… and it sure looked it! :(

(Above: That’s the game winning goal in Overtime above. Not a pretty shot, but then, none of them really were).

I absolutely love shooting ice hockey!
I’m just no good at it yet. Not only was it my first time shooting ice hockey, it was my first time at an ice hockey game. It was (as expected) a rough night. How rough was it? Well, I actually registered the domain you see below last night after I uploaded my photos to the wire service I was shooting for.

But I Still Had to Submit Photos
I was able to upload 25 shots to Southcreek Global that were, well….let’s say they were in focus. I think the puck might have actually even appeared briefly in one or two of those shots, but that’s purely by coincidence.

Here’s a capture from my Lightroom grid below of the uploads. They’d look better bigger (photos usually do), but not good enough that I want to put 25 of them nice and big here (though I’ll probably post a gallery later today over at my Google+ page, at ScottGplus.com)

I learned a BUNCH!!!!
The only reason I was able to send in anything at all, was that I did do a decent amount of research first, starting with the magical unicorn of sports photography, Dave Black, who gave me some great pointers and tips (but after seeing these would probably disavow knowing me). I also learned a ton from Bob DeChiara (a sports shooter from the Boston area, whom I met during my seminar tour up there, who shoots for US Presswire). He was a huge help, and had lots of very specific tips that helped me limp through the night. Without those two guys, I would have been totally sunk.

(Above: this was my home for the night. I sat right there the whole time, praying a puck didn’t come flying through that little hole in the glass I was supposed to shoot through. The opening is just big enough for a 70-200mm lens).

I did have a support team
Unlike when you shoot football, the other photographers shooting the game were really nice, friendly, and helpful (though they did sit me down and fill me with horror stories of things to look out for safety wise, complete with stories of busted lips, broken noses, two 70-200mm lenses smashed to bits in just 8 months, having to get stitches, and they put enough fear in me that I wouldn’t even put my lens through the tiny hole in the glass until at least the 2nd period. I was a tad freaked out (and after shooting the game, I think it was with good reason).

Scott Audette, the Lightning’s Team Photographer (and a kick-butt photographer) and his crew were great. They knew it was my first game, and they were really helpful, fun guys, who kind of showed me the ropes and kept me from being maimed for at least my first game.

My Gear and Camera Settings
One lens. One body. A Nikon D3s with a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens (that’s what they were all shooting). Here’s the thing: the lighting in the arena was fantastic!!! (I’m not sure that sentence has ever been written before in sports photography history). They had just installed tons of new lights since every game is now broadcast in HD and I was able to shoot as 400 ISO, which is insanely low. Although I mostly shot at ISO 640, I would occasionally look and see my shutter speed at like 1/2000 of a second. This my friends, was a gift. I shot at f/2.8 the whole time (as usual).

I will say this: being limited to 200mm on a full frame camera using the 70-200mm lens was tough. I could cover the goal in front of me, but the far goal was just about off limits with that short a lens (however, my 300mm f/2.8 wouldn’t fit through the opening in the glass—not a chance). Since the lighting is so good, I think I’d probably try adding a 1.4 tele-converter at the next game, or I’ll take a D300s, so I get the advantage of the crop factor, and my 200mm will become a 300mm.

Even a thousand mile journey, must begin with but one step [gong]
OK, I know I kinda sucked my first time out, but I know this—I’m a fast learner (if “learner” is even a word). I picked up so much from that one shoot, and I am confident that I’ll do 100% better next game, and the next and the next. You can read about this stuff until the cows come one, but nothing beats actually doing it to spike your learning curve in a very dramatic way. In fact, I’m so confident I’m going to do dramatically better, that I seriously registered another domain with GoDaddy.com last night:

The bottom-line
The bottom line is—I had a ball. I liked shooting hockey much more than I thought I would. The action is incredibly fast, and having to shoot through a tiny hole, with both eyes open to avoid getting clobbered when they hit the wall, and never moving from that one position all night, didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for it one bit. In fact, it just made me want to get to my next shoot faster, so I can get better at it quicker (cause there’s only one way to get good at something—practice it a bunch).

It was just like what everybody had told me—the single hardest sport to shoot. I was skeptical when I first heard that. Now I know they’re absolutely right on the money. Nevertheless, it was a great night of learning, frustration and fun, and I just can’t wait to do it all again!!!

