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Team Photo, Basketball

OGsPhotography

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I've been asked to shoot our local HS Senior boys team photo.

Pro bono, coach is a relative friend.

Im going for a classic team shot, no gimmicks. There are 12 players and 2 coaches.

From research/ experience I have came up with a sort of plan;

Posing:
7 shortest players on one knee in front. 5 tallets back middle, coaches on opposite ends back row. If the other 2nd coach is a midget ( the one I know is tall), they'll go same side front.
2 basketballs held by players front row. Backs to the net. Lined up in center court somewhere around the 3pt line.

We thought about using a bench for front row but Im leaning towards knees now.

Lighting:
1st Main light, mono light, camera right 4'. Low power through umbrella.

2nd Fill, speedlight camera left 4' 1/8 power through umbrela.

3rd Separation light, behind players 10', 1/8 power, 8" mini softbox.

Camera settings:
ISO 200
F 2.8- 5.6
SS200

Lens Choice is killing me. The eternal struggle lol.
18-135, 50mm or 70-200.

At 20 ft distance to subject with 50mm lens I'll have almost 3' DoF behind focus point at 2.8. Im not sure I'll get the best quality, this lens has burned me in the past. Possibly, probably not its fault though.

At 30', 70mm, 2.8, 3' DoF.
At 50' 200mm, 2.8 there'd be 1' DoF.

I think I'll start with the 70-200 and shoot as long as possible , starting at 5.6, and if I don't have space obviously just switch lens.

I'll have the kit lens with me but I am trying to avoid wide angle distortion at all cost.

This will be taken before warm up, if Im not fast enough ( playes missing or whatever) I'll possibly lose the space at the opposite end of the court as the opposing team comes on.

C+C of the plan would be appreciated.
I'll post a photo tomorrow night.
Thanks in advance.
 
I would shoot the entire thing at f/8.0, with one, biug, powerful flash. if you want an accent light, go ahead, but it might look cheesy.

Not sure what you mean by main light 4'...and fill light 4'.

How about Main light at 15 feet from the group, at FULL power, lens at f/8. Skip the fil lighting, it will not be needed. Make sure th light is 15 feet away, and sweep the light beam in front of the group, to get an even light. See where the nose and chin shadows are.

This will be all the light you need; ONE, full-power 200 to 400 Watt-second flash, to get a clean f/8.0 exposure. At 15 feet distant, the light will be VERY even, from front to back, and also, if the light is brushed "in front of" the group by just a bit, it will be even side-to-side.

The main light needs to be 15 feet distant from the group, to create an EVEN light, with no fall-off to speak of.

Fill light should be aimed straight ahead, and placed RIGHT NEXT TO the camera.
 
Thanks Derrel!

I meant with the 4' that the light is 4' off center ( or less if Inhave roo tk pull it in), I never did give a distance from subject. A clamshell lighting I suppose I was going for. That may be to even and flat for young men.

A 15' distance to create one even light with defined shadows sounds like a great start.

Why f8? I'm still a bit hung up on wide apertures. Kelby says use the aperture you paid for lol! I have been shooting some portraits more closed down
as per some of your advice to great effect, especially to block ambient light, Im just wrapping my mind around the details.

Do you think the 70-200 is the lens for the job? Light at 15' camera at 30? Its so counter intuitive to use a longer lens to shoot bigger groups.

I'll not bother with the speed-lights if they're only over complicating things, they will have to ride along as backup.
 
F/8, so you have good focus from the front of the group the the rear of the group: the front of the group meaning the KNEES which will protrude 20 inches from the torsos and numbered jerseys of the guys in the front, and to keep the floor in front in-focus too. f/8 so there is no issue with field curvature at the far left and right of the group. f/8 so if you miss the focus by six inches, you will not screw it up. Any commercial photographer who has shot more than five jobs will tell you that f/8 is where to work with a small-format camera like a 24 x 36. Period. Kelby can safely be ignored in this instance...using f/2.8 for a flash-lighted group shot is a fool's errand.

"Use the f/stop that smart commercial shooters know is the best f/stop for the task at hand."

f/8 will also block the ambient light at 1/200 X-synch and ISO 200....to be safe, shoot the X-synch at 1/125 second, so you do not accidentally move it to too fast of a speed. You are going to be under pressure, most likely.

