Boxing match

Dollface Killah
Dollface Killah

While going through my last roller derby match photos for the Juggernauts, I came across this shot. It looks like the ladies were having a boxing match or MMA fight on rollerskates. They all were smiling but when you take one across the bow…

Dollface Killah puts it to Polly Pushypants in a rough way. Click the image for a larger version.

Roller Derby Team Photo

Sports Team Photo

Juggernauts Roller Derby
Juggernauts Roller Derby

Creating an interesting sports team photo takes a lot more than grabbing an SLR and an on-camera flash. You have to be interesting, creative, and deliver the product in a timely manner. All while working on marketing, computer problems, and everything else.

When I first conceptualized this shot, I was thinking of how I could take the entire Juggernauts team of roller derby ladies from Jackson Hole and place them somewhere else with a little more grit. That is, not dirt grit from climbing the Tetons, but rather industrial grit only found in the city. Looking for ideas, I thumbed through the various roller derby team photos I found online and realized that, for the most part, they were just plain shots in their arena. Boring. Some had lighting but the sparkles from the reflections behind the players were distracting and thus ruined the photos. As a sponsor of the Juggernauts, I had to deliver better.

There was one interesting shot online that was done in a city drain but the lighting was unbalanced, so it was impossible to see the team member’s faces. I had seen some interesting team photos in posters around town, so they were my inspiration. I needed an original Detroit industrial-looking location with a big city in the background. After visualizing my shot, I went about figuring out how to create it. Sports team photography is enjoyable because the players appreciate the work put into the shot. They know what the conditions were when the shoot was done, so when they see the final product, they’re blown away. Based on the Juggernaut’s response, this was no exception.

I was very happy to deliver this photo after a considerable number of hours invested into the photography and the post-processing of the image. The team’s response made me even happier, knowing I had hit the mark. If there are teams looking for compelling and interesting shots, look at the above image and ask, “Do I want a generic shot in the arena or do I want something that sets us apart from everyone else?”

Hire me and you’ll have just that shot.

Jackson Hole Roller Derby

Last night the Jackson Hole Roller Derby Juggernauts, normally the Valley Vixens and Grizzly Belles, became the Heros and Villains in what

I said stay down!
I said stay down!

was their last match of the season.  They have competed all throughout the summer of 2013 with different teams.  To make things interesting, each team dressed up as either super villains or super heros.  It made their normally entertaining costumes absolutely outrageously funny.

One of the photos I ended up with is on the right.  The fun thing about photography is that sometimes you end up capturing something that totally did not exist.  In the photo, it looks like the super hero is going for the knock out punch on the super villain.  The best part is the super hero looks like she is just going to clock the super villain more as a slightly irritating job and without anger.  It as though she said, “Look, I have to defeat you and then get back to my newspaper job.  Don’t take this personally.”

Team costumes
Team costumes

The technical

Photographing roller derby is fairly difficult, as the rink is dark and the racers are tightly packed in, so there are a lot of blurry and out of focus pictures.  One trick I did was to shoot in 12-bit raw, intentionally underexposing a stop, allowing for a faster shutter speed and slightly wider depth of field.  The plan was to get sharper images and sacrifice a stop of light.  Since I was shooting in raw, I would easily be able to recover one stop of exposure in Lightroom and just apply it across the board.  I have used this technique when shooting bands, too.

Most of the shots were done at 1/320 sec at f3.2 and at ISO 1600.  On the Nikon D300s, ISO

Pain of blurry shots
Blurry shots are painful

1600 is fairly grainy.  Although that is not ideal, blurry images from a slower shutter speed or shallower depth of field is far worse.  Grain can be fixed or ignored, blur cannot.

I shot with the Nikon 180mm f2.8 and the 85mm f1.4D lenses.  Although I would have liked to use a 70-200mm f2.8 VRII, that lens is a little out of the budget at $2300.  Since I don’t shoot too many sporting events, it really isn’t an issue.  Plus, the new lens is a G version, meaning there is no aperture ring, making it impractical to use the lens for time lapse videos.


I ended up playing basketball with my brother and nephew yesterday. It was a cross training experience! I had forgotten just how much of a workout running back and forth is.

Remembering back to my high school volleyball days, running lines was the ultimate killer that just reduced me to a sweating heap. But, the torture induced by the coach really helped improve my stamina and agility.

My hamstrings and quads were quite sore from Friday’s training session. By Sunday afternoon, I was feeling much better, so basketball went quite well. I think my muscle efficiency wasn’t as good as it could have been, and maybe I still suck at the game, but it gave me another good point to measure my training by.