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Photography Equipment

Hockey Photography Gear

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Hockey Photography Gear

The second half of the hockey season is kicking off this New Year and I wanted to take the opportunity to show the camera gear I use when shooting hockey action. I'll get the occasional question about a camera body or camera lens that I am using, but mostly there are a lot of glares and staring from fellow photographers or hockey parents eyeing up the gear. 

In full disclosure, there is better camera equipment available then what I am using but I have found success with this setup I have been using. An example would be in camera bodies where the gold standard for Canon is the 1DX Mark II. It is a full frame professional body that shoots a decently with a fast frames per second rate, quick focusing system, higher dynamic range and larger sensor size while handling low light situations extremely well. This of course carries a large price tag with a new Canon 1DX Mark II sale priced currently at $7,699 at McBain Camera for the body only. Nikon and Sony will also have some high end camera bodies which will definitely satisfy the needs of sport photographers.  

So here it is, my list of equipment;

CANON 7D Mark II & CANON 5D Mark III

'll start with the 7D Mark II as it is definitely my work horse when it comes to sports photography. The 7D II is a crop sensor camera meaning it will take a 70 - 200 mm lens and essentially make it a 112 - 320 mm due to the 1.6 crop factor. The added length that it provides lenses means that I can get a tighter shot on the defencemen at the blue line in the offensive zone, stretch across the ice on a forward breaking into the zone or filling the frame up with a tight shot of a goalie. The 7D II also shoots a pretty fast frames per second at 10.0 FPS in continuous shooting, which is nice to try and capture a burst of shots during a play. The 5D II has a 6.0 FPS in continuous shooting. Along with the higher FPS, a couple more advantages the 7D II has over the 5D Mark III is the autofocusing seems to be a little faster and the buffer is definitely faster, which allows those bursts of images to be written to the memory cards faster. The biggest advantage of the 7D Mark II over the 5D III is the anti-flicker feature that helps significantly with the fluorescent light flicker of hockey rinks and gymnasiums. The anti-flicker isn't as useful in extremely well lit LED lit rinks and gyms but those are fairly hard to come by when shooting amateur sports right now.

A couple noticeable short comings for the 7D II compared to the 5D Mark III is the performance in low light situations, like a community arena, and the dynamic range. The 5D Mark III can easily be pushed to 5,000 - 6,400 ISO in order to keep a fast shutter speed, but the 7D II seems to peak around 3,200 - 4,000 ISO before getting a little more digital noise then I would like. The 5D III also has a noticeably better dynamic range, so the dark colours are deeper and the colours more vibrant. This helps a lot when shooting a set of photos in a JPG format for a quick turnaround when getting things looking as perfect as possible in camera is essential. 

Both cameras are weather sealed, have the same ergonomics when holding it, same battery size and both have duel memory card slots (one CF card and one SD card). The Canon 7D Mark II is a terrific sports camera, and wildlife camera, while the Canon 5D Mark III has been a phenomenal portrait, wedding, landscape and event camera to have. I typically will have a 70 - 200 mm lens on my 7D II and then a 50 mm lens or 24 - 70 mm lens on my 5D III for a hockey game. 

CANON 70 - 200mm IS II 2.8 LENS

This has been a fantastic lens for sports, as well as for weddings, portraits and landscapes. It is what I shoot the majority of my hockey images with either from a spot on the bench or through the glass in the corners. It is primarily attached to me Canon 7D Mark II camera body which then turns it into a 112 - 320 mm lens. The image stabilization doesn't play a major role in shooting sports action, in fact I often have it turned off, but is amazing for other types of photography. It also a great low light lens with a wide open aperture of f2.8 which helps significantly in arenas compared to the Canon 70 - 200 mm f4 lens. It is a tank of lens weighing just over 3 lbs, which doesn't sound like a lot but over the course of a game you can really feel it. I like the heaviness to it as it makes it feel durable and strong while still being easy to handle and zoom quickly when needed. 

