My wife played rollerderby at a high level for several years, and I always wanted to capture it photographically, but it is a very hard sport to shoot, as it is polayed in poorly lit, dingy sports halls, everybody is skating fast around an oval track, and you can't get lights near to anything as there are refs skating both inside and outside the track. I knew that if I wanted to capture it to the qualitry that I could see in my head I would need to a) do a dedicated shoot, hiring the hall, rather than work around a game or practice session, and b) use very fast flashes to freeze the action.
So i spoke to my friends at Bowens and they agreed to lend me some Creo flashes, which are extremely fast, and we set up a shoot, shooting some of the male rollerderby players on the same day in return for use of the hall. The first challenge was to work out how to light it, to get a good angle on the skaters but also position the lights, and power leads, where they wouldn't be crashed into.
Then i just had to capture the skaters as they passed throught the very small space that was lit and in focus, and coach them on their pooses and facial expressions so they looked good at that exact moment.
I got some great shots, especially once the sports hall background was darkened down and made less distracting, but I felt trhat something was still missing. I wanted something that looked really epic and cinematic, almost sci fi. I wasn't worried about it being totally accurate to the game, I just wanted a background that supported the image of the skater and the feeling of speed and power.
So i went out and shot a variety of backgrounds, and found one that worked really well, with nice strong perspective lines and great tones.
I picked one of my favouriote skater poses;
and combined the two to make that final, cinematic image that was in my head.