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SportsShooter.com: Member Message Board

Hockey Strobes and advice
Billy Crowe, Photographer
Easley | SC | United States | Posted: 10:41 AM on 09.28.10
->> I am going to be shooting my first season of minor league hockey and I was looking for any advise on they in's and out's of the sport. I have shot hockey once or twice a few years ago and then the team folded. We have a new team and I will be doing all their action stuff. I also would love some advise on setting up strobes. I know the arena has them but I dont know the brand. I have a meeting with the team on Friday. I will try to get the name of them then. Thanks in advance for any help you may give me.

Billy
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Thom Kendall, Photographer, Assistant
Sunderland | MA | USA | Posted: 12:25 PM on 09.28.10
->> Please don't take offense to this question, but if you've only "shot hockey once or twice a few years ago...", need "advice on the in's and out's of the sport" and would "love some advice on setting up strobes", how is it you feel qualified to do the job, and how are you going to provide the team with professional results? The kind of knowledge and experience you are asking for help with from folks on this board are usually things you need to have BEFORE you take on a job like this, not after. Minor league teams generally have tighter budgets for photography (if they have one at all!), and will expect to get their money's worth going in.

Sounds like a lot to learn before the season starts in a few weeks!
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Billy Crowe, Photographer
Easley | SC | United States | Posted: 1:10 PM on 09.28.10
->> Well Thom, thanks for the "advise" or should I say insults. I was just looking for a little bit of help which I take from your response you never need any. I know I can do this job very well and was just asking for some other people's input.
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Dylan Lynch, Photographer, Assistant
Edmonton | AB | Canada | Posted: 1:31 PM on 09.28.10
->> It's all about anticipation, you have to know what's coming before it happens. I feel sorry for anyone trying to shoot hockey if they're not quite familiar with the sport... ESPECIALLY strobed, when you get one chance to get the shot/goal/event.

That said, it's the same as all other sports, just get even lighting, try to overpower ambient by at least 4-5 stops. I'm not sure what advice you could be looking for besides "know the sport".
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Robert Longhitano, Photographer
Philadelphia | PA | USA | Posted: 1:35 PM on 09.28.10
->> No reason to take Thom's response as an insult. He has a valid point.

A bunch of folks here can give you advice from placing a few speed-lights around a rink up to installing six 4800 w/s packs in the rafters. You really have to provide more information about the rink/arena you're working in.

As for "in's and out's of the sport". I've played and watched hockey all my life so it's easy for me to anticipate what is going to happen and know when to click the shutter. Remember when shooting with strobes you can't rely on a motor drive, in other words FPS mean squat
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Brad Mangin, Photographer
Pleasanton | CA | USA | Posted: 1:38 PM on 09.28.10
->> Billy,

Way back in 1999 we had San Jose Sharks team photographer Don Smith write a story for the Sports Shooter Newsletter (searchable by using the search bar up there on top of this page) entitled:

High Sticking in the NHL: how to shoot hockey
http://www.sportsshooter.com/news/243

Some great info in this story from a real pro who has worked for the Sharks since their inception 20 years ago.

Good luck.
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Billy Crowe, Photographer
Easley | SC | United States | Posted: 1:40 PM on 09.28.10
->> I just get tired of people putting people down on this website. This is a community where people look to others for advise as no one is an expert in every field. I am going to the arena on Friday to get more info as to the strobes and all the other info I need. I guess I will either succed or fail. I will find out soon enough and thanks for the ones of you that are giving advice.
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 1:40 PM on 09.28.10
->> Billy, a few questions to help answewr you questions: What team and league? What body are you shooting with? Do you have 2.8 glass? How do you plan to trip the strobes? Will you have the rights to the images or the team? Did you get the "Official Photographer" gig, or just shooting action.
I have worked with several minor league hockey teams (ECHL clubs) in the past, and busuness wise you need to get things in writing, not hand shakes. You also need to look into exclusive sales rights. Feel free to call me.
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 1:48 PM on 09.28.10
->> I wonder if Thom looked at Billy's member page? Billy already shoots for a minor lg baseball team, has good vision, long fast glass, covers DI football in one of the fastest conferences in the country. I am sure he will get the hang of hockey.
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 1:55 PM on 09.28.10
->> First what Thom wrote was probably what at least a dozen people were thinking but lacked the balls to post.

