How to Light a Huge Basketball Arena with Strobes, a Step-by-Step Guide


This is one of the most informative, technical, and (if you’re a camera nerd) awesome walkthrough’s we’ve ever stumbled across. In it, photographer Patrick Murphy-Racey shows you, step-by-step, how he lights a whole massive basketball arena with four powerful strobes.

If you want to truly freeze the action inside a basketball arena, you’re either going to have to crank your ISO or do this. As you’re about to see, it takes a ton of work to set these strobes up effectively and safely … but that work is worth it when you find out the kind of settings that Murphy-Racey is able to shoot with once he has this Dynalite Arena Kit up.

When all of his strobes are set up, he’ll be shooting at an effective shutter speed of 1/2500sec, at f/5.6 and ISO 160. That, as he says in the video, is “awesome, and awesome is where I like to be.”

This is one of the more complicated and technical walkthroughs we’ve shared (and it comes in two parts depending on the size of the arena) but it’s well-worth it for the educational value.

One of the most intriguing bits of info that Murphy-Racey talks about is the “pecking order,” so to speak, of who gets to use strobes at the most important NCAA games.

Even if you have your newspaper’s strobes set up at “your” arena, once the post-season starts, the NCAA will only allow three sets of strobes per arena per game… and they get to decide who uses them. According to Murphy-Racey, the first set is always earmarked for Sports Illustrated, the second is always earmarked for the Associated Press, and the third is “administered” by USA Today, who allows different photographers to use the strobes at different times depending on circulation.

Check out the videos above for much much more information and many more interesting bits of trivia like that. And if you want to see some of Murphy-Racey’s work, check out his website and Sony Artisan page.