The Official Photoblog of the Seattle Thunderbirds

Behind the Scenes

So it Begins! Training Camp 2012-13

Hello once again Thunderbirds fans, and welcome to the 2012-13 season! I’m team photographer Kyle Scholzen and I’m back for another year behind the camera for everyone’s favorite hockey team! Once again, I’ll be taking photos at most of the Thunderbirds’ games, team events, and perhaps a few other activities, bringing you guys a bit closer to the action on and off the ice. Let’s start out the new year off with a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into Training Camp Check In!

August 22 was training camp reporting day for old, new, and future Thunderbirds players. On the list of things to do for players were take updated headshots, film introduction videos, and participate in fitness testing, among other things. I was there to document some of the goings-on, so let’s see some of the photos from the day!

Camp attendee Austin Adamson holds up a sign with his name before filming his player introduction video. Players held up signs with their names on them prior to taping to help with player identification during post-production.

Left winger Mitch Elliot (left) chats with general manager Russ Farwell after taking his photos and filming his intro video. Elliot is returning for his fourth year manning the left wing for the T-Birds.

Center Brayden Low is all smiles while recording his introduction video. On Check In Day, the players filmed the videos played each game while the starters are being introduced. In order to get the five or 10 seconds of screen time, the players are told to stand still for 30 seconds. It may sound easy, but staring at a camera for 30 seconds always seems longer than it really is.

Tristan Simm puts on pads before having his headshot taken.

At the time this photo was taken, most campers had arrived at the ShoWare Center and checked in. Seventy players attended the team’s five-day training camp in an effort to make the preseason roster.

Mathew Barzal, the team’s first-round draft pick this past May, dons pads and a Thunderbirds jersey in preparation for his headshot before the start of training camp.

Once all the photos were taken and videos filmed, it was time to move into the weight room for some fitness testing…

New Thunderbirds defenseman Jesse Forsberg takes part in the vertical jump during fitness testing at the beginning of training camp. Forsberg spent the last three years with Prince George and was acquired early in August.

Camp attendees loosen up their legs on stationary bikes after doing the leg press exercise during fitness testing.

Short post today I know, but there’ll be plenty more once the season begins! Although the regular season doesn’t start until September 21 at Portland, the T-Birds’ home slate actually begins with a preseason tilt against Everett this coming Friday, Sept. 14! I’ll be there, will you guys?

Like what you see? Have any comments or suggestions for the blog this year? Say so in the comments section below!

The Team Poster: How it was Shot

Hello again, T-Birds Fans! I’m back to take you behind the scenes of the team poster photo shoot. Anyone who attended the game against Everett March 17 received a poster with a photo of the T-Birds in front of the ShoWare Center on it. I was at that photo shoot (although I did not take that particular picture) and let me take you through how the photo was taken!

The photo was taken by portrait photographer Bruce Hudson of Hudson’s Designer Portraits. Bruce is known nation-wide for his beautiful portrait photography and, as a personal aside, took my senior photos, as well as those of my sister and my parent’s wedding photos. When I found out he was taking the T-Birds’ team photo, I made it a point to be there and see how he goes about making a beautiful image.

What specific equipment does Bruce use? Well, for this particular shot, it would be everything in this photo…

It looks like Bruce is planning a simple two-light display (the two black box-like things on the ground), and wants to use the scissor lift to get a birds-eye view of the team…

Of course the lights need to be plugged in, and Josh Hudson captures that on video for the studio’s blog.

Bruce climbs onto the scissor lift before a test shot.

After the crew got set up and figured out basic light settings, the players came out for their photo. Since there were a few stragglers, those who came out a bit early were able to chat while waiting for everyone.

Defenseman Jared Hauf talks with Bruce while waiting for all the players to report in front of the Showare Center.

Bruce raises the lights in order to properly illuminate the players’ faces.

With everyone out and in front of the Showare Center, it was time to take the photo…

While Bruce is busy snapping away behind the camera, the Thunderbirds’ Director of Public and Media Relations Ian Henry gets the players into prime position for the photo.

Bruce shows off the photo to center Luke Lockhart (center) and defenseman Brad Deagle (right).

After taking a look at the photo, Bruce decided to wait for the sun to set before attempting another take. During the intermission, the guys kept themselves busy doing … umm … something.

Something interesting must be going on above as a number of Thunderbird players look up towards the sky while waiting for the team photo to be taken.

