rustbeltraw

At its core, roller derby is an action sport (while I’m doling out shocking revelations, I should also point out that the sky is blue). That normally means you shoot a little wide to make sure you get the hits, and give players room to fly away without leaving the frame. Seriously, this is the stuff photographers worry about. 

That said, the photos I really like tend to focus on one skater. They use a slightly longer lens than normal, like the 160mm f2.0 prime used here. One expression, one subject, one emotion. Clean. Powerful. Sometimes they don’t even have to be in the pack, like this shot from the last Downriver Roller Dollz bout. Ruby Rottweiler, solo on her way to the scrum. Technical details of this shot would take a couple paragraphs, but the result’s one of the simplest subjects in derby. 

Still learning. 

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My little sister’s badassery exceeds my own, and probably yours, too. Last winter we hit several buildings over a couple days, and she pulled out some shots on a pretty aging camera that prove photography’s more about the photographer than the gear. She has a rare eye for detail and serious tenacity when she finds a shot. 

Naturally, it wouldn’t be one of my photos without some shenanigans. To get her up there, I volunteered my services as a human ladder. So when I backed off to take this shot, I had a boot print on each shoulder. 1/5 of a second, using my knee as a monopod. 

Still learning. 

9

Managed to get my camera into Theatre Bizarre this year. Took the grip off my 60D and mounted a slim 64mm f2.8 pancake lens, just small enough to fit in my Utilikilt pocket. Don’t think I was below ISO4000 the whole night, and sticking to one long-standard lens was interesting. Constraints breed creativity. But I cheated, since I’d already worked with 8 of the 12 people in these shots before the night began. ;)

Laser Beam and Devil Kitty duke it out on the derby track at the Masonic Temple. This was from the first of two games I shot in a row that day. I came home with 47GB of photos, 20% charge left in my camera’s batteries, 2 fully charged AAs of the 40 I arrived with, and precisely zero blood sugar. Focusing on the action, looking for critical moments, and carefully panning to keep up with four hours of derby is remarkably taxing. But when the camera goes click, and stuff like this pops up on the LCD, it’s suddenly worth it. 

ISO2000, 50mm at f2.2 and 1/250sec, Barely enough to freeze the action. Shooting action in the Masonic makes you claw for every photon. 

Still learning.

Elise, from the Detroit Fire Collective, is one of the more captivating people you’ll ever meet. She has her own business making and selling hoop and fire performance props in all kinds of crazy shapes and colors. Want a bright gold Star of David hoop? She’ll fix you up. 

On this particular day, I set up a black muslin backdrop at the DFC’s old practice space in the Russell Industrial Center (they’re at the Tangent Gallery now). Plenty of performers came through, but Elise stood out, spending about 40 relaxed minutes in front of the camera. She’s one of the most camera-friendly subjects I’ve ever worked with, and this shot made the whole setup (an hour of fabric, duct tape, tripods, flashes, and cursing) worth it. 

Still learning. 

You meet the nicest people in crazy, scary makeup, hanging out in the woods at 1AM. Meet Mildred the Doll. AKA Jessica, a fellow shutterbug studying at CCS. 

Black as a pirate’s heart out there. When I asked the camera to focus, it basically went “on what?” So about half of the night’s shots were manually focused. Plus I was using every trick I had to make interesting light. Kudos to all the random people who volunteered to hold flashes and be shouted at. Voice-activated light stands are the best!

Remnants of a house burned down along I-94 around 2AM. Focusing on this town’s negatives and past won’t move us forward, but neither can we ignore real and present problems. 

Good news! I’m alive. 

This page hasn’t gotten much love from yours truly in the last couple months, thanks to a combination of slacking and working on my own, dedicated page. That’s for my formal portfolios and long-format blogs. Basically, the serious stuff. So this Tumblr can be considerably less formal, including photography-related musings, photos I like, but maybe aren’t portfolio-quality, and live updates when I’m on location. 

Should be fun. Loosening up the format is a welcome change. Putting only portfolio-level work here meant that posts trickled, but since that stuff has a new home, it’s open season here. Figured I’d pick up where I left off, with a photo from the Midwest Drift Union’s Streets of Detroit round. 

Still learning. Still shooting. Still Detroiting. 

See you out there.