If you’ve been following 8BitX for a while now you’ll know that some members of the staff are big wrestling fans. Plus you might know that we had a wrestling podcast in our lineup called Roundtable Wrestling Radio, which comes on right after Monday Night Raw. So if you like wrestling along with video game music and chiptunes, we’ve got you covered.
One thing we’ve been discussing here at 8BitX is possible coverage of indie wrestling leagues. If you’ve seen our Vimeo channel (http://vimeo.com/8bitx) we’ve done a bit of work in NYC. And there are a couple of professional leagues here in Austin. In fact a friend of mine is a referee for one of them. So we definitely have enough subject matter to cover regardless of where we are.
In the interest of full disclosure I must admit the last time I had any interest in wrestling was during the late 80’s to early 90’s. And that was purely WWF. I never had any interest in the WCW before it was purchased.
Thankfully I’m good with stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to covering an event.
While there are leagues here in Austin, unfortunately life has gotten in the way and I haven’t had a chance to go explore their potential for coverage. Which sucks because I do think our audience would dig it
But then I heard of a group that called themselves Party World Rasslin.
And then I heard that multiple people from the TX Chip community were involved, so of course I had to check it out.
As a warning to wrestling fans: if you think that wrestling should only be presented in a certain fashion then you might not care for the rest of this article.
For everyone else who are mildly curious on what this whole thing might be about, then check out this video of their PWR Slamhain event: http://vimeo.com/108266188
After I watched that video I knew I had to go cover the Winter Wonderslam.
Even with having a video to get an idea of how thing might go with an event there’s still a lot of unknowns. The three I immediately I identified were A) how would the matches progress with regards to photographing the action, B) how well would the lighting work, and C) where would I be able to stand?
When I got to the location I found that the lighting would work well in my favor. The ring was really well lit. Given the kinds of lights they had it gave me some leeway in the shutter speeds and ISO settings I could use depending on where I was located. The ring was situated in one corner of the property to allow a lot of room for the fans. So this meant there would be two sides of the ring that would only have a little bit of room. One of those sides were reserved for the commentators and soundboard, so that meant there was one side I could really work with. Thankfully the lights were hung up high enough on that side so I wouldn’t cast large shadows. There was another photographer there and when I asked her how things usually go she said “It’s usually a free for all.”
Cool… I can work with that.
One thing that was interesting to work around was the ‘ropes’. If you’ve ever seen a regular boxing/wrestling ring you have some idea of where the ropes usually sit. In this case for PWR there was one rope at shoulder if not head height, and another at knee height. The knee height rope wasn’t a big issue, but the other rope would be interesting to work around.
There were some cases where the camera wanted to focus on the top rope which a couple of times ruined otherwise what could have been really good shots. Since action was happening so fast manual focusing wouldn’t work well for me in this case. So depending on where the wrestlers were in the ring I would try to get the camera to auto-focus on one specific point, and then frame the shot appropriately.
Thankfully working around that focus issue was a quick fix so I could take good shots. My biggest obstacle for the night was how fast a Canon T3i could shoot in RAW format. Canon states it can do a six picture burst, though I have noticed that I can sometimes get an initial burst of eight to nine pictures before I have to wait for the camera to write pictures to the SD card. If there was more lighting I may have been able to trade off writing the pictures in JPEG in order to get more pictures in a shooting burst, but in this case I thought it was better to have more control over the images in post production.
Even with working within those limitations I was able to get quite a few shots I really liked. For this adventure I brought along the 18-55mm kit lens, along with the f2.8 40mm lens. But for the zoom factor I went with the kit lens the entire night. In a lot of my concert coverage I tend to use my roommate’s 70-300mm zoom lens, but I knew that since there was a possibility I would be really close to the ring it wouldn’t do me a lot of good here. Canon has a 24-105mm lens that would work really well for events like this. I’ll have to purchase or rent one for future PWRs.
I used the Auto White Balance function throughout the night since I didn’t have a good source to set the white balance. The resulting pictures ended up with a color temperature range of 3250-3750, with most of them floating around the 3500 range. So I went with a color temperature of 3500 to keep an even white balance throughout all of the pics. In many of the pictures I would bring up the exposure to +.5 to +1 to brighten things up in general. But the piece that was most interesting was the use of adjusting the highlights versus adjusting the shadows in Photoshop. In a lot of cases only making adjustment to shadows actually made the crowd pop out more, so depending on the image I would make a +10 to +20 adjustment for shadows.
Given the limited light I had I knew I had to play with the contrast and clarity settings carefully as to not introduce image noise. This thought was applied more to the clarity setting, so contrast was typically set between 10-20 while clarity was usually around 10. This provided a bit more detail without putting more noise in the images.
As a whole I had a lot of fun covering this event. I’ve worked with the TX Chip peeps in the past on various events and they’re all cool people to work with. But I was really glad to cover an event that was just so outright FUN. So if you’re in the Austin area and you have the chance to go to a Party World Rasslin event I totally recommend it… even if you know nothing about wrestling.