Flat track fashion.

I’m not a fashion designer. Well, I did a textiles module on my Art and Design foundation course at Camberwell many years ago, but that’s the limit of my haute couture. However I know what my camera likes and doesn’t like. 
Badly lit sports halls, or even those supposedly well-lit ones pushes my gear to its limit. On my travels I’ve photographed dozens of teams, in both badly lit and well lit arenas.  The first thing I pray for when I arrive at an unknown venue is decent light. Sodium is bad, but I can cope.  A bright white light, better, a full lighting rig, my dream, anything other than a twenty year old, 60 watt incandescent, hanging from a rotting cable in the centre of the hall.

 I turned up to shoot Leeds Roller Dolls versus Dublin Roller Derby last weekend and when I saw both teams, I thought, yes. Leeds playing in red, Dublin blue, my camera will love this.

Camera auto-focus systems range from good to mediocre nowadays. The more you pay, usually the better they are, but from my experience they all suffer in bad light on certain colours to obtain focus lock. There isn’t enough contrast in the scene for them to work. I struggle with certain teams.  Black is bad. Dark Green better, but by no means good, red, good, gold excellent, the folds and creases give an area of contrast on to which the camera can lock.  A big logo in the centre of high contrast acts as a great target.

This also goes for the leggings department. Pads are usually black and with black leggings it’s difficult to pick out whose legs belong to whom. You can usually pull out some detail in post processing but to the detriment to other areas. If the action shifts unexpectedly and my target point switches to the legs the camera can often be thrown, getting confused in the ground of matt black.

So my fashion tips are; big, bright, bold colours, plenty of contrast, a large logo, centre.  A mixture of different coloured leggings to differentiate skaters legs in the morass of the scrum. I’m not too bothered on the style, uniforms, T-shirts, ball-gowns. Whatever floats your boat, but bright colours make me one happy bunny.

This also goes for Merby. Although I’m not too keen on seeing them in ball-gowns, but then again, in some perverse, sick and twisted way, it may just work.


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