Pride Of The Black Country: Father’s Pride

As a sort of sideline to the action shots of the boxing events arranged by Priory Park Boxing Club in Dudley (the “Pride of the Black Country” as they have been called), I have continued to add to my ongoing documentary project of the same name.

The above shot shows a young boxer (just 9 years old) emerging from the ring after a non-competitive bout at a recent “Development show” to a huge hug from his very proud father, still clutching onto his trophy. This image will eventually be converted to black and white.

To me, this image encapsulates some of the excitement and euphoria that is so apparent at all of the many shows I’ve shot.

Boxing Away

Over the last… ooh, quite a few… years now, I’ve been fortunate to photograph some amazing boxing action at all levels, from young amateurs to white collar first-timers to professionals. I owe my introduction into boxing photography to Paul Gough and his amazing team at Priory Park ABC in Dudley, which in turn led to my ongoing relationship with Birmingham’s fantastic white collar gym “Fighting Fit City Gym” (led by Neil Perkins).

I’ve covered many fights but also provided promotional and press images for clubs, promoters and individual fighters. I’m pleased to say that this seems to be growing nicely. However, I’ve decided to push myself and my services a little further afield. After all, even the studio images can be produced on location if necessary.

Reflective Tank

The recent “Portfolio Booster” course gave me the perfect excuse to invite brilliant local (Black Country) boxer Ryan “Tank” Aston back into the studio. Ryan is an exceptional subject for photographs, super-fit (as you’d expect a professional boxer might be) but is also a very handsome chap.

This shot shows Ryan in a more reflective pose. He’s now taking more bookings for modelling gigs (see his Purpleport profile here).

One Wall: Two Shoots

When I moved Fotofilia to the current premises within BOM (Birmingham Open Media), one of the items I was determined not to leave behind was a large piece of flooring vinyl. Not (just) because I’m a bit of a tightwad, but because this piece of aluminium chequerplate-effect vinyl had proven its worth as a very versatile background at the old premises and I really didn’t want to be without it.

As an example of its versatility, here are examples of two very different shoots using the same background taken within a week of each other..

 

In the unlikely event that you can’t tell the difference, the images on the left feature the gorgeous Kate-Anne Cooper (taken at a Fotofilia “Special Studio Evening”) and the ones on the right are boxers from Fighting Fit City Gym who came in for some promo shots for their forthcoming boxing show at Gatecrasher in Birmingham.

There’ll probably come a time when I get bored of this background. Maybe.

Mud, Boxers, Mud, A Tank And A Digger

Some people spend their Summer Friday afternoons drifting away from their places of work and heading over to the beer garden for a bit of liquid refreshment. Not me. I was taking photographs in a very muddy builders’ yard in the Black Country.

I had been asked by Priory Park ABC‘s head trainer Paul Gough to take some pictures of some of the club’s top boxers for a poster. The idea was to photograph the lads in front of a digger – with boxer Ricky “Digger” Summers (who will be fighting for a title at the event that the poster is going to be advertising) taking centre stage.

Pictured are (from left): Ryan Partridge, Ryan “Tank” Aston, Ricky Summers, Luke Paddock, and Ryan Corrigan

The only digger available was perched atop a huge pile of gravel/soil and because of the available space could only be photographed from 180 degrees. The strong sun was in and out of the clouds on a minute-by-minute basis and was either directly behind, or almost to the side of the lads. And so I used some off-camera strobe to lift up the shadows on their faces a bit.

We finally dispensed with the high-vis jackets and helmets and let the boxers look like boxers…

And just to show that we also experimented with some different positioning…

Neither of these images are the one chosen for the poster. You’ll have to wait to see that. And the ultra-high-clarity finish to these images is as requested by Paul (it’s not my usual look but I do like it on these shots).

“Tank” Rolls On

For quite a few years now, I’ve been watching the young boxers of Dudley’s Priory Park ABC as they grow (in every sense) and develop their craft under the expert guidance of trainer Paul Gough and his team. My first tentative steps into documentary photography began with a story about this club and even back then, one name was being whispered as a future champion – Dudley’s own Ryan “Tank” Aston. If you’d been alongside me at ringside when “Tank” faced Bulgarian fighter Stanislav Nenkov at The Venue, Dudley on 7th June, you’d know how he earned his nickname.

Tank, about to enter the ring

Trainer Paul Gough gives advice between rounds

Ryan dominated the fight from the outset and it wasn’t long before Nenkov was in serious trouble…

Nenkov hits the canvas for the first time.

Eventually, Tank’s relentless body shots took their toll and in the 6th round (of a scheduled 10)…

Nenkov down for the second time.


DJR_5514

Ryan basks in his well-deserved glory.

This fight was the final bout in a show which also showcased other local professionals based at Priory Park including Ricky Summers (images of whom I plan to post in the near future). I can honestly say that Ryan’s victory was a fitting highlight to an excellent night of boxing put together by Paul Gough. It was so good in fact, that I confess I was a bit too distracted at times to concentrate on my photography, Still, I walked away with quite a few images that I was pleased with.

In Pursuit Of The Knockout Shot (part 2)

A few more images from the early bouts of Fighting Fit City Gym‘s Bill Meddings Cup boxing show at Gatecrasher, Birmingham on Saturday.

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

I should mention that in addition to the kind of action shots that the client really wants and expects, I like to capture some of the other little details like the boxers before the first bell of the bout, or what happens in the corners between rounds. These are more for my own personal satisfaction, really.

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

More soon…

In Pursuit Of The Knockout Shot (part 1)

Lighting and position are always critical considerations when photographing but never more so than when shooting boxing. On Saturday evening I covered another amateur boxing event for Neil Perkins at Fighting Fit City Gym. In this case it was for the Bill Meddings Memorial Cup and although I don’t profess to be an expert (just someone who photographs a lot of boxing), I thought this was one of the best boxing events I’ve ever covered.

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

More images from other bouts to follow in later posts.

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Now then, as I was saying, lighting is always critical but when you need shutter speeds of at least 1/500s to capture action like this, high ISO’s are inevitable. However, the venue for Saturday’s event was Gatecrasher nightclub in Birmingham and so lighting is usually pretty good. As usual though, the area at the “back” of the ring (furthest away from the crowd) wasn’t very well covered by the spotlights. This meant that any action taking place in that part of the ring would be nigh on impossible to photograph.

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

However, as my weapon of choice lens-wise for these events is my (fixed focal length) 50mm f1.4, I know from experience that when the action is right on top of me ie, against the ropes on the side I’m shooting from, it’s unlikely I’m going to get many successful shots of that action anyway. And so I decided to pitch myself in a corner on the dark side of the ring, knowing that I’d then be able to cover the action everywhere else in the ring (the other 80%).

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

As luck would have it, this also meant i was out of the way of the judges, time-keepers and audience too, plus the background from that angle included some great coloured screens.

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

And one more…

Copyright David Rann 2013

Copyright David Rann 2013

Thanks to the reasonable light levels in 80% of the ring, I was able to shoot at 1600ISO or less all evening which meant better quality images and fewer worries about battling the noise during post-production.

Find out more about Fighting Fit City Gym at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Fighting-Fit-City-Gym/37835833657?fref=ts

More soon.