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Women's college volleyball

Discussion in 'Sports Photography' started by tlong, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. tlong


    May 25, 2008
    Southeast, USA
    Hi guys. I shot a little volleyball today. Boy was it a challenge. The other school I have shot volleyball for has a high balcony and a nice, white ceiling...This school, OTOH, had a low balcony, strong ambient light and a charcoal gray ceiling. I had been specifically instructed to strobe these games, but I really struggled to overcome the ambient by enough. I am not really pleased with them overall...I am hoping to go back when there are not games going on and experiment with the light placement. Where do you guys put the lights for volleyball? I have 4 AB800's.

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    5. I could not resist the blue tongue celebration :) 





  2. i know that others will help you with your flash placement
    a nice series
    but.... for me.....
    there is just TOO MUCH FLASH
    i'd back down on the power
    all the flash shadows of the net is very distracting.... IMHO
  3. Sauk


    Aug 4, 2008
    Sandy, UT
    A few questions:

    Are you bouncing these? Can you post some exif for these? With 4 B800's I would think you could easily bounce the light and get nice soft "natural" type light that is strong enough to stop action and over power ambient.

    What were your readings prior to flash?

    I would assume shooting volley ball you should be aiming your strobes (if bounced) near the 2nd line (not sure what they call it, sorry) or the line a few feet back from the net.

    That way your for sure overpowering the ambient and you can stop down to get a 2 stop advantage.

    I think no matter what your going to get some type of motion blur because the ball is moving so fast, but at least you won't get ghosting.


    (add-on to this post)

    Here is an example of not having enough juice to really overpower the ambient. This is a big arena with really high ceilings. I was using 2, B800's on one side of the court only. Ambient light near the baskets I was getting ISO 1600 with a shutter of 1/500 and an F stop of 2.8.

    With the flash I had to use 1/250th (synch speed) F3.5 to F4 ISO 400 in order to get 2 stops under the ambient, and even than I believe doing math I am not a full two stops under there. Which lead to me getting small amount of ghosting on exteriors. Here is an example shot:

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    Make Canon
    Model Canon EOS-1D Mark II (don't hate me lol)
    Focal Length 145 mm
    Exposure Time 1/250 sec
    Aperture f/3.5
    ISO Equivalent 400

    You can see the ghosting a bit more in this image. He is at the top of the key where my lights had a harder time of over powering ambient.

    View attachment 248375

    As you can see I was still able to do pretty darn well. Here is an image of the arena. The balcony you see is where I put my strobes. One one each side, bounced off the ceiling. I aimed them for the top of the key.

    View attachment 248376

    Anyways give us some more information and we can help :) 
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 6, 2008
  4. acena


    Mar 14, 2006
    New Jersey
    I prefer to hit them straight on rather than bounce but I want a more high contrast look. With 4 lights (Dynalite 4080SPs with M2000er packs set to 1/4 power), I will typically place the lights at the last row of seats though the higher the better.

    If it is a small gym, I use a medium size reflector which works for most high school gyms. In a college venue where I can get up higher I use my long throw reflectors which throw a narrower light a longer distance. It just depends on how much of a spread I want and how high I can get them. Another reason I use the long throws in some cases is to minimize the light falling on the fans.

    For volleyball, I use 3-4 lights depending on how many back to back games I need to shoot. For the divisional championships, I will usually pack 4 but otherwise just use three.

    If I am using three, I will set up in one of two ways depending on where the outlets are and the gym's arrangement since the whole floor is live in volleyball. i.e. my placement is more a function of where I can actually set up as opposed to where I would like to set up. If you want to be able to shoot anywhere, I think you will need 8 lights.

    Option 1. 4-lights: All set to 1/4 power or 500 w/s. One light at each baseline pointed inward slightly. Two lights facing down the net pointed outward slightly (i.e. toward the baseline. This usually gets me ISO 400 f/5.6 at 1/250ths. With this set up I can usually shoot anywhere along the sideline. The lights were clamped to exposed I-beams behind the last row of seats.

    Subscribe to see EXIF info for this image (if available)

    View attachment 248378
    View attachment 248379

    I don't use my flash for the team shots. I just strobe them

    View attachment 248380

    Option 2. 3 Lights: All set to 1/4 power or 500 w/s. One light at each baseline pointed inward slightly. One light facing down the net. With this set up I can usually shoot anywhere along the sideline. The problem is that you could upset the ref on the other side since you are blasting him or her with every shot. The lights were clamped to the balcony railings on this.

    View attachment 248381

    Option 3. 2 lights with 3rd light optional. I set up one light at each corner of the baseline on one side. The optional third light is for the center down the net to serve as a backlight. You can shoot anywhere along the baseline with this set up.

    Option 4: 1 light. There was a time when I forgot all my electrical cables except for one so I thought I was toast. I set one light up in the middle and pointed it straight up at full power (2000 w/s) to get the widest brightest spread possible. It worked ok but I was shooting at a slightly higher ISO. Oh and the bleachers were small with no where to clamp so I just used a single 13ft light stand.

    View attachment 248382

    When I am real lazy, I just pack three Speedlights.

    View attachment 248383

    This year, I am going to be somewhat lazy and do not want to pack electrical cords and such so I am going to take Dynalite's UNi400s with me along with a jackrabbit battery pack for each head. The batteries are just about the same weight but smaller than the old Quantum turbo batteries. Good for 400 shots at full power, but I will likely only be shooting them at half power. But then again I may not shoot any volleyball since I am going to start charging customers a surcharge for me to bring the lights.
  5. tlong


    May 25, 2008
    Southeast, USA
    Hi guys. Thanks for the detailed explanations! I am really sorry I have not been able to respond before now.

    I am sorry the exif is not there...Smugmug seems to lose it when I post here...These were ISO 250-320 (I played with this a little), 1/250, f/4. The ambient reading was approximately ISO 1600, 1/500-1/640, f/2.8.

    I have 4 AB800's. There is a balcony about 15ft behind one of the baselines, so I clamped my lights there. I put one in each corner behind the baseline and was trying to bounce them directly behind the other side of the net. The ceiling is a really dark charcoal gray and was pretty high, so I was afraid I would not beat ambient by enough stops. I have always heard that you can usually get by with 2 stops, but that three or four is better. I then tried direct from there (still with just 2 lights). I had them at about 3/4 power and was afraid someone would complain. I did not like the look with the shadows, etc, after the first game, so I decided to bounce the other two lights across the back of the baseline to try to drown out the shadows. I think that may be what caused the ghosting, since the direct lights may not have overcome the bounced lights by enough (?).

    I really wanted to go about halway between the baseline on the net and bounce the strobes on the opposite sides of the net. Unfortunately, there are stands there and there were quite a few people sitting n that area and decided it would be rude to go moving them around and in front of spectators during the tournament, so I tried to do the best with what I had setup. I am hoping to be shooting there later in the season, so I am hoping to get back over there and try a few more setups...

    I really do appreciate the comments and Matt and Alex, your detailed descriptions!
  6. These are much

    nicer than what I have been getting without any added strobe light. Apparently the coaches and players do not mind the strobes in the venues where you have been shooting.

    I may sneak in my SB-800s to give them a try and see if anyone complains (during a scrimmage game, of course).
  7. tlong


    May 25, 2008
    Southeast, USA
    Honestly...I was surprised nobody complained here since they were direct! I prefer bounced, but can see why those who are far more skilled than me like direct. I just have not learned to control the light like they can!
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