Roller Derby - what is it all about?
Like the heading says, what is roller derby all about? I guess for many it is and can be different things, but from me, as an outsider, it's more than just a sport. I've seen and photographed many different sports, but for me roller derby certainly IS different. While there is fierce competition on the track, there is an air of respect of the opponent even celebration when someone from other side has done something amazing, might even be something as simple as completing a jam, now THAT is something you wouldn't expect while a sport is taking place. Even after the game there is such a celebration, it's as if two teams become one.
Anyway, here is a couple of shots from the weekends event I just covered. The first game was Geelong's Virgin Marys, as the name would imply, these are those who are fairly new to the sport, having progressed from the rigors and testing while being "Fresh Meat" (You just got to LOVE that term) As there weren't enough to fill the roster, some were co-opted to help out (and that's another thing that's great, people filling in sides if a team has issues).
spills & thrills
Despite the no punching or kicking that you might see in other contacts sports, this one relies on blocking and while that might sound innocuous, there's plenty of bruises among other things to say that it's not that gentle of a sport.
"catch me if you can"
Besides the bumps, at times speed is a weapon, being it scoring points as a jammer, but those high speed collisions can be dangerous. If you've not caught a game, make it an aim to do so, am sure you won't be disappointed.
Now from a photographer's point of view when it comes to capturing the sport. First up, it's a fast game and for that you need to be shooting at decent shutter speeds, otherwise panning can be your friend (although you wouldn't want to be doing that with every shot). As it isn't a major sport, some venues can range from so-so lighting to "has anyone got a torch?" High ISO is a must and shooting wide open, f/2.8, to give you a chance. Since I began I have gone from the Canon 40D (ISO1600 max.... how did I ever do it?) through to a 7D, a bit better but still a struggle, through to current 1D mkIV, which, I've had to shoot an entire bout at 12,800 ISO, not too shabby for the internet but no good if anyone wanted a print. There is the option of off camera speedlights, which nowadays is fairly common. I was loathed to do it because I didn't want to "upset" the skaters, but it seems they are not even aware. For those interested, the two above shots were ISO5000, f/2.8 1/250sec.
Thanks Sandy for your comment,
Primarily the roller derby action down under is female based, however there are many male teams as well. In fact might be worth your while to check out the guys Facebook page, they have had quite a bit of success in World rankings. https://www.facebook.com/WizardsofAusDerby/
Love your action shots John where you manage to convey some of the atmosphere - I can recall watching roller derby as a kid on the old bw tv at home ( about 50-60 years ago now) and it used to hold me entranced - the speed, the action, the bumps and crashes - bet it hasnt changed. Back then it was men and usa based - cant recall women doing it but that might be my memory only - are men involved in aussie?
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