The Official Photoblog of the Seattle Thunderbirds

A Very T-Birds Christmas Card Photo

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/10, 1/25th, Manual

Hello again everyone!  I wanted to get a new post up before the games this weekend, but unfortunately I don’t have time to do a full post of 20+ game photos (it takes me upward of three hours to find the photos, edit them, type out an explanation, and post it all online).  So instead here’s a smaller post about the photo for the Thunderbirds’ Christmas card we’ll have for you all.

Last week I received an e-mail from Director of Media Relations Ian Henry asking me to shoot the card.  He told me the club wanted it shot at the Morford Family Holiday Carousel in downtown Kent, off 2nd Avenue and Harrison Street, so we checked out the location to make sure we could get a decent photo.

Director of Media Relations Ian Henry scopes out the Morford Family Holiday Carousel as a potential location for the T-Birds Christmas card photo.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 800 ISO, f/2.8, 1/8000th, Manual

(Note: I didn’t try to make this photo look good.  I just wanted a basic idea of what the background may look like.)

We came to the consensus that we could get a good photo as long as the fence along the front of the carousel was moved aside, allowing me to get a clear view of the players that’ll be in the front row.  With the location picked out, we were ready to go ahead with the shoot, scheduled for last Monday.

Finally Monday rolled around and I felt (somewhat) ready.  I had never shot a large team portrait before and I was kind of nervous since my ‘expertise’ is in sports and not portraiture.  Regardless of that fact, I knew I had to find a good exposure that A)allows a high-quality photo to blow up or edit (requiring a lower ISO) and B) will get as much in focus as possible (requiring a bigger aperture to give a larger depth of field).  So in my efforts to find the perfect exposure—and since my best photo assistant is in South Korea at the moment—I put on my camera’s 10 second timer and used a rather dashing model: myself.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/9, 1/25th, Manual

After a couple times running back and forth between the camera and the carousel, I began wishing for someone to help me out and be my test subject.  Luckily at that time, the Thunderbirds’ videographer Nicholas showed up and graciously allowed me to use him to test out some exposures and focal points.  I was also able to bounce ideas for the group’s pose off of him.  Thanks Nicholas!

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/5.6, 1/25th, Manual

Just a bit after 1:30, the players started to arrive.  I gave them instructions on where they could and couldn’t stand and be seen by the camera and I largely just let them situate themselves in the beginning.  While they were doing that, I was adapting and perfecting my exposure.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/5, 1/25th, Manual

This was obviously out of focus (not worried about that yet), but also much too bright and didn’t have a great depth of field, so I increased the depth of field and the shutter speed and tried again…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/8, 1/30th, Manual

Within five minutes, most of the players and even Cool Bird had arrived.  After telling them what I was looking for, they all filled onto the carousel and I kept checking my exposure and focal point.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/8, 1/30th, Manual

By now Ian had arrived with his assistant, Ashley, and they helped make sure everyone was there and get everyone situated to where they could see me and the camera.  Thanks for the help you two!

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/8, 1/30th, Manual

Finally we were off and running!  Here’s one of the better takes that we had, although I still think the photo I ran first in this post is the best.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/10, 1/25th, Manual

After getting a good string of photos from that, I (with the help of some of the guys) rotated the carousel to try and get a new background.  Unfortunately with 25 guys you can’t really see the horses or sleds they sat on, but it was worth a shot at something different.  For the record I actually did prefer the arrangement this rotation give, none of the photos taken from there came out very well, though.  Why, you ask?  Well I’ll show you…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/10, 1/25th, Manual

Looks blurry, huh?  Well I promise you I didn’t adjust the focus at all; the fuzziness of the photo comes completely from motion blur.  Any shutter speed slower than 1/60th is prone to motion blur, even if it’s on a tripod.  Well it just so happens that the one string of shots I took in this pose all had motion blur.  Some had a lot, like the previous photo, and some had a little like this next one…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/10, 1/25th, Manual

These last two photos were actually taken from atop a ladder, so I didn’t have the camera on a tripod like I did earlier.  That last photo actually looks pretty good for handholding the camera at that slow a shutter speed.  Unfortunately, however, I didn’t notice the bottom edge of my frame; I cut off the hands of most of the bottom row. This is a massive failure on my part, but luckily I was covered by the decent shots I had on the previous pose.

Since Ian and I thought we had enough photos to ensure a good one, we decided that we were done with the shoot.  The guys returned to the ShoWare Center for practice, and I packed up my gear, thankful that my first major team portrait didn’t result in complete failure.

I’d also like to send out a special thanks to the city of Kent for allowing us to shoot at the carousel.  It was a good venue for the Christmas photo and I encourage you all to ride the carousel on Friday afternoons and weekends when it’s opened.  It’s free to ride, although they do accept and encourage donations.  Also, another thank you goes out to Victoria Andrew for many things, including having the fence moved, being there for the whole shoot, and putting up with my requests.  We couldn’t have done it without you Victoria!

Stay tuned to this post.  I’ll try to get a link up to Nicholas’ video from the shoot (where you’ll see me ordering the players around.  I can’t believe someone as small as me can direct so many hockey players around…).  I’ll also try to get a photo of the card up on the blog as well…

And stay tuned to the blog in general because in my next post, we’re all taking a road trip! Yay!

Til then, go T-Birds!

EDIT:  Here’s a link to  that video Nicholas made of the shoot.  It’s a great vid, so check it out!  Thanks for making it Nicholas!

4 responses

  1. Erik

    “so I increased the depth of field and the shutters peed and tried again…”

    I didn’t realize that shutters have bladders? LOL

    Awesome pics, Kyle!

    December 10, 2010 at 9:53 am

    • tbirdsphoto

      This is what happens when I work at 2:30 in the morning. My proof-reading skills are significantly lacking at that time for some reason…

      Thanks for the catch Erik.

      December 10, 2010 at 11:37 am

  2. Lisa

    I think the photos turned out great 🙂 I can’t wait to get my card in the mail.

    December 10, 2010 at 1:03 pm

  3. Kris Becker

    You mean I have to become a season ticket holder to get a picture of Luke (Lockhart) smiling? (Great photo’s Kyle!)

    December 10, 2010 at 7:57 pm

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