I was asked to shoot a basketball game. I was promised I would have time to set up and get my flash all set. They thought 3 minutes was long enough. I ended up shooting without a flash. I shot at 1600 and 3200 Iso. Despite the grain my customers were happy. Here's my question. How should I set up my camera to bounce the flash ? I'm using a nikon d300s body with different lenses. Nikon 24-85 f2.8-4, nikon 50mm f1.8 and nikon 80-200mm f2.8. The flash is a Metz 44 AF-1 that offers TTL and manual flash. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Bounce flash in a basketball arena is not going to provide much help. If anything, put the flash on your camera, use TTL and direct flash or with a small modifier that fits on the flash.
A recreational basketball ceiling minimum is 20-feet and NCAA requires a minimum of 25-feet. If your flash is at a 5' height it has to travel a minimum of 15' up and approximately 15' down to a subject's face or a total of 30' distance. The ceiling material will also absorb some of the energy, but if it didn't the maximum flash energy on the subject would be 1/900th of the original flash power. If it's an NCAA game, that reduces to 1/1600th. In reality, you're not going to get enough out of bounce flash to make it worth while.
I'm not an avid sport photographer so take what I'm about to say as such. Here is something you might try -
Set your ISO so that your camera is properly exposed for f4 at 1/125th of a second using either the camera's meter or a light meter.
Make sure your flash speed is at 1/250th and set to TTL.
When you shoot with flash at 1/250th your ambient light will be 1-stop underexposed, which will allow the flash to better "freeze" the motion. Shooting at f4 will provide sharper images than at f2.8. on a f2.8 lens.
Play around with that. You might also go to 1-1/2 stops lower ambient. The lower the ambient light, the better the flash freezes the subject. Just see what looks good to you.
"Red is gray and yellow white, but we decide which is right ....and which is an illusion"
I shoot 100+ hoops games each year. It is inconceivable to me that any ceiling bounce is available in a gym. If so....flash is not the only thing that would be "bouncing" off that ceiling....basketballs would as well. The key to shooting hoops is a high ISO (3200 in good gyms and 5000 in most average gyms) and a minimum f2.8 lens......the key being able to shoot at 1/500+ shutter speed effectively. Other than that you can shoot with a diffuser and use direct flash but I am not a fan of those results (and neither are many tournament officials as flash is banned in many venues).
Unfortunately the D300 may not be the optimal solution.... but always some experimentation will get you down the road with acceptable results.
Thu 05-Sep-13 06:11 PM | edited Fri 06-Sep-13 11:55 AM by Bob Chadwick
As pointed out, its difficult to bounce flash due to the ceiling height. I ended up using two flashes for basketball without the bounce. Set them up behind the basket outside where the three point line intersects with the base line with the flash heads pointing at the top of the key.
Check out Dave Black's blog. He has some good info.
I'd put that 50/1.8 on, get under the basket, try about 2500 or 3200 and see what shutter speed you get, try to keep it 640th or higher (depends on how fast the people are).
I've never shot BB anywhere that flash was allowed, so I can't help with the flash question, but the 50/18 is not bad for anything inside of the 3 point line on a crop body. Borrow a 85/14 or 85/18 for a bit further out? The 80-200 is great, but that's another stop or more you loose. As you start shooting the length of the court even at 200mm you're going to be cropping heavy to get the action and the noise is going to kill you.
If I was going to try flash I'd probably try to get them pre-mounted somewhere, 3 or so, and control them remotely.
But to the suggestion of being down under 200th of a second and being a stop over ambient -- you're going to get a lot of motion blur and ghosting with that slow of speed if ambient light is providing significant illumination.