To Light or Not to Light
My last job, here in Appleton photographing a large group of people interacting , (before the pandemic hit), was in an indoor sports complex shooting a soccer game for the Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau. For that photo shoot, I decided to proceed with the ambient facility lighting. This meant a high ISO setting on my camera, keeping a necessary high shutter speed (to freeze the action) and a low f stop. I decided not to use any added strobed flashes. The results were OK but not like the dynamic images of Sports Illustrated!
The Arena Flash
Legendary sports photographer Andy Bernstein has captured iconic images of the Los Angeles Lakers, Clippers and Kings for over 40 years. The images he captures are done with the help of powerful triggered strobe lights mounted in the catwalks and rafters of the arena he’s working in. These strobes go off without crowd or players noticing. In the images below, you can see the bright flashes in the ceilings.
Testing for My Desired Outcome
These images influenced me to explore what I could do the next time I am in a gymnasium photographing an action event in the Fox Valley. After my indoor soccer photo shoot last March, I stuck around in the empty space and did some testing. I have no plans to pursue becoming a sports photographer for the NBA or any other professional arena sports franchise. My photography jobs may locate me inside a youth ice arena or basketball gym in northeast Wisconsin, much smaller than the Fiserv Forum! My supplementary lighting options must be portable, battery operated speedlights set off to the side, up high where no spectators are. They would be triggered by Pocket Wizard radio slaves from my camera. Below are the tests I did to see the difference added light makes in action photography. The first side by side lighting comparison is without an active person, simply to show what the added light does to the space in comparison to what the facility’s lighting is.
What’s The Use?
In doing this test, I have come to the conclusion that when I have a project here in northeast Wisconsin that is action orientated, (sports, dance, live music, etc), if I can set up portable strobes, away from the crowd and safely trigger them from my camera, I would use that option. I can always turn them off if I want. The challenge is placement of the units safely as not to interfere with anything. My portable speed lights are the Nikon SB 900 units triggered with the Pocket Wizard radio slaves. To get that Sports Illustrated dramatic, stop action lighting indoors, this method must be considered.