Houston Roller Derby

The Houston Roller Derby has been generating quite a lot of buzz lately. Seems that you can’t turn around in this city without bumping into someone who is either a roller derby girl or one of the myriad volunteers, hanger’s on or ever growing minions of rabid roller derby fans.

I work with a roller derby girl, my friend Bill Shirley puts together The Colonel’s Roller Derby Roundup, a combination blog and podcast (of all things) with David Beebe, there’s Myspace after Myspace page for leagues, teams, team members, volunteers and fans. Roller derby seems to be everywhere.

It has been suggested on several occasions, by those who know my love of photography and are affiliated with the derby, that I try my hand at some derby photography. I finally decided to follow up and I contacted the organizers and offered to come out and shoot on spec, the idea being that if I produced pictures they liked and could be used to promote the derby I might be afforded the title of Official Houston Roller Derby Photographer. Basically that would mean that I would have full photographic access to all aspects of the local derby.

This past Sunday I made my way to The Verizon Wireless Theater for the bout. I arrived pretty early so I could get my credentials and get the lay of the land. I wanted to check out the layout and get familiar with the lighting.

After a bit of experimenting I decided to shoot with my 50mm 1.4 lens. I thought this would be the best for no flash and fast action. As it turned out, I got some great portrait shots.

But I struggled with the action shots. Shooting without a flash meant that I had to try to time the shots for when the subject was going to be illuminated. Also, the 50mm lens is challenging at extended distances. I can crop to increase the size of the main subject, but the results are not as good as I would like.

Still, they weren’t all bad…

Houston Roller Derby
Click for full size

Houston Roller Derby
Click for full size

Houston Roller Derby
Click for full size

With a bit more practice I think I can nail it down. I may whip out the Tamron AF 28-75mm f2.8 XR Di lens next time and see how it performs in these conditions.

The response from the derby organizers and the members has been positive. I have been asked to come back and shoot again, not only at the bouts but at other derby events.

We’ll see how the schedule shapes up. I would like to explore this further.

5 thoughts on “Houston Roller Derby

  1. Nice, I’ve been meaning to do a roller derby shoot, but I’ve been scheduled for something else every time.
    Next time you go say something before hand and I’ll see about going myself.
    I’m not sure if the Tamron will work all that well but you never know. I find my Tamron a bit slow to focus and slightly soft (at f2.8) in similar types of shoots I’ve done. I usually end up with the primes or one the Canon USM zoom lenses which focus just a bit faster. I still love my Tamron but it’s weak for low light sports.

    The stuff you are getting with 50mm is looking good though for what the lighting conditions are.

  2. I’ve thought about pulling some strings, to get some special access as well (seems we all know a derby girl somewhere), but I’m not ready technically to do it. I know the action shots would be a challenge. Your shots look great and I can’t wait to see more. I plan on going to the next bout so maybe I will see you there!

  3. Greate shots! I’m so jealoius of your fancy camera. My pictures are mostly poop.

    My new lady friend Rebecca shoots the Texas Roller GIrls in Austin. Perhaps you two could exchange some ideas?

  4. playing ice hockey still rules. 😀

    a bunch of us hockey playing chix went out to support the roller derby gals during their debut last year…way to go, gals! and great shots, jay!

  5. Great work. Question for you. Is there a no flash policy? I shoot derby as well and both leagues I have shot for there was never such a policy. The girls have said they don’t even notice the flashes once they are in the zone.

    I look forward to reading and seeing more.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *