Lighting – Keep it simple

We’re all familiar with the saying K.I.S.S., Keep It Simple Stupid. Sometimes that the best advice we can follow.

I’ve been known to get carried away with lighting setups. I’ve used as many as eight speedlights in repeating flash mode to create some of my sports portraits. However, often times the simple setup can yield just as nice of results.

Case in point, I was tasked with photographing a tennis doubles team that was dominating the conference. I had a short window to photograph them before a match.

I had a few ideas in mind, but until you get to the location, you never really know what is possible. I grabbed my camera and basic light kit (a pair of light stands, Canon speedlights, pocket wizards and a few basic modifiers) and headed to the courts to start seeing what I could do.

I posed the girls, set up my lights and backed up about 20ish feet, intending to shoot with a telephoto lens. For whatever reason, my pocket wizards were only firing one of my lights. I tried to trouble shoot it. Maybe it was the metal all around me (large chainlink fence surrounding the court and net posts). Maybe it was faulty equipment. I didn’t have a lot of time to figure it out.

I noticed that they’d both fire when I close to the subjects. I switched to my wide lens, adjusted my lights, just bare flashes, and adjusted my exposure. My frame came together with the simplest two-light setup possible.

Belvidere North's starting doubles team, Leraaen Abbott (left), 17, and Kayla Vittore

Belvidere North’s starting doubles team, Leraaen Abbott (left), 17, and Kayla Vittore, are undefeated in conference play this season. Photographed Monday, Oct. 3, 2016, on the tennis courts at Belvidere North High School. MAX GERSH/STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER/RRSTAR.COM

When I arrived, I didn’t intend to make the image I that I ended up walking away with. This profession constantly throws curveballs at you. You’ve got to adapt and work with the cards that you’re dealt. This time, I was pretty happy with my hand.

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