After the sky failed to hold the players’ interest anymore, Lockhart and fellow center Tyler Alos found a dog to play with. Unfortunately for them (and the dog), the dog was locked in a car, but at least he looks excited to see the two T-Birds!

Shortly after that, the sun finally went below the horizon and it was time for Bruce to continue shooting. Here he is directing everyone from high above in the scissor lift…

Now you know the story behind the team poster you received! Big thanks to Bruce and his staff for coming out to take the photo, and an even bigger thanks to the team for waiting around to get that great photo. Coming up on Bird Watching, I hope to get at least one more post up to close out the season.

Until next time, then, go T-Birds!

Steve Konowalchuck Introduced as Top T-Bird

Welcome back to Bird Watching, T-Birds’ fans!  It’s been nearly three months since the season ended and preseason camps are slowly creeping up on us.  One order of business had to occur before the players could hit the ice again: they needed someone to coach them.  Finally, after an exhaustive search, we know who’ll be the head Thunderbird this year: Steve Konowalchuk.


Everyone meet Coach Konowalchuck!

Canon 7D, 33mm, 2500 ISO, f/3.5, 1/125th, Manual

Konowalchuk comes to us from the NHL’s Colorado Avalanche, where he was an assistant for two years and worked with player development for an additional one.  He also had much success as a player, playing in the NHL for 13 full seasons for both the Avalanche and the Washington Capitals.  This isn’t his first foray into the WHL, however, as he played his junior hockey down I-5 with the Portland Winterhawks.  Never fear about his priorities now, however, as he made sure to mention how he “can’t wait to beat the Winterhawks,” and surely worked his way into the hearts of T-Birds fans everywhere.

Before he was formally introduced as head coach, however, I was tasked with getting a portrait of him to send out with our press release.   To get the best photo possible, I had run of the locker room and the use of plenty of jerseys to use in the background…

Canon 7D, 28mm, 2500 ISO, f/5, 1/50th, Manual

I knew I wanted to incorporate the Seattle logo in the background, so I sat Coach Konowalchuk to the side of a jersey (a white one so his dark suit wouldn’t blend into the dark blue jersey) and snapped a few frames.  The photo on top and this one are the two I liked from that pose.

Canon 7D, 32mm, 2500 ISO, f/3.5, 1/125th, Manual

After a couple other poses that produced uninspiring results, I decided to pull out a ladder and use the floor logo as a background for Coach to stand out from.  At first I told him to smile and naturally cross his hands as I fired off a burst of photos.   This is what came out…

Canon 7D, 32mm, 2500 ISO, f/3.5, 1/125th, Manual

Not bad, huh?  It does stand out—you don’t normally see portraits of people taken from above.  The combination of the logo and solid-colored floor provide a great background that allows him to pop out off.  I was happy with that, but I knew the photo could be better by seeing more of the logo and seeing more of the gritty style Kolowalchuk was known for in his playing days.  I told him to cross his arms, look serious, and fired away again…

Canon 7D, 33mm, 2500 ISO, f/3.5, 1/125th, Manual

Much better; his arms are crossed, which move his hands up and allows me to cut out a lot of dead space under the logo and his facial expression seems a bit more natural.   After this beauty came out, we tried one more pose and I let him go back to touring the ShoWare Center and talking with General Manager Russ Farwell.

After a couple hours’ wait, it’s time to head up to the club lounge and hold the press conference that announces Konowalchuk as the head coach.  Russ had the honor in introducing him to the gathering of media and fans waiting for official word on who’d next lead the T-Birds.

Canon 7D, 135mm, 2500 ISO, f/3.5, 1/400th, Manual

Steve prepared a statement explaining his passion for working with young players and developing their skills in preparation for future greatness.

Canon 7D, 165mm, 2500 ISO, f/3.5, 1/400th, Manual

After his statement, it was time for Konowalchuk to meet with various media outlets and the fans in attendance.  Here he answers questions on tape for KCPQ 13…

Canon 7D, 45mm, 2500 ISO, f/3.5, 1/80th, Manual

Here he is chatting with a print reporter…

Canon 7D, 108mm, 2500 ISO, f/2.8, 1/160th, Manual

T-Birds announcer Thom Beuning had a long interview with him for

Canon 7D, 135mm, 2500 ISO, f/5, 1/250th, Manual

And Konowalchuk had an on-camera chat with KOMO 4 sports reporter Chris Miller.

