Thursday, April 1, 2010

Lighting a Gym - Home Court Follow up

Besides starting off this post with a lighting diagram, you also get one of the best looking mascots around!

This is a follow up post to when I announced the Home Court Game last week check out that post for why there's a bunch of congressman on the court.

Rarely do we ever do a new technique on our own, but what we do add is our implementation. The trick isn't to copy some one else word for word, because that will NEVER work, it's to learn, understand what's going on, and apply that to your current situation while adapting to what gets thrown at you. This is based on David Hobby's gym post.

I started off in my head with the plan. I had clamps ready...I'd get two lights about half court...good to go. Alas, several problems: 1) No aisle in the center bleachers 2)There was a stage on the opposite side with more bleachers on them 3) there were chairs behind both hoops with about 2 feet of space to the court. 4) I have about 5 minutes to convert everything to take a good looking (I hope) group picture during half time.

My solutions: I wedge a light stand in the top row foot well and caution taped a small box around it. I had to hide a light in a plant at the corner of the stage so as not to block the view of those on the stage bleachers. I clamped a light to a chin-up bar behind the hoop. More on the group shot below.

The key to David Hobby's tri-lighting is to make sure your lights are high enough and angled slightly above the court, so the most powerful center part of the beam doesn't hit anyone directly until they're on the other side of the court, this together with the light fall off (inverse square law) will yield even light on one half of the court. Any place where someone is catching a little too much light on one side their back is usually turned to it and I don't mind the rim lighting being a little hot. Let's take a look at some photos.

Here you can see the nice even light in the key. I'm able to get decent ambient with motion stopping at ISO 640, 1/200th, f/3.2.

Looking across the other side I can position myself to catch the players in front of the light for interesting back lighting:

But even if they're not covering the light, You'll get the spot light effect which I don't mind...makes for something different.  Really look at the shadows cast by the players, gives you an idea of the light intensity coming from my lights.:

Here you can see even when Rep. Baca is standing just in front of the light, the light is high enough to give him some nice rim lighting, yet not nuke him (the light is just inside that corner in left part of the frame  - just a bit higher and angled up slightly):

President Obama's "Body Man", Reggie Love (also former Duke NCAA basketball champion) made a surprise visit.  Here you can see the same effect on the other side of the court, only the rim light above become the front light, and the roles are reversed.....I love physics.  The hoop light is also angled up so #3 is bright, just not too bright.

I even got pretty decent light all the way to center court:

A few more before the group shot:

Keep in mind, I always have complete control from my camera. Not only do I also keep an on-camera flash ready for fill if I'm caught someplace my off-camera lights won't be able to handle, I can also change the power of my lights, or turn them off with my jrx transmitter. Here's one where my on camera flash provided the fill, with my mounted lights providing some highlights:

For the group shot, I again took another page out of the book of Sir Hobby. Ideally for the group shot I would moved the stage light way out to the right onto the floor and had my key light camera left instead of right. But I had very limited time to change set-ups, while dealing with people sitting in the bleachers! So I just turned the stage light and pointed it out to center court, this would act as my separation light. I did the same thing for my bleacher light (this would become my on axis fill- I moved it closer to half court than the lighting diagram suggests). I moved my hoop light and clamped it to the a bleacher aisle rail and cranked up the juice (this became my key). Here's a new lighting diagram:

The first group was nice and small so I could eliminate the rim light. The bottom right is a little darker than I would have liked because I couldn't get my key much higher than a waste high railing in the aisle on the bleachers with everyone getting on and off the bleachers at the same time, I couldn't risk putting a stand over there, but the fill/ambient was enough to ensure he was brought out of the depths of the darkness:

Back row, from left: Reps. Laura Richardson (D-Calif.), Michael Arcuri (D-N.Y.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Mervyn Jones, Jr., Brad Ellsworth (D-Ind.), Andre Carson (D-Ohio), and Patrick Murphy (D-Pa.). Front row: Reps. Gene Green (D-Texas), Mike McIntyre (D-N.C.), Joe Baca (D-Calif.), Frank Kratovil (D-Md.) and John Boccieri (D-Ohio).  Senators Casey and Thune were stuck in health care debate and weren't able to make it.

For the entire group I had to pull way back showing off my rim light, but in the end I don't mind it. Gives it a red-carpet feel!  Not bad light coverage for a couple of shoe mount flashes.


  1. Thanks for the great illustrative breakdown!

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