About The Author

Scott is the President of KelbyOne, an online educational community for Photographers, Photoshop and Lightroom users. He's editor and publisher of Photoshop User Magazine, Conference Technical Chair for the Photoshop World Conference & Expo, and the author of a string of bestselling Photoshop, Lightroom, and photography books.

101 Comments

  1. That’s awsome. I love hockey. Shooting thru the holes rink side is a different experience. I got the opportunity to get a press pass thru a camera club to a pro lacrosse game in Boston last spring.

    Too bad the lightning are not playing at the level they were last year.

  2.  Would be great if you also shared how you tackled the exposure ….. as the scene was a contrast between white icy floor and dark blue attire :)

    • Arnab,  I don’t know Scott’s method but my way is to fix my exposure during warm up and then shoot in Manual as the lighting is typically pretty even once it’s working at temperature.  Just check your histogram until you’re dialled in.

  3. Scott,  oh how I  wish I could shoot ice hockey at ISO400.  I’m typically having to shoot at ISO2500 at f2.8 just to get 1/640th sec.  At least the cameras produce a lot less noise than they used to, I started out on a 20D before ending up with a 1D Mk IV, chalk and cheese in terms of performance.  Like you, my staple is the 70-200 f2.8 although you get a little extra range with the 1.3x effect of the 1D sensor.  The 300 is useful for close in shots and on occassion the 24-70.

    I’m sure you’ll get better as you shoot a few more games and we’ll soon be seeing the stick flexing before the puck is released or the moment of impact for some big hit.

    I’d be interested in hearing any tips you can share from Dave and co as it’s always interesting to learn anything that can help.  One thing I always take is a micro fibre towel and a small pump spray of glass cleaner to ensure the glass is clean as I frequently have to shoot through that.  Fortunately my rink has thick toughened glass and not plexi which is slightly better optically.

  4. Hi Scott, what I really like about the images are the faces in the crowd, priceless.

  5.  That’s unreal that you got ISO400!  Think we’ll see a Kelby Training video on ice hockey??  Nice new blog BTW.

  6. I think your shots are great! Is it really your first hockey game ever!?

  7. Hey Scott, I think your pictures looks really good for a first time hockey game! This is a fast game and knowing everything about it will help you a lot predicting where the action will take place.

    Im an amateur photographer and I would give anything in the world to shoot a pro hockey game. Ive contacted the Phoenix Coyotes and they told me they cant do anythig cause its sanction by the NHL and NHL never got back to me :( I offered to pay for my own ticket and give them rights to all the pictures, i just want a shot at it but still no answer.

    If you could share any ressourxe or how you got to do this I would be eternaly grateful as hockey is my religion ( bein born and raised in Montreal)

    Thanks for your time and keep on the good work at Kelby Media!

    Here is my email address: kevin.bedard@gmail.com

  8. Great shots for your first time, Scott! Much better than I would have gotten! Keep it up man, I’m sure we’ll be seeing more great shots in the future :)

  9. Thanks for the kind words! Looks like you had a great shooting position. All that room to move around! And I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. Hockey is not an easy sport to shoot. The fact that you shot at 400 ISO is stunning!! The Bruins didn’t fare much better last night losing 3-0 and I shot at 3200 ISO! Thank god for the D3s! Glad you had fun! Oh and it looks like the BB&B stool would have been a tad short for that hole! :)

  10. Great Job Scott, I’ve been waiting for you to start shooting hockey you are very lucky to have so many pro teams in your area. Shooting hockey, not that i have done it much is hard for someone who has watched the game my whole life I think you did a great job for your first ever game . Keep up the good work, Stamkos is awesome.
     

  11. Nice shots! Wonder if you ever tried your hand at shooting any of that MMA fighting, you know in the cage where besides the chain link fence the lousy lighting and any that is available is pointing down at the very same angle you are shooting upwards at? My young son trains in MMA so I got sucked into shooting some local show….what a thankless task. It’s kinds like golf one or two great shots a night make you come back again and again trying for that one awesome shot.

