Thanks to the Club de Hockey Canadiens de Montreal, I had a chance to shoot a Montreal Canadiens vs Boston Bruins game. I was lucky enough to sit on the glass and have use of the high-speed strobes that fill the Bell Centre with a ton of fast light.
Arena strobes are the best way to capture high-quality action shots, the flash duration is around 1/1000 of a second, depth and color are excellent and the powerful flash system yields the slickest results. One of the major drawbacks is the recycling time, with 2-3 seconds between each shot. This means you have to be very selective – and knowing the game becomes an important an asset. I am sure many photojournalists still prefer available light, where they can use the motor drive to capture the precise moment that perhaps tells the best story.
The Ying and Yang. I decided to use both methods, but the camera and equipment I favored the most were The Canon Mk4, 70-210 2.8 zoom, pocket wizard and the strobe system.
The action is fast and you have to continuously reevaluate the best opportunities, for example, the puck carrier may be attempting a wrap-around away from you, so from the camera perspective he will end up behind the net with his back to you, so the best option is to change your view to the player crashing the net for the rebound and the D-man tying him up. It’s crazy fast and furious, but it’s the best seat in the house if you love the game as much as I do.
In the warm up, I shot Mark Recchi. He skated ten feet in front of me, stopped and basically posed for the shot, gazing intensely while I took a few frames using only the natural light in the 1600 ISO range. You have to respect a 42-year-old playing this game on par with Tyler Seguin, Boston’s 19-year-old top draft choice in 2010. Using some layered textures and blurs, I gave him a retro look, reminiscent of the Original Six battles.
Here’s to you Mark Recchi, even if you play with supergoon Chara and the big Bad Bruins!