September bouts and venue lighting solutions!

The Kills (Bevo and Gnat King) celebrate a Slammers championship

The Kills (Bevo and Gnat King) celebrate a Slammers championship

And now, September’s bouts along with why people use off-camera lighting.

And here’s why we all like the off-camera flash now.

First, a note about off camera flash.  “It wasn’t always this easy.”  Over the last few years, the Strobist community has blossomed and off camera flash is becoming more common.  Canon and Nikon both support it with proprietary optical systems, and other companies like Radio Popper and Pocket Wizard have had products for a while too.  Now there are lots of cheap triggers that are pretty basic and can trigger speedlights in manual mode.  Or, if you want to spend the money like I did, you can have speedlights with remote power controls that behave exactly like the manufacturer’s systems, but over longer range.

At the same time, the speedlight has become more efficient and more reliable.  They’re much more portable than studio lights and, at least for derby, get around a lot of rules that venues have about only allowing union members to plug things in, lack of power outlets, spectator line of sight blocking, etc.  It’s a lot easier to bring 4 speedlights into a venue and clamp them onto something, or in the worst case put them on stands, than it is to drag in 4 studio lights, run power cables, etc.  You can get “better” light out of studio lights, but at a huge infrastructure setup and hauling cost (my opinion).

So what can these lights do?

  • Add interesting light at angles that it doesn’t come from naturally within the venue.
  • Add colored light with gels for theatrical effect
  • Supplement the natural light for filling in shadows
  • Overpower the natural light to get it out of your hair and freeze action better

As you can see in the photo linked above, there really isn’t much natural light in the photo at all.  There are 3 off-camera speedlights effectively participating in that shot, plus one on camera.  The annoying gym lights aren’t even a part of it and it looks (in my opinion) way cooler.  And now you know why a lot of the photographers at roller derby bouts are nuts about off camera lighting.  It takes items that were previously out of our control and places them back into our control.

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