Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Russians are coming! Well, actually they've already gone and I have the pictures to prove it.



It's November and in Junior Hockey circles, that means the SUBWAY Super Series - the annual pre-World Junior series between teams from the three leagues in the CHL and a touring team of Russians.

This series is used by Hockey Canada scouts and coaches to get a final read on which players they would like to invite to the final selection camp before the World Juniors next month in Saskatoon.

I'm not planning on shooting the World Juniors this year so this is as close as I am likely to get to international competition this season.


The SSS offers some unique challenges for me. I need to get the regular assortment of action shots from the game and profile shots of each player but I also have to keep an eye on what is happening with sponsor elements during the games and make sure I can get some interesting shots that will help tell the story of the vent to the people that help finance it.

I recently picked up the gear that I needed to run a remote camera so I was anxious to use that as well.


Game 3 of the SSS was in Barrie on Thursday Nov. 19. There isn't a catwalk at the Barrie Molson Centre so an overhead remote was a no-go. Terry Wilson, my other shooter for OHL Images, is the regular Colts photographer so I knew that I had lots of back-up for that game.

I shot the first period on the seating level and the second between the benches and then wondered around during the third period looking for other interesting angles.


Four days and three regular league games later I was in Windsor for Game 4 of the series. The new WFCU Centre is a marvelous place to shoot in and has a catwalk so I was able to put in an overhead remote. I ended up with a few good frames from that camera.



Most of my best images from that game came from shooting on the end of the Team OHL bench.


This is the first of the CHL/OHL special events for this year. We're back in Windsor in January for the Home Hardware Top Prospects Game and then a little closer to home for the OHL All-Star Classic in Kingston in February.

For this event, I used a Nikon D700 and D300s with a 200mm 2.0 and 24-70 2.8. For the overhead in Windsor, I used a D300 with a 70-200 2.8.

For more images from the SUBWAY Super Series, please visit www.ohlimages.ca

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Hockey Night in Canada



With apologies to CBC, Hockey Night is back in Canada.

For me, that means lots of Ontario Hockey League games over the next several months. That sounds like fun to me.

I have a couple of new hockey projects on the go this season, including expanding the OHL Images program that I started last season. OHL Images is a photo program that provides media sources with quality action images of players, teams and special events throughout the season.

I am primarily working with Terry Wilson, who mostly shoots in Barrie to develop an online resource of images of each team in the OHL over the next several weeks.

The other project I'm working on this fall is the launch of a new local hockey site and publication called Quinte Hockey Magazine. I'm working with some great writers and photographers to bring readers and viewers the best coverage of the local hockey scene.

Stay tuned for more updates along the way.

The images in this post are shots that I took for the OHL Images program this season.




Thursday, August 6, 2009

Cool Bikes By The Bay

My summer theme has definitely been trying to make some cool images that have nothing to do with hockey. The thinking is that it will help me become a better all-around photographer and theoretically, that will help make me a better hockey photographer.

With that in mind, I called up a couple of my buddies that have cool motorcycles and asked them if they wanted to do some photos. They were a little skeptical at first but after a bit of convincing (begging?) I was able to talk them into it. I promised them that my goal was to make some shots that they would think looked very cool.

We started with a few on the open road to get the wind-in-the-hair look (well, for Aaron anyway, not so much for Jim). We had to wait out some rain so the sun was going down pretty quickly. Pretty much everything I got from the front was blown out by their headlights.

After giving up on the road shots and agreeing to try to do them another day when we had a bit more light, we went looking for a good place for some portraits. The sun was going down and we were getting some really cool colours in the sky so we decided to do something down by the Bay with the sunset in the background.


I was able to talk Aaron (who was hobbling from a weird accident at work earlier in the day) to get his bike down very close to the water. He wasn't thrilled about the idea until I started showing him the images that we were getting on the back of the camera.




All-in-all, I was really happy with how these ones turned out. I'm hoping to get out soon with some more daylight to do some panning and other techniques that I have learned at the race track.

All of these shots were with my Nikon D700 with a 24-70mm 2.8 lens. For the still shots, I used one SB-800 strobe with some light shapers that were professionally managed by my wife and partner Shelley. Not much retouching on them (obviously a sepia tone and some burning on the second one). What you see is pretty much what came out of the camera. I did a print of the first image and added some more burning and tried to eliminate some of the reflections in the chrome.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Joker's Child Photo Shoot




I had the chance this week to do some photos for a local rock band called Joker's Child. They were looking for some shots that they could use to promote their band with posters, prints and their MySpace page. I haven't done a lot of music photography yet but definitely have a lot of interest in it so I jumped at the chance hoping to get a few good images for my portfolio.




