Friday, May 20, 2011

Sin Sisters Burlesque vs Santa Cruz Derby Girls and....... Beaver Fever!

Last week, the Santa Cruz Derby Girls teamed up the Sin Sisters Burlesque for a performance to raise money for SCDG the travel fund.

And Beaver Fever opened.

When I got the invitation to take photographs, it took me a day to work up the courage to say yes.  What sold me was a youtube video of Patty Cakes off of the Sin Sisters' facebook page, because it made me laugh. 

I've never shot any sort of concert or performance photography before... but then again, I never shot roller derby, before I shot roller derby either.  I spent a lot of time thinking about how to approach this.  The two most recent influences were Egor's blog post about using rangefinders for concert photography and some of Johnny Crash's amazing photos I found off the Sin Sisters facebook.

Early on I assumed that flash photography would be discouraged. But, there was some uncertainty about this, even leading up to the day of the event.  I decided not to bring a flash.  That way, if flash was not allowed, I'd be following the rules.  And if flash was allowed, I'd be making an artistic choice.  Sometimes these sort of constraints bring some a little bit of freedom with them. Now, this wasn't really a hard decision. After all, I shot my first one and a half season's of derby at the Civic without flash.  And even now, when I use flash at a derby bout, I prefer to use just a little bit of flash.  Also, I have some fairly fast lenses.  I figured the stage would dark and lit at the same time.  There should be enough light to capture a gesture, an expression, or a shape, and this was more important than capturing a well lit scene.

The next decision was to not use any automatic exposure program. I figured the camera's strongly centered light meter just wouldn't be up to the job, and trying to compensate with some sort of EV setting would be kinda pointless.  The goal would be to try to not to overexpose the highlights... too much.  Just dial something in that was kinda of close and correct in post. Now given my two primary influences above, and my experience with trying to reign in out of control exposures with roller derby,

liv and glitter

this meant that most of the photos would be black and white. 

The last decision was lenses.  I ended up taking two bodies with one lens each. A 35mm f1.2 and a 60mm f1.2 on a 1.33 crop camera. I didn't want to mess around with changing lenses.

One thing I didn't anticipate was shooting straight into the stage lighting. Now, I think that lens flare can be quite delicious. Kinda like Patty Cakes Delicious.

Patty Cakes!

But one thing I forgot about the Leica M8 (because it's almost never an issue) is that if a very bright light happens to land on the very edge of the sensor frame, sometimes a dark horizontal band shoots across the frame from the light. This isn't lens flare . This is purely a response of the camera's electronic sensor.

Maybe I should have used the 50mm 1.5 lens instead of the 60mm lens.  Because of the inaccurate framing with the 60mm lens and 50mm frame lines, I had a tendency to chop off people's heads, just a little bit.

Bella wants a diamond

Okay, here's a bunch of photos from the rest of the night.... I'll let you follow your nose to the full flickr set.


Beaver Fever at the Catalyst Club

beaver fever

beaver fever

beaver fever

Balla Fire

she plays a mean air guitar

Rizzo Rogue



Cyanide Cyn


If she were a president, she'd be Babraham Lincoln




Dorian Faust


Jimmy Smooth


nerd alert!


feathered wings







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