Canon 7D, 40mm, 2500 ISO, f/5, 1/160th, Manual

It wasn’t just the local media Konowalchuk met with, however, he introduced himself to the fans in attendance as well.  This young T-Birds fan wanted a photo with the new coach and Steve graciously obliged…

Canon 7D, 28mm, 2500 ISO, f/2.8, 1/500th, Manual

And he chatted about the team with this group of Thunderbirds supporters at the end of the press conference.

Canon 7D, 33mm, 2500 ISO, f/5, 1/320th, Manual

Alright, that’s it for this version of Bird Watching.  Thanks for joining in and be sure to check back in two months once rookie and preseason camps start up.

‘Til next time, go T-Birds!

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Cool Bird, Meet Cool Bird

Recently I had the opportunity to travel out near Buckley to photograph a newly-born racehorse.  Why would I be talking about this on the Seattle Thunderbirds’ photoblog? Well it just so happens that the horse belongs to Dean Street, one of the T-Birds’ minority owners, and Street named the newly-arrived foal Cool Bird after our own mascot.  Cool Bird (the bird) heard this news and wanted to meet his namesake, and I, along with team videographer Nicholas Kocan and public and media relations director Ian Henry, was there to document this meeting of the Cool Birds…

Cool Bird (the horse) is living at Griffin Place out near Buckley.  After a car ride full of anticipation, Cool Bird (the bird) was excited to finally get to the stable and stretch his wings…

Canon 7D, 70mm, 1600 ISO, f/4, 1/3200th, Manual

Then it was time to see the horses!

Dean Street, minority owner of the Seattle Thunderbirds, says hello to one of his horses and the dam (mother) to Cool Bird, Stormin Kitty.

Canon 7D, 28mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/250th, Manual

After Cool Bird (the horse) got used to seeing Cool Bird (the bird)—after all, it’s not every day horses see a six-foot bird with fur—the gang headed out to the pasture to roam around for a bit.

Cool Bird, Cool Bird (middle) with Risa Walter, Griffin Place Farm Manager and Stormin Kitty, with Karen Seal, Farm Manager for Dean Street, head out to pasture at Griffin Place.

Canon 7D, 28mm, 1600 ISO, f/5.6, 1/1250th, Manual

Once there, it was a great opportunity for Cool Bird (the horse) to stretch his legs…

Canon 7D, 195mm, 1600 ISO, f/7, 1/1250th, Manual

Canon 7D, 200mm, 1600 ISO, f/7, 1/1250th, Manual

And once there, it was also a great opportunity for Cool Bird (the bird) to stretch his legs…

Canon 7D, 180mm, 800 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Cool Bird and his mother, Stormin Kitty, roam the pasture at the Griffin Place near Buckley.

Canon 7D, 200mm, 1600 ISO, f/7, 1/800th, Manual

After they were done stretching their legs, they were brought over to Cool Bird (the bird) so he could introduce himself…

Cool Bird (the bird) finds himself beak-to-nose with Stormin Kitty, the dam (mother) of his racing horse namesake.

Canon 7D, 28mm, 800 ISO, f/5, 1/1600th, Manual

Canon 7D, 38mm, 800 ISO, f/5, 1/1600th, Manual

Next up, Cool Bird (the bird) attempted to feed the two horses carrots.  Stormin Kitty was very appreciative of the extra food, but Cool Bird (the horse) does not have teeth yet so could not eat the carrots.

Canon 7D, 28mm, 800 ISO, f/5, 1/1000th, Manual

Cool Bird (the bird) receives more carrots Griffin Place Farm Manager Risa Walter to give to Stormin Kitty.

Canon 7D, 28mm, 800 ISO, f/5, 1/1000th, Manual

Cool Bird (the bird) offered his hand for Cool Bird (the horse) to sniff and get accustomed to.