Strobes..... the FIRST thing you want to do is to check all of the safety precautions are in place. Look for corroded or rusted fasteners, missing safety cables, and shields for the reflectors. Rinks can vary quite a bit in terms of how damp the air in the rink is. Find out when the packs were last used, and if they look at all questionable consider sending them out for a clean and check. I had a strobe go that was later ruled a casualty of condensation. Placement will depend solely on how the rink is setup and what is available to you. If they are already mounted I'd try them as-is and see if the previous photographer did all the legwork of getting even coverage.

If there aren't holes in the glass, talk to the rink people about what is safe to use to clean the glass. I use a SMALL squirt of windshield washer fluid in a quart spray bottle filled with HOT water. DON'T over spray! The alcohol in the washer fluid will screw up the ice if you let it drip or spill it. Also talk to the rink person about how early you will have to get there to clean the glass. If you can get to the top edge of the glass you can use a magnetic aquarium cleaning pad to deal with snot-spit between periods. Just tie some fishing line to the side that will be over the ice in case the magnetic halves separate. That way you can still pull it back before the start of the period.

If the 'glass' is plastic.... you are screwed. Those scars are there for good. Or at least until the section is sent to be professionally polished.

Gear...... Bring what you have. I shoot 99% with a 300 and a 70-200 on D3's. If you have a cropped sensor you may get away with just the 70-200. A roll of cinefoil is handy. Sometimes I tape a cinefoil flag to the glass to cut reflections that are coming across the glass.

At the beginning of the season I buy two cases of chemical hand warmers. No sense in being uncomfortable. Mittens are warmer than gloves. Keep your backup battery in a pocket or some other WARM area. Cold drains batteries.

~E
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Michael Granse, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 2:07 PM on 09.28.10
->> If the arena already has strobes there is a reasonable likelihood that these are already mounted in position and are "dialed in" to what the previous photographer felt was optimal.

Find out how the strobes are triggered, probably Pocket Wizard but there are other possibilities, then get a transmitter that works with this system, attach it to your camera, set your camera to 1/500 at f2.8 or f3.5 at ISO 100 and take a test shot at every ISO step upward until the exposure looks reasonably accurate in preview and in histogram and then confirm this on your laptop.

If you are following the puck, you are likely to miss The Big Play. The guy who is skating toward the goal with the puck is just as likely to pass as he is to shoot, so if you are depending on following the puck you are going to miss a lot of good photo opportunities. At 8.5 frames per second, you can overcome a certain amount of this but with strobes and ONE frame every 1.5 seconds you can not depend on "catching up" to the action.

What I do when I photograph ice hockey is to mentally put myself in the place of the person who is controlling the puck and then aim the camera at the guy I would pass it to or at the goal if I would shoot in that situation. I do have the advantage of having played ice hockey in college, but I shoot a bit of football without having played that sport past junior high. This is something that you can develop without ever lacing up a single skate if you use your imagination a bit.
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Sam Santilli, Photographer, Photo Editor
Philippi | WV | USA | Posted: 2:10 PM on 09.28.10
->> "First what Thom wrote was probably what at least a dozen people were thinking but lacked the balls to post."
So to have balls you need to be rude...got it. Maybe that is just a cultural thing living in MA. But below the Mason-Dixon we try to be civil first. If that don't work, resort to plan "B", which usually involves a 2x4 to help get the message across.
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Soobum Im, Photographer, Assistant
San Antonio | TX | U.S. | Posted: 2:16 PM on 09.28.10
->> I used to shoot for Portland Winterhawks minor league hockey team. How bad is lighting? We had 4 strobes (Speedotrons) but never used them since many many years ago (I used 70-200 and 300 2.8). I saw one of the newspaper photog used them once and told me that he was at ISO 200. Keep that in mind that you might have to wait 3-4 second every single shot. Hope this helps.
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Bob Ford, Photographer
Lehighton | Pa | USA | Posted: 2:28 PM on 09.28.10
->> Soobum, I'm confused. What's wrong with shooting hockey at ISO 200 with strobes?
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Israel Shirk, Photographer, Assistant
Boise | ID | US | Posted: 2:52 PM on 09.28.10
->> On glass you can use fine steel wool to clean off scars from the puck and sticks. Sometimes the plastic ones you can go lightly with a brillo pad, but check with the rink guys first. Make good friends with them and they'll go out of their way for you.

