Finally it had arrived! I was looking forward to the Thunderbirds’ home opener ever since I started shooting for them mid-August. Over the last month I’ve shot a few practices and exhibition games, but in many ways the home opener was the first hockey game I’ve covered. Sure I had shot a few exhibition games and practices, but regular season games that actually count in the standings, I’ve found, are completely different. Having all the fans there, having the festivities that go on before and during regular season games really add to the atmosphere of games, and I couldn’t wait to experience it for myself and capture it for you all to see.
Since we’re talking about the festivities around the game, it only seems natural to begin with a picture from the Party on the Plaza . Before the game, there was a celebration outside of ShoWare that had music, a beer garden, and even inflatable play areas for the younger fans. After surveying the plaza, I decided to head over to the inflatables and get photos of kids playing. A few minutes later, I snapped this frame of a young T-Birds fan coming down a slide.
Canon 40D, 50mm, 640 ISO, f3.5, 1/4000th, Manual
Happy with my slide photo, I wandered around the party and snapped a few more frames of the outdoor celebration, but nothing useable. Happy with the photos I got from outside, I decided to head inside and wait for the gates to open. I had in my head a cool idea for a photo of fans piling into the arena, but I quickly realized with my equipment (more specifically lack of a working wide-angle lens) my vision wouldn’t be possible. I decided to focus on a single fan receiving one of the wooden train whistles that were handed out. After a few minutes not getting a useable photo (weird facial expressions, blocked subjects, the usual…) I finally stumbled across a decent frame. Naturally, I forgot all my journalistic responsibilities and didn’t get this woman’s name. In this business, however, you try to use your best frames, and this is the best photo I had from the gates.
Canon 40D, 50mm, 800 ISO, f3.2, 1/250th, Manual
After clearing my memory cards onto my computer, I headed down rink side to wait for the ice to be cleared. Once the players’ warm-ups were finished and the ice was zambonied, the photographers were let out on the ice. I was weary of walking out on the ice and falling on face in front of everyone as I’m not the most graceful person in the world, but I’m happy to report I stayed upright out on the ice. While waiting for the team to be introduced, Charles Cortes of the Kent Reporter and I noticed that the Thunderbirds’ helmets were lined up atop the wall. Never missing an opportunity for detail shots, we both snapped a few frames of the helmet line. This is my version of it, which I am quite happy with.
Canon 7D, 50mm, 1250 ISO, f2.8, 1/50th, Manual
A few minutes later, the lights dimmed and a short highlight video from last year played on the video screens: the players were about to be introduced! The green lasers and smoke machine used in the introductions made cool effects for in the background. I’ll share a few of my favorite player intros with you now…
Here’s goaltender Calvin Pickard acknowledging the crowd (you knew I had to include him…)
Canon 7D, 180mm, 1250 ISO, f2.8, 1/640th, Manual
And here’s left winger Chance Lund coming out of the tunnel
Canon 7D, 200mm, 1600 ISO, f2.8, 1/500th, Manual
While the lasers did make for some cool background effects, they could be distracting, as well. Or, in this case, they could be shining straight into the lens when I release the shutter. If you look closely, you can see left winger Mitch Elliot. (hint: you have to look very closely)
Canon 7D, 150mm, 1600 ISO, f2.8, 1/500th, Manual
And last but not least is backup goaltender Michael Salmon, who shows us that you don’t need fancy lasers and fog to make a good-looking photo.
Canon 7D, 150mm, 1600 ISO, f2.8, 1/500th, Manual
Once the Thunderbirds were introduced and the Winterhawks were on the ice, it was time to honor T-bird legend Glen Goodall. Goodall gave a short speech and, after the national anthem, dropped the ceremonial first puck. Of course, I completely forgot about the puck drop and was walking towards the door off the ice while when the puck was dropped. Luckily the Thunderbirds had another photographer who was more on top of things to cover that moment. Since there’s no good photo of the first puck from me, I’ll leave you with a photo of Glen during his speech.
Canon 7D, 195mm, 1600 ISO, f3.2, 1/1600th, Manual
Since this post ran much longer than I expected, I’ll have put up some game photos in the next post. Stay tuned to the Photo Blog for more updates throughout the season. Again, if you have any comments/questions/concerns/ideas for me, just post it in the comments section below. And thanks for reading!