Canon 7D, 32mm, 800 ISO, f/5, 1/1000th, Manual

Canon 7D, 28mm, 800 ISO, f/5, 1/1600th, Manual

Despite not willing to eat from Cool Bird (the Bird)’s hand, Cool Bird (the horse) was willing to lick the carrot-taste off Cool Bird’s hand…

Canon 7D, 59mm, 800 ISO, f/5, 1/1600th, Manual

After the carrots and carrot taste were all gone, it was time to leave Cool Bird (the horse) and Stormin Kitty in the pasture while the human and avian members of the group returned to the stables.  Before that, though, Cool Bird (the bird) posed with Risa and Karen for some photos…

Canon 7D, 70mm, 800 ISO, f/7, 1/800th, Manual

Public and Media Relations Director Ian Henry (right) inspects one of Dean Street’s other horses in the stables at Griffin Ranch.

Canon 7D, 28mm, 800 ISO, f/2.8, 1/200th, Manual

And with that, our visit was over.  Cool Bird (the bird) had a great time meeting his namesake, and it showed while he was leaving the ranch…

Canon 7D, 33mm, 800 ISO, f/7, 1/800th, Manual

But first he checked his feet as everyone should do after running through a horse’s pasture…

Canon 7D, 45mm, 800 ISO, f/7, 1/800th, Manual

And didn’t like what he found there.

Canon 7D, 45mm, 800 ISO, f/7, 1/800th, Manual

That concludes photos from our trip to Griffin Place to see the two Cool Birds interact with each other.  I look forward to seeing what Cool Bird (the horse) can do on the race track once he grows up.  He’s got great racing blood in him—his sire (father) was Grindstone, the 1996 Kentucky Derby winner, and Stormin Kitty (his mare, or mother) can trace her lineage to plenty of other great race horses, including a particular one named Secretariat.

Come to think of it, I think I want to see Cool Bird (the bird) on a race track too.  He showed he was pretty quick on his feet in the pasture earlier…

For our next post, we’ll check out some photos from the T-Birds’ overtime win over Chilliwack!

‘Til next time, Go T-(and Cool) Birds!

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Netminding 101

Wednesday, Jan. 12, there was a special guest down at the ShoWare Center: Steve the Producer from KISW 99.9 FM.  Steve will be tending the net for the Thunderbirds’ celebrity game February 26 but wanted to avoid repeating his “ten goals in one period” performance he had in his last celebrity game a few years ago.  If I remember correctly, he said he was still burned from all the red lights that went off behind him.  To ensure that he would not be burned again by the dreaded red lights, he enlisted the help of T-Birds goalies Calvin Pickard and Michael Salmon and received a crash course in becoming a brick wall between the pipes.

Before all the lessons, though, Steve had to get out all his gear, and boy was there a lot of it…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/3.2, 1/250th, Manual

And here’s a nice photo of him lacing his skates (I don’t know why I like those photos; I also got one of Christie Johnson lacing up when she was at ShoWare)…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/3.2, 1/200th, Manual

About then, one of the on-air talents of his show, Vicky Barcelona, arrived to catch Steve’s training on video.  She sat in the locker room chatting with him while he finished gearing up…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/3.2, 1/200th, Manual

The pair had brought two video cameras, one for Vicky to hold and one to hopefully get a cool angle on some of the action.  He tried to find a way to connect it to his neck guard, but quickly decided it wouldn’t survive a direct hit from a puck…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/160th, Manual

He was finally ready to head out onto the ice!  Unfortunately the ice wasn’t ready for Steve the Producer, though, as he had to put the goal he’d be protecting into place on the ice.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Since the camera couldn’t be attached to Steve’s neckguard, Vicky tried to attach it to the boards behind the net.  I’m not sure if it worked or not, but if it did, I bet they got some cool footage from it.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/890th, Manual

Once the net was in place and the video camera was taped up, Calvin and Michael were ready to come out and teach Steve how to tend goal.  Before they got started, however, introductions were made and the two T-Birds got a feel for Steve’s past goalie experiences…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

And Steve had to film a quick intro to the video for his blog,

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

After the intro was filmed, Michael and Calvin took a couple shots on Steve to see what he needed to work on.  After seeing that and consulting with him, the trio thought it would be best to work on Steve’s butterfly drops (note: I think I remember that term, I’m sorry if I’m a tad off on it).  In this picture, Michael (left) demonstrates the proper knee position for the butterfly while Calvin helps Steve get his knees into a similar pose.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Next they worked on sliding across the face of the goal while keeping the leg pads facing out.  This time it was Calvin who demonstrated the proper techniques.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

In a drill to test this new skill, Michael and Calvin took shots on Steve after passing the puck amongst each other.  Here it’s Michael firing on the net.