CANON 24 - 70mm 2.8 LENS

A versatile zoom lens that lets me grab shots of action that happens right in front of me or wide angle shots of a large portion of the ice. I will typically have this on my 5D III and get those nice wide shots or some between action shots on the bench with it. The lens is a workhorse in most of the photography I do, including weddings, landscapes and events. It is a decently fast focusing lens, not quite as fast as the 70 - 200 mm lens but still can hold it's own. Again, an aperture of f2.8 helps immensely in arenas where lighting is often less then desirable. 

CANON 50mm 1.4 LENS

I will use this lens sparingly as an alternative to the 24 - 70 mm 2.8 lens for when action gets closer than the effective range of the 70 - 200 mm lens. It is an extremely wide open lens with an aperture of 1.4 so getting shots of a dark players bench or poorly lit hallway is a benefit of the lens. It is also great to really blow out the background for close shots between whistles for player portrait style shots. It is extremely small and low weight so very easy to handle, get a couple of photos and move it out of the way. Again, I would use this lens with the 5D III if I was going to use it in a game. 

MEMORY CARDS

Both cameras I use have the ability to shoot to two memory cards. One card slot is for a Compact Flash (CF) card and the other for a Secure Digital (SD) card. Shooting to two cards helps ensure that if something goes wrong, I will have a back up of the images in some capacity right away. I will typically use 32 GB or 64 GB cards, shooting JPG images to one card (usually the SD card) and RAW images to the other card. The SD card allows me to quickly plug it in to my laptop to upload an image or two during the intermission or to ingest the images from the card to a hard drive for a third back up set. Having two or three sets of the images is just something I have grown accustomed to from shooting weddings and not wanting to lose images due to a card failure. I will typically have six to eight different cards, formatted and ready to go, with me should something happen to a card or two at the game. Better safe then sorry. 

The specifics of the cards I use are as follows; all of my CF cards are SanDisk Extreme or Extreme Pro ranging from 16 GB to 64 GB to allow for a lot of photos and fast write speeds and my SD cards are Lexar Professional ranging from 32 GB to 128 GB. 

BATTERIES

I will generally take a total of four batteries with me to a hockey game. Two for the cameras and two for back ups. I always make sure they are charged and ready to go prior to the game, but like memory cards I feel more comfortable being over stocked with batteries should something fail. I couldn't imagine having no battery life left with ten minutes to go in a great back and forth game. For a tournament or back to back games, I will pack a charger or two that I can plug in during an intermission or between games if needed. 

So that's it. That is what I use when I shoot hockey photos. Nothing too intense like strobes, remote cameras or net cameras. Not yet anyways! 

I have included some hockey photos below, but if you would like to see more you can check out the sports section of our site or our sports specific Instagram account @TwoPointPhotographySport

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Hollywood Photography

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Hollywood Photography

Have you seen Kong: Skull Island yet? The 2017 movie follows an expedition to a mysterious island at the end of the Vietnam war. Not long after arriving on the island the expedition stirs things up which bring forth the mighty Kong to protect his home and most of the creatures that live there. 

This expedition is made up of researchers, scientists, military personnel, a tracker and a photographer. The photographer is portrayed by Brie Larson, who you will probably recognize from films like Scott Pilgrim vs the World, 21 Jump Street and Room, which she won a Best Actress Oscar for. In the special features from the Blu-Ray there is a small documentary about Larson's photography skills on set as described by director Jordan Vogt-Roberts.

The idea was to provide Larson with a working on screen camera, which was a ultra rare Leica KE-7A military issued camera from that Vietnam war time period. To make the role more authentic Vogt-Roberts made sure that film was in the camera and Larson had the freedom to shoot real photos while on set. Pretty cool. Not to mention the photos are terrific and the camera is one piece of photography gear that sees collectors paying over $20,000 for one. There is currently a 1972 Leica KE-7A camera on sale at the link in caption below for just over $21,000 CDN. 