  12. Not bad Scott. Best angles are in the corners. Shame that didn’t let you roam. Also shooting from above the 1st level commands some excellent opportunities. My Team..Go Flyers!

  13. Alright Scotty!!! Go Jets Go! Go Jets Go!  Happy to see the Jets as your first NHL assignment.  ;-)  (and yes, I’m from Winnipeg.  Please bring the Kelby Training Crew up north!!)

  14. Hi Scott, dont know your intent with the website names, but,it would have been so much cooler, had you used the same spelling for the word “hockEy” in both domain names rather than “……hockEy and hocKY…”
    Great shots you posted!!

  15. Awesome Scott.  I shot an NHL game Wednesday night, but didn’t have the awesome vantage point you did.  I shot the Washington Capitals at Florida Panthers game with my D40 and Sigma 70-200/2.8 non-OS.   I got up close during the pregame skate, then shot the game from the upper-upper deck where I was seated. If I could quit my day job to shoot hockey, I would do it in a heartbeat.  Most of my shots were ISO 800, f/5, 1/640.  The D40 isn’t quite your D3, but it is still usable.  

  16. That’s why it’s the greatest sport on Earth! Go Bruins!!! The good thing is that there can be upwards of 4 games a week for the Lightning so there may be plenty of opportunity to practice! Awesome +Scott! Psyched for you man!

  17. Scott great post.  Hockey at it’s best is a very exciting fast paced hard hitting game with end to end action.  But, still good to see the Jets won and in overtime to boot.  I’m utterly amazed that you could shoot at those speeds at 400 ISO, amazing.  I shoot amateur hockey and the rinks I’m in I shoot at 1/500, 2.8, 3200, and that’s in the good rinks, some are so dark I don’t even try.  I’m really waiting for the 1DX to come out so I can then go into those dark dungeons and push my ISO into the 6400-12800 range (assuming the 1DX lives up to the hype).  None the less, really like the posts about your sports shooting experiences.

  18. Scott,

    You did well.  Think about how well you would have shot a football game or baseball game if you had never been to one before.  Got to be there to get it.

  19. So envious! Congrats Scott.  I’d give my left arm to be able to shoot an NHL game. I might even give it up to shoot an AHL game! I’d need my right arm to shoot though! Again, well done, and I can’t wait to see future attempts!

  20. “The action is incredibly fast, and having to shoot through a tiny hole, with both eyes open to avoid getting clobbered when they hit the wall”

    You mean when they hit “the boards”… Gotta get the lingo down too, silly Floridian!! ;)

  21. Also – I’m sure you have a packed schedule, but I know that most of the NHL clubs have some “open” practices – I’m sure you’d have to watch/photograph from the stands, not the press holes, but it might be helpful to see the plays being practiced, or the approaches of the players before they shoot – might bring some familiarity to your next game situation.  I attended a couple of the Washington Capitals practices while traveling through VA, and sat front row and clicked away happily! 

    Good Luck!

  22. Nice images Scott……you are very modest! Could you share the advise you were given by Dave Black?

  23. My shots from a recent AHL game would make you cry, yep, they are that bad!

    So did you or do others always shoot through that hole in the glass? The game that I was at, the team photographer shot all night through the glass. He never went to the opening. Do I wondered if you took any that way and if they came out.

    It also seemed that he had a pocket wizard, everytime he took a shot flashes went off from somewhere – I so wanted to hack into his frequency so that I could share his light, because the arena was poorly lit. Is that common for hockey photographers to have some flash system mounted in the rafters?

    • I think so. I know that the Boston garden had strobes firing off from the rafters. There, more then one photographer has there flash hanging from the rafters.

      •  The Boston Bruins team photog uses the strobes that are mounted in the rafters. Typically he is the only who uses the strobes unless someone like SI comes in to shoot a game then they will share the strobe setup on different channels. I would imagine all the team photographers use a strobe system mounted in the rafters.

    • You can shoot through the plexiglass even if it is marked, so long as you switch to manual focus. I have done this for college and AHL games, and practices. It will search or focus on the marks if you leave it in autofocus. So You have to pretty good on your manual focus, like what we did with our old 300mm f4 beasts.

