Above: Here’s our class group shot, taken with a remote camera mounted inside the goal. On Sunday morning we had a session just on mounting and using remotes. 

I thought from the beginning it was going be the coolest hands-on workshop I’ve ever been involved it, and it totally, totally was! (If this is the first time you’re hearing about, first go watch this very short video clip which explains the workshop).

Above: Here’s our workroom for the weekend, inside the VIP Club at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Sweet digs!  (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s Scott Audette (far right) doing a presentation on what makes a good hockey photo; which types of shots make it, and which one’s don’t. Really eye-opening and candid. That’s me (left center) and Mike Carlson (far left). (Photo by Brad Moore)

I’m going to tell the story with captions, but here’s a 30-second synopsis:

(a) We had an awesome group of photographers in our workshop. Totally into it the whole time, and we saw lots of great shots throughout. It was a weekend of non-stop laughing, learning, and making new friends.

(b) Tampa Bay Lightning’s Team Photographer Scott Audette did an absolutely kick-butt job from start to finish. His insights, tips and real-world advice really resonated with the class. He really worked hard to create something very special, and it showed. What a great teacher! (I picked up a ton from him myself).

(c) Our guest speaker, pro-sports photographer Mike Carlson was a tremendous addition to the workshop and everybody loved him.

(d) We were all, and still are, amazed at the incredible access we had throughout the workshop (hats off the Scott and the entire Lightning organization who totally supported the workshop from the start).

Now onto the workshop, which started off Friday night with a “Burgers & Beer” get-together, followed by a presentation from Scott and Mike covering everything from Safety to Camera Settings. Apparently, the safety briefing wasn’t for nothing (see below).

Above: Yup, that’s what his 70-200 f/2.8 lens looks like after getting hit with a puck during Saturday night’s game. He’s OK but the lens, well…not so much. Luckily, he wasn’t hurt, and he had a great attitude. Plus, the great folks at LensProToGo.com (totally awesome lens rental company —- I rent from them myself), helped ease his pain and gave him a $150 gift card while his lens is being repaired. How cool is that! We went to great lengths to warn our students about the realities of shooting “at ice level through the openings in the glass” but after this, they totally got it.

Above: Here’s a view of the class while they’re working on shots from the Lightning’s morning skate. The class shot from the first Mezzanine and the shooting holes at ice level (we rotated students in/out). I taught a session on post processing with Photo Mechanic and Lightroom, and my latest sports photography workflow. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: After the class had some time to work on their images (and I answered a number of  one-on-one post-processing questions), we did some in-class blind critiques.  Scott Audette’s and Mike’s comments were incredibly helpful and the class SO got it!!!! (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: I did shoot the pre-game warmups from the ice (my buddy Brian Blanco was covering the game and let me shoot some of the warming from his assigned position). Guess what — my 80-400mm lens took a direct hit shortly after this photo was taken, but thankfully it didn’t crack the glass; though it cracked the plastic outside ring around the lens in a couple of places, and smeared the glass with ice, but luckily it wiped right off. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Game Night
After a dinner break, we all came back and got ready to shoot that night’s game at the Forum: The Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Carolina Hurricanes (great game, especially since the Lightning won 4 – 1). The class shot from both “Overhead” locations (shooting spots at the first mezzanine level, which give an unobstructed view of the entire rink) and from 3 shooting holes at ice level (we rotated the students each period). I shot from the overhead positions and with Scott & Brad Moore’s help, we mounted a remote camera up in the ceiling of the forum aiming down at one of the goals.

Above: Here’s one of my shots from the remote camera up top. You guys know how I love remotes!!!! :-)

Above: Thank God for Brad Moore, who climbed with Scott up to the rafters way up above the ice (since I am, well…scared to death of heights) and rigged my D3s in place with a couple of magic arms. Lots more on this later this week, but for now, here’s the view from the rafters. Yikes! (don’t look down Brad!).

Above: Although I’m not a “climb up in the ceiling” kind of guy, I don’t mind hiking up to the top of the stands for a wide-angle shot or two, and I got this one as the Lightning scored their 2nd goal of the night. 

Above: Here’s workshop participant Matt Sunday shooting during the game Saturday night from one of the ice-level shooting positions with a hole in the glass (photo by Pete Collins). 

