Commack High School Boys Varsity Volleyball vs. Sachem East
Congratulations to Commack’s boys varsity volleyball team on their win over Sachem East. They have a great run going.
Volleyball is a fast game and high school gyms are usually dimly lit. That can make for a long night and an even longer time spent in post processing. Our north gym, where volleyball is played, has decent lighting but the walls are divided into bright blue padding at the bottom and bright yellow walls at the top. An absolute color-cast nightmare. Add to that the various stuff hanging from the walls and ceiling - basketball backboards, fire alarms, clocks, etc. - and you can forget about a clean background. In our gym the icing on the cake is the “Maximum Occupancy” sign directly in line with the outside hitter.
So… how to deal with all this. First, there’s not much you can do about the stuff in the background. You only have a finite amount of space to move around and the plays happen where they happen. You can, however, minimize the color casts.
I start by taking a custom white balance, using a gray card, from the middle of the court if I can get out there between warmups and the match. Reflections off the colored walls are at their weakest in the center of the floor so that white balance is usually accurate. You can tell by looking at the skin tones of the players standing in the center of the court in your test shots; they should be accurate.
Players near the walls will pick up a color cast. In our gym, if they’re low or diving for a ball they’ll have a blue color cast. For this you can make a selection of their skin and either use your white balance slider to warm it up or select their skin color and adjust the hue and saturation sliders.
If they’re jumping for a spike they’ll have a yellow color cast. This gets handled the same way but in reverse - cool down the skin tone white balance or shift the skin tone color towards blue.
One thing to keep in mind is a player’s face, if looking up toward the light, will appear slightly cooler since the majority of light hitting their face is from the lamps in the ceiling. You can correct this if you want, but it’s normal and I generally leave it alone.
Also keep in mind that if you take a wide shot of the floor you’re going to have all sorts of color casts to deal with depending on where each player is standing. Since I don’t have all day I generally deal with the color cast of the player who’s the main subject and let the others fall where they may. If you have more time, you can do a better job.
Next up - gymnastics.