I am on the ground in Sunrise, Florida preparing for Friday’s next UFC card featuring the rematch of flyweight contenders Demetrious “Mighty Mouse” Johnson and “Uncle Creepy” Ian McCall. Today, the fighters on the card made the quick trek across the street to hold an open workout session for fans and media at the Sawgrass Mills Mall, which by the way is probably the largest mall I think I’ve ever been to. The workout was hosted in an atrium area, just inside one of the main entrances into the mall, in a fairly high traffic area. There was a good amount of fans and media there, which was a bit surprising to me being on a Wednesday afternoon.
As I’m sure you probably guessed, I broke out my trusty FourSquare again. The ambient scene was not very pleasing to my eye with the various assorted logos, signs, and banners hanging around the mall, so I decided to load up all four of my speedlites in the FourSquare and really overpower the ambient light. The mat area was a bit larger than normal, so I opened up the zooms on the flash units to 50mm to get a bit more spread. The FourSquare (without baffle) was placed on a light stand about 8 feet from the mat near the center line raised to about 10 feet high and angled down just slightly. For the most part, my position was shooting from one of the two forward corners of the mat such that the angle between me and the light was around 60-70 degrees with relation to the subject. For some shots, I moved more to the side creating a near 90-degree angle and completely side-lighting the fighter. But, as you can imagine, they move around quite a bit, so it’s really tough to get a consistent lighting effect. One other aspect that I really had to contend with a lot today was the trainers holding pads. Often times when the fighter was in a perfect position to me and threw a punch that I caught, he was completely blocked from the light by his trainer. I wish I had a tall light stand to help with this, but sometimes you just have to pay closer attention and be a little more patient.
I shot everything with two cameras running Pocket Wizard MiniTT1 units with AC3 zone controllers on top. all four speedlites were set to zone A and initially set to full power. I used the AC3 to dial down the power to 1/4 power for most of the shoot. Camera settings varied a bit throughout the day, but the most common settings I kept going back to were ISO 800, 1/2000s, f2.8. That was about 2 1/3 stops over the ambient exposure, which is exactly what I was looking for to make for a less distracting background. I could have used fewer flashes at a higher power setting to achieve the same exposure, but I wanted the faster recycle time. At 1/4 power, the flashes recycle in about a second or less, as opposed to nearly 3 seconds at full power. And of course, at the lower power setting, you have less heat and longer battery life. I ended up shooting about 400 shots in total today and the flash units all still had plenty of power to keep going when it was over. For some shots, I decreased the power even more and slowed my shutter to bring in some of the background. The wider zoom on the flashes also lit up a little bit more of the background and the white ceiling and walls than I wanted, but that was the compromise I had to make in order to cover the most mat space.
Below is a slideshow of the shots from today. Please post your comments or questions.