How We Did It: 2011-2012 ISU Men's Basketball Poster

This Spring we had the great pleasure of working with The Meyocks Group and Iowa State Athletics on the ISU Men's Bball poster. As ISU alumni and Cyclone fans, we get extra excited about projects like this. The poster concept was to have the team charging the court with confidence. There's been a lot of anticipation for this season and it's finally time for the new team to take the spotlight and show what they're made of. The photoshoot took place at the Sukup Basketball Complex where the team practices. The facility had a nice I-State logo at center court that they wanted in the shot. We wanted to use the same edgy lighting that we've used for previous ISU basketball images, which is a very precise and controlled look, but this time we had to apply that look to a large group of players. We decided to use 4 Einstein strobes with standard 7" cans (2 in front, 2 in back) backed as far away as we could get them from the players. The increased distance between the lights and the players causes the light to fall off more gradually and creates an even spray that casts a consistent look across the entire group. Here's a diagram of the setup:

 

The two lights behind the players were at full power, and the two in front were one stop below full power. That way the players would be given a defining edge light that visually separates them from the background. This gives the illusion that they're actually taking the court at a real game and being lit from all sides as they would in a stadium. It also looks pretty darn bad ass. Here's a test shot of Alex and Kari (who is the Meyocks Group mastermind that did the poster design):

It was necessary to pre-light the frame because we knew we would get precious little time with the players when they showed up and we would have to execute the shot swiftly. You can see from the test shot that the practice space isn't very big and you can plainly see the wall behind our lovely subjects. There was no way around this due to space constraints, so in the final image the players had to be masked and the background was burned away in Photoshop to remove distraction from the players and to cause the space appear much larger (i.e. Hilton Coliseum). But in the test shot you can see that Alex and Kari have nice even edge lights from head to toe, which makes the masking process much easier because it defines the subject and separates them from the background. Also the front lights are giving their reflections more definition and capturing a good tonal range of shadows and highlights (which is clutch for making jerseys look three dimensional in the final image). We wanted a low camera angle for the final image to give the players a powerful appearance but we had to be careful not to lose any of the faces of the players in the back row. Here's the finished image with Kari's awesome design:

It's pretty standard to photograph an alternate image for these types of things so the client has a variety of images to use for marketing and promotion throughout the season. For our alternate image the goal was to shoot something epic, but very different from the first shot. Due to time constraints we couldn't change setups or locations, so we used the lights we already had set up and shot the image on the fly in the middle of the gym. I laid on my back with a 15mm and had the players huddle around me, which I'm sure they thought was crazy at the time. Here's the out-of-camera shot:

To take the image from interesting to epic, the players were masked again and the signature ISU sky was dropped in overhead. Now it looks like, after charging the court in the first image, ISU dominated the game so hard it caused you to pass out on the floor. But they're nice enough to come check and see if you're ok:

Hopefully you enjoy having a look at what goes in to creating an image like this. We had a lot of fun working with Meyocks and ISU and hope to do it again soon. ISU released a limited number of the posters last weekend so I'm guessing they'll be widely distributed soon for your wall-hanging pleasure.

GO CLONES!