How I took these gorgeous photos of girls playing soccer

Mar 6, 2016

Keydrin Franklin

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

How I took these gorgeous photos of girls playing soccer

Mar 6, 2016

Keydrin Franklin

We love it when our readers get in touch with us to share their stories. This article was contributed to DIYP by a member of our community. If you would like to contribute an article, please contact us here.

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girls-playing-soccer-06

After being dissatisfied with their team soccer photos, a good friend of mine asked if I could take some action shots of her two daughters playing the sport. I wanted to create an “out of the box” image that really showed their skills and passion for soccer. I consulted with another very good friend of mine, who happens to be a photographer and has kids that are heavily involved in the soccer world. Together, we collaborated to bring these shots to life.

I am a
huge fan of the “golden hour” right before sunset, although it really limits the amount of time you have (you have to be on your toes and ready to shoot). Choosing to shoot at this time of day was critical to the final outcome of the shots. To counterbalance the sunlight, I chose to use a combination of three Elinchrom Quadra 400s and flash.

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There happens to be a huge sports complex in close proximity to where my clients and I live. A few days prior to the shoot, I scouted this location to see how the sunset hit in certain spots on the field. It ended up being the perfect location!

Setup and lighting

  • The first Light on camera left was an Elinchrom Quadra Hybrid 400 with 37” Octabox– Main Light- I chose to use the 37” Octabox because I am big fan of softlight and can easily manipulate it in post.
  • The second light, to camera left, placed behind the subject for separation, is another Elinchrom Quadra Hybrid 400 bare with frosted diffuser
  • Lastly, a third Elinchrom Quadra Hybrid 400 was placed opposite to the second light: camera right, behind the subject for separation,  again bare with frosted diffuser

These lights were specifically chosen for their high power and easy portability.

I used an Elinchrom EL Skyport Plus Transmitter to sync the strobes.

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Camera, Lens and settings

Camera: Nikon D4s

Lens: Nikon 200mm f/2 VRII. I chose this lens because of its quick focus and how it renders the background. This has to be one of my favorite lens to use. I have yet to find another lens that can compare to this beast!

settings were ISO: 125, 1/800sec, f/2.5

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Post Processing

These images were processed in Lightroom with the following adjustments:

  • Tweaked white balance, shadows, and highlights.
  • Adjustments to enhance the sunset’s “golden” look were done in Lightroom’s HSL tab.

Photoshop:

  • Color balance and Selective Color were used with mask to further enrich the beautiful sunset.
  • I also cloned out some light poles but the image was pretty much dead on SOOC.

About The Author

Keydrin Keylo Franklin Portrait & headshot photographer based out of Fort Worth, TX. You can see more of his work on his site, Facebook and Instagram.

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40 responses to “How I took these gorgeous photos of girls playing soccer”

  1. James Lawson-Smith Avatar
    James Lawson-Smith

    Great to see how the shots where set up. Don’t think many of us DIY Togs have about $5000 to spend on three flashes though. Wonder if you could get the same results with speed-lights and a bit of Photoshop?

    1. Alexander DiMauro Avatar
      Alexander DiMauro

      I was thinking the same thing. The shots look great, especially the second, but, yeah, that’s about $5-6k in lighting equipment. But, using speedlights and playing with the placement of the speedlights, I’m sure that you could get a similar result. My biggest worry would actually be the child kicking the ball right into the lights and/or camera!

      1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
        Keydrin Keylo Franklin

        Thank you very much! Yes, I had a spotter behind me so the ball wouldn’t be kicked into the lens. There were a few times it came close. Yes speedlites will work or the Rovelight is a great alternative.

    2. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      Yes, you can get the same results with speedlites or another great alternative is the Rovelight from Adorama. This strobes will give you more than enough power to get the job done and will allow you to use High speed sync.

    3. Mike Aubrey Avatar
      Mike Aubrey

      Not to mention another two chunks of $5000 on the lens and camera body!

      1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
        Keydrin Keylo Franklin

        lol, Mike!

    4. movielighter Avatar
      movielighter

      This was back in 2012. Yongnou manual flash ($50), with a manual radio trigger ($20). Octobox (24inch), Canon t3i with a 17-50mm tamrom. This shot was on a shoe string budget for sure! Was released and used on a billboard. Today i would do it witha back light for more seperation for sure. Really enjoed this article !

      1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
        Keydrin Keylo Franklin

        Very nice job! Love this action shot

    5. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
      Kay O. Sweaver

      Turn up your ISO and bring the flashes in closer and you certainly could do this with speedlites.

  2. John Flury Avatar
    John Flury

    I’m kinda wondering why there isn’t more light spill on the ground. Did you create an additional plate shot or are the strobes gridded to control that?

    1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      There was spill on the ground, but I tone it down quite a bit in post! For me it was too distracting so I got rid of it :)

      1. John Flury Avatar
        John Flury

        I got to try David Hobby’s trick for this problem, he uses the second curtain to cut some of that light. So he shoots intentionally above the X-Sync speed, so part of the lower image is blocked from being exposed to the strobe. I can’t decide if the method is genius or just “cute” :)

  3. Sijad Shah Avatar
    Sijad Shah

    Did you use continuous (raw or jpg) or single shot mode?

