Saturday I shot my first banked-track roller derby bout, a home team championship for the Tilted Thunder Railbirds. I took more than 700 photos; god knows when I’ll have time to go through them.
All that time spent with my right arm up in the air, camera pressed to my greasy nose, mouth grimacing from looking through the viewfinder, was hard on my body. I consciously tried to pull back my shoulders, stand up straight, and not let my face twist into such strange expressions. Even so, my right shoulder, back, and legs were very tired after 10 hours of sports photography.
Todd was on his feet all day too, shooting the first team for his documentary. On Sunday he went to their practice arena, which is within walking distance of our apartment, and interviewed a couple of skaters. He had a good time and met a lot of people. I noticed that he was much more gregarious than I was. I felt shy asking people if I could take their picture (though I didn’t feel at all shy at the Ballard Farmers Market). I met a couple of photographers, mostly because they came up and talked to me. The first, Pete Eaton, usually photographs ballroom dancing. The second, Steve Messerer, loves to shoot roller derby.
Steve said he typically takes 1,000 photographs per bout and likes about 20 of them. That sounded like the right ratio to me.
At first I focused on the jammers (the people who can score), but before long I started trying to get good pictures of blocking. It’s harder than you might think. I took a lot of photos of action just before or after the block. I shot in high-speed drive mode, which is sometimes useful for getting such shots. Mostly, I ended up with 5 photos of the same 3 seconds.
Here’s an OK picture of 2 jammers (far left and right, with star “panties” on their helmets) trying to get through the pack. It was shot at ISO 2500, and I’ve done hardly any editing on it.I spent time at the bout taking pictures of the other photographers. Sometimes it’s very amusing to turn your camera on your own kind, as shown by this picture from the Celtic Festival in Missoula. These two men were shooting the Young Dubliners.Next time I shoot an event as long as this championship bout, I’ll be sure to take more breaks. I don’t know if I can take fewer photographs, though I’m sure I’ll learn to judge the action better as time goes on.
I will be spending my time in Seattle going through my photographs and finding some that are worth trying to sell. I’m looking forward to that.