Shooting the Shootout: Dukes vs. Trojans, Saturday Night

We had a truly Canadian evening last night.   It was snowing quite hard in the early evening, starting around 6:30 or so, and Spouse and I had earlier determined that we would be attending the hockey game between the St. George Dukes (a local team in the Southern Ontario Junior Hockey League) and the defending league champion Thamesford Trojans.

game winning save
Morrison goes to the backhand...denied by Walker!

Game time was 7:30;  when we rushed out the door shortly after 7, the snow was really  pelting down in great thick puffy flakes.  We brushed off the car and clambered in, trying to shake off the chill during the drive over to the South Dumfries Community Centre for the big game.  Admission was $5;  we arrived in time to hear the singing of the national anthem (not sure who the young girl was that did the honours, but she acquitted herself admirably given the suspect p.a. equipment and her understandable nervousness).  The game got under way and quickly turned into a spirited contest.

The Dukes, I am unhappy to report, did not seem equal to the task in terms of carrying the play throughout much of the first two periods.  Thamesford clearly had the better of the play but did not finish off on its chances;  by contrast, St. George scored goals on each and every one of the few chances they had and somehow managed to come away with a 3-1 lead going in to the third period before a vocal crowd of perhaps some fifty or sixty onlookers.

At the beginning of the third, Justin Harburn of the Trojans took matters in to his own hands.  He scored three consecutive goals in under two minutes.  Suddenly, there were 17 minutes left in the game and St. George was on the wrong end of a 4-3 score.  A questionable interference call produced a power play on which the Dukes counted the tying marker.  The teams traded chances thoughout the balance of the third, and Harburn – he of the lightning fast hat trick – had at least two more golden opportunities to salt away the victory for Thamesford, but regulation time expired with the clubs knotted at fours.  A five minute overtime period of four on four hockey was entertaining, and included another questionable penalty call, this one against the Dukes.   In the end, despite some end to end action and hard-hitting play, the overtime solved nothing.

On to the shootout, which Thamesford won in the fourth round to take a well-deserved road victory in to the locker room.

I took my camera and both lenses with me, as well as the monopod that Doug and T. thoughtfully got me for Christmas.   I tried to take photographs for much of the game from our seats near centre ice.  It gave me a newfound appreciation for the degree of difficulty involved in getting the shot at the critical moments in the game – especially when using long lenses, you kind of have to watch the play with one eye while (with the other) sighting through the viewfinder a target that you think might be important to the play as it develops.   Your shutter finger must be poised and at the ready, and you have to constantly be monitoring the light metering, which I found to be quite variable depending upon the position of the play on the ice.   You have to do all that while simultaneously trying to watch out for an errant puck being shot into the stands so you don’t get brained while you’re zooming in on two jokers scrapping in the corner.

Most of my results were not very spectacular, though I suppose I didn’t do too badly for a first effort.   I did find that the pictures improved when I left my seat and shot from a lower angle, through the rink glass where necessary;  this had the effect of putting the viewer more immediately in the action, as if on the ice with the players, and noticeably improved the pictures I got.

There isn’t much light available in a little community rink like that, and it was a struggle to make a sharp exposure.  I was pleased with myself for remembering to open up the aperture in addition to bumping up the ISO settings.   I tried to get too many images with the 400mm lens at too slow a shutter speed; I know that there is a general rule of thumb about not setting the shutter slower than the lens length, but I needed to break that rule to get any kind of exposure at all.   Unfortunately, even with the monopod it is impossible to get any kind of an image at shutter speeds like 1/60 and 1/80.

I switched back to my shorter lens for the shootout.  The picture at the top of this post is the game winning save by Trojans goaltender Chris Walker on Dukes forward Reid Morrison.  I don’t think Walter Ioos has anything to fear from me just yet, but at least I got the shot.  I will be back, and I will try again.  Next time out, I resolve to try and get a few reaction shots from the players and coaches on the benches.

By junior

Guitar owner and silly person.

5 comments

  1. Good shot! As a young, high school yearbook photographer, one of the first lessons that I learned while shooting hockey, football and volleyball was that you had to move to make your shots work. I remember my first assignment was to shoot the senior football team at Windsor stadium. The Riverside Rebels were playing the Herman Griffins. Being a bit embarrassed to be the “camera guy” when the rest of my friends were on teams or, even cooler, ignoring all things to do with school spirit, I stayed in my seat in the bleachers the whole game trying to rely solely on the 70 to 210 Vivitar lens that I had borrowed from Dad to get me close to the action. The results were poor and none of the photos would ever make it to the yearbook or even the school paper. Monsieur Rheaume could tell immediately that I had not moved from my seat and told me that I had to move, anticipate the action and get in to position to make the shot that would work. High angle shots tend to show a lot of the ground, foreshortening the players making them look small as well as removed from their context of playing on a field that has much more area (and players) than is visible in the frame. They are also the angle that everyone is used to seeing when they are at the game. If you can get lower and different angles it shows an aspect of the game that few get to see from a seated fan position. He told me to consider myself an extra player on the field whose job it was to get in position, not to catch the ball or receive the puck, but catch the action. Panning while following a player can be a great effect blurring his background showing his speed and action, focusing your attention on him. A tight shot of faces reacting to a play can show the emotion on and off the field that we don’t see from an arms length. Essentially, he told me to accept my inner geekyness and use my interest in photography to explore my interest in art ignoring all of the ‘cool kids’ off drinking and smoking under the bleachers.
    The other lesson that I learned was that the more you shoot, the more you move, the more you increase your chances of getting a good shot and the better you get.
    Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve thought about those days. I’m going to have to dig out the old yearbooks and see if I can’t remember which shots I took.
    Keep shooting.

