Sports Photographer

2: Manfrotto Super Clamps

About $60.00

Learn Sports Photography

Photo under the basket with one flash to the left and one to the right of me. I am sitting on the floor about 10 ft to the right of the basket. These light are crossing. Notice she is closer to the flash on the left, but since that one is behind her the overexposed section creates a rim-light effect.

Photo from the same position shooting the student section. The left flash is just out of the frame. The subjects are being lit by the right flash behind me.

Notice the saturated colors and great detail from the flashed photos. This was taken at Durand High School, which has very poor lighting.

Photo taken close to mid court sitting on the front row of the bleachers. For this photo I am using the light on the right side of the gym closest to me and the light on the far end on the same side. Notice the difference in sharpness. noise, color and clarity of the inset photo. This photo was taken in the same gym without any lighting at all. I used the same camera and lens for both photos, the only difference is no lights.

How to Strobe High School Basketball Volleyball and Other Sports

There is no single thing that you can do to improve your photography better than learning to "strobe" or use flashes off-camera for sports indoors.

If you spend any time at all online searching out sports photography tips, you will read endless articles about the ability of modern DSLR cameras to shoot in any light, no matter how poor.

That is true, BUT, just because you can does not mean you should. Available light is no problem in arenas equipped to broadcast games on television. There are no gyms in our area that have that kind of lighting. Some are better than others, but none are good.

Your goal should be to get results like those on the left, to do so you must use flash.

This is how we do it.

Two Small Flashes (or Maybe Four)

I place a minimum of two flashes in the corners of the gym, mounted high on the hand rails of the bleachers or the balcony, depending on how the gym is configured. For big games (like the one in the photos) I use four units. Each one can me turned off from the camera if needed. The zoom head is usually set at 50mm and I start the power manually at 1/4 power. I try not to go much higher than 1/4, so I can get 4-5 frames in a row before the flash needs to recharge. The heads at aimed at a point about 10 ft high above the top of the key.

The typical flash set-up would be shooting from one end of the gym. I would be sitting on the floor with my back to the wall about 10 feet from the basket.

I set my camera exposure at 1/250 sec @ f2.8. Then I adjust the ISO to make my base exposure about 2 stops too dark. Then, I use Pocket Wizards to fire the flashes from the camera. I adjust the output of each flash unit to get proper exposure. 800 ISO is normal for most high school gyms. Once it is set it will stay the same for the entire game.

It may seem confusing, but after you have done it a couple times it is very easy and you can set the flashes up very quickly. Next is to buy the equipment.

Equipment Needed


Two High Quality Flashes. Buy good ones and they will last for years.

Nikon SB910 Speedlight

About $550 Each


Two Battery Packs. For big events and faster recharge.

Nikon SD-9 Battery Pack

About $210.00 Each


Good quality radio system to fire flashes. Need three, one for each flash and one for camera.

Pocket Wizard
Plus III Transceivers

About $149.00 Each


Quality Rechargeable Batteries!

Sanyo Eneloop

Need about 32 plus chargers.

About $80.00

Mounting System


2: Manfrotto 122b Extension Arms

About $60.00


2: Manfrotto 492 Ball Heads

About $110.o0


2: Cold Shoes

About $15.00

About $2,300.00 for Two Units
$4,600.00 for Four
Plus Shipping and Sales Tax.


Check out this video to learn more about the great Nikon SB-910 flash. I have been shooting professionally for over 25 years now and this is the best flash I have ever used.

This is an incredible system that will last for years and be incredibly versatile. But, there is a MUCH better option if you are on a limited budget. Click here to find out more.


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