It took me a few years to get used to shooting hockey when I moved here from the south, but you'll get the hang of it. Shooting practice and/or scrimmages will help a lot. It moves fast enough even with club leagues that high FPS didn't even help at first. You can go to the arena and just check when they have club or other leagues going on and practice on them before the season starts.

If you're using strobes in a small-to-medium arena, make sure you don't dial their power too high - here at the Qwest arena a bunch of guys from a well-known sports magazine put too much power into the rafters for a basketball tourney a few years ago. It gave the arena staff migraines, and poof! No strobes allowed until there was a change of management. Extremely frustrating.

Darrell Miho has a guide here in the story archives:
http://www.sportsshooter.com/news/81
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Jim Pierce, Photographer
Waltham | MA | USA | Posted: 5:45 PM on 09.28.10
->> Billy,

I will ask why strobes?? Have you thought about shooting without strobes first? This will allow you to focus on the game itself and get a little more comfortable with the sport? I shoot a ton of hockey from 4 year olds, learn to skate, to Div 1 College and have never used strobes. Would they help, I am sure they would but in some cases they won't, like when you want to burst for a few seconds, they won't go off 9 times a second. I have always looked into renting the strobes in The Boston Garden when I shoot there but the time between shots, costs and liablity if one blows is a huge turn off.

When you meet on Friday make sure you ask who is responsible for replacing the bulb if you blow one? If it is a stadium type rink and they are hardwired in the rafters, it probably won't be cheap.

As far as shooting the game itself I vary my positions from the penalty box, to the end glass, to above the glass at center ice. There are pros and cons to each but the college likes the variation.

300 and 70-200 are the two lenses used, the end glass position a 300 is perfect from the top of the circle to the red line, 70-200 for anything around the net, sometimes a 24-70 too. From the penalty box the 300 gets you the goalie shots and the defensive men breaking out of the zone. Above the glass only the 300. If there are holes I always try and get the deep corner hole, just at the goal line, a 70-200 works for me.

As far as cleaning the glass ASK the facilities people and as mentioned above get to know these people!!! They will be more than glad to give you what they use. The only issue might be is will they let you on the ice without the studded shoes or skates and possibly a helmet.

If I used anything mentioned above, in the three rinks I live at, I would be killed!! and two are youth rinks.

Go for it!!

Jim
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Eric Canha, Photographer
Brockton | MA | United States | Posted: 6:13 PM on 09.28.10
->> Jim the hot water/windshield fluid was what I was told to use when I shot at the University of RI. The rink guy(s) would also offer to nuke the fluid to heat it up. Providence College preferred plain hot water. At two other rinks I was told to use 'Windex' and the rest didn't really care what I used.

But like I said, talk to the rink people. With the exception of one college 99% of the rink staffs have gone out of their way to make life as easy as possible. Hell I had one manager tell me and a TV crew that we could climb up on the #2 Zamboni and sit on the hood to shoot over the glass. I stuck to my ladder but the ch 10 gal (1/4 my weight) hopped right on up and shot 2 periods from the machine.
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 6:24 PM on 09.28.10
->> I think its fair to mention that while there is perhaps a more tactful way to deliver the message than Thom did, that sometimes the best advice can be what someone doesn't want to hear.

We certainly don't want to come off as always negative, or not be a positive and encouraging community, but to just blindly give a pat on the back can be counterproductive as well.

There are times when someone isn't ready to handle a given situation and its better to let them know that in advance and perhaps allow them to save their reputation rather than having to live down a reputation as a hack. That can be a first wedding or the first time as a league shooter.

The professional community in any given town is usually pretty small and believe me word travels fast. No one wants to be known as thy guy who got fired for doing a horrible job.

I'm not implying that is the case here of course. I'm sure Billy will do just fine but I also don't think anyone needs to jump on Thom for giving what he thought was the best advice. With a little more research one can see that Billy knows his stuff as a photographer, but at first glance, if someone said they've shot hockey "once or twice before" maybe it would be fair to question if they are experienced enough to bite off the commitment the team is looking for.

Best of luck to Billy, and hopefully everyone hear will continue to feel free to give whatever they think is the best possible advice, not just what people want to hear.
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 6:30 PM on 09.28.10
->> Just to add $.02 of relevance to this thread, one thing I've actually found pretty useful for shooting is to pre-wet a rag in the cleaning solution of your choice and then put it into a zip top bag. You can get to the rink and be all ready to go without having to deal with carrying a bottle of cleaner, worrying about it leaking, trying to find where it got hide away at the rink etc.

