Sports Photography Part One

View video from the CCS Summer Workshops last July. Brian Allan is presenting Outdoor Sports Photography. From posed shots to simulated action, camera and lighting setups, and tips and tricks for marketing to customers. There is a lot of information in his presentation so we have broken it up into three parts.

Part 1: Topics covered: Event and booth setup, showcasing print samples, banners, traffic flow managing kids and parents. Equipment transportation considerations.

[podcast format=”video”][/podcast]

One and Two Light Setups for Sports Shoots

This diagram is designed around hotshoe-mount flashes such as Nikon SB600 or Canon 430EX. However, any studio strobe, HID, or other light source can be used. Since the diagrams are designed for small strobes I’ll stay on that note, but keep in mind light is light no matter where it comes from.This first diagram uses a hard light source from camera left. The flash is at full power so as to help overpower any ambient light, since the goal here is a dark photo with a dark background and only the side of the subject lit. The strobe is on a light stand a foot or so above the subjects head and aimed at the center of the subject. The ‘zoom’ described in the diagram refers to the flash head of the strobe; 85mm ensures the light intensity is as concentrated as possible. This is important because of the relatively lower power level of these flashes.

Two Lights: Standard Setup

This is a very flexible arrangement that can be made to look very aggressive and athletic, or very calm and friendly. It depends on your usage of an umbrella, amount of ambient light, the power level of the strobes, and the angle of the lights. I will specifically cover the setup I use for a sports portrait. The main light on camera right is using an umbrella to soften the light. The light is placed on a light stand above the subject and angled down. The light behind the subject and to camera left is acting as a key light (sometimes called rim light, separation light, etc.). If you are using a light meter the key light is metered about two stops less than the main light in most circumstances.

This arrangement results in an image like this:To achieve the dark background you can use a few techniques: very bright lights such as studio strobes allow you to overpower any ambient light. The only catch is that the light can reflect off of other objects in a small environment such as the gym pictured above. A second technique is to use a camera which allows for high speed shutter sync (shutter speeds above 1/250) such as the D50, D70, or a leaf shutter camera. A third technique is to simply turn down any ambient light. This allows the usage of smaller hotshoe flashes.

One, Two and Three light Set-Up Guides to Assist You at a Sports Shoot

One, Two and Three light set ups Sports Guides to Assist You at the Shoot


Candid Color Systems has created 14 different Sports Guides for our customers. Below are two of the guides to help you with your next sports photography shoot. These setups are labeled “indoor” but can also be used for outdoor shoots.


One Light sport shoot setup


There are two different ways to shoot with a one light setup. Both of these setups can be used for indoor or outdoor sports.  The first illustration shows a soft box, or umbrella, set off at a 45 degree angle from the subject to create slightly more dramatic lighting.  To give your subject “even” light, the second illustration, moves the light directly behind the photographer.  In each situation the soft box should be 12 – 15 feet away from the subject and metered at f8 and, the photographer should be 10 feet away from the subject.


Two and Three Light sport shoot setups

In both the two and three light setup, the photographer should be 10 feet from the subject. In the two light setup, the main light is 45 degrees to the side of the subject and metered at f11.  The second light is directly behind the photographer at f8, and is used to fill in the shadows caused by the first light. 


The three light setup consists of a soft box directly on the subject; a second light illuminating the background, and a third light, the hair light, is used to separate the subject from the background.  Both the hair light and the main light are metered at f8, and the background light is at f11. 


Next time you are at a sports shoot, remember these helpful lighting hints!


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