KICK BOXER and COACH: Lighting Behind the Scenes

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: August 11, 2014

Category: General

Hi Folks,

How’s it going?

Thanks again for stopping by…I really do appreciate it!

Ok so today as promised I’ve put together a Behind the Scenes look at the lighting set ups I used for a recent Kick Boxer Photo Shoot.

Here goes…

Lighting Set Up 1
Now when it comes to lighting the most important thing for me is not just the How? but the Why?

Of course there are endless ways that we can choose to light a scene but no matter what, the lighting has to make sense and has to fit the environment.

So with this in mind I wanted to create the feel of stadium lighting which is made up of spotlights creating lots of cross shadows and highlights.


For the picture above I used 3 x Elinchrom RX600’s heads; two fitted with the Reflector and one into a 100cm square square softbox.

The softbox had the outer diffusion panel removed (inner diffuser used only) so as to create a harder light source and this was used to fill in shadows. It was in the ring camera right positioned and above head height of the Boxer (Steve) and Coach (Mike) as you can just about see in the BTS photograph.

The remaining 2 x RX600’s were outside of the ring camera left and camera right aiming into Steve and Mike. My only direction for this shot was for Steve and Mike to keep their backs to the lights and to keep within an imaginary line between the two. Then it was just a case of them doing their thing as I didn’t want to shoot anything stationary and staged because no matter what I think a staged shot always looks like a staged shot.

Of course there were combinations of punches and moves that we repeated over and over to get the angles right, expression and so on but the shots were always timed as opposed to stationary…if that makes sense.

One thing I like to do with this kind of shot is to get the subjects to start off slow and then build up to full speed. This way it helps me to know the positions and pattern of punches but also the more tired they become the more aggression and expression develops.


Lighting Set Up 2
For this shot I ended up using just the two Elinchrom RX600’s with Grids and these were pretty much kept in the same position as in the set up above i.e. either side of Steve and Mike’s position, outside of the ring and facing towards each other. You can just about make out their position in the Behind the Scenes photograph below with the lighting diagram…


•If you missed the post last week where I explained how the picture above varied from what I’d originally intended be sure to check it out HERE


For those of you interested in knowing the kit and settings used:

  • Camera: Canon 5D MK III
  • Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4.0
  • Exposure: 1/125 sec at f/8.0 (for set up 1 the softbox exposure was approximately f/5.6)
  • Lights: Elinchrom RX600’s (discontinued as replaced with the new Elinchrom ELC Pro HD Heads)
  • Light Meter: Sekonic 758

Final Thoughts
It’s so tempting when you’re shooting subjects like this that you want to try lots and lots of scenarios but there are problems with this kind of approach. Personally speaking as a photographer I need to know exactly what my goal is for each shoot and what pictures I want to come away with and having this focus I believe is especially important when working with athletes, fighters and so on…

To come away with pictures that look real, it has to be real…otherwise like I said before they’re going to look staged and fake. So for ‘real’ the subject has to be working and that is going to be tiring for them if the shoot drags on, so whether it’s a personal shoot or a commissioned shoot we’ll know exactly how many pictures we want to come away with. So for example in this shoot we were aiming for 2 pictures which meant just 2 set ups and I think including set up, shoot and packing away we were done in about 1.5 hours.

Right that’s all from me for today so I hope that was useful but as always if you have any questions / comments please feel free to drop me a line to or better still leave a comment below so that everyone else sees it too.

Oh and also you can check out larger / better screen quality versions of both these pictures over on my 500px portfolio by CLICKING HERE

Whatever you’re up to today have a good one and I’ll catch you back here next time.

•ps> This coming Wednesday I’ll have a new episode of my weekly show Photography, Photoshop and Lightroom video podcast / show online and will be looking at recording a run through of the retouching process for these pictures. You’ll find the video HERE

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