  2. Thanks for sharing Monsieur Rheaume’s wisdom…he really was a nice guy. Quiet; but he had a good sense of humour and was quite thoughtful.

    What do you think of the colour correction? I’m not sure what happened with the white balance – I chose the “fluorescent” setting on my camera, judging the suspended overhead lighting in the rink unlikely to be tungsten. All of my shots, however, came out with a decidedly pinkish cast. Using “autolevels” in PS seemed to blow out the areas of the image that depicted ice (even worse than the shot above, so I did the colour balancing and brightness/contrast adjustments by hand. I’d be interested to see what you could do with the same image – maybe when I get home tonight I’ll email it to you?

  3. In the future you could try setting a custom white balance on your camera by shooting a white piece of card (like the photo paper you would usually print on) and telling the camera to use that white as the white for your photos in that particular situation. )For your camera see: http://www.expertvillage.com/video/109639_canon-eos-40d-custom-white.htm ) Apparently, in many indoor sports places, like hockey arenas, the colour temperature varies “hundreds of time a second depending on the AC power cycles” ( see: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/whitebalance.htm ).
    As for adjusting after the fact, you had the right idea. Photoshop is your friend and you can adjust it by adjusting the colour balance in image> adjustments> color balance . (see: http://www.kenrockwell.com/tech/changewhitebalance.htm ) Cheers.

  4. Are you shooting RAW or JPEG? My main reason for sticking with RAW on the E-1 is so that I can correct white balance later (that, and having the RAW-only Kodak dSLRs earlier on in life made me adopt a shoot, process, and post workflow). Clearly, you can make wonderful pictures with JPEG straight from the camera (I LOVE this shot), but considering computer processing speeds (generally much faster than camera processors), storage requirements (storage is cheap!), and that the camera should be able to capture RAW+JPEG, you can always give RAW a quick spin. Usually there’s some option to force white balance to a white or neutral object in the picture in your chosen post-processing program.

    As far as lens selection goes, I’m starting to find that carrying multiple lenses always seems to ensure that I’ll have the wrong one on the camera at the right time. Photography is at least as much about anticipation as it is reaction, so any good student of the game will already be capturing the critical moment — often with finger firmly pressed and motordrive ratcheting away — before it happens. That’s a whole ‘nother school of debate, though, and I’ll stay out of that fray. The monopod makes for a useful stabilizer, but does require practice to become proficient, and may lead to a placement complacency — I know that when I was using a tripod regularly, I didn’t want to move much (extra 10 lbs to tote around, set up, knock down) from my door. I should have figured out a way to salvage the shot — we ran across some folks using gigantic hero telephotos (600 f/4, probably) on gigantic hero bodies (1dS and D3) on top of carbon fiber tripods and Wimberley heads — taking pictures maybe fifty paces from their car. The old adage that if it’s not within walking distance, it’s not photogenic, comes to mind at times when over-equipping. Plus, like Doug says, it may hamper your mobility.

    Nice name check on the Ioos, by the way.

  5. As always, thanks to both of my photo mentors for tips and good advices!

    The first eight or ten shots I took on Saturday night were in both RAW and JPEG format. My camera was telling me I’d only have room for a little more than a hundred images. I anticipated needing more room than that, as I planned on experimenting with the burst mode – and I was pretty certain that I’d be using essentially a scattergun approach to my “shoot”.

    I can see the point about an array of lenses (and the monopod, for that matter) being problematic at times. Once I’d determined that I needed to stick with the Sigma 18-200, I was essentially forced to move to get any kind of a shot. That meant removing the monopod for sure (to avoid clonking my fellow spectators in the head with it as I clambered around the tiered stands lining the side of the rink) and trying to make educated guesses about where the play was going to be – which end of the rink, and which players – well before the plays happened. Being forced to move made me think a little more about composition, which in the context of live action sports meant actively trying to anticipate the play, as you both have mentioned above. I hate shootouts as a hockey fan – but with my “game photog” hat on, it was terrific to know where and when the critical action was going to take place.

    I’ve always loved Walter Ioos’ work!

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