      • Manual focus.  Wow.  You’re a stud, Bill.  I shoot through the plexi but rely on my D700’s AF to get the job done.  Will run 9 or 21 point and move the center point around and track my subject off that.  But I’ll admit it can still be hit or miss compared to shooting through air.  I’ve found that with the 70-200 racked out and wide open so long as the lens is tight against the glass slight scuffs or scratches are blurred to oblivion, but there’s still a definite hit in clarity and contrast (to be expected when you stick a 1/4″ piece of dirty plastic in front of a $2K+ lens).  Always a refreshing view when I can find an open area such as from the bench.  The other challenge with community arenas is that there is protective netting all around rather than just the ends so shooting high up is a no-go; can’t use AF and, even with MF, the netting still shows up at that distance.

        Which is why it would be such a treat to shoot in a pro arena. ;-)

  24. Scott –

    All I can say it’s about time! I have been waiting for you to finally experience the greatest game on earth and the most challenging to photograph. I have been shooting youth and junior hockey for several years and unfortunately the lighting is never very good nor are there holes in the glass that you can take advantage of. I regularly shoot 3200, 6400 ISO on my D700 with the 70-200 2.8 and have a  workflow in Lightroom to “clean” up the noise…LR4 does an even better job!

    Additionally, I get some of the best shots from behind the goal through the glass. This is a terrific perspective in terms of capturing the North and South of the game but highly dependent on the condition of the glass.

    I have been shooting sports for many years and hockey is by far the most challenging, but its also super rewarding and a great deal of fun!

    I look forward to much more from you and share the tips!!!!!!

  25. Awesome shots Scott, but as a Canadian and out of respect to the game, please do not refer to it as “Ice Hockey”, its just “Hockey” You will appear much cooler that way!!, just a little FYI, lol

  26. I always love the shot of the action and the crowd reaction behind the players.  Some bored, others excited, others could care less.  But the crowd for me makes the shot.  Thanks Scott for sharing.

  27. When I shot my high school hockey teams games, I also sought advice from Dave Black and your guru’s at Kelby training.  Really helped and like you, it is an ongoing process.  Looking forward to the results on iwillgetbetteratshootingicehockeyfast.com!

  28. The great Wayne Gretzy, maybe the best player of all times, once said: “do not skate where the puck is but where the puck will be”. This could be a useful hint … LOL. BTW, thanks for the shots, much better than whet I could do :-)

  29. So this is what you get the first time you try something?  I’ve shot hockey for years and have not gotten anything close to these results. I would be elated if I could just take one photo like this.  Just more evidence that I am a loser and always will be.

  30. I have been shooting my kid’s hockey games for years with a D50 and 70-200 f2.8, and I agree with you that it is not easy. I can just imagine how much faster the NHL game is from ice level. I have to push my gear to get a small number of usable shots. Although I love the NFL shots you share on your blog, I am glad to see your first NHL images. Keep them coming! BTW, the Habs are in Tampa on Feb 28th. I would love to see you take shots of that game. Go Habs Go!! :)

  31. Awesome Scott! I played as a youngster when I lived in Canada and Alaska (dad in Air Force) and that is a great, fast paced game similar to basketball (except its a contact sport). Was there no fights to shoot? How about the sweeper girls? 8-)

  32. Scott,

    You had some other shots on the contact sheet that weren’t bad. As an old goaltender (anyone given the nickname Gumper after the wonderful Mr. Worsley will be familiar with how old) some of the goalies shots are good. I concentrate on that as it is what I know, and you can often anticipate the goalies moves or a save. The checking shots are tough, as are the scrambles in front. but you had incredible access. At my last NHL game in Washington, I have a great shot of the rink from above looking down at the rink and the scoreboard. As noted, many of the AHL or college games can give you much better access. Shooting through marked up plexiglass is tough. But not as tough as getting a slapshot off a maslk, or when the padding doesn’t cover.

    The best sport live, in my opinion, and one of the best playoff sports. Overtime in the playoffs is the best. Great work for the first time. I am sure it won’t be your last.

    Bill Bogle, Jr.

  33. It is great that you finally got to the greatest game on earth! I’ve been shooting hockey (please don’t call it ice hockey) for 5 years, fan for almost 40 years.  I’ve seen the progression of my shots improve 10 fold each year. and can’t wait to see more from you.

