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two point photography

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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Our Instagram Best Nine of 2017

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Our Instagram Best Nine of 2017

Well another year has passed us by, this year seemed to go really fast! It seemed like we were just getting to enjoy summer and along came fall and before we knew it Christmas was upon us. The New Year gives us an opportunity to reflect back on 2017 and as such, here are our top nine photos from our Instagram account (@twopointphotography).

#1 - Ashley & Ross' Engagement Session

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#2 - Molly & Steve's Engagement Session

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#3 - Jade's Newborn Session

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#4 - Karey & Kiel's Engagement Session

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#5 - Karey & Kiel's Engagement Session

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#6 - Ashley & Ross' Wedding

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#7 - Charlie's Newborn Session

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#8 - Ashley & Ross' Wedding

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#9 - Karey & Kiel's Engagement Session

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So there you have it! Our nine best Instagram photos from the 2017 year. We had an amazing year getting to meet more beautiful couples and precious little ones. We are excited for another year of amazing opportunities in the 2018 year. 

If you would like to see what your Top Nine Instagram photos are from 2017 you can check it out here | 2017bestnine.com 

Be sure to check us out social media, give us a like or a follow as we continue our amazing photography journey. 

Twitter | @TwoPointPhoto

Instagram | @TwoPointPhotography

Facebook | Two Point Photography

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Photo Location - University of Alberta

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Photo Location - University of Alberta

Late in the fall I spent some time walking around the University of Alberta (north campus) looking for some photo spots. I had spent four years at the University from 2001-2005 where I earned my Bachelors of Physical Education degree but I never spent too much time walking around the campus, especially the northern part…of the north campus. The University of Alberta or U of A or UAlberta has a nice mixture of old architecture with new and modern designs as the campus continues to grow. Changes I noticed since I was a student include a whole new Hanson Fitness & Lifestyle Centre, Wilson Climbing Centre, Saint Joseph College Women’s Residence, a renovated exterior to the Student Union Building and finally numerous changes to the residences in the Garneau area on the east end of the campus as well as the the new structures built in the medical sciences area of campus. When I was a student at the University the biggest change was the completion, or near completion, of the LRT expansion from HUB Mall to the Health Sciences area. 

While a lot has changed in a decade there is still a lot of old history and historic buildings around campus, especially towards Saskatchewan Drive. This is where we focused our search for some photo locations. I would highly recommend walking around campus during a weekend as it is much more quiet without a lot of stressed out students roaming around. In the fall we only walked around the north/north eastern part of  campus but I definitely want to go back when we get a fresh blanket of snow to see what some of these buildings look like with snow on them. When you are on the northern side of campus you have a nice trail along Saskatchewan Drive and the River Valley as well as quick access to Emily Murphy Park and William Hawrelak Park to the west as well as to the east you have the Old Strathcona area. Perhaps the crown jewel of the University campus is Rutherford House which was the first home of Alberta’s first Premier, Alexander Rutherford. It is now a provincial historical site and a great piece of the history of Edmonton. 

Here are some photos of the campus I captured during our walk for you to enjoy. 

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The Rutherford House (C7 on map)

Photos above taken around Earth Sciences Building (C5) as well as Tory Building area (C6)

Faculty of Arts Building (D6)

The brick buildings around campus are hot spots for wedding and engagement photos

Dentistry/Pharmacy Building (E5/6)

The main transit road through campus (E5/6)

St Joes College (F5)

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We Had To Say Goodbye

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We Had To Say Goodbye

Last month we had to say goodbye to our ten year old malamute/sheppard, Zeus. The cancer that invaded his body became too aggressive and too much to overcome. In mid-August he was diagnosed with cancer as a soft tissue sarcoma grew on his right hip and in mid-September we were told that the cancer has spread to his lymph nods. Ever since we rescued him we always felt that we were giving him a great second chance to have a happy life. Even after we found out that he was suffering from hip dysplasia which would more than likely cause him some loss of quality of life as he aged. As a giant breed (or breeds) of dog we also assumed that ten years was going to be a significant milestone for him and his hip dysplasia, it just sucks that something like cancer had to be the reason why he needed to go. 