Shelley and I met with Kasey (the singer/guitar player) and Tim (drummer) a couple of days before the shoot to get some ideas of what they were looking for. They play some original material and cover songs and most of their influences are 80's hair bands. That worked well for me - I listen to a lot of the same music and used to play those songs in bands in what is starting to feel like a lifetime ago.




After the meeting, Shelley and I toured around Belleville a bit to find some outdoor locations that would work. We found a half dozen or so that we liked for this project and settled on four spots. Fortunately, the guys in the band were really easy to work with and believed that we had a good idea of what would suit them.



So after two hours and a few hundred shots (not to mention a couple of wardrobe changes - and two pairs of wicked big boots for Dagger Dave) later, we had some good material to work with.




These are some of the ones we liked best and I added an updated version of their logo for use on the promo posters. We're also working on a new Myspace page design that should be up shortly.

Rock on.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Studio Shots with my Favourite Models


With hockey (finally) on hiatus for the summer and a couple of weeks before my next race, I've been trying to stretch my horizons a bit and take shots that need a bit more preparation before hand.

In the rink and at the race track, it's pretty much find a good spot that I like, get the camera settings right and blast away at whatever catches my eye. But I've been reading and watching a lot on photographers that are good at working with light. Joe McNally is an absolute master at it. I picked up his book "The Hot Shoe Diaries" and now believe that it is possible to make stunning photos with small strobes.

Anyway, I've been putting together a make-shift studio in the basement that hopefully before the summer ends will become a more permanent version and started using some of the tricks that I learned to make some 'studio' type shots.



Here are some of the ones I like the best...





This little beauty is my wonderful (and very patient) daughter Taylor. It's great to have a model living right in the house. She isn't really a model but we definitely treat her like one.
The other beauty is my charming (and equally patient) wife Shelley.


These were all shot with a Nikon D700 with a 24-70 mm 2.8 or 70-200 2.8 in the studio using one SB-800 for light shot into a bunch of different diffusers. The shots on black had the SB-800 shooting into a 4'x3' piece of white foamboard (slightly camera right) and a silver reflector on camera left to bounce some of the light back into the shot. I used the 70-200 on those shots. For the shots with the white/grey background, I shot the SB-800 through an umbrella (camera right) and used the silver reflector to splash a bit of light back in.

That's it for now. More to come.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Racing Time Again (Finally!)

After seven long months of hockey-only photo action I finally got back to the race track this weekend.

I was at Mosport in Bowmanville, ON on Sunday to shoot the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series race and while it wasn’t the top-end NASCAR series that I like to follow, it was still fun to get back to the race track.

I’ve been to Mosport before to shoot stock cars and the AMLS weekend so I knew what I was in for but it didn’t take long for me to realize that my legs aren’t in ‘racing shape’ yet. Trudging around the track with a back full of photo gear is a good way for your body to remind you that you haven’t been working nearly as hard as you thought.

It was a perfect day weather-wise and turned out to be a great day for shooting. Andrew Ranger won the race while J.R. Fitzpatrick, who was in the NASCAR Truck race in Michigan on Friday, finished second.

Mosport NCTS 2009

I was shooting the race for the NASCAR Nationwide Series program for the race in Montreal in August. The features I’m working on are mostly focused on the younger drivers that are having success in the series so the podium finishes for Ranger, Fitzpatrick and Anthony Simone worked out perfectly for me.

I’m usually not a big fan of watching road course racing but Mosport really offers up some great opportunities for shooting. There are 10 turns and a couple of long straightaways so the angles are only limited by how far your legs are willing to travel.

Mosport NCTS 2009

I also got the chance to try out a new 70-300 VR zoom lens that I picked up last week after reading great reviews (Moose Peterson talked me into it through his blog post – hope he’s on commission). I used it a bit but my D300 was acting up so I mostly used my 200 2.0 VR on the D700 body. For some shots I used a 1.4 teleconverter to get a little closer to the action. From what I saw so far, the 70-300 focuses quickly and is very sharp.

