(Pine Creeks gymnast Hannah Brown waits patiently in the studio before beginning her photo shoot)
The lighting setup for this project entailed two, sometimes three lights- a Nikon SB800 flash and a regular household flash light (both used intermittently). The background light/color was produced by gelling a strobe and turning the modeling lamp on in an effort to have constant light hitting the back wall as well as a portion of the floor. The main light had a soft box as well as a soft grid and was moved from right to left depending on the athlete and their position. The third light used in some cases had a 20″ grid and a diffuser gel doubled in an effort to create soft, directional light as seen in Kendall’s volleyball image below.
In this particular image a household flashlight was used to illuminate the bottom portion of the ball as well.
In most cases, it was a 4 1/2 to 10 second exposure, during which time the athletes were asked not to move. Now I don’t know about anyone else, but trying to hold a body position as well as a facial expression for 10 seconds without moving is not an easy task, but these guys (and gals) pulled it off like champs! In order to create an edge or halo around the athlete, I would rack the focus during the exposure and if I were looking for a harder edge, I would pop the strobe on the back light right before the shutter closed. The lighting for these portraits took some serious finessing and a lot of trial by error.
It was a near impossibility to duplicate the light from one athlete to another without rearranging and re-testing the light over and over…and over and over and over again. Thankfully I found some great models here at The Gazette such as Mark Reis (nice form buddy).