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In this installment of the Lighting with Flash series, photographer and Strobist.com publisher David Hobby demonstrates using strobes when shooting sports—in this case, some kids playing soccer. After providing an overview of his lighting strategy, David shoots some action shots of goalkeepers diving for the ball. Next, he shoots some portraits of the soccer players, employing a compact softbox attachment as a key light.
In the second half of the course, David photographs a group of fencers, transforming the bland lighting in a gym and freezing the athletes' action as they leap. Afterwards, he shoots a group portrait of the fencing club.
Welcome to the the wild world of poorly drawn stick people. And this, this stick alien represents Gerald, who is the the goal keeper that you saw in the last frame. And that's him splaying out trying to catch the ball. And the first thing that we're going to do in this is, is we're going to let the the fact that we're working in a high ambient light late afternoon light, dictate the choice of camera that we're using, as we talked about earlier. I'm using the Nikon D70S, which is a small chip camera that does an amazing little thing if it doesn't know a flash is on it. And that is that it syncs at any speed.
That's why I, I keep a few of these cameras, they're still very cheap on eBay, just a couple hundred bucks. I keep them in the drawer for when this one breaks, and I hope to be using these for a long time. Because they don't make these special cameras anymore. Pock Wizard as I said, has come out with a, a remote that gets me a couple more stops of shutter speed. But I can't sync in two thousandths of a second with a full pop of flash, like this baby can. So, I'm very happy to use these whenever I get the chance. So, this is going to be our, our, our camera, and that's going to allow us to shoot at a high shutter speed. For instance, a 16 100th of a second, which gives us a correspondingly wide-open aperture for the sky even if we're underexposing it. And that means that we're going to go in and be able to overpower that mid-afternoon light with small flashes.
Even with that kind of even with that kind of a working arrangement, you're still going to have to use hard light. Because you can't you won't be able to overpower with small flashes and umbrellas or soft boxes, unless you move in very close. And we don't have that luxury. case in point here are our two rim lights, and they're going to be far on each side of the goal. And those rim lights are, are basically going to define the edges of our goal keepers against the sky, which I'm underexposing by a stop and a half to two stops. So, let's go to the, let's go to the picture real quick and see what these rim lights are doing. So, I've circled the zones on the on the camera right side of Gerald where the rim light is going to be having an effect.
And the rim light really gives him that shape and three dimensionality coming around the back side of his body. It's also going to throw shadows from the goal onto the grass, and, and just make some nice texture across that frame. Obviously, the rim light on camera right is doing the same thing on the other side. but those two rim lights are a classic look. if you can remember one thing, maybe it's try not to be so hot with your rim lights. you can do a lot with subtlety in revealing that form with that backlight wrapping around. You don't have to nuke them until they glow, unless that's what you want. But there's a lot of interesting to be had driving those lights further and further down the scale, and just revealing that texture coming around that side rather than making it glow in a nuclear away. Back to our diagram, now we've added in the the key light, which is at SB-800 over to the middle right of the of the diagram.
And this light is going to be hitting Gerald's face not from straight on. If it was, let's think of this overhead view as a clock, and this is coming in at roughly three o'clock on the scale. Gerald is looking at about four o'clock on the scale, so, this light slightly behind him as slightly behind a profile setting. And that's because I really don't have any interest in lighting that far ear. I, I'd much rather shape his face, and, and use that light to add shape to his body as he's coming across. You'll find that by pushing ut, it around a little bit past profile, you're going to get a better look than if you, if you aim the light at the person exactly from the direction in which they're going to be gesturing and looking.
So, here are typical areas that are usually affected by this key light. Obviously, it's going to be designed to be hitting his face. I'm going to caption his mitts, and, and, you know, his goalkeeping gloves. And, and his jersey in the front. and this is what's going to give an overall shape and call attention to what I call attention to it on him. So, these lights that we've seen so far are for shade. The, the rim lights and the and, and the key light, are setting up kind of really like tall isosceles triangle, sort of a triangle light system.
And if I didn't have the final light that I'm going to add, which, go ahead and add that now. That is an on camera flash that is going to work sort of like an on access fill light, but again, I don't have the luxury of the power of an umbrella or the power of a ring light. So, I'm just going to pop that light, right on top of the camera and, and let it do it's job as, as, as a poor man's ring flash. Now, this light's going to do several things for me. going back to the picture. It's going to, it's going to fill in detail and, and give me legibility everywhere any of those other three lights aren't hitting. On the far side of his neck, on his knees underneath there even up under his sleeve going in there, that's not going to be black.
And that's an important thing to me because remember I am severely underexposing this ambient light. So, any place the flash doesn't hit him is going to be pure black. That may be what I want, it may not be what I want. In this case I do want legibility. And that fore light wrap around gives me a lot of Christmas and free imaginality, which is always something I'm going for him in most of my subjects. So, the other thing that light is (UNKNOWN) do that. Fill light is, is going to be my primary light that's connected to the camera. It's the only sinked light, and it's going to set off all this other lights using optical slaves (UNKNOWN) to Nikon SB-800.
you set them on SU4 mode and for your flash and manual, and (UNKNOWN). You have a very, very sensitive play that can fire at up to 100 feet away in broad daylight. It's awesome. now here's the trick. I don't have to have all of those other lights to where they can see the light that's on my camera. And frankly, the key light, almost certainly can't see the light that's on my camera right now. But if any one of those rim lights catches and fires from the slave on my on-camera flash, it's going to set up a little cascade to where all of the other flashes are going to go off very easily. That's because I've got all of their slave eyes turned in towards each other. So, I just have to get any one of them, and then they're all going to go. in that way, it's kind of interesting in that it is easier to slave a room full of 50 flashes with absolute certainty than it is to slave just one flash. Because all you have to do is set up one of those 50 flashes and they're going to cascade in all the other flashes.
so, that's a very cool trick. If you need to use a lot of lights in the room, you're going to be very, very safe using optical flashes as long as no one else is going to be triggering your flashes with another device. So, let's take a look at three of these pictures. Now, let's here's Gerald without all the, without the red lipstick on him and And you can see that each of those lights are doing their own thing, but in the aggregate they're not calling a lot of attention to themselves. none of them are really over lighting him. he's just, he's just really 3-D and popping in the set underexposed sky.
here's another one, his brother Andrew the time they're all very enthusiastic goalkeepers in the U-10 league. And and this final one is knucklehead. aka my son Ben, who is working hard at being a good goalkeeper too.
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