On Location Shoot: Setting Up the Lights in Boxing Gym
Here's what I would say, if you look at my photographs, so I would encourage you go to joelgrimes.com, that's my website, or joelgrimesworkshops.com is my blog, and look at my images and you'll notice there's a couple themes. But one of the themes is that I have really clean backgrounds. My backgrounds are important to me, and when you walk into a location, most of the time, it's a lot of clutter, alright? So I learned this back when I photographed annual reports in the 90's. I was goin' all over the world, and I would photograph oil and gas, or every time I'd go to a location, it would be a different industry. And the hardest thing was to get rid of all the clutter. And so, I had to train my eye to do that, so I'd get up high or shoot a long lens or get down low, find a bunch of tanks and put a guy in a hard hat right between all these big repetitions of things. You'll notice that when I walked into this gym, it's a cool gym, it's a great location, but there is stuff hangin' on the wa...
lls. There is just lights, there's things you go, "Oh, here's a perfect location "except this big ol' hot water heater is hanging "right in the back, right where I want "to put the person," right? There's just a lot of clutter so to clean up your backgrounds, you gotta find ways of working around that. We ended up, you can hear me in this video, I keep complaining about this big, old, silver sign that this guy, the name of the gym, and it was right behind the boxer and it just was like glowing. And it was so hard to get rid of it. We finally ended up putting some black cloth over it, and it worked, so that right there, you don't see it. So black cloth is something I carry with me a lot. Black tape, black cloth, things that I can maybe help minimize clutter in the background. So that I would say that's the hardest part about what I do, in terms of an environment portrait is trying to find a background with minimized clutter. Does that make sense? And so, the lighting on the subject, ah. You know you gotta put your lights somewhere and that's kind hard sometimes, but really it's the clutter in the background. So you'll notice that I kind of fumble around as I'm moving my gear and stuff, I'm complaining about the background more than anything. That's my biggest whatever, my biggest challenge. So with that sort of intro, we're gonna set up my gear, and I carry with me some stacker stands, that's the Manfrotto stacker stands, so what that means is they stack really narrow. And maybe what I'll do in a next session, I can pull those out, show you how they stack up. They're not really lightweight, they're pretty solid stands. They're the biggest stackers that Manfrotto makes. They're large ones, and I think they go 13 feet up or whatever, but there are also a limit of how much weight you can put on 'em. You put a boom with a light and a sandbag, they get a little wobbly. So for my overhead light, the one I'm always puttin' over the top of the camera if I do my three edge lighting or whatever, I carry the Avenger stands. They're gonna be, that list is available, I think, they can download that list or go to it. It's also on my blog, joelgrimesworkshops.com, under my equipment, there's a whole list of my equipment, but I usually use the big, and I don't know the numbers 'cause I don't memorize my stands, what model numbers, but they're the big stands. And I got 'em years ago, I went into an audio... There was a photo supply store with the video side, video film, video, and I walked in there and I saw these big stands. I was like, "I gotta have these." 'Cause I like to put a light on a boom, and then I went and I bought the Avengers with the rollers, right? And they fold out and lock, and they roll around so if you have a surface where you can just roll it, so much easier than having to pick it up. Last you said... Cliff, yesterday, was lifting that stand with sandbag with the lights with the battery pack, everything. That's a lot of weight, and you know, for an old guy, it's a... (audience laughing) A lot to move, but it's the balancing of it too. It's like, "Whoa," so, but the rollers work really good, okay? So you'll see me use the roller stands, usually on my overhead. Stacker stands in the backgrounds 'cause they're light. They fold up nice and light. And you've seen me already use the boom, it's the Avenger boom. It's a solid boom, you want a solid boom overhead, and I would say this. I've never had a light fall and hit somebody. I've had lights tip over, but you don't ever want that to happen. I mean, that could be a disaster for your business, being sued or whatever or hurting somebody. So you want things locked down, big stand, heavy stands, and that's just gear. And it's like, you can get away with a smaller stand, but you might cause a big problem with that. So watch as I'm movin' around. So this first one's gonna be about, I think, just kind of me settin' up the gear, and you'll see me kind of fumble around. Sound, my camera angle, so there's my lens coming across. So what we gotta do is first turn on because once you get it up there... Alright, so we're gonna go here, and I've got, it looks like modeling light on. I don't use the modeling light because it gets too hot, and then, it doesn't work, so let's get that off. That is now off, we have, let's put it on, we're on color so channel two zone C. So let me grab this and make sure this is all gonna work here and talk to it. So let's turn this on, this is the radio poppers, and let's see if it works. It's working so we're on channel two, and Cliff, are those on channel two back there too?
Yeah, I don't know if this one... Can you do that again?
