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Photography Question 

Indoor Photography at a Hockey Rink

My grandson wants me to take some hockey pictures of he and his friends. I think I will have an issue with the lighting. I have a digital, but I have not played a lot with it. I usually shoot automatic. I have a film SLR but I am unsure what to set it at. Would a regular flash fix the yellow tinge? I would appreciate any help... Thank you.

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3/7/2006 5:20:12 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Greetings Rosemary: Assuming these are not just grip-and-grin portraits, but are action shots, then first, when you shoot sports using a strobe or flash you ought to get permission from someone like the coach or team manager. A flash going off too close to someone can, of course, cause them to be momentarily blinded which in turn can lead to mishaps.
Hopefully, you can go look at the rink where these guys will be playing and get a feel for the lighting. Take both cameras and get a few meter readings. If it's as bright as you think it is, then shooting at a medium (200-400) speed ISO should solve a lot of your potential problems.
If you find you can shoot with a flash, unless it's really got some horsepower behind it, then shooting an ice rink with the thing is going to be like emptying the ocean with a teaspoon. In other words, it'll be ineffective anyway and the sensor is going to be looking for some object nearby or within focusing distance to bounce off of and tell it to shut off (in the automatic mode).
Boosting your digital camera's ISO upwards to 600 or 800 will probably help you a lot, or alternatively shoot with higher speed film. For color, I suggest something like FujiPress or even Ektapress. Black and white, I'd shoot Ilford HP5 at 800 ISO and tell the lab that when its processed.
Okie dokie?

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3/8/2006 5:38:00 PM

ROSEMARY    Thank you so much, Mark... One more question: What would you do if they want a group picture? My daughter did hint at this if they do well.

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3/8/2006 6:37:41 PM

Mark Feldstein
BetterPhoto Member Since: 3/17/2005
  Have the team show up early for a photo shoot, shoot it outdoors, maybe in front of the venue, with the sun behind you if at all possible. (Usually you shoot with the sun behind the subject to prevent them from squinting, but sounds like you need the fill light the sun provides at a lower angle not high noon). I don't know how many guys are in this crew but your flash probably isn't strong enough to provide fill flash for large numbers of people. If you shoot it before the game, you'll be prepared one way or the other win or lose. AND whatever you do, don't stop with the first shot. Take a bunch while you have the opportunity. Bracket your exposures 1 stop either direction too for a few shots.
Nice thing about the Fujipress film I recommended is that you can shoot various ISO's on the same roll and they print up just fine. So, outdoors you could shoot at, say, ISO 200 and indoors 800 on the same roll. You're quite welcome. Any time, Rosemary.

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3/10/2006 8:17:44 PM

Jack Utter  

Mark has some good advice. I'd like to add a little, if you don't mind. The fact that you'll be shooting at an ice rink is a really good thing, the ice is usually very light colored and the lights arenít down that low and youíll also be getting some fill light reflecting off the ice. I've been shooting indoor horse shows lately and the footing is usually a dark reddish-brown, not a good background when you consider that the horses are also dark. Shooting action/sports events, itís how fast the subjects are moving that will determine the shutter speed and this, in turn, (along with aperture) will determine the ISO. If you use film, the FujiPress 800 is a good film and should be fast enough. Also, with negative film, the white balance (color cast) is corrected during processing. You didnít mention how old your Grandson is, this would give me an idea of how fast the action will be. You also didnít mention if your digital is a SLR, an advanced compact or a point & shoot, so I have no idea what kind of control/s you have. SoÖ Iíll just give ya some general pointers. Shoot your action shots wide open, i.e., the smallest F/ number (= the widest aperture) you have, e.g., F/2.8, F/3.5 etc., for a point & shoot, the Sports setting. Pick your shots (your position relative to the action). Subjects coming at you require a slower shutter speed than subjects that are moving across, from side to side, in front of you. A ďwildĒ guess is a shutter speed of at least 1/250 - 1/360 sec should be good enough to freeze most of the action, and easy enough to obtain at a hockey game. I use a flash, but itís a Pro grade model that attaches to the Hot Shoe and I can adjust the output up to +2 stops via camera controls. If you can use a flash (NOT the built-in one) you donít want to be sitting in the lower seats where the light will be bouncing (reflecting) off the Plexiglass barriers unless you can place the lens, or lens hood, against it. Even then, the plexiglass will reduce the image quality. Youíll also want to use a telephoto lens, or setting. Iíd say no less than 70mm at the low end and 300mm + for tight shots. You can try some Pan-Blur shots, for subjects that are moving across. Where you follow the subject with the camera and take pictures while theyíre moving. The results (after LOTS of tries) will be having the subject sharp and the surroundings blurred. Itís awesome when you get it right. Practice before you go. Iíll try and send along an example of what I mean. Remember, get as tight as possible Ďcause cropping reduces image quality, anticipate where and when the action will be and after this experience youíll come away with a greater appreciation of what it takes to make those images you see in the sports section of your newspaper. I certainly did. Donít be too hard on yourself the first time trying this, cause it takes LOTS (and LOTS) of practice (and exposures) in the same venue for sports photographers to come away with good images. The last event I did, I shot I took over 300 exposures to be able to give my client 57 (really) good, usable images. I hope this helps, and more importantly, I hope you could understand what I was typing ;-)

Best Regards, Jack

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3/14/2006 12:07:53 PM

Martin J. Preslar
BetterPhoto Member Since: 7/25/2005
  Hi Rosemary,

I just spent the weekend taking pictures at a hockey tournament, so I can offer some suggestions. First, set a custom white balance if you can. Take a shot of the ice surface in an area where there are no lines and use that as the white reference (or put it in the frame if that is the way your camera works, I have cameras that work both ways.) Next, shoot as wide open as you can to increase shutter speed. With an SLR, this can cause focus issues, but otherwise you'll be lucky to get clear shots. Also, bumping up the ISO to 800 or even 1600 (if your camera has the capability) helps. At 1600 you might need to run it through a noise reducer, like "Neat Image" or "Noise Ninja" (Interestingly enough, the picture at the top of the Noise Ninja info page is of a goalie!)

If you go with the SLR choose a lens with as wide an aperture as possible. I was using my Canon Digital Rebel and the lens I had the most luck with was my EF 50mm 1.8 and ISO-800. That got me shutter speeds in the 1/500 to 1/1000 range in aperture priority mode. I wish I could have been closer, but my zoom lens was far too dark. If you have a fast 100mm or 200mm prime lens, go for it! (And if you want to sell it cheap let me know! LOL!)

The other big suggestion: Ask permission to shoot from the penalty box! I got to shoot from there for a game (to get individual action shots of the players for tournament posters) and I was able to get REALLY GOOD shots of the whole team! I had people tell me they were better than the shots that the pro that shoots candids at the tournament gets!

As for the pro, they set up sinced flashes on the upper railings of the "upper stands" (a strange set up at UofI where the stands are all above the glass) and they do get great shots. But unless you have pro equipment, that is out of the question!

As for team shots, most hockey teams want their team shots on the ice. For that, I would go with the idea that they are going to stand still, use a tripod, and take it like any group portrait. If you have a good enough flash use it, otherwise tell them to be still and let the shutter speed soar as high as needed!

Good luck (hope this is in time to help!)

If you want to see a sample of my work over the weekend, see:

It is a bit dark on my work monitor, but looks great on my calibrated one at home. This was pretty tightly cropped, but if you have a longer lens you can do better! :)

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3/14/2006 12:33:10 PM

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