No, I do not think the 70-200 is the right lens for this. it will put you quite a ways back, into the "Yelling distance", but that might work. Keep in mind, there will be a lot of activity going on, and if you are 40 feet from the group...

Look at some older team photos. ONE, single light placed right, is all that is needed. Look for a good, solid under-chin shadow, and a good nose shadow that moves of to the right just 10,15 degrees. Place the light to get that. You could use a 7-inch or 10-inch reflector,or a 16-inch metal reflector, or ANY size of umbrella that you want. It does not matter all that much. At 15 feet, you will have crisp light, not soft light no matter what the modifier is. Place the light about 13 feet high and raining down on them at apprx. 40 degrees.

Set the main light on the LEFT side of the camera, to be traditional. So the shadows are on the right hand side of the noses. This is a 500-year tradition. Remember, you wrote, "Im going for a classic team shot, no gimmicks." This is what I have been describing.

If you want fill: it belongs at the camera position, aimed straight ahead, not 4 feet off to any side: on-axis fill. Adding fill will make the players look mostly flat and not 3-D. if the lights were both 4 feet left and right of the camera, all you'd have is crossing, competing shadows, which is far from classic.
 
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Your the one Derrel. Thanks!!!!
 
Here's an example of bog-standard 'no-frills' team photography:
_DSC8068_WEB.jpg


Two lights (200 w/s each) firing into 40" white reflecting umbrellas at about 18' for f11 at ISO 320 IIRC. Don't worry about Kelby for stuff like this; use the aperture that gets the shot right. Moms are NOT going to be happy if junior in the back row is out of focus. Use the longest focal length you can int he space you have, and measure it out. I keep a tape in my grip box and do exactly this. I mark my shooting position based on FoV and then measure to the front and back row and using the DoF app on my 'phone, determine what aperture I need.
 
Thanks @tirediron,

I was half joking about Kelby, but his Zingers do stick! Keeping the Aperture open allowed me to use small lights, i.e. speedlights until now, at least I have the 200 WS light which allows more DoF. I think you basically shot that photo with the clamshell technique like I was originally thinking? When you say 18' for f11 at ISO 320, thats the light power your measuring at f11? Or do you mean f11 camera aperture? I rarely go that high, will if I have to, remember I only have 2 rows. I do not use light meter yet so Im not very familiar with that terminology. @Derrel the x-synch term eludes me also, is that shutter synch? Its 250 for my 70D I use that all the time to control ambient light and freeze motion.

I did and will map out the DoF to be sure, and I will bump it up to err on the side of caution. I was figuring " Caution" to be the 5.6 at 50mm @20ft with 4' in front and 6' in back of subject, almost 11', to be sure I was only worried about their heads originally and I should and will include knees/feet etc and a bit of floor, I dont mind going higher one bit. At f8 with the 50mm @20ft its 16.5 feet DoF. I feel I may need 30 feet distance from camera to subject which the same settings, f8, 30 ft50mm gives 46.7'. I really dont want the back wall razer sharp, or do I? Does Mom is the bigger question hehe.

Do I not want to blur out the background to create a shot with separation of background? Will f8 achieve that with the net and back of gym?

Whats the focal length of your football team shot? I have the whole b ball court, perhaps a bit more I dont know, Ive never been in this Gym, Id like to shoot the 70 but the 50 feels safer at the moment. I dont want to be fiddling with lens changes if I dont have to.

#63 looks happy!open eyes definitely trumps smiles eh?
 
Thanks @tirediron,

I was half joking about Kelby, but his Zingers do stick! Keeping the Aperture open allowed me to use small lights, i.e. speedlights until now, at least I have the 200 WS light which allows more DoF. I think you basically shot that photo with the clamshell technique like I was originally thinking? Not clamshell, no. This was a light about 4' on each side of me, heads about 9' and angled down at about 20 degrees. When you say 18' for f11 at ISO 320, thats the light power your measuring at f11? Or do you mean f11 camera aperture? Yes... to both. I metered the light at the center row to be an exposure of f11, so that's what I set my aperture to. By having my lights 18' back, there was less than 1/3 stop fall-off between the middle and front/back row. I rarely go that high, will if I have to, remember I only have 2 rows. I do not use light meter yet so Im not very familiar with that terminology. @Derrel the x-synch term eludes me also, is that shutter synch? Its 250 for my 70D I use that all the time to control ambient light and freeze motion.