Some final goodbyes

I have a little sales pitch for you to read. When it was time to make the decision to let him go, we had nothing but tremendous support from our vet and the staff at Vets To Go. Between making the decision and when it was time we had numerous supports from them to make sure any questions we had would be answered, even if we needed help breaking the news to our two year old and five year old. The care and compassion that was shown definitely made the process easier and much more calming then we expected. The amount that they cared about our well being was evident in the unscheduled check up calls just to see how we were doing while we waited and the condolence notes we received afterwards were very thoughtful. We can’t thank the staff at Vets To Go enough for everything they have done over the last few years from our regular vet appointments and check ups to saying goodbye to Zeus. 

While we never really did official pet portraits with our dogs, I am happy I took a lot of photos of our dogs over the years. Sometimes I would use them as subjects to test our different camera settings, lighting settings or just video functions on a phone or app. Other times I would try to capture them being seemingly much more agile and athletic then they perhaps really were. The dogs always seemed to be more calm and able to take better instructions then a couple of busy little kids, although both would get equally distracted by the squirrels in our yard.  

So take lots of photos of those furry members of your family! Capture all the details of their life as they experience things like snow for the first time. Get photos of them interacting with kids as something that they can look back upon if they are too young to remember at the time. Through the photos you take you'll be able to capture your dog's personality and quirks that made them who they are and I guarantee you that you will be glad that you took as many as you could. 

Here are some of our favourite photos of Zeus from the last ten years. 

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Wonderful World Of Disney

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Wonderful World Of Disney

In September we took a week long family vacation to Disneyland, our first family trip to the magic kingdom since 1989. It would also be our first family vacation with our two year old and five year old, so Disneyland was perfect. I was roughly the same age as our oldest son when I was last at Disneyland and I have scattered memories of the two weeks we took to drive down to Anaheim and back home. So I figured I would document the trip like crazy, 7,186 photos on my camera and another 688 photos and videos from my iPhone. That translates into full on tourist mode trying to capture a busy family who were trying to take in everything in a single week. 

Full disclosure, our family are not diehard Disney fans. Our two boys know of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy, but that acknowledgement of their existence is kind of where it stops for them until they saw the characters at the park. They are much more into the Pixar aspect of Disney as well as Star Wars and Marvel comics now that Disney owns those properties. My wife is the biggest Disney fan in our house as she grew up during the peak Disney movie period of Lion King, Little Mermaid, Aladdin and Pocahontas. 

High Up | f4, 1/1600, ISO 100, 24mm

In this blog post I want to share our experience taking photos and maybe offer some advice to you for your Disneyland adventure. 

Tip #1 - Be Patient

Thousands of people are at Disneyland, all the time. It is almost impossible to not have other people in your photos when you are trying to capture the sights. There are ways to try and limit the amount of people and one of them is to show a little patience. Show a little towards the people currently trying to take a photo where you want to take one and you will get your shot. Rarely was there a situation where someone just arrived to a spot, barged to the front, took their photo and left. People are understanding because they are trying to do the same thing you are. Also if you are trying to get photos of your kids, people are more than willing to make some space and give you the opportunity to get your photo. That being said you need to have your camera settings set and what you want your composition to be before you get to the spot so that you are not infringing on the patience of others. You’ll have some time setting your camera up (take a photo of the family in front of you to see if your settings are fine) and watch how others are composing their photos for some ideas. 

Tip #2 - Hit The Landmarks

This is where you get your timeless Disneyland photos. The landmarks are the sites that have been there for a long time and will continue to be there for a long time. In thirty years when you look at the photo you should instantly know it is Disneyland. These are landmarks are places such as Space Mountain, Fantasyland Castle, It’s A Small World, Paradise Pier, Mickey’s Fun Wheel, the Mark Twain and Main Street Disneyland. These spots are always busy and although they have been photographed a million times, that doesn’t mean that you can’t get your own photo with your own style. Theses spots are always busy so bring your patience and creativity. Grab one of the park maps located at the main gates, they highlight popular photo spots in both Disneyland and California Adventure.