If you are interested in shooting car racing, Mosport is one of the best places to do it in Ontario. Even if you don’t have media credentials, there are literally hundreds of places to shoot from. It’s a great place to fill your portfolio with pro-type images – especially with a lens like the 70-300.

Mosport NCTS 2009

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Hall delivers big moment






Taylor Hall may be one of the best junior hockey players in the country and despite being just 17-years-old, the Kingston native delivered one of the most memorable moments in this history of Windsor sports on Friday when he scored the overtime-winning goal in the deciding game of the OHL championship series.



Hall was the OHL and CHL rookie of the year in 2007-08 and followed up with another outstanding season this year. But he stepped up his production even more in the playoffs, including 13 times when he recorded multiple points in playoff games. He scored 16 goals - including 10 even strength - during the Spitfires' inspirational playoff run and was the obvious choice to win the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award as the most valuable player in the playoffs.






No offence to John Tavares, Matt Duchene and the other outstanding group of prospects for this year's NHL draft, but with the wheels, scoring ability and knack for scoring big goals that Hall has shown, I suspect he would be the first overall pick this year if he had been born two months earlier. Unfortunately for the NHL - but to Windsor's benefit - Hall isn't available for the draft until next summer.



He just might get another OHL championship before then.




video

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

McFarlands celebrate 50th anniversary of World Championship




Fifty years ago a group of young men from Belleville travelled to Prague, Czechoslovakia to represent Canada at the World Hockey Championships.


Against stacked odds - including a two month stretch away from home, 20 exhibition games in about as many days and a roster of players that sportswriters in Canada called a bunch of has-beens - they won the tournament and retained Canada's claim as the top hockey playing nation in the world.


Just months after watching Canada's world junior squad win a fifth straight gold medal, it's fitting that the Belleville Sports Hall of Fame will honour the McFarlands on the occaision of the 50th anniversary of their championship win. Their play helped staked Canada's claim as the hockey superpower.


This Saturday, the team will be honoured at the Empire Theatre in Belleville with the official premiere of a new video documentary by Picton native Peter Lockyear and the launch of a book that I wrote about the McFarlands Allan Cup win in 1958 and their World Championship victory in 1959.


If you are a hockey fan or just proud to say that you are from Belleville, hopefully you will come out and show your support of their accomplishments.


Tickets and information are available online at http://www.bellevillemcfarlands.ca/. Hope to see you there.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The next wave of great players are at the OHL Cup




I’ve been shooting at the OHL Cup tournament this week at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga.


If you’ve never heard of it, the OHL Cup is the championship tournament for minor midget hockey players (15 year olds that are eligible for the OHL draft in May) and it’s usually a sneak peek at the next players that will be making headlines in the OHL and then the NHL.


Every year, there is a hotshot that has all of the scouts talking. Three years ago, it was Steven Stamkos from the Markham Waxers. The year before that, it was John Tavares with the Toronto Marlies. All four of the Staal brothers have come through the tournament as has Corey Perry, Sam Gagner and Drew Doughty.


This year, the kid making the most noise is a slick centre named Daniel Catenacci. He plays for the York Simcoe Express and while the team was named long before Catenacci came along, Express is a fitting description of their captain. He has “another gear” which is what the scouts say about a player that can find an extra burst of speed to create a scoring chance.


Catenacci had the stands buzzing when he scored the team’s first goal of the tournament in a win over the Jr. Canadiens on Wednesday afternoon. He was sandwiched between a pair of defenders when he picked up a pass at the blueline, blew past one of them and then carved his way by the other to break in alone on the net. He saved his best move for the goalie, roofing a backhander that tied the score at one. He scored again on a powerplay in the opening seconds of the third period and that goal held up as the game-winner.


The stands were full of OHL scouts and general managers - including Dale Hunter from the London Knights and Kingston Frontenacs’ coach Doug Gilmour. Every one of them was salivating at the prospect of having Catenacci fill one of their uniforms next season.


This group of prospects - known as the ‘93’s because of their birth year - has other highlights.



Alan Quine from the Jr. Canadiens also stood out in that game and Boone Jenner from the Elgin-Middlesex Chiefs also has top-end talent. Catenacci’s teammate, defenceman Ryan Murphy, has tremendous vision and has drawn favourable comparisons to Windsor Spitfires’ star Ryan Ellis.


These guys will all go in the first round of the OHL Priority Selection. Last year, John McFarland dominated the tournament headlines and led the Jr. Canadiens to the championship. He went first overall to the Sudbury Wolves last year and after a productive rookie campaign, he is poised to break out as a star and top-end NHL prospect next season.


Give Catenacci a couple of years and he’ll be the talk of the rink again - next time as a future NHL star.

You can follow the tournament online at http://www.ontariohockeyleague.com/ohl-cup-news-s10858



The lighting at Rink 2 in the Hershey Centre isn't great so it was tough to shoot any faster than 1/500. The Catenaccie shot at the top was at ISO 2500, 1/500th at f2. Shot with Nikon D700 with a 200mm f2 up in the stands over the glass. The main bowl has some better options and the one below of Andrew Fritsch of the Brantford 99ers was shot from the end of one of the team benches. D700 again but 1/800 at f2 and ISO 2000.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

New Web Site

My new Active Images Web Site is now up and running at http://www.activeimages.ca/.

Now you can follow my work online there, or on Facebook, or on Twitter, or on this Blog.

I feel so connected. I'm just not sure if I can afford to hire someone to keep all of these areas updated!

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Here are a couple of my favourite shots from last week...




Bulls' forward Matt Tipoff following through on a slapper in Wednesday's game against the Petes. Shot from the corner (through the glass) with the D700, 200mm 2.0, 1/800s, f2, ISO 1250.




This is from the High School Hockey Shootout in the second intermission of the Bulls/Petes game on Wednesday night. I'm not sure what his name is, but this guy from St. Paul's scored to help them beat Nicholson in the final and win $1,500. Shot from the ice in front of the Bulls' bench with the D700, 200mm 2.0, 1/800s, f2, ISO 1250.


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Brad Mangin is a fantastic sports photographer based in San Francisco and has made so many great images of some of the greatest baseball and football athletes of our time. If you are interested, take a look at some of his work at his site - http://www.manginphotography.com/

Looking at his baseball stuff makes me wish I was shooting spring training. The World baseball Classic shot on his welcome page is sensational.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Real Men Wear Pink

Kudos to the Belleville Bulls for an outstanding event on Saturday night.


The Bulls joined other OHL teams like the Mississauga St. Michael's Majors, Erie Otters and Plymouth Whalers by holding a Pink in the Rink night to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society and Breast Cancer Awareness.


The night was an unmitigated success thanks to the efforts of Kim, Bernie, Dave and Michelle in the Bulls' office along with a bunch of volunteers that helped out during he event.


There were a number of fund raising initiatives throughout the night, including some ticket sales, merchandise sales and a pass the bucket but the hit of the night was clearly the game-worn pink jerseys that the Bulls sported against the Saginaw Spirit.


They held a live auction after the game and brought in more than $35,000! That number blew away all expectations for the event from the Bulls and showed what kind of support there is from this community for the team.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Hello!

Thanks for stopping by.
I started this blog to give me a place to share some of my photos and travels through the hockey (and NASCAR!) seasons.

If you are interested in sports photography, hopefully you will find some useful information along the way. I will do my best to put camera settings on the shots that I post to give you an idea of how they were shot. I'm still in learning mode myself (and likely will stay that way) and have found lots of information along the way that has helped me. Thanks to all of the other photogs that have been willing to share their expertise on http://www.sportsshooter.com/ and personal blogs.

In the meantime, here are a couple of my favourite shots and how they came about...



(Nikon D300 with 70-200 zoom at 120 mm / f2.8 / 1/500 s / 1000 ISO)

This is probably the one I like the best. It was shot on the catwalk at the Kitchener Memorial Auditorium during the MasterCard Memorial Cup last May. Belleville Bulls' coach George Burnett was laying out a plan during a timeout and they went out and scored on the play. I love overheads when they give you a different look on something that you see all the time during games.



(Nikon D700 with 24-70 at 24mm / f2.8 / 1/25s / ISO 1600)

This was ScotiaBank Place just before the gold medal game at the World Junior Championships in Ottawa. The fans were passing around a huge Canadian flag in the lower bowl and the Canadian players had skated out for warm-up. The atmosphere was electric. I asked one of the ushers when was the last time he saw the building like that. He laughed and said "never - not even for the Stanley Cup playoffs."

It was very cool - especially after they won.