I did and will map out the DoF to be sure, and I will bump it up to err on the side of caution. I was figuring " Caution" to be the 5.6 at 50mm @20ft with 4' in front and 6' in back of subject, almost 11', to be sure I was only worried about their heads originally and I should and will include knees/feet etc and a bit of floor, I dont mind going higher one bit. At f8 with the 50mm @20ft its 16.5 feet DoF. I feel I may need 30 feet distance from camera to subject which the same settings, f8, 30 ft50mm gives 46.7'. I really dont want the back wall razer sharp, or do I? Does Mom is the bigger question hehe. Mom probably won't notice the back wall; in my case because these were 'pull-out' style bleachers, the "back wall" is only a couple of feet behind the last row; there was nothing that could be done about it.

Do I not want to blur out the background to create a shot with separation of background? Will f8 achieve that with the net and back of gym? Maybe yes, maybe no... the problem with gyms (IMO) is that there tend to be a lot of odd shapes; basketball backboards, dividers, etc. If these are rendered very soft, they will show as random geometric shapes. These kids know their gym. They spend a LOT of time there, and they like it. A recognizable background isn't a bad thing. It's not like shooting a headshot in a car-park.

Whats the focal length of your football team shot? If I had to guess, I'd say 70mm; I don't think I used the 70-200 for this. I have the whole b ball court, perhaps a bit more I dont know, Ive never been in this Gym, Id like to shoot the 70 but the 50 feels safer at the moment. I dont want to be fiddling with lens changes if I dont have to.

#63 looks happy!open eyes definitely trumps smiles eh? I don't worry too much about smiles. I tell them to give me a happy, natural expression. These are teen-age boys; you take what you get. I do tell them however NOT to move a muscle 'til I'm done. It makes it much easier for the inevitable facial transplants you have to, as it's almost impossible to get a team-size group all looking the right way, eyes open, etc, at the same time
 
Thanks for the clarifications!

I guess to call it clamshell the lights need to be on top of each other? Would this setup have a name, side symmetrical or something?

I feel pretty good going into this shoot!
 
Thanks for the clarifications!

I guess to call it clamshell the lights need to be on top of each other? Would this setup have a name, side symmetrical or something?

I feel pretty good going into this shoot!
Correct; 'Clamshell' is one light above and one (or a reflector) below the subject's face. This is called... lighting. Just lighting. Yeah... that's it....
 
the-last-supper-leonardo-da-vinci.jpg

Can you imagine Leonardo da Vinci doing this as a standard team photo composition.
I would take your standard setup, but since you have the team together why not work with some other compositions.
 
Because they want off that bench and are not made of Acrylic ( or whatever Mr. Vinchi used to paint with).

I did try one other composition though your right I do not want to be doing pure straight edge photography. Without an assistant I'm glad I didnt try to many lighting and only one posing scenarios, its a lot of running around when 20+ people are watching you.... almost a work out! I get your point but the last supper pic kinda made me think TROLL, then wtf, then ah ok I guess lol.

Anyway, its not Leo but heres what I ended up with;

Thanks for all the help fellas, Feel free to critique it, I'm just happy I made it out with a photo and my gear in one piece!

Tommies.jpg
 
Personally I think it is a good team photo. The one thing I might have done different would be to balance the flash and the ambient light to get more illumination on the back wall and Home of the Tommies. While in general Sports shots, even team shots benefit from a blurred background, that does not hold true when the Team name, mascot, etc. is behind the team.
 
Thanks @gryphonslair99!
Thats the first thing my wife said too; can you add light to that wall! Could have centred the text also.

The 200WS Neewer Tornado Could Barely light the scene at f8 15'. Added a speedlight at full power, f7.1, 35mm, should have switched/ tried @ 70mm but I forgot to move lights, became a racket and ran out of time.

As good of an excuse as any to get another mono-light. I add gear when I add a need and run out of options.
 
Looks kind of theatrical, with them lighted brightly and the background darker.Every person on the squad looks presentable, which is good. Plenty of light on their faces. Biggest quibble would be the shadows cast onto the chest area of some of the guys in the back row, but I doubt anybody will see that. This is the fiorst time I have ever heard of a mascot called "Tommies"!
 

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