Friday, November 15, 2013

How Hockey Parents can Shoot and Score Good Photos

                                                   CATCHING THE ACTION


NewsChannel 9 Photojournalist Mark Folsom
We know how challenging it is for our kids to handle a stick and puck and maneuver around the ice. It can be challenging for those of us in the stands who want to catch all the great action and reaction. Ice arenas are far from ideal settings to capture those magical moments, but with a few tricks of the trade, you may be able to snap some keepsake shots. My colleague and dear friend, NewsChannel 9 photojournalist Mark Folsom is one of the best in the business. He's kindly agreed to assist those of us in the amateur photography league. So let's get started! .

This is a fast moving sport Mark. What advice do you have to help us make our photos look their best?
Find a good place to set yourself up to get the action. Be as close to the ice as you can. It's great for getting the close-ups of action shots of your favorite player, or go to the middle of the stands to cover as much ice as possible. Also position yourself for viewing both goals they should be equal distance from your lens. Using a lens with a 135 - 300 mm focal length with a lens opening of 2.8 should be sufficient. Try using a higher ISO setting for the camera maybe 800 - 1600 modern cameras are pretty good at that level. ISO is the sensitivity to the light. Anticipate the action and focus on the eyes and get ready to press the shutter release.

Light in a hockey rink is awful. Should we use a flash? 
The Light reflecting from the Ice is a problem because it tricks your camera into thinking it is brighter than it actually is . You need to compensate for that by telling the camera to open up the amount of light it lets in by a full stop or two. You should use the flash if you have a powerful external flash unit because  the distance the light has to travel to get to your subject is greater.

How do we get our pictures to be bright and crisp, instead of blurry and grainy?

Without a fast lens photos can be blurry
Use a fast lens to get the most light to the camera and a high shutter speed to freeze the action as much as possible. A shutter speed of 1/250th a second should be enough, but a higher speed may be necessary to freeze the action. Fast ISO helps this but try and stay under 3200 ISO. Only the more advanced and expensive cameras are good above this sensitivity level. 

Where are the best spots in a rink to get good shots?
I would try down by the glass (if it's clean) at first where you can be close to the action. Then try the corners or behind the goal is another good place to position yourself and let the action come to you. Even though you don't have the big lens, there is plenty you can do to take some really good sports photos.

Your Photography Game Plan 

* Get in position
* Work out in advance where you should be
* Anticipate the action
* Try to predict what's going to happen so you're ready at the crucial moment
* Use your zoom telephoto for shots that put you at the thick of the action
* Use fast shutter speeds
* Increase your iso if you can
* Keeping shooting- - set your camera to shoot a continuous series of pictures in a single purse
* Zoom in as far as you can, be beware of using digital zoom because it may not give you the image quality you'll need if you are going to crop.

Not all good sports photos have to be of the action of the game itself. You might get some great pictures if you turn your back on the main event and photograph the reactions of the crowd. It really works if you're able to catch the expression of spectators just at a key moment of anticipation, triumph or even defeat. I snapped this shot at a Syracuse Crunch game right at the moment they scored and captured the enthusiasm of  one of our youth hockey players. 

Or - look for candid shots of competitors, tense with concentration, exhausted at the end of the game, or like this, overjoyed as they are awarded the prize.

Photo by Tim Kane

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