Canon 7D, 70mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Being goalies, Calvin and Michael don’t get much of a chance to score a goal.  It was nice to see them be able to get one into the net themselves.  Calvin was so excited over getting one in he couldn’t help but celebrate…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/3,2, 1/1250th, Manual

Then came a lesson on defending the net when the attacking player is behind it.  Here, Calvin demonstrates how he uses his stick and pads to stop a puck from slipping though on the ice.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

Since I was on the ice for all of this action (I didn’t have to worry about 12 players in pads flying all around me) I decided to try and get some photos I wouldn’t have a chance to make during a game.  During the drill for defending against an attack from behind the net, I placed my camera on the ice, aimed it at Steve, and fired away from a low angle.  This was my best shot from trying that out.  Unfortunately I cut off the right half of Michael’s body.  It’s still a decent shot, though; it could have turned out much worse.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

To wrap things up, Michael and Calvin took shots on Steve, testing everything he’d learned during the lesson.  He did a good job and made a good amount of saves, including this one he made while falling down.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

After they were done, Steve taped a closing for his videoblog, thanking the two Thunderbirds for showing him the ropes.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

While recovering from the extreme workout, Steve asked for some stretching tips.  During this, Vicky got a close up of the sweat pouring off Steve’s head.   I particularly like the shot on Vicky’s video camera…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

To end everything, he asked for a photo of the three goalies together, and I happily obliged.

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/4, 1/640th, Manual

A special thanks to Steve and Vicky for coming down and spending part of the day with us.  I had a blast shooting this, and I hope they enjoyed their time with the Thunderbirds.  If you want to catch Vicky and Steve on the morning, tune into the BJ Shea Show on KISW 99.9 FM between 6 and 10 AM.

Don’t forget to come out to the ShoWare Center tomorrow and watch the T-Birds renew their rivalry with the Everett Silvertips at 7:30.  If you can’t make it to Kent, be sure to watch the game on Fox Sports Northwest as the network will be airing it live!

‘Til then, go T-Birds!

Tri-City Away: Road Trip, Anyone?

I hope everyone had a great Christmas (I know I did, I got a lens!), but now it’s time to prepare for the second half of the WHL season!  I hope to get you in the mood for more T-Birds hockey with two posts in two days; today I’m (finally) writing up a post about my road trip to Kennewick to watch (and shoot) the Thunderbirds take on the Tri-City Americans on December 10 tonight/today (again I’m working past midnight), and a recap of the first half of the season in photos featuring the best images I’ve collected so far this year.   Check back tomorrow for that best-of post, but for now continue reading about the

As with my post about the catwalks, I have a video for you guys to watch and hopefully to enjoy.  Also like my catwalks post, the video is quite short in relation to the drive over as I didn’t film enough content to make a longer one.  I need to remember that for next time (maybe that’s why I need an assistant…).  Anyways, how about we start the video in the most natural starting point I know, in the middle of the trip!

Alright, everyone awake from your slumber and check out some photos!  Unfortunately there’s not too many—I had a really bad game in Tri-City—but there were some blog-worthy shots I’d like to share with you.  But first, here’s a photo I took from that vantage point off I-82 and an explanation on why I only shoot sports…

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1000 ISO, f/22, 1/500th, Manual

Now let’s fast-forward about 90 miles and five hours for our next photo, which takes place in the first period of the game (note: yeah, I’m skipping a lot of time.  Next time I travel to a game, I’ll be sure to take more photos and video of the stadium).  That night, December 10th, was the night of the American’s Teddy Bear Toss, when fans throw teddy bears onto the ice after the home team’s first goal.  Being new to hockey, I had no clue what was going on when all of these teddy bears were flying onto the ice, so I asked the fan I was sitting next to for an explanation.  Luckily she filled me in on the situation and I decided the oddity was worthy of a photo.

Goalie Calvin Pickard (left) chats with defenseman Erik Bonsor (center-left) while teddy bears are being cleaned off the ice during the Americans’ Teddy Bear Toss on Dec. 10.

Canon 7D, 145mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

The game was delayed for ten minutes while the bears were picked up off the ice.  Overall, I think 3,000 or so teddy bears were thrown onto the ice (and later donated to charity).  Not a bad number, but I’m pretty sure we can surpass that for our own Teddy Bear Toss Jan. 29!  And since I won’t be able to use this joke then, I might as well say it one last time here: that game was the first hockey game I’ve ever seen that was delayed by bears.