Fantasyland Castle | f2.8, 1/80, ISO 3200, 24mm

Tip #3 - Shoot The Details

Something I ended up doing while waiting in lineups, and you will be waiting in lineups a lot, is to photograph some of the details. I was thoroughly impressed with the amount of small details that Disney has put into the park. There is pretty amazing architecture everywhere and the little details can often be missed unless you look for them. During our visit both Disneyland and California Adventure were transformed for the coming Halloween celebration. This meant Halloween themed decorations and details throughout the parks.

Tip #4 - Make Sure You Have The Right Gear

We spent the morning at Disneyland, back to the hotel for a recharge and some food, then back to the park in the afternoon until it closed. Make sure you have enough storage space for your photos, you’ll be taking a lot and don’t want to have to sit and delete phots on the memory card via the back of the camera to make room. I would highly recommend not shooting all of your photos on one memory card. Bring multiple memory cards with you and change them out every day or two if you aren’t able to unload them onto a hard drive in between visits. This way if you spend a week in Disneyland and have the photos spread out over four different cards, if something happened to one card, you at least have three others full of photos. If you do have a laptop and hard drive with you, I would still recommend having multiple cards to shoot on and keep the photos on the cards even after uploading them to a hard drive. Having more backups of once in a lifetime moments is better than no backups. 

If you are spending hours on end at park, take an extra camera battery with you as well. You don’t want to miss a great moment because your battery is done. Make sure you charge those batteries or that phone when you get back to the hotel, you don’t want to head to the parks without a full charge.

Tip #5 - Spend Some Time Scouting Locations

I think we saw every corner of Disneyland and California Adventure twice because we took a few minutes each day to come up with a plan of attack. It also let us target the rides we wanted as well as getting to see most of the park in different lighting settings such as during the day, dusk and night. The lighting conditions make some of the locations look and feel much different. A good example of this is Cars Land, which is great during the day but at night it is outstanding with all the lights. It also helped us make sure we were able to get as many photos of the boys with characters as possible as they are in certain locations at certain times. So we knew we could see Captain America and Spider-Man then the Guardians of the Galaxy in the same area at relatively the same time. 

Nikon Picture Spots Located Throughout the Parks

On a side note, if anyone in your group is having a birthday while you are visiting Disneyland I highly recommend getting the birthday button for them. It is quite amazing how the cast (staff) and characters go above and beyond to say Happy Birthday. Our oldest turned five while we were there and it was fantastic to see him get an extra high five from a character, for a cast (staff) to stop what they are doing to say happy birthday or for Captain America to talk to him about his birthday I think made his day even better. 

How I Took Photos

During the day and walking around outside I was either shooting in Aperature Priority mode (camera controls the shutter speed) or Manual Mode. Aperature Priorty let me quickly grab a photo of something as we were passing by if I didn’t have time to set my own exposure before it was gone. When we had slightly more time I would adjust everything in Manual Mode for the exposure that I wanted. This typically occurred when the boys were with characters or I was wandering around taking detail photos of buildings. 

On a ride or in a building I would turn it over to Manual Mode, set my shutter speed at a minimum of 1/200 and adjusted my ISO as needed. This often meant riding a fairly high ISO in some of the more dimly lit locations due to not using a flash. 

Most of the photos, maybe 75%, I took were with a 24-70mm f2.8 as it let me capture wide angle and then get a little tighter if need be. The remains photos were primarily a 50mm f1.4 and a few 35mm f1.2 shots tossed in. I simply had my camera out with me at all times on a shoulder sling so I didn’t have to grab in and out of a bag all the time or off the stroller time and time again. I use a shoulder sling for weddings and events as they take the weight off your neck and it feels more comfortable to have the camera at my hip while walking versus bouncing off my chest.

My last piece of advice is be comfortable standing in a group of people and taking a photo with your camera or phone held up. No one cares. There are thousands of people around you and thousands of those thousands are taking photos of something or someone. You’re going to get other people in your photos and you’ll be in other people’s photos (so dress nice). You don’t have to be rude and pushy to get your photo but at no point did anyone say anything to me about stopping somewhere to take a photo. It is just in the Disneyland culture. 

Thanks for reading along, don’t forget to share any of your favourite vacation photography tips or photos. Here are some of our favourite photos from the week! 

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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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