LIGHTING AND POSING AN ATHLETE ON LOCATION

While in New York, I always want to keep shooting and trying new things.  I especially enjoy shooting “real” people, and sometimes this means approaching strangers on the street, showing them what I do (on my iPad), and then asking for a little of their time.  That is exactly what happened one day when I ended up producing the images in this post.  Mac is a 19-year-old basketball player from the Bronx, and once I met him I asked if he would be game to stand in for a few photos the following day.  I gathered my lights, camera, and google-searched for a nice park that would fit the lighting I wanted for a 4pm shoot.  I had 3 setups in mind – all lit, and all involving 2 lights to really make the photos pop. I also LOVE graphic composition and using lines to compose my shots so the lines on the court worked out great.

This first image was of him dribbling the ball as if he was aggressively driving to the hoop.  I had a high angle in mind for the shot so I tipped over a trash can and stood on it to get the angle.  I then did a few light tests, and in order to get a dramatic look I decided to place the main light well to his left (camera right) and the kicker directly behind him to his right.  I love the quality of light from a beauty dish so both lights were fitted with dishes with 30-degree grids to control the light spill.  After about 30 tries using the Nikon D3 and the 17-35mm lens, I was happy with the shot and we moved on to the next setup.

I knew Mac was pretty ripped and had some cool tattoos so I wanted to show them off using a bright, poppy main light and a good rim light.  I also loved the perspective of shooting in a corner using the fence texture along with the bricks to create shadows and depth in the frame.  The lighting is much the same as the first photo with the 2 beauty dishes.  I used a 50mm 1.4 for the first image and the 35mm for the second shot.

 

The final image was just a straight-on, single light portrait.  I used a beauty dish camera right and had him walk toward me showing some attitude and creating a dramatic angle making sure the light hit him from the side but also hit the background to give the image some depth and separation.  Because of the grid, there was a natural vignette. This image was also shot with the 50mm 1.4. The dramatic effect of the single-light was able to create just the look I wanted, and fit the mood of Mac just finishing up a game on the court.

Dan Brouillette
Dan Brouillette splits his time between his studios in Brooklyn, New York, and Sioux City, Iowa.  He photographs for magazines such as ESPN, TIME, Women's Health, Men's Fitness, Runner's World and many others.  He also photographs around 50 seniors per year from his studio in Iowa. Read Full Bio and View Images
Dan Brouillette
Dan Brouillette

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