Leica KE-7A 'US Army' from http://www.leicashop.com/vintage_en/leica/leica-m-cameras/ke-7a/leica-ke-7a-us-army-sku26817-1.html

Larson also had her own camera, an iconic Canon AE-1 with her, to take photos on set as well. While the Leica KE-7A is ultra rare and expensive, the Canon AE-1 is anything but. It was a mass produced camera by Canon between 1976-1984 (according to Wikipedia) and found its way into photographers hands across the globe. You can still find these iconic cameras for a couple hundred dollars with their bare bones simplicity and image quality being the key to their awesomeness. In a March 2017 USA Today article it mentions that it was Larson's own camera that she has had since high school. Here is a link to that story; https://www.usatoday.com/story/life/movies/2017/03/09/brie-larson-took-photos-while-shooting-kong-skull-island/98915482/

Photos by Brie Larson

Larson using a film camera on set was interesting to me because of the level of intimacy captured in the images while being able to shoot freely on set to be a more authentic character. In the USA Today article it is mentioned that she didn't develop the rolls of film for a few months. That excitement between shooting a roll of film and getting to see the prints in your hand is thrilling. There is something extremely gratifying to look at a print from a roll of film days, weeks, or months later. It is a feeling that shooting digital and getting instant viewing of that image just can't duplicate in my opinion. 

Just thought I would share as I thought it was pretty cool and being able to capture images on a movie that is being shot in locations like Oahu and Vietnam would be amazing.

Banner Photo from IMDB http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3731562/mediaviewer/rm2332110848

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Cold Weather Photography

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Cold Weather Photography

Winter has finally arrived. We all seem to wish for year long summer but the winter months offer some great and unique moments to capture. The Northern Lights will reach peak activity during the winter, the snow offers some amazing landscape and family photos and we still have a lot of outdoor activities to participate in. But the cold can complicate your plans on capturing the right photo. Here are some things you can do to help make sure the winter cold doesn't dampen your photo taking experience.

Dress Warm

It seems like it goes without saying but.......dress warm. You wouldn't want to miss a great moment of your kids playing outside in the snow, the Northern Lights dancing or a great finale to a New Years fireworks display because you got too cold. Gloves, touque, boots, socks and layers are essential for having to stand around and wait for that moment.

Backpack/Camera Bag

While the bag won't do a lot to prevent the cold from reaching your camera, it will help to make sure that it stays clean and out of the elements. Falling snow, thrown snow and setting your camera down in the who all mean that moisture will get to your camera. A bag will also free up your hands when there is some down time to warm them up. If you have a big enough jacket you can also try using a camera strap and keeping your camera warm and out of the elements under your jacket. If you are activity in your layers however go with the bag as keeping the camera in a warm humid setting under your jacket may lead to additional moisture on your camera.

Batteries

If you have a spare battery or two make sure they are fully charged prior to heading out and make sure you keep them warm. Cold weather will discharge your battery quickly as they get colder. A simple way to combat this is to keep the batteries in your pant pockets or in a pocket of an inside layer. Having your batteries lifeless before you get the shot you were looking for will be a huge disappointment. If you have exhausted a battery you may be able to warm that battery up and get a few more shots. If you are out looking at taking long exposure photos of the Northern Lights or video of that epic snowball fight, keep in mind that your battery will normally discharge quickly in these settings, the cold will simply make them drain even quicker.

Airtight Plastic Bag

You will need a plastic bag you can seal that is big enough for your camera and lens or a bag for camera body and a bag for your lens or lenses. The plastic bag will be a life saver for your camera gear coming in from the cold. While you are still in the cold, remove your memory card and battery and place the camera and lens into the airtight plastic bag. As the camera warms up, the condensation will form on the outside of the bag and not on the camera. This will take time so plan on having your camera and lens in a bag for a couple of hours. Electronics and moisture do not get along, a plastic bag could very well save your equipment.

Plastic and Glass

Take care in handling your camera gear while in the cold. Freezing temperatures can make plastic and glass more susceptible to cracking or breaking. So be careful to bump your lens or open a memory card or battery compartment door with too much force. 

