Monday, January 30, 2012

Immersion is the best form of learning

When we first moved out here three years ago, my girlfriend casually mentioned that she was going to "join a local Roller Derby team, was I interested too?"  "Uh... No, I'm way not tough enough for that" was my response.  I'm the person who quit water polo because I didn't like conflict in the environment that I'm most comfortable in, the water.  Never mind that it had been years since I'd been on a pair of roller skates. I was out, but the idea was interesting, I told her we'd definitely go support her in a bout.  Three years later and (many) broken dates on my end (sorry), I finally made it out to one and (at Carri's urging), brought along my camera.

The morning of, I had a moment of panic when I was all of a sudden lacking confidence in my abilities (a common occurrence right before most of my shoots), and knew that with my manual focus zoom I just wasn't going to be anywhere near fast enough (and dude, let me tell you, this sport is fast).  This must require a new lens.  A trip to the store later my camera bag of tricks now contains a 55-300mm.  Jeff says I'm getting a card for Valentine's Day (I don't even need that).

When I pulled all seven-hundred-something (!!) photo's into the computer to start gratuitously deleting processing, I knew I wanted to take a very harsh, vivid, but shadowy kind of approach to processing them.  Most of them I totally got the look I was going for.  And how fun to completely change up my normal style, it was like Halloween for my processing.  Anyway, here are my top photos of the night and a few things I learned:

Working clockwise from the top left corner:
1.  A Jammer on the last jam of the night, the girl in the background cheering is the coach for the other team. It was great to watch how supportive everyone was of each other, regardless of the teams.  I also love her expression, you could tell she was really enjoying herself.  
2.  A ref's skates at half-time.  But more importantly, his socks.  Let me tell you, if you're a detail shooter, there's so much subject matter at one of these. 
3.  The "crappy wooden sign" to let you know where to turn off the main road.  It's right on the corner of this desolate lot, and just begged for a picture.  There I was in the middle of the road taking it.  
4.  My favorite shot of the night.  Two girls and their knee pads lined up waiting for the whistle.  
5.  Blood on the track.  Someone told me it wasn't real, they had some zombie thing here a couple weeks ago, but it so fit into the roughness of the whole event, I couldn't resist.  If you're a story telling kind of photographer, go to Roller Derby!
6.  As my wuss-self anticipated, it's rough out there and people fall.  I loved her expression in this picture.  Just pissed mad.
8.  More skates lined up waiting for the whistle.  It was interesting to be able to be so up close and see all the personal details the girls put into their costumes and gear, my camera allowed me inside the safety tape, so I was able to observe so much more than your average spectator.  Lucky!
9.  Another Jammer (denoted by the star on the cap), getting ready to go, her make-up made it really difficult to resist shooting her.  I loved the intense focus in her eyes in this picture.  

Now, lest you think I've abandoned portrait/kid shooting, I did learn that, while action is fun, it's the people and the details that I really tend to enjoy.  However, learning to shoot action will undoubtedly serve me well when Haley and Kale start to really get into sports.  But then again, shooting my kids can sometimes be action (goodness they can be quick).  All of that said and learned I met this guy:

Meet Barris.  His mom is a Derby Girl, and I found him hanging out (camera in his hands the whole night) upstairs.  Super cool, polite kid that just has and old soul, kind of way about him (I couldn't resist his photo, he's a total natural - look at that face!).  Apparently he's into skateboarding, has some serious moves on the dance floor, you'll be seeing more of him here for sure.

I also met Al.  I'd show you a picture of him, but, like me, he had a camera to his face almost the whole night too.  He gave me about a million crazy useful pointers about where the good shots come from, how close I could get away with, and just photography stuff in general. Most strikingly he was really willing to help an amateur out.  So great.  Al, I totally appreciate it, thank you!!

Interested about Roller Derby or want to check out a bout?  Go here to learn more:  Missile Mountain Roller Derby

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