This season, we had the honour of taking photos of our very own North Bay Battalion for their hockey cards. It’s pretty exciting to take photos of an OHL team, and maybe a little intimidating. We always want to give the best product possible, and this year, the Battalion challenged us to try something new – “Hockey Stop” photography.
As we did some research on lighting and tips for this type of photography, we didn’t come across much info on settings or best practices. So here’s some of the key things we found out during our Hockey Stop photos.
The Hockey Stop
Knowing that these are professional athletes, I had full confidence that they could do a hockey stop without hurting themselves. However, when working with younger kids we like to play it safe (especially without a helmet) and stick to more stationary poses.
Making sure your players are comfortable with the “hockey stop” is important, not only for safety, but to make it easier to get the shot your looking for.
Photography Setup & Gear
Before our shoot with the Battalion, we did some research and a few lighting tests. The best resource we found was Jan Hinkel’s project, FREEZE (see right). After studying his behind the scenes video, we got a sense of his gear and lighting setup which was very helpful.
Here is a basic list of the gear we had:
- DSLR Camera
- 50mm lens
- 2 Speed Flashes
- 2 Flash Stands
- 1 Shoot-through umbrella
- Flash Transmitter / Receiver
For the result we wanted, the background needed to be dark to allow the player to really stand out in the shot.
Here is the exposure settings we used:
Shutter Speed – 1/160 sec
Aperture – 16
ISO – 640
This exposure on its own is does not light much of the photo at all, but it allows our speed flash to light only the player (see below).
For lighting, we positioned our main flash with an umbrella to the right of the camera and set it to 1/1 (full power).
Once the player was lit, we then added a second flash directly beside the player, and pointed toward the skates to make the snow stand out – this light was set to 1/4 power (see illustration below).
Key Light – 1/1 (Full power with shoot-through umbrella)
Backlight/Fill – 1/4 power (Remote/slaved by key light)
We would like you to believe that this setup was perfect SOOC (Straight out of camera), but in most cases there is still some work to be done after the photoshoot. While we’ve done our best in lighting our photo, you still may want to edit things out like signage and rink boards. Getting the lighting right is a big step toward making this process easier – looking back, if we had turned off the main arena lights, it would have made the background much darker and quicker to edit.
In post, we darkened the background and added some contrast to the snow using the dodge/burn tool. Another thing to keep in mind is players faces and the amount of snow they kicked up – we swapped out the occasional face and had to add some snow to some photos as well :) Here’s what we ended up with in the end: