them out.
     
  6. Raian-san

    Raian-san TPF Noob!

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    Welcome to the forum.

    I have the 85mm 1.8 and absolutely love it for portraits. It's very tight on a cropped body so I would only use it for outdoor portraits shots. 50mm 1.4, I would go with the sigma instead of Canon. It's sharper, and have beautiful bokeh. If I had to get one lens, I would go with the 50mm because you'll probably use it more. GL
     

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