Well, let me turn it on so that is, that's number... What number is at back that?
It is one, I think.
Okay, one, so let's try this, is that moving?
Oh, I'm sorry, this is two.
Oh okay, two, okay, so let's go. Is that moving?
It's not moving.
Let me reset it.
So we're on zone C, we're on zone C on this one.
Oh okay, it's workin'.
It is working, okay, now go over to... I'm gonna stop here for a second. When it comes to triggers, okay, because there's radio, wireless, all this stuff, we talked about this. They didn't work, and this happened when I shot the Broncos years ago. I had all my triggers set up, they worked perfectly. I get on a location, and then, I got my four by fives set up. I've got 50 Broncos, they gave me four minutes to photograph that team portrait, and as soon as I clicked the first frame, my triggers don't work. And you know why, because the guy behind me, the security guy, he's talking and clearing out the background. Every time he clicks his little radio, it turned off my frequency, it blocked it. So things happen that you just cannot believe happen in the field, right? But what I've done, and they still didn't work, is every light gets one of those little white tags. I printed out, and I put the channel, so I matched one to one, or you know, the little receiver. So I'm tryin' to minimize any mistakes, right? So I keep the same receiver with every light, every time I pull it out of the bag. Does that make sense? You hope that that minimizes the risk so if one goes bad, you know, okay, is it the retriever or is it the light or is it whatever? But even then, it still didn't work yesterday, right? So I guess what I'm saying is that you try to minimize every little problem and then things happen, right? So you can see all the little stickers on the back of my strobe, that's indicating that that strobe goes with that receiver, does that make sense? But even then, things go wrong.
So before we go back to the video, can you talk a little bit about why you chose this location within the gym itself? Sort of as you walked in and did the like location scout?
Okay, so what I like is when I photograph someone, I want them on the background or the plane to be straight on. Straight on or down the pike, so here's my ropes, right? They're coming this direction. You would never photograph this way. Just a slight angle, you always do it straight on, at least me, or you go down the pike, meaning you let that like you're in an alley and you go down the pike, that's one way. Or maybe in a 45 degree angle so the one wall goes the pike, or you go straight on. So to me, I see people photograph all the time, it's just slightly off, and the walls kind of goin'... (groans) Does that make sense, it's just like (groans) I wanna straighten that wall up. So usually what I do is I find that background that... Like if I was inside the rink, the ropes would've been like I would've photographed 'em like that. Put the person in the middle, so you wouldn't put 'em off like that. I wouldn't, so I looked and I said, "Okay, I got the ropes straight on. "I wanna do the straight on ropes." Now, when I shoot the bench, down the pike. That was down a tapered pike. I would've loved to have shot the little benches straight on, but I couldn't. There's no way, I can't put my camera anywhere 'cause the rink was right there, the ring was right there. So I try to use that rule of thumb, straight on or down the pike, and so, that's why I chose right here was just to have it straight on.
Our number one, so this is three, two, one, okay.
Is it working?
Okay, alright, so we're gonna match the output of this light and the output of that light are gonna be the same. This one's probably gonna be downplayed by a stop or two, okay? So let's walk these in so we're gonna have Rod right down the middle of this so come all the way here. Come, come, no, no, no. Just come straight toward, right there. Now, aim it at the middle here, so swing it a little bit, right there. Okay, so, and then do the same thing over here on this one. And then, we'll have to raise them according when he gets in. So it looks like we're all, so I'm gonna set up. We're gonna go to, let's go to seven, zero, output on the back, and we're gonna go to four on the front. That should be our starting point. And that means nothing in terms of output... I mean, it's just the output of this here, so four is actually 32, 30 second output. Yeah, power.
Do you wanna mention what lights you're using back here?
Okay, so we have the Westcott large, which are...
About three by four feet.
Yeah, something like, about three by, no, about two and a half by three and a half feet, something like that. 36 by 48, I think it is. So we have two of those, we have the 24 inch Beauty Dish, brand spankin' new.
With the name on it.
With Beauty Dish by Joel Crimes, isn't that amazing? I think that's worth celebration, right? So we're gonna have that over, so that's my overhead light. That's gonna light zone, what I call, zone 3, which is the middle zone. The two edge lights are gonna light on the sides. So let's raise this up, and it has to be a little tricky here. We wanna make sure we don't tip this thing over. And, yeah, make sure, exactly, so we lock it down. Yeah, okay, there we go. So that's good, we might have to go a little bit. So let's do this. We're gonna raise it up, lock that down. Put the sandbag back on.
Then we'll adjust from the next one.
Okay, alright. So that'll clear, now let's move this light. It's gotta be to your left a little bit. And then, let's get our subject, Rod.