Above: One of our shooting holes at ice-level — you can’t get much closer to the action than this! (Photo by Pete Collins).

Above: Shooting from the 1st mezzanine shooting locations (you only needed a 70-200mm or a 300mm tops). It’s MUCH easier to capture the action from up here, and most of the images chosen as finalists for the “end of workshop competition” were taken from this overhead angle which offers an unobstructed view of the entire rink, and much less chance of being hit by a puck square in the face or having it break your lens and/or nose. This is where I shot from during the game (this isn’t my first rodeo). (Photo by Pete Collins).

Above: She’s rockin’ that 300mm — right over the glass with a clear view of both goals. (Photo by Pete Collins).

Above: Sunday morning kicked off early with a session on setting up and using remote cameras. Scott actually makes (and sells) the enclosures approved by the NHL for remote cameras inside the goal, and he knows this stuff inside and out. He set one up in the goal and the class all got to take remote goal shots with two skaters rushing the goalie. It made for some awesome shots (and we got together for that group shot at the top of this post). (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s one of the goal cam shots; this one taken by workshop participant Thomas Quinn.

Above: Here’s Scott and his assistant Casey (she was awesome and helped out the entire workshop), showing the class how to rig an “ice level” remote.

Above: After the remote camera session, we put on “grippers” and headed out to the ice to do some portrait lighting. We set up three stations and broke into groups of seven. Here’s my station where we’re shooting with a Nikon SB-900 and a pop-up 24″ softbox. Once it was set-up, each student got to direct the subject, try out different settings and poses. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s one of my test-shots from my hot-shoe flash station. I did two looks: (1) One dramatic look where I clamped down on all the ambient light and let the background fall to black (shown above), and (2) One where we lots of the ambient light show and it was clear he was at center ice.

Above: Going over the different settings with my group. I used some of the new PocketWizard Plus IIIs to trigger the flash, and I’m totally digging them (everybody brought their own PocketWizards). One student brought the new PocketWizard Plus X (which I talked about a few weeks ago), and it rocked — the model of simplicity. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s Mike (2nd from left) at his  shooting station (we rotated groups so everybody got to shoot at each station with each athlete). On the far left is Ingo Meckmann, a very cool guy, and darn good photographer, who came all the way from Lucerne, Switzerland to attend the workshop.  (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s Scott’s shooting station and a three-light portrait set-up using his Elinchrom BXRI’s. (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: Here’s one of the goalie portraits (photo by workshop participant Ingo Meckmann) 

Above: After the portrait shoot, it was back to our workroom for another post-processing session, and then everybody gathered their best three images from the game on Saturday night to enter into our “Blind Critique” Contest. The winner would take home the coveted “Kick Ice” hockey trophy (shown below) and besides insane bragging rights, they won a full-conference pass to the Photoshop World Conference & Expo.  (Photo by Brad Moore)

Above: The best shot from Saturday night’s game walks away with with cool trophy and bragging rights to last a lifetime!

Above: Ladies and Gentlemen, we have a winner! From L to R: Scott Audette, Yours Truly, our “Kick Ice” trophy winner, photographer Thomas Quinn, and Mike Carlson (the human trailer hitch).  (Photo by Brad Moore)

The Wrap Up
You know what was really cool? The whole time, the teachers, the students, the assistants — everybody knew we all involved in, and experiencing something really unique and that feeling just ran through everything we did. The group got close really fast (we shared a lot of time and meals together, including a wonderful lunch over at the Columbia Spanish Restaurant), and even though we all came through the doors of the Forum as strangers, by the end we all left as friends.

We all learned a lot (the students and the teachers), and the entire workshops was permeated with laughs and learning and that sense that we had all been a part of something really special. Something that happens just once. Or..ya know…maybe twice. ;-)

Thanks to Scott, Mike, Casey, Brad, my wonderful assistant Susan Hageanon who did a fantastic job organizing the event, and to Pete Collins who came to help out and share some “Pete-a-cisims,” and of course to the wonderful folks at the Tampa Bay Lightning and The Forum whose support and enthusiasm for this workshop from the very beginning helped make this dream a reality. #kickice