Hello all, i am a professional photographer in the DC area. I have a great job photography job working at Arlington National Cemetery and i have gained a lot of experience working there, and i am ready to start thinking about working in different fields, mainly sports. My roommate is a motorcycle racer (going professional) so i already have my foot in that door, i am looking to get into hockey now.
The main question i have is can anyone suggest how i should go about doing this? With my Arlington job, the main photographer really helped me a lot by showing me everything he has learned in 15 years + photographing at the site, so i am looking for something like that in the hockey world. I am sure i could just go out there and do it, but i was wondering if anyone could suggest working with another photographer or just trying to do it myself.
I have heard the best thing to do is contact an AHL team and tell them you want to do photography for them, they may give you a press pass and you just have to give them the photos. Is this the best practice? Contact an AHL team and start from there?
I live close to DC and the nearest AHL team is the Hershey Bears, and they are over 2.5 hours away but i don't mind making the drive to possibly start a career.
If anyone has any suggestions, please let me know because i am serious about this.
I shoot canon:
5D Mark II
1D Mark II
100-400 L f/4.5-5.6
24-105 L f/4
I think my 2 main bodies are good, i would need to possibly get new lenses. I am looking at the 70-200 f/2.8.
AHL rinks are probably better lit, but if you ever do smaller rinks, you're gonna want a pretty low f-stop. The 2.8 70-200 would be great, I would have loved to be able to afford that one. Hockey photography is HARD.
Try not to give images away if you can - that's not too professional.
Maybe use two identical camera bodies... the two you quoted have different 'crop factors' : the 5d is full-frame, the Mark 2 is a 1.3 crop.
Personally I think using two different body types with different crop factors confuses things: you need to work fast because sports/action photographers don't have all day to get the shot and there is no real chance of a re-shoot, unlike in studio or landscape photography where you've got all day and can take your time.
Judging by your equipment list, you can afford to buy good gear. Ditch the Mark 2 in favour of a 1d Mark 3 or a 1d Mark 4 or wait for the 1Dx. (The Mark 2 is really starting to show its age.)
If you haven't heard of the 1Dx yet, Google it. It's "full frame", like your 5d, meaning it has no "crop factor" effect on your lenses.
Use lenses with a maximum aperture of f2.8. A 70-200/2.8 lens is ideal for hockey.
You don't need a 400/2.8 in hockey, generally, even though it's very popular for use in other sports.
A 300/2.8 is also very nice and is one of the sharpest lenses Canon makes.
The really big lenses (400mm, 600mm, 800mm) are not as necessary in hockey as in other sports because a hockey rink is smaller than most types of sports field.
A photographers forum may answer your questions better than a hockey forum - unless your real aim here is to find out how/who to approach in terms of teams who may give you a break.
As for me, I don't shoot hockey shots because the money just isn't there, in my town at least (Sydney, Australia).
Some homework for you:
Where will you be shooting from? Through the glass? If so, you want your lens pressed up against the glass. A really wideangle lens can be good in this instance if a skater is right near by you, not far away. Maybe a 16-35/2.8. Otherwise bring the slightly longer 24-70/2.8 and your big lenses (the white ones).
In regards to "frame rate", my cameras shoot at more than 10fps, meaning they take sequential pictures at more than ten pictures per second. We're talking machine gun material. (You don't always need to shoot that many shots, but sometimes it's handy for sports/action pix.)
If you are shooting at 10fps, can your CF or SD card "write" pictures that quickly, or does the CF card's buffer slow down and prevent you taking more pix until the buffer has cleared? (That can be frustrating!)
If so, get faster CF/SD cards, but those cost much more.
Also, what are the light levels and color balance inside the venues you're shooting?
Will "Auto White Balance" do you okay, or do you want/need to manually 'tweak' your camera's color balance settings? (Do test shots to determine - try some trial and error.)
Is your 1d Mark 2 camera giving you blue-ish pictures compared to your 5d? It wouldn't surprise me.
Do your lenses have image stabilizers in them? Do your long lenses need support in the form of a monopod? Have you had much experience panning your action shots using Mode II stabilizing?
To pan smoothly, rotate your hips, not your shoulders. Keep the upper body still and then swing the hips sideways while the upper body is fairly rigid.
Always dig your elbows into your torso when shooting - don't have the elbows resting away from the body, unsupported.
In regards to your equipment list (below), my opinion on those items is beside it in bold type:
5D Mark II (good camera, but the 1D cameras have a faster frame-rate.)
1D Mark II (replace with newer)
40D (acceptable, but your other camera bodies are better)
100-400 L f/4.5-5.6 (a bit slow indoors for sport.)
24-105 L f/4 (maybe a bit slow indoors for sport.)
12-24mm f/4 (give this lens a try - it's weird, maybe a bit slow, but use it at its very wideangle end for some arty stuff)
85mm f/1.8 (nice, but a bit limited)
50mm f/1.8 (nice, but a bit limited -- try some 2.8 zooms)
Aside from all the technical stuff above, I can offer you this advice.
Go to local high school / college / rec league games and shoot them. Talk to a local rink about shooting for mens leagues games, odds are if you email the pics to the team they'll let you have free reign of the building to shoot whatever you want and you can practice different angles, lighting, settings, etc and find what works out best. Not to mention those guys will love having pictures!
thanks guys for the responses, i will read them and reply. I just got back from shooting my first high school football game, it was a lot of fun. I used my 5d II and my 100-400 at ISO 6400. I had to shoot from the fence, future games (next year) i will be able to get on the field, since my friend is dating the defensive coach. Glad to see i got a few replies!
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