  34. Great shots Scott. Hockey is a very difficult sport to shoot. I think anything is difficult to shoot until you know how to do it. It just takes practice.

  35. Scott,

    I’ve had the pleasure of shooting 3 Lightning games over the years.  It’s been 2 years since my last game.  When I shot, I had to keep it at ISO 1600 (unless the action stopped), shutter speed of 1/1000 and f2.8.  I’d love to get another game shot, with the ability to get down to ISO 400 or 640 at fast speed.

    Here’s some of my shots if you’re interested…. http://www.studiorosenbaum.com/photography-gallery/sports/

  36. Really? To start at the NHL level and to never have been to any hockey game before, those shots look pretty good to me. Upgrade that suck rating.

    But seriously. You work with Dave Cross and have never been to any type of hockey game?

  37. Hey Scott,
    I am so pleased you took up shooting Ice Hockey, its my favourite sport aside from soccer in the UK. I especially enjoyed reading ‘ My Gear and Camera Settings’ as I will be this year taking up more Ice Hockey photography and the information on your gear and camera settings will help me greatly.

    I remember when I first started shooting it, the puck was too fast for my own eyes to focus on, let alone a lens. So this blog post has been saved to my favourites as a reference. I do hope you shoot more Ice Hockey matches.

    FYI…theirs an amazing Ice Hockey photographer on Google+ called ‘Fintan Planting’, he gave me some amazing advice on shooting the fastest sport in the world.
     
    Good luck Scott on your new found sports adventure.
     
    John-Patrick Fletcher

  38. I use a D300s, 70-200 2.8 and the new 2x teleconverter. I have got some really sharp photaos with this set-up. It equals 600mm. You should try it!

  39. What’d I would give to have those kind of lighting conditions in a rink.  I agree, with with the D300 on a 70-200 which will help in covering the far end of the ice.  However, it might be too LONG at 70.  Not sure if they still allow it in the NHL but shooting from near one of the team benches or penalty box allows one to better cover both ends with a 70-200 using an FX body.  That is what I do with my D700.

    Have fun learning to photograph the game.  I am sure the horror stories are true BUT rare.  Did you get to meet any of the players?

  40. I used to shoot our son’s games (he was a goalie) standing on a stool so I could get the lens over the glass.  I used a Minolta film camera and our rink wasn’t heated.  I’d go through several rolls to get a picture good enough to print and mount.  At the end of the season, I’d bring all the prints to the banquet and let kids pull out pictures of themselves. 

  41. How do you find the time to do all the stuff you do?

  42. Scott, can you share your very first thought shooting through your mind when the game first started and you were ready to click for the very first time at your first hockey game?… It shouldn’t be any young kids reading this, hopefully!:).

  43. Hello ehh! I am also happy you got to shoot the greatest game on earth. I hope you come up with class on Kelby Training for this :). How’s aboot you try to catch an Oiler game sometime. Usually there are always nice goals scored in there games, lately on the Oilers. Last night proved to be different. Check out the highlights. Thanks for your help with my photogrraphy over the years, Scott!

  44. Scott, your honestly is a breath of fresh air. Great post and thanks for sharing. 

  45. As soon as you stop calling it ‘ice’ hockey, you’ll be a true convert. Those are great shots for a first timer.

    Up here in Canada, we simply say ‘hockey’ after all there aren’t any other sports. Bonus that the Bolts actually have seats available for all the games Winnipeg fans have to go to TB in order to watch the Jets.

  46. Regardless of what you think, these shots are still pretty great! Just like you said, give it time and you’ll be an expert with it just like your football shooting. Thanks for the share.  Looking forward to your G+ gallery!

  47. Go Jets Go! ;-)  Being a Winnipeger I’m obligated to add that.

    Love that you caught Kyle Wellwood’s winner.

    As for the lighting that is amazing.  I shoot in community arenas and the lighting is HORRENDOUS.  1/2000th at ISO 400?!!  Try 1/800th at ISO 5000 (f/2.8).  Sometimes at the good rinks ISO 4000.  And hopefully the lights are “fast” and you don’t catch the 60Hz cycling during a burst.  Plus no fancy shmancy pro holes to shoot through.  Just try to find a circle on the glass with the least scuffs. ;-)

    As for locations I like to shoot at the corners, pretty much lined up with the faceoff circles.  Shooting down the rink is good for incoming offensive action, shooting across good for the net.  Looking forward to more from you here!

