Saturday, January 5, 2008

Basketball the Strobist Way

Pretty much anyone who has ever tried shooting high school basketball knows that the gyms they play in are usually very dark. Usually pushing us to shoot at ISO 1250 or 1600 just to get a fast enough shutter speed to freeze the action and get an alright exposure. So the question then is why not put those strobes to work. Two small strobes (even one helps a ton) can be the world of difference when it comes to photographing basketball in a badly lit gym.

My two lights up in the stands prior to the start of the game

Generally, I only light one half of the court. This allows me to travel pretty lightly when going to games. My general set up is one Canon 580ex and one Quantum Q-flash. I use two different lights only for the reason that i don't have two of the same lights, so really anything works. Below is a basic list of light gear I use:

2 - Flashes (prferably speedlights for portability)
2 - Stands (either tripods or light stands)
3 - Pocket Wizards
2 - Sync cords

The Q-flash up on a light stand. Although it is bigger then a speedlight it is considerably more portable then studio strobes.

My Canon 580 on a tripod in the stands

All of the images were shot at ISO 800 with a Canon 1d MkIIn with a 70-200mm 2.8 lens. The exposure was 1/250th at f-3.5. Both flashes were set to 1/4 power, had i turned up the power of the flashes i could have shot at ISO 200 with the same exposure. However i keep the power at a 1/4 to help recycle time, battery life, and for a faster flash duration (specifically on the q-flash). Both lights are pointed at the top of the 3-point line and on speedlights in which you can set a zoom, i generally set that to 35mm.



ed said...

Great shots there, I always think I should take lights when shooting BB or netball but it's so much more to lug around. Guess I just need to get on with it!

Your BMX shots are awsome.

Sam Adams said...


Thanks for the comments. When i first started strobing games i felt the same way. However, with two pocket strobes I can carry it all in on a waist pack (stands in hand). It takes me about 10 min. to set up and another 10 to tear down at most. The improvement in quality is well worth the extra time.

Andrew said...

great tips...thanks a lot.

though i do think you are a little crazy for not duct taping down your tripod in the stands though haha.

Sam Adams said...


Generally I would tape down or secure the tripod in a better way if i feel there is going to be a lot of movement around it. However, this game was pretty scarcely attended so i wasn't too worried.