You guys can stop groaning now.

Seriously, you can.

Any time now.

Ok, you might as well let it all out at once….

Now that we’re done with that, let’s move on with the photos.  From my vantage point in the stands, I had a nice view of the Tri-City goal and plays on it from the left side.  In this photo, left wing Mitch Elliot tries to get a better angle on Tri-City goalie Drew Owsley.

Canon 7D, 135mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

From my vantage point, I also had a nice view of the Seattle goal.  Here, Pickard makes a nice stick-save of a Tri-City shot.

Canon 7D, 200mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

By now you’ve probably noticed that I have a lot of photos of certain players and less of others.  I’m always looking for more shots of the players I don’t have and managed to get one over in Kennewick.  Here, center Brendan Rouse battles for position to control the puck with Tri-City defenseman Drydn Dow.

Canon 7D, 170mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

And unfortunately here’s the last photo I have for you guys for this post (told you I had a really bad game).  Anyway, here’s defenseman Travis Bobbee (center) shielding the puck from Tri-City center Mason Wilgosh.

Canon 7D, 200mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Sorry for the short post, but the video took a while to piece together (I’m still new and slow at working with videos).   Remember to check back tomorrow for the best photos from the first half of the season!

‘Til next time, go T-Birds!

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!

View From the Top

Hello again everyone!  The T-Birds have just two more games on their road trip, but won’t be back at the ShoWare Center until next Friday.  To celebrate the road trip so far (five points in four games), how about we take a talk about what it’s like to be up on the ShoWare catwalks?

In this post I’ll be trying something new: video!  My camera has video capabilities and I tested those out along with my video-editing know-how (or should I say no-how, as I have none?).  Since these are my first videos they’ll be short and have abrupt transitions.  I promise to keep working at making better ones, though.   Oh, and they’ll be out of focus at times.  My camera can’t auto-focus while in taking video.  Just warning ya…

So let’s get up to the catwalks, shall we?  Since the doors to the catwalks are on the roof, we have to get up there.  Let’s get past this sign, go up the staircase and hit the roof then!

Canon 7D, 50mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/80th, Manual

Thankfully it wasn’t raining Nov. 2 (the night of the Red Deer game and when I was on the catwalks), although it was kind of chilly.  Here’s a video of the walk on the roof to the center ice door.

Timeline note: at the end when we’re inside the arena, you see some actual game footage.  That video was taken before and during the second period and not before the game.  I did this because my video from before the first period was taken inside when I was figuring out where to stand.  In fact, let’s watch it now…

At the end there, I mentioned I was going to stay over the T-Birds goal in the north end for the first period.  Well I got over there in time for the players to be introduced on the ice.  Since there’s a spotlight that lights up the T-Birds players as they’re introduced, there was some nice lighting for a few pictures.  Being behind them and facing the spotlight, I got nice, long shadows off the players.  Since this isn’t even making sense in my head, much less in writing, I’ll just show you the picture.

Canon 7D, 70mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/320th, Manual

There!  There’s my cool photo from the player introductions, it’s exactly as I described it.  😛

After the introductions came the national anthem(s).  Since Red Deer is from Canada, the Canadian anthem was sung as well as The Star-Spangled Banner.  Having shot many sporting events—and listening to the American anthem before every single one, too—I’m not quite used to sitting through two yet.  Oh well, at least O Canada is just as nice to listen too, especially Anne Jones’ (the singer that night) rendition of it…

Canon 7D, 115mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/160th, Manual

Now for the game to start!  I actually found myself moving around a lot.  I started out at center ice (although over the fans on the one hundred-tens side—the sections are all in the one-teens, or whatever the proper term for 110-119 is), moved to left of the Seattle goal (over the ice), then to just above the crease (still over the ice).  I got this photo of Pickard returning the puck to a referee from just to the left the Seattle goal…

Canon 7D, 145mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1250th, Manual

When over the goal, the bottom of the catwalk prevented me from seeing all but just the goal and one corner of ice.  If I just leaned to the other side of the walkway, though (as the catwalks are pretty much bridges over the ice: a walkway with pipes on either side to prevent you from falling down), I could see both neutral zones and both benches.  That viewpoint gave a cool photo of the T-Birds bench during a media timeout.