    BTW, get D. Black to run a sports shooting series on Kelby Training!  Not flash, just pure sports shooting.

  48. Scott, these images are great!  For your first game, I’m glad you got to know the ropes with the veteran team.  I can’t believe you’ve never been to a game, much less shot one before.  What a great opportunity for you!  

    For me, golf and Hockey are my dream shoots.  They are both the sports I love and where you are located you can get plenty of both.  

    I’d love to see you go shoot for the Masters and get some great shots of people teeing off.  However, that may be boring to other readers :(

    Anyways, love the blog, great post as always.  Keep going to the Lightning games, I can’t believe how low of an ISO you are shooting.  

    -Cody

  49. They’re not that bad Scott! Especially for your first game!

  50. While I respect your photography and work, I’m saddened by the fact you still use Godaddy after their support of SOPA, even after they changed their opinion after being bullied into doing so, their damage is already done. 

  51. Hay there Scott,
         I shot Hockey over 30 years ago and when I shot for the Wire Service, Most of use sat in a box in the stands above the scorers box and the penalty box. No Pexi-Glass between us and the ice.   But a few too many bad moments with some of the fans during some games made covering a game a challenge..
    One other photographer you may want to talk to is a Toronto Based Photographer by the name of Rob
    Skeoch.  He has moved on from shooting Hockey and the NFL, but he is a wonderful gent to talk to and will give you allot of great details on improving your camera skills at your next game.

  52. 400 is crazy! I shoot at the Phoenix Coyotes games and we are at 2000 ISO 1/1000 at f/3.5-4 depending on area of the ice. Love shooting hockey though. Started shooting it this year for Icon Sports Media and have about 20 games under my belt so far. Hardest part was learning the game!

  53. i liked the first shot… ice spray off of the skate, and the puck in the picture.

  54. Nice work Scott! Love the shots you got!

  55. I saw that people insist to call this sport just “Hockey” instead of “Ice Hockey”.
    Why is that? Isn’t there another type of Hockey, not on ice, that really is “just” Hockey?

  56. Good first try! And phantastic conditions at a rink with lots of light. The EXIF data say you could shoot at ISO 640 and a 1/1250   @  2.8. These are more than perfect conditions for hockey!

    At the Stadium my son and me shoot, our standard setup is a D300s with 1.8/85 Lens
     1000, F2.2 and 1/640. If players were as fast as in the NHL, I would chose a higher ISO and 1/1250.

    We do not have these nice little holes so we shoot through the glass. One sample, taken by my son:
    http://www.evr-fans.de/news/ev-regensburg/1915-saisonende-fuer-andreas-doerfler

     

  57. Scott great shots. New website look good as well.

  58. I haven’t shot hockey — Is this a situation where 

  59. I haven’t shot hockey — Is this a situation where you might use highlight tone priority setting to have less of a white-out look on the ice, ice-spray? 

  60. I’m a big hockey Fan!  Go Pens!  The thing that television doesn’t convey is how fast the game is in person, especially at the NHL level.  Also TV only follows the puck and there is so much going on behind the play that you never see.  I envy you Scott!  I think you are  a little hard on yourself,  the pics are not that bad.    P.S.  That big white reflector they skate on is pretty nice too. :)

  61. Yeah right Scott, you really suck at shooting hockey! ;]

  62. Wait a minute, Scott is talking about something I can actually relate to now?? That’s AWESOME! hahahahaha.

    I love shooting hockey, it’s just so intense! And all the ice reflecting the light makes even my university’s tiny arena have a pretty decent lighting!

    This one was my last game for the school newspaper, just last week:
    http://www.charlatan.ca/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/sMHockey22_PedroWEB.jpg 

    It’s a lot of fun =)

  63. Wow, you are super lucky to have so much lighting in there!  I shoot hockey in my local arena with ISO 3200 and 1/500th of a second.

  64. Very good pictures for a first timer and nice lighting conditions. I’m from Romania and the lighting conditions in the rinks are awful, it pushes my Canon 450D to the limit, ISO1600, to get 1/500 and 2.8.
    Looking forward to see more pictures from the coolest game on earth. 