Some other quick tips;

  • Don't blow on your lens or camera to remove any dust. This will just add moisture to your gear. Use a small brush or lens cloth to remove the dust.
  • If you are using a tripod with metal legs try to grab the tripod while wearing gloves and not a warm sweaty hand. If you are in the market for a tripod and envision yourself doing a lot of cold weather shooting look at purchasing a carbon fibre tripod. They are lightweight, durable and not metal.
  • While shooting in the night I've used a touque to cover the eye piece on the camera to avoid stray light potentially getting in and ruining a shot. A toque or scarf could also be used to keep falling snow off of a camera that isn't weather sealed. 

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A Roll Of Film

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A Roll Of Film

Last weekend I decided to finally take my dad's old film camera, a Minolta Maxxum 5xi which was made in 1992, mainly because of a mysterious roll of film still in the camera. A roll of film with sixteen exposures already taken out of the twenty four available. 

My dad passed away suddenly on June 28 2015 and my mom cannot remember the last time she saw him use the old film camera so knowing what was on the roll of film was a tantalizing mystery. This was by no means his first film camera as there are photo albums at my mom's house with pictures he took dating back to the 1960s. He had moved into the digital world like everyone else and had been using a Sony DSLR for as long as I can remember. Thinking about when this roll of film could have been placed in the camera and when the last shot was taken peaked the interest even more. 

Minolta Maxxum 5xi 35mm film camera with a AF 35-70mm f3.5 lens

Back in the summer of 2015, after he passed, I found the camera and noticed the film canister through the little view window but decided to leave it alone and packed it back up. Over the Thanksgiving weekend I finally decided to take the camera and see if I could get the film developed and share the images with family despite a part of me wanting to leave the film in the camera yet again. 

My previous experience with film involved point and shoot cameras and disposable cameras which my dad would make sure I took with me when I was a kid for road trips and field trips (including shooting an entire roll of film at the Royal Tyrel Museum with my finger over the flash in grade 3 or 4).

I decided it would be best if I finished the roll of film in the camera as I could hear my dad in my ear saying 'what are you doing? Don't waste that film, finish it off'. We decided to go to the park to take a few landscape shots to fill up the roll. I could not wait to drop off the film. 

The back of the Minolta Maxxium 5xi - no LCD screen to check your histogram or composition

On Thursday afternoon I dropped off the roll of film at the local London Drugs photo lab, one of only a few places to process film I was told. The wait between Thursday afternoon and Friday afternoon at 4:00pm was surprisingly exciting. In a world where we want and get things instantly it was refreshingly satisfying to slow things down and have to wait. As it turned out, I had to wait another day as a film processor at the photo lab went down and needed repairs. The extra wait did nothing to curtail the excitement. 

There it is, the highly anticipated roll of film - sixteen of those twenty four exposures are a complete mystery

When I got the envelope of photos I couldn't wait to open it. I had to see them and I had to see what the camera last saw and captured. Knowing my dad, I fully expected to find some pictures of family, perhaps his grandkids, and/or the farm.

Opening up the envelope and seeing the first few pictures I could not help but smile as I was looking at photos of family during Christmas, my youngest sister opening up birthday presents and an Easter egg hunt. It took me and my sisters a little while to try and figure out when these photos were taken and we think they span from Christmas 2006 through Easter 2007. Decade old photos finally get to be seen and all I can do is smile at them. They are by no means the best photos in the world. They won't be published or made into large prints and hung on a wall somewhere. But they are going to be something that our family will cherish forever. 

I am going to keep shooting the film camera, I even picked up a few rolls of film. I am thoroughly enjoying the process of shooting with a film camera gear, the re-educating myself on photography principles that sometimes get taken for granted when shooting digital and the thrill of not being able to see what you just shot is a little addicting. I have already caught myself taking a photo and moving to look at the back of the camera for a LCD screen that doesn't exist. Plus the sound of a film camera shutter click is.....so awesome!

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