Shooting stock photos – Roller Derby again!

(A special note for the folks I know through the University of Michigan: I’m a photographer in my other life and realized a few months ago that LinkedIn rules state you can only have one LinkedIn page, so I had to merge my UM and photography pages, so expect some photo related entries when I update my photography blog…)

I got my camera fixed in time to attend another Ann Arbor Derby Dimes bout last Friday, those wonderfully supportive women who give me free passes to their bouts and a nifty Media Pass…  I got to try my new lens, a Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 that I’m proud to say I bought with my photography earnings. I got it at Camera Mall, a very nice relatively new camera shop in Ann Arbor. The folks there are super helpful and supportive. I also took along my “nifty fifty,” a Nikon 50 m f/1.8G that I got a few years ago then didn’t ever use as I got shy about street photography, sigh… But I’m learning to say “oh, well,” figure out the lesson to be learned and move on rather than linger on past mistakes, so, oh, well, at least I had it to use now.

The new lenses made such a difference!  At a larger aperture more light came in, so I could have a faster shutter speed, thus able to capture the action in much better focus, yey! Remember, the aperture is the fraction of the lens that is open, e.g. f/8 on a 50 mm lens means a 6.25 mm diameter opening, so the smaller the f-stop the larger the lens opening when you click the shutter, thus “larger aperture” means “smaller f-stop.”

I also brought my monopod, made me look a bit dorky but at my age I don’t really care much what people think of me anymore, and it added another level of steadiness so the photos came out sharper.

You can see the photos I submitted to them at the Derby Dimes facebook page.  Some of my favorites are:

DSC_9572

50 mm lens, ISO 800, 1/400 sec, f/2.0

DSC_9597

50 mm lens, ISO 800, 1/640 sec, f/2.2

DSC_9745

50 mm lens, ISO 1000, 1/1000 sec, f/1.8

DSC_9892

24-70 mm lens at 42 mm, ISO 1600, 1/500 sec, f/2.8

What I’m pleased about:

  • With the new lenses I had much more light coming in, could go with faster (shorter) shutter speeds, so captured the action better.
  • Taking the time to learn about the sport so I better understand what is going on. Still have much to learn, but I’m getting there, and it helps me anticipate and frame the shots better.
  • How wonderfully supportive the team is of everyone, of each other and of the other teams, and making me feel very welcome.
  • The opportunity to show strong women in action, and never sharing any photos that might embarrass anyone.
  • Including the refs in the photos, for a full shot of the action and to show appreciation for their work.
  • As for backgrounds I like the first photo because the back wall makes for a much nicer background compared to the trees.
  • I notice that 3 of my 4 favorite photos are with the “nifty fifty”, the 50 mm lens, which let much more light in than the 24-70 mm (f/1.8 vs f/2.8). Notice that the aperture it selected for the shutter speed I set is larger than I could have gotten with the 24-70 mm lens.
  • Having the 24-70 mm lens, however, allowed me to also get wider shots than I couldn’t have gotten with the 50 mm, sometimes the 50 mm was too constraining. Notice the last photo is at 42 mm, which allows me to include the refs.

Altogether a very fun evening of roller derby and photography, learning every day.

It really is about getting out there and trying things, messing up, learning from your mistakes, trying again. I got my first “real” DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera in 2004, shot mostly my kids activities and family trips for a short time, took an online photography class at the local community college in 2010, have taken Lynda.com photography and photoshop courses most summers, took two Great Courses video courses by Joel Sartore of National Geographic in 2014, started this blog in 2014…

Just keep chugging away, keep learning and trying, and next thing you know you’ll feel comfortable with aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc.

Best wishes on YOUR photography adventures!

Susan

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Shooting stock photos – Roller Derby game!

Last Friday I attended an event I’ve wanted to attend for a long time, Roller Derby! The Ann Arbor Derby Dimes are a terrific organization that fields three roller derby teams. Last Friday they had a meet with two matches.

Here’s what I did to prepare for the event:

– Read the organization website to learn more about them
– Read the rules of roller derby so I’d have a better sense of how the game works. You can get a quick sense of it in this YouTube video .
– Contacted the team to ask for permission to take photos. I didn’t hear back from them and as it is I had a conflict that first night I planned to attend, so I ended up just showing up at their next event, last Friday.
– Did a search on photographing roller derby events to get some tips. The ones that stood out included:
– Use very high ISO for the terrible light conditions
– Use very quick shutter speeds to freeze motion
– Try focusing on a place on the ground and shoot when
the pack gets to that spot so you don’t lose time focusing.
– Don’t take photos of anyone who get seriously hurt
– Take photos of everyone, rather than focus on just the jammer.

OK, then I was ready to go. I went to the site, paid for my ticket, and explained that I was a stock photographer and was interested in taking photos, and shared my policy: I send them the photos first, and only submit them to stock agencies if I get their permission in writing after they see the photos. I also assured them that I would not use any photos that would be disrespectful.

The team members couldn’t have been more welcoming! They seemed very pleased at the attention. They even said I could eat from the volunteer refreshments table if I wanted to, though I didn’t take them up on that offer, I didn’t want to make the players uncomfortable during their breaks, and I wasn’t sure if the photos would turn out OK…

Then the game started, and what a great display of athleticism and sportsmanship! Here’s what I did right:

– Brought my business cards, which gave me greater credibility as a professional.
– Checked my photos frequently and adjusted ISO, shutter speed, and exposure as needed. This is called “chimping” by the way…
– Wasn’t afraid to go to high ISOs
– Took photos of more than just the players, to include many of the volunteers
– Agreed to take photos of the entertainment, Devil Elvis when the lead singer asked for photos for their website.
– Used the “continuous slow” setting to get many photos of the action, but not so many that my card fills up too quickly.
– Respected all rules and stayed out of the way of everyone.
– During pauses in the action I erased photos that I could tell were terrible. Even with that I ended up with over 800 photos…
– Let the photos sit for a couple days because when I first looked at them all I could see were the mistakes. Going back after a few days more objectively I could see that there were some good shots in there…
– Edited down photos like a mad woman to get to the money shots.
– Use the noise filter in Photoshop to remove some of the noise that invariably was there with such high ISOs…

What I would do differently next time:

– Clear out my photo cards before the event. I had photos still in there from another event, should have cleared them to my laptop and erased them so I didn’t have to worry about limits on memory…
– Move to the other side of the track for the second game. The first game I aimed at the wall at one end because all three other sides were open and light was very bright, which would lead to blowouts. However, after the sun set the area near that wall was very dark, which made for some very dark backgrounds for those photos… Have to be more mindful of changing photo conditions throughout the event.
– Asked some of the other photographers what settings they were using. I was too shy to do it, and likely would have learned a lot by taking to them, lost opportunity…

Here are some of the first photos I have processed:

Ann Arbor Roller Derby, defensive preparation - Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec
Ann Arbor Roller Derby, defensive preparation – Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec

Ann Arbor Roller Derby -  Jammer super move - Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec
Ann Arbor Roller Derby – Jammer super move – Shutter speed priority, ISO 3200, 1/500 sec

 

Devil Elvis, half-time entertainment
Devil Elvis, half-time entertainment

 

I was so very impressed by these athletes, what a terrific evening! I’ve sent them some sample game photos, I’ll post an update after I hear from them and (I hope) get to post some on stock photo websites.

July 16 update – Heard back from the team, they loved the photos, are going to use them in their advertisements, and they have invited me back as a guest to their next match, I’m thrilled! Still waiting on official permission to take the shots, so not submitting anything to the stock agencies yet.

August 28 update – Permissions all ironed out and approved by Shutterstock, photos submitted and approved so far are here .