  65. Sorry, bad post.

  66. Congrats on your first game from a Canadian hockey fan. I really think you did a great job.Thanks for the insight.

  67. Yep!  Pretty Sweet!  Not like the old days — Fuji 400 film pushed to 800 with no glass opening.  Ahh, those where the days.  Would love to be with you! 

    timtypes

  68. Scott,

    Great blog post. I am envious of you. Hockey is my favorite sport and although I have only shot Flyers practice and alumni games, I can attest to the difficulty (lighting at practices is less than ideal).

    One point you brought up that I agree with wholeheartedly is how nice the people in the hockey world seem to be. There are exceptions of course, but hockey people are some of the most down to earth, genuine, good folks one could ever hope to meet.

    I look forward to seeing more of your work from ice level. Enjoy!

  69. Watching ice hockey is cool. Shooting this sport must be awesome. This season I went to see several matches of the German ice hockey champions Eisbären in Berlin. At O2-World, an arena for about 14.000 spectators, there is always a photographer who sits right between the two teams at the middle line (maybe he’s the team photog of the Icebears). During play time he always wears a helmet. There is no glass between him and the playground. The action comes quite close to him. He shoots Nikon and starts every game with a 70-200, for the second period he upgrades to a bigger one and at the third period he somtimes goes even longer. And he has a second body with some wider lens – 14-24 I guessed from 50 feet distance. When the action comes close to his spot he blindly shoots with the second body from the hip (okay, chest – but he doesn’t use the viewfinder).
    But the coolest thing is that on his tele-lensend body sits a Pocket Wizzard. Since last September there is a flash installation at the venue of quite a few flashlights (I guess 20 or more) all around the first gallery of the arena. His lighting conditions must be fantastic. The downside of this is that I have heard these constant flashbeams are quite annoying for the more sensitive part of the audience.

  70. Like other have said; would like to see you become proficient and share technical details with us shooting hockey the greatest team sport in the world … now if you want a real challenge try shooting Rodeo, either professional PRCA or even better a local “punkin roller” … fast, unpredictable angles and lots of human/animal emotion

  71. Hey Scott
    You said that maybe next time you’ll shoot with your D300 to turn your 200mm into a 300mm.  My understanding is that the crop sensor (D300) doesn’t give you any extra reach, it is simply cropping the image in the camera so you don’t have to crop in post.  Question for you… Is there really any advantage to this other than saving some post work? Would the quality of the image from the full frame body and then cropped be equivalent?  I’ve always wondered about this.  Thanks!!

  72. Shooting Hockey is so much different and i think you didn’t do too bad for the first time.

  73. Loved the ice-hockey shots. Very nice snaps.

  74. Photos look good.  Only problem, you’re shooting the wrong team.  Go Blues!

  75. nice job Scott. Hockey is the best sport to shoot. Glad you had such great light. Here is a set from my  lat shoot.

    http://www.newmarketsports.ca/photos/hockey/2011/dec_27/index.html

  76. I envy your light setup at the american hockey games….

    When I shoot hockey here, first off all I have to shoot trough the glass, there are not any openings.

    Second, the settings are always at f2.8, 1/640s, and get this: ISO 6400.

  77. Scott, Don’t call it ICE Hockey. It is just hockey like we Canadians call it. If you keep saying ICE Hockey they will all know you are a rookie.

  78. Scott – Luckily you had a position with a hole in the corner, so you had one of the best positions to shoot the game from. That’s probably the best spot to learn from. Beware some of the holes (shooting positions) along the sides, as you won’t have a field of view of the whole ice. More importantly, you won’t have the luxury of stool to sit on either. However, nice work! Hopefully you’ll love hockey just as much as the rest of us!!

  79. Lucky you. When I go to a game with my D300 and my 2.8 70-200 lens they will not allow me to use it because in there minds it is a professional camera and fans are not allowed to use them.Kids games where the lighting is not nearly as good is a lot more dificult.

  80. Thanks for shooting hockey – the COOLEST game on Earth~! Would love to see more. I wonder what camera you’d use if that little hole in the glass was not the issue?

