Derby Dude: November: Alex “Luckless” Tabor

Luckless is in the corner, behind the bench, under a chair, in front of you, EVERYWHERE! Capturing the sport & camaraderie, we are lucky to have such a wicked photographer in our league!


AB: Congrats, Alex! I know you are a modest guy but this league truly appreciates you!
LL: Thanks. As a photographer I really appreciate all the league does to help build the sport in the region, and as an introvert I’m not overly impressed with everyone who put my name forward.

AB: What brought you to Red Rock ‘N Roller Derby?
LL: I had gotten into photography as I was finishing up university, and was invited out one evening to a practice by Austin Tatious, one of my former instructors from UPEI, and I got hooked on the challenge of capturing the game.

AB: You have been our league photographer for a couple years now, how has your shooting style grown with the league?
LL: My shooting style has been one of experimentation and refinement as I learned and studied both photography and derby. And the entire process very much has been a learning experience as I experimented with various methods, and picked up new hardware and software to offer a little more flexibility. I’m currently considering a few things that should change things up nicely for next season.

AB: I know that rinks (our general bout locations) offer very challenging lighting situations. What type of precautions must you take to get the best shot?
LL: For me lighting has often been down to acceptance that things are simply going to be awkward and inconsistent. Several of the arenas leagues have used to host games have lights with really nasty colour and power cycling, and while it isn’t all that noticeable to the human eye it will however stand out when taking half a dozen rapid shots at 1/200th of a second. Selecting settings has usually been an attempt to walk a razor’s edge between how slow of a shot I can take without blurring everything, how wide I can open my lenses up while keeping more than one person in focus, and how high I can push the camera’s ISO without drowning the image in noise.

AB: Do you have a favourite roller derby subject?
LL: I tend to focus on facial expressions along with action and hits. One subject which has mostly eluded me has been jumps and real air time. (I think that this season I’ve seen two clean apex jumps. One while I was shooting from the centre with a long lens on, and missed the shot, and another while I was down at the far end of the track…)

AB: We all know you as a photographer….what is your day job?
LL: Currently I’m working for a software testing house, with a focus on mobile games, but we handle testing on nearly anything software related that someone wants to hire us for.

AB: You have travelled around the Maritimes shooting bouts and tournaments, is there a particular event that you enjoy the most?
LL: Oddly enough I’ve actually had to miss much of the travel events except for a number in Moncton, and one or two down to Saint John. Double and Triple headers do seem to generate a unique energy by gathering teams from different cities together, but also don’t seem to build the pressure and workload which comes with the larger weekend long events.

AB: Roller derby life has its ups & downs. Who is your greatest inspiration and motivator in keeping you coming back to the track?
LL: What keeps bringing me back is more the teams and community itself rather than any individual people.

AB: You probably capture a lot of embarrassing moments & penalties, do you have a system for weeding out the “bad ones” or do you generally post all of your photos?
LL: Photo workflow has been an ongoing learning process, and most of the styles of shooting I’ve used have relied on timed burst shots. It can be hard to get many of the real hard action shots I’m after given how fast and unpredictable derby girls tend to be, so I try to start shooting just before I expect something to happen and get 6-8 photos to pick from. While selecting the ‘best’ photo from a given set I then have to keep in mind whether or not I expect that all of the players would be happy with seeing themselves in that photo. Sadly several players have this magic ability to blink every time the shutter trips.
There may or may not also exist a folder labeled ‘embarrassing’ on one of my hard drives.

AB: You have a seriously unique way of looking at roller derby. What kind of advice could you offer to skaters, coaches, announcers, and other volunteers?
LL: “If you don’t want an embarrassing photo of yourself posted, then don’t look straight into the camera and deliberately pull a weird face… Because I’m probably going to flag it and make sure it gets up on the page.”
But a more serious one would be to remember to not lose sight of the community and sportsmanship.

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