I’ve found that most photographers spend a lot of time concerned about light. They rightfully should too, as without light there are no pictures, and with no pictures there are no photographer jobs, and without photographer jobs you find people like me selling things like Band-Aids, Doors, or this FAD known as the internet door to door. With that being said, I’ve received a lot of surprising praise recently from a lot of unlikely sources in regards to a set of Roller Derby photos that I shot last weekend in St. Paul Minnesota. I’m incredibly honored and humbled as to who has been talking about the set, and greatly appreciate the fact that people are not only looking at them, but are enjoying them. This seems strange to me as at the time I hadn’t felt as though the photos I had shot were any better than anything else I had ever shot, only different as the venue that the Minnesota All Stars play in is not only beautiful, but dark as a cave at night.
(Nikon D3s, 8000ISO, Nikon 24mmPC-E set to Wonky (i need to start writing that down, I know), 1/40th@F5.6)
Yup, 1/40th@ 8,000ISO for that shot there. I do recognize that there’s a lot of black in it, but wow. My buddy Preflash had his D3 cranked to Epic (I believe 1/250th@F2.8, 6400ISO and if I had to guess I’d imagine he pushed them a stop or so afterward in the computer), and I of course was in a bit of panic because even though I know my D3s can do it, it doesn’t mean I like it. Preflash and I go way back actually, he and I started using Off camera speedlights at Roller Derby bouts in the exact same bout. It was a home bout for the North Star Roller Girls vs Naptown, and the convention center’s ambient light ranked up there at about 1/60th@F2.8 6400ISO. Crazy Dark. Monsters are scared to go into rooms that dark. I specifically remember this bout because at the time it was my most viewed bout online to date, and I took this shot, which ended up on Naptown’s Season Tickets the following year:
(Nikon D3, 3200ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR@135mm, 1/125th@F2.8)
This time was different though, because the venue had LED Spotlights, Projector screens, Flux Capacitors, and enough photographers that it was suggested that I not use Off Camera lighting to prevent any problems I may encounter with other league shooters. That being said, I immediately started looking for locations for speedlights. The nice part about the Pocket Wizard Flex units is that not only do you get the regular 4 Pocket Wizard channels, but you get the 36 Multimax Channels, PLUS 20 more ControlTL channels. I figured I was safe, and in the end No other photographers set up off camera lighting. I was shocked.
Like I’ve pushed in numerous speeches that I’ve given, I used the principal of the Killer flick of light. I love using my big lights similar to arena style lighting when I shoot Derby, but when traveling that’s a lot of effin gear to have to take with when you’re not being paid, which is actually how the Killer Flick of light was discovered hiding right between Just Dark, and Hopeless . That little bit of lightning in the dark, is all you need to light almost any venue, any subject with battery operated speedlights. And that’s what I did; SB900’s set to 1/16th Power.
(Nikon D3s, 3200ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@112mm, 1/250th@F4.5. Nikon SB-900, camera right, Superclamped to the balcony railing of the Roy Wilkins Auditorium zoomed to 200mm Set to 1/16th power fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5. Nikon SB900 zoomed to 70mm, set to 1/16th power fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 15′ above camera superclamped to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium Balcony Railing extended out above the crowed using a Lowell half pole Extention Pole. Both Lights triggered by an on camera Flex TT1 with an SB-800 set to Commander in the hot Shoe set only to trigger the other speedlights.)
It was an epic bout, coming down to the last two minutes. After the bout Minnesota fans were even shaking MY hand telling me what a great bout it was. I was sure to tell them that I had nothing to do with how great it was as I had left my mind controller at home, but nonetheless I thanked them for having us and completely agreed to the epic nature of the bout. Even though our team lost, there was no shame in losing like we did. The rankings agree actually, as even with the loss we beat the point spread and were bumped up in rank from #6, to #5.
(Nikon D3s, 3200ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR2@107mm, 1/250th@F4.5. Nikon SB-900, camera right, Superclamped to the balcony railing of the Roy Wilkins Auditorium zoomed to 200mm Set to 1/16th power fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5. Nikon SB900 zoomed to 70mm, set to 1/16th power fired by Pocket Wizard Flex TT5 15′ above camera superclamped to the Roy Wilkins Auditorium Balcony Railing extended out above the crowed using a Lowell half pole Extention Pole. Both Lights triggered by an on camera Flex TT1 with an SB-800 set to Commander in the hot Shoe set only to trigger the other speedlights.)
As many have said, the bout was amazing to watch, and I’m completely honored that people I admire in the Derby Photography pool are even looking at and commenting on my photos. People like Bob Scheer (Circle City Junior), Axle Adams, Joe Rollerfan, Preflash Gordon and many more and said some very honoring things about them and for that I am deeply grateful. Once again the Killer Flick of Light has saved my images and helped me provide something a little different for either a Client, or for myself. Just that little bit of Lightning in the dark, can make or break images sometimes, and I look forward to playing around with it more at this weekends Circle City Socialites bout with my girlfriend Shannon and Circle City Junior. More Soon.