  81. Scott, I met you in Philly this summer and we talked about this, glad to see you finally got your chance.  The benefit you get at a pro arena is the great lighting but you do get limited in your field of view by the holes in the glass.  Since I shoot youth hockey I get the advantage of being able to shoot from the penalty box which often has no glass so i’m essentially on the ice.  Welcome to the club, it’s addicting for sure, great action, fast paced and tons of emotion.  Focus on your own end for now, there will be plenty of action there to keep you busy.  Spend alot of time pre focused on the goalie the action will come to you and you’ll get some great stuff.  As always, I’m envious, you have the best job ever.

  82. I also shoot the D3 with 70-200mm soccer all the time., For me it’s all about knowing where the play is. YOU have to know the game you are shooting, I always follow the ball no matter what else happen’s, I have gotten evrey goal, I shoot about 750-1500 a game, my monday’s are always spent editing, but if it is shot the right way in lense then there isnt much to do afterwords. My player’s love my work and have been doing photp book’s for parents for year’s.

  83. Amazing shots!  I’ve always wanted to shoot hockey!  Seriously, one of the best sports out there!  Too bad it wasn’t for the Pens :)  Love reading everyone’s tips on how they shoot hockey.  Keep us posted on when you shoot again!

  84. Nice work Scott! You have to come to Winnipeg next time you want to shoot the Jets! You can’t beat the atmosphere we have here. Was at the flyers game last night and it was insane!! Keep up the good work.

  85. I envy you Scott, ISO 640……. I shoot Ice Hockey in the UK and have to shoot at 6400!!!! To get 2000th is impossible. Love the images, i dont have to shoot through a hole but heve felt the back draft after 2 players crash into the boards…probably a 2000th after i have stepped back from the penalty box! Cant wait to see your 2nd attempt as I am sure it will be awesome. You should try to shoot at a Rugby game – same size guys at your Football……just no helmets or pads! Maybe try it when you are in the UK later this year

  86. I’m planning on going to the Blackhawks playoff game this coming Monday and I’ll be using my D700 and 80-200/2.8 lens.  I’m not going to have the luxury of sitting in a photographers seat but I do have the option of choosing lower bowl seating to be closer to the ice or upper level seating to shoot above the glass.  If you’re not getting to shoot through a hole in the glass, which location is better?  If I’m going to have to shoot through the glass, should I be using a circular polarizer?  Considering it’s an NHL playoff game, I hope the lighting is as good as you experienced Scott.

  87. :) scott, this rocks in the best way!!! i am an aspiring photographer :)) just purchased my canon 3 weeks ago and love it! since i do work with our ahl team i figured ok…don’t be intimidated girl get down there at the glass and learn – trial by fire if you will. unlike you scott having advice, i only had your books to go by. yes, the lighting is amazing…lol..tons of fights in the playoff game and yes, to my surprise i managed to get a few good shots. i love sports and hockey seems to move soooo much faster when you are behind the lens! congratulations on your hockey game photos and thank you for your books…great tools!!

    jacque

  88. isnt that just coolest game to watch and shoot?

    i did our local USHL (tier II junior) league this year and had an absolute blast. 

    glass will cost you about 1-1/2 to 2 stops (probably not at the NHL level) if you shoot from behind the goals.

    i dont have any camera ports in my arena so i shoot from a step ladder over the top of the side glass. a slightly different perspective.

    i use a Canon crop (if i say the model people will laugh lol) with the 70-200 f2.8L for a 320mm reach.  still not quite enough for tight “face and puck” shots at the net but good for everything else.

    shoot more and youll quit going to those OTHER sports games!

    nice images (of course)….

  89. Great info. I love to know that I am doing some of the same things for my home town hockey team. I would love to know how to move on up to shooting the pros.

  90. I would love to shoot NHL Hockey, but unfortunately, I don’t think that will ever happen. On the other hand, I’ve shot my son’s hockey games with my 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII and having a 1.4x on there is probably a good idea. The 200mm is OK if you’re sticking to the action at the center of the arena, but if you’re trying to get the ends, 340mm is a darn sight better to have.

  91. Hi I was wondering how you were able to get the job? I’ve been very interested in making this a career.

  92. I wish i would have read this before my first hickey game! good info thanks Scott!

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