Canon 7D, 70mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/640th, Manual

When the puck was in play, I’d be switching between my goal vantage point and my neutral zone vantage point to get the most photos possible as I subscribe to the theory “the more I shoot, the more good photos I’ll have”.  Despite getting dizzy when the T-Birds kept clearing the puck, I did actually get some cool shots.  Here’s one of Pickard right after making one of his 46 saves.  You can see the puck on his glove, which is why I like this shot…

Canon 7D, 145mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Unfortunately I couldn’t see the south goal where the T-Birds were shooting at thanks to the hanging scoreboard. Of course, the only fight I was on the catwalks for happened at the far end of the ice.  As you saw in the last post, I used the video screen to see the fight and to “shoot” it.  Here’s a shot of the screen, or a shot of a shot of the fight, as it were…

Canon 7D, 120mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

After the fight, Mitch Elliot was sent off the ice since his five minute penalty wouldn’t be over until the second period.  His teammates had to collect his stick, gloves, and helmet off the ice and take it over to the bench.  There, equipment manager Jason Berger laid them aside to give back to Elliot for the next period.

Canon 7D, 165mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Right before the game restarted, the officials chatted with players from both teams, again in my sights from above.

Canon 7D, 145mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

For the second period, I continued my roving ways.  I started out over the Seattle bench so I could see more of the ice; from that vantage point I could see both goals.  I also had a very nice view of the Seattle bench, which I’ll show you now…

Canon 7D, 90mm, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/800th, Manual

From there, I went back to above the north goal (this time defended by Red Deer) and hoped for some offense from the T-Birds.  Luckily I got it, but those photos were already posted in the last post.

That’s actually all the content I have for you today.  Sorry for the short post, but I didn’t shoot as much of the actual catwalks as I should have.  Next time I’m up there, I’ll try to remember to give you guys  more.  Sound like a deal?
As always, feel free to leave me a comment or two in the comments section below.

Til next time, go T-Birds!

There’s Nothing Better than the Sound of Slapshots in the Morning…

Remember last post when I promised to find ways to get new content on the blog during road trips?  If you don’t I’ll give you time to go find it…

Got it now?  Good.  And if you didn’t go check, trust me it’s there.   Just a few hours of writing that post, I found out that King 5 would be taping some news segments about the Thunderbirds early Tuesday morning (October 12th).  Having shot a live tv show before last February when College Gameday was at the University of Washington, I knew I could get some nice shots of the taping so I committed to wake up early and head down to the ShoWare Center for the morning’s events.

When I got to the ShoWare Center, the players were in the locker room getting their gear on while the King 5 crewpeople were finishing setting up the camera and discussing the day’s takes.  Since all of the takes would take place on the ice, reporter Christie Johnson would be on ice skates to move around most easily.   Since the players weren’t out of the locker room yet, I snapped a few frames.

King 5 reporter Christie Johnson laces up her skates before taking the ice to file reports from the ShoWare Center early Tuesday morning.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/3.2, 1/100th, Manual

I really like this shot.  A lot.  For one thing I have a thing for darker photos, and also the hallway between the rink and the main concourse (by section 108) had some very nice side-lighting (where the only light source for a photo comes from the subject’s side).  Overall, I thought this photo was a decent starting image and a good omen leading into the rest of the morning.

Defenseman Brenden Dillon was the first of the participating T-Birds (right winger Burke Gallimore, defenseman Luke Lockhart, and goalie Michael Salmon were the other three players that showed up), so he got to do the first teaser with Christie.  Little did he know that Christie had experience in figure skating and wanted to open up with one of those moves for the tease…

Defenseman Brenden Dillon, along with Christie Johnson, shows off his figure skating skills during a teaser for an upcoming segment on King 5.

Canon 7D, 70MM, 1600 ISO, f/5, 1/400th, Manual

Don’t worry, Johnson didn’t force anymore figure skating moves on the guys; they quickly moved on to half-speed plays, and even a mock face-off.  Here, Johnson takes a shot after “winning” one of those face-offs.

Reporter Christie Johnson skated with a few T-Birds early Tuesday morning.  Here, they include her in a mock play after a faceoff.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/3.5, 1/800th, Manual

Johnson and her photographer Jim had the segments planned out for the most part before the morning started, so there wasn’t a lot of time spent designing what would be on camera.  After a few minutes of Christie and Jim explaining their visions, there’d be one or two run throughs of the shot to nail down the details of a shot and so that both the players and Christie knew their assignments and timings.  Here’s a photo of Christie explaining the plan for a teaser that included a check into the boards.

