Saturday, August 27, 2016

Skater Boyz

Wandering around North Point with my camera one day I finally stopped at the Lynch Family Skate Park.

The skate park was built in an an area under a series of ramps built as part of the "big dig" in the early 2000's.   It began as a concept in 2000 - Boston's skateboarders really had no park of their own.  They can be seen all over town in parks and plazas, but there was never a park exclusively for them.   15 years later the park has finally open.

In fact, the whole area is worth a visit.  There's a large park-park where warehouses used to be.   The skate park.  A nice pedestrian bridge over the train tracks (Nice train watching area on the bridge and next to the skate park).  That pedestrian bridge leads to a plaza right under the Zakim cable-stay bridge.  Lots of fun exploring.


It's a nice park but has it's challenges for a photographer.  First, you're under the highway - which means you have half bright sun and half hard shade.   Always a challenge.   Second, this is a park for skateboarders - not a lot of places to randomly shoot.  You pretty much have to scout around the edges of the park.  If you go 'in' the park, you have a high risk of getting clocked by a board, bike or scooter.   (Apparently using razor type scooters at a skate park is also a thing.   Whoda thought).  Third, these are folks just having fun and trying things, so you never know who might be where at any given point in time.   (vs. a professional shoot or such, where someone is doing the same trick in the same place and you know what to expect).


I started with a lot of walking around and observing.   Where could I stand without getting killed.   Who was doing what where.   Who was doing 'interesting' stuff, and who was just puttering around. And, of course, what would actually make a good photo.

No one had any issues with me shooting.  Just respect their space and be a good sport about things.    Chatted up some of them with light conversation to see what they were up do.


Once ready to start shooting, I had to give some thought to composition.  Watching someone a few times to see what they usually do, then position myself around the bowl to get a good angle and good lighting.   I went with the mid range lens, as they went from near to far as they went around the bowls.  Switched to high speed shooting mode.  Then take bursts as things were about to happen.


Got some good shots.   Got a lot of OK shots.  A lot of lessons learned after seeing the photos back on the computer.   All in all I had a lot of fun, and look forward to heading back again and seeing if I can do better next time.


Some lessons learned.

  • Get comfortable with people.    It's easy to take photos, but it can be challenging to walk into a group of people and start taking their photos.   Definitely a skill I need to work on.   Once warmed up to the skaters it was easier for me to feel comfortable being a photographer.   And establishing some rapport with the subjects made them a little more comfortable with me.
  • Remember camera settings.   More photos were out of focus than I had thought.   I'll bump up the ISO next time.  Moving the camera to keep up with my subjects needed higher shutter speed.   I did do a decent job at keeping aperture high (wide) to make sure only my subject is in focus.
  • Keep the human element.  It was easy to catch a 'trick' in action on the far side of the bowl.  You could follow their lead up then snap as they went in the air.   Got some nice photos - but they were all of the backs of the subject.   Having their face in the photo is always more powerful - even if you end up getting fewer 'cool' photos.   As a matter of face, some of the photos of just the faces of the guys concentrating on their skating, with no tricks, were as interesting as the action photos.   Will definitely take a different approach next time


See my Flickr Album for the best photos from this shoot.

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