The Official Photoblog of the Seattle Thunderbirds

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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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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!

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!