Maybe as a team photographer you'd have a better place to store something, but when I'm going to any given local rink for youth games its what I always do so that way I've got a quick and easy means to improve the quality of the glass I'm shooting through. Still can be tough as puck marks, scratches etc won't come off, but most smaller rinks don't clean the glass at all so even a damp rag can make a big improvement.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 8:29 PM on 09.28.10
->> I concur with what jeff just said. I guess I'll have to finally admit I'm becoming one of those "old timers". it's weird to say that but hey, I've been doing this for 37 years. and I LOVE this job. I have to admit I sometimes laugh at these threads when someone asks for advice because they took a job that they seem, well, darn I'm such a BAD person, unqualified for. I read over what Billy wrote four or five times and I came to the same conclusion as Thom. and since Billy has only been a member since april it just makes me shake my head. this might swerve into the OT category but when in the world did we, as a society, come to the place where we are supposed to blow sunshine up everyone's arse? someone asks for opinion or advice and they don't get the answer they want to hear and they automatically call the respondent (names I have been called) an asshole, cynic, sarcastic bastard, insulting, caustic, pessimist, naysayer, prophet of doom....etc, etc, etc...gee, I have to tell some of you folks that if you were around 20 years ago you would be crying to your moms with the way things used to be. if you shot crappy stuff you would be called out on the carpet and berated in front of your peers. was that a good thing? maybe not, but guess what? you NEVER made that mistake again. I wish some folks on this wonderful website would realize that just because someone doesn't tell you what you want to hear isn't "insulting" or belittling them. if you're that insecure....maybe you really shouldn't be asking for advice.
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Walt Middleton, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 8:58 PM on 09.28.10
->> Good advice Jeff, I do the same thing with the zip lock back and rag... If there aren't holes in the glass, and if I don't know before hand. The bag comes with me.
Also, I totally agree with Jeff about somebody giving a wake-up call for someone who may be in over thier head. I'm known to be kind of blunt some times too. But I hope I would at least point who ever I'm being blunt to, in the right direction to improve what ever they are trying to do...

So, Thom... I don't know you but... Be aware that you are being blunt sometimes and make sure you follow it up with something more helpful so that the person on the other end will at least feel that you put forth a little effort to help.
Billy, have fun... Be creative... Be different... Hockey is a fun one to shoot.
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Billy Crowe, Photographer
Easley | SC | United States | Posted: 9:13 PM on 09.28.10
->> Thanks for all the advice that has been given. Chuck, I do not feel like I am over my head. If I felt that way I would have never applied for the position. As far as only being a member since April does not mean anything. And I sure as heck did not ask for someone to blow sunshine up my butt. I was just looking for advice that I would give if I was asked, but I guess I just look at things a different way. I guess in the future I will keep my mouth shut and instead of asking for advice I will just fall flat on my face buscause that is what other photographers want to happen, Just my .02 worth.
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Chuck Liddy, Photographer
Durham | NC | USA | Posted: 9:28 PM on 09.28.10
->> billy, keep that attitude. you'll go far.
(sarcasm intended)
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Jeff Mills, Photographer, Photo Editor
Columbus | OH | USA | Posted: 9:45 PM on 09.28.10
->> Billy, you've been a member since April and have only posted 7 times, 4 of which in this thread which you started asking for advice for yourself. Despite that you are combative about the manner of advice others are giving because its not how you believe it should be done nor the type of community you believe it should be?

How about leading by example then rather than taking the self depreciating and confrontational tone ? Not one person in this thread has said anything suggesting they wanted you to fail until your last post.
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Billy Crowe, Photographer
Easley | SC | United States | Posted: 9:52 PM on 09.28.10
->> I will just accept the fact that I should have never replied to my original post and just took everything that was said and went on with my business. Thanks again for all the advice I have received.
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Michael Granse, Photographer
Urbana | IL | USA | Posted: 11:43 PM on 09.28.10
->> Billy, if you fall on your face it will not be the result of other photographers wishing it upon you.

Do NOT become an obstacle to making this work. You have two weeks to figure this out, so use the time wisely.
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Thread Title: Hockey Strobes and advice
Thread Started By: Billy Crowe
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