    1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      I always shoot in raw! I use continuous and use backbutton focusing to track my subject.

    2. Sijad Shah Avatar
      Sijad Shah

      Cool, thank you!

      1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
        Keydrin Keylo Franklin

        Very welcome

    3. Greg Jones Avatar
      Greg Jones

      congrats! admire your work!

      1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
        Keydrin Keylo Franklin

        Greg, thank you very much!

    4. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      Greg Jones thank you very much

  4. Riccardo Maria Mantero Avatar
    Riccardo Maria Mantero

    nicely done!

    1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      Thank you very much!

    2. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      Thanks so much

  5. Vertex Avatar
    Vertex

    looks good but clearly artificial.

    1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      Thank you very much, but I have to ask what is artificial?

      1. radcraig Avatar
        radcraig

        I think those with an untrained eye see the extremely shallow DOF combined with the mixed lighting (flash/sunlight) and think it’s a composite image. Shots look great BTW.

        1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
          Keydrin Keylo Franklin

          Thank you very much! Yes you’re absolutely right it does make it look like a composite, it isn’t ?

  6. Henry Rodgers Avatar
    Henry Rodgers

    Forgive me but, I see the expertise involved in these, I just don’t see the beauty everyone else seems to. These kinds of shots are all over the internet and each one feels as sterile as the last.

    1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      I completely understand that everyone will not see the beauty in this shot and that’s ok! I’m just happy that they decided to feature me ?

    2. Alexander DiMauro Avatar
      Alexander DiMauro

      How are they sterile? Compare these to the shots parents usually get, the same sterile team photos, and any parent would love to have these. It’s about a parent hanging this framed in their home, a memory of their child, not about competing with the rest of the Internet for the most ‘unique’ image or winning photo contests.

      1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
        Keydrin Keylo Franklin

        Very true Alexander! They are literally hanging in there house and they loved them!

  7. Gvido Mūrnieks Avatar
    Gvido Mūrnieks

    Perfect example, how pro equipment doesn’t guarantee pro result.
    The lighting is decent, but poses could be better. It looks, like when sports photographers shoot burst of action – these frames right before, or after the good moment. I assume, that this is because you had to shoot frame by frame, because of flash recycling times.
    I am sure, that you could get the strobes closer to action and decreasing power output, therefore shortening recycling times and maybe have the possibility to shoot burst.

    1. Kay O. Sweaver Avatar
      Kay O. Sweaver

      Or just practicing. I’ve had more than one sports/dance photographer tell me that burst mode is no substitute for a good sense of timing. Be a sniper, not a machine gunner.

      1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
        Keydrin Keylo Franklin

        Kay, I didn’t shoot these shots in burst mode! The way we set these shots up were…. I had the athlete to get into the position where she would kick the ball and I grab my focus then waited till the subject reached that point and then took the shot. We did this over and over until I was satisfied with the shot and expression on the face. Yes, I could have used burst, but it wasn’t a need for it here.

      2. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
        Keydrin Keylo Franklin

        Also, the power of the flashes we’re under half power. I think people assuming how I shot the image instead of just asking the person who took the images.

        That is my fault I probably should have put every detail in the article.

        Also I was using backbutton focusing just incase someone wanted to know how I got my focus and kept it in that certain spot without having to refocus.

  8. Ann Mehrman Avatar
    Ann Mehrman

    The parents and the players don’t get to see themselves in these kinds of shots that are usually only done for professional, high profile athletes. These are special memories for parents and players. Very ego-boosting.

  9. Sebastian Radan Avatar
    Sebastian Radan

    Would like someone other then me, could take such a nice picture in action of my kids. So if you come to holland someday give me a call I have two subjects too shoot. Really like the pics and explanation. ??

    1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      Thank you very much!

  10. Pete Krebs Avatar
    Pete Krebs

    How did you sync your camera at 1/800 when a Nikon 4Ds syncs at 1/250th? Even if the Quadra’s strobe t1 duration was 1/800 (if that is what you meant in the setting info) or better it seems there would be some ambient light blur from the camera shutter.

    1. Keydrin Keylo Franklin Avatar
      Keydrin Keylo Franklin

      Hi Pete,

      The elinchrom EL Skyport Plus trigger allows the strobes to go pass the normal camera sync speed up to 1/8000sec. But Elinchrom calls this Hi Sync it is very similar to hyper sync but it is suppose to use less power from the strobes.

      Just like you can go pass the normal sync speed with speedlites you can do the same with certain strobes. Speedlites use HSS high speed sync to go pass the cameras normal sync speed.

      Also shooting this high of a shutter speed stops all action and helps me to control the background exposure while still allowing me to shoot at wide open apertures.

      I hope I’ve answered your question.

      Thanks,

      Keydrin

  11. JP Danko Avatar
    JP Danko

    These are fantastic – man that 200mm is SWEET! I’ve never tried Hi Sync with my Quadras (I’m secretly a little afraid of it) but I think you’ve given me some incentive to give it a shot.