Johnson plans out the next take with right winger Burke Gallimore (left), defenseman Brenden Dillon (center), and center Luke Lockhart (right).  Goalie Michael Salmon was also part of the shoot, but is hidden behind Lockhart in this photo.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/3.5, 1/800th, Manual

Here is a continuous set of shots that show part of the teaser.  That’s Burke Gallimore in grey and Brenden Dillon in blue who are smashing into the glass in front of Christie.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/4.5, 1/400th, Manual (all photos)

This next photo might just be my favorite from the day.  Not only had the guys had been good sports for the camera, but they had to get up pretty early to do so (they arrived before 5:45 am).  They were understandably tired and so during a break between live takes, Luke and Burke decided to take it easy right out there on the ice.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/3.5, 1/800th, Manual

During the time in between live takes (and while the T-Birds players were relaxing), Jim and Christie would consult with producers back at the King 5 production room.  Instead of having to call someone in the studio, though, they merely had to talk through their microphones (the same ones used while taping) in order to be heard.  In addition, Christie could look through the camera so as to “look at” the producers while talking to them.  For whatever reason, I thought this to be somewhat interesting.  So of course I snapped a photo.  What else would I do?

Christie Johnson talks with producers back at King 5 studios through her hidden microphone and by looking at the camera.

Canon 7D, 75MM, 1600 ISO, f/4.5, 1/400th, Manual

After the 40 or so minutes after the first live segment, the second one aired.  For this, Christie asked Thunderbirds head coach Rob Sumner a few questions about the T-Birds’ season so far.  There was also a quick explanation about how to check a guy into the boards.  Since you can scroll up and find plenty board-checking above, here’s a shot of Christie talking to the Coach.

Christie Johnson interviews head coach Rob Sumner during a segment that aired Tuesday morning.

Canon 7D, 70MM, 1600 ISO, f/4.5, 1/400th, Manual

I had been trying all morning to get a cool photo of Christie talking into the camera while still being able to see Jim (photographers always take pictures of other photographers; it’s just something we do), but I hadn’t seen anything good.    Finally, during the segment with Coach Sumner, I got what I wanted.   You can see the camera and everything.  Hey, even photographers deserve to be recognized every now and then…

Christie Johnson opens a segment.

Canon 7D, 70MM, 1600 ISO, f/4.5, 1/400th, Manual

The last segment was all about slapshots.  In it, Luke Lockhart explained how to hit one, Michael Salmon explained what it’s like to try and stop one, and Christie Johnson even attempted to take one.

Luke Lockhart goes through the basics of a slapshot.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/4.5, 1/640th, Manual

Christie Johnson asks Michael Salmon about facing slapshots coming at his head.  “I try not to think about the speed [of the pucks,]” he said.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/4.5, 1/640th, Manual

The T-Birds players taught Johnson the basics of a slapshot, which she’s practicing here.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/4.5, 1/640th, Manual

Once Christie got her shot off, Burke, Luke, and Brenden unleashed a volley of slapshots at Michael.  Despite the multiple pucks coming at him seemingly at once, he did well to block many of them.

Salmon got a leg pad in front of this slapshot.

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/4, 1/500th, Manual

After the slapshots, there was just one more thing to film as a possible space-filler in the noon broadcast.  For this, Christie met Luke in a face-off and once again “won” it.  She seems to be pretty good at those…

Christie Johnson takes one final faceoff before signing off from the ShowWare Center.

Canon 7D, 70MM, 1600 ISO, f/4, 1/500th, Manual

After that segment was completed and the producers okayed it, all the taping was done.  After cleaning up all the pucks shot at Michael, Christie got a picture with Coach Sumner and the guys.

Johnson wanted a photo of everyone involved for her own blog,

Canon 7D, 50MM, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

If you didn’t catch the segments live, here’s a link to them on King 5’s website.

A special thanks to Christie, Jim, and everyone else at King  5 that helped with the broadcast from ShoWare Center.  I had a blast shooting it, and I hope you guys have enjoyed this behind-the-scenes look at how it was made.

And as they say in show business, that’s a wrap!

Til next time, go T-Birds!