2/5 Strobing high school basketball

1/4 HS GIRLS BBALL: MHS-ABILENE

I had the opportunity to put some of my strobes to use today for the Midland High boys and girls basketball games. I don’t usually get to use my strobes for basketball because the majority of the games are held at a different well-lit location but due to scheduling conflicts these games were not.
In 2012 I permanently mounted two Dynalite units in the Midland High gym and I don’t get to use them much so I jumped at the opportunity tonight.
(Note: the term ‘permanently mounted’ does not mean the lights can never come down again, it just means the lights are mounted and wired in a manner where they are left up year-round and I do not have to physically access them to trigger them.)

The photo nerds will enjoy this part:
This gym is actually quite dark and I usually have to shoot at ISO 4000 with an aperture value of f/2.8 to get a shutter speed of 1/500th to 1/800th of a second.
I have two 500 watt/second monolights mounted in the rafters but I have them set to their absolute lowest power setting (about 1/8th of their full power capability). Most people I ask say the strobes are totally unnoticeable unless they are specifically looking for them.
With the added light from the two strobes I was able to shoot at ISO 800 with a shutter speed of 1/320th and an aperture value of f/3.5. Thats a big, big difference.

Added notes:
Some cameras will not allow you to shoot with a flash faster than 1/250th. I was using Pocketwizard radio triggers to fire the strobes so I was able to regulate my shutter speed as if there was no flash on the camera. If I shoot any faster than 1/400th with these lights I will begin to outsync the flash and there will be a dark line across the bottom of the frame. I can get away with 1/320th with this particular setup. Your mileage may vary based on your equipment and triggering method.
I decided to shoot at f/3.5 for a couple reasons. Remember from basic flash lessons that when shooting with strobe you use your shutter speed to control how much ambient light is exposed on the final image and you use your aperture value to control how much strobe light is exposed on the final image. ISO controls the overall ‘lightness or darkness’ of an image. So I was shooting a f/3.5 because by not shooting ‘wide open’ at f/2.8 I could effectively ‘turn down’ the brightness of the strobe. Also, it had the secondary effect of giving me a few more inches of focus depth in the frame so that in the example of two players fighting for the ball who have maybe a foot or so of separation from each other both players will be sharp, while still keeping the background blurred out. Remember, just because your lens will go all the way to f/2.8 does not mean you have to always shoot there.

Thanks for viewing. I will be posting my best images of January soon. If you missed my Best of 2013, you can find it under the blog tab in the header or shortcut to it here.

Click on an image to open it bigger and view it in slideshow format.

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