I used to do sports for a newspaper and I still do the occasional wedding or model... shooting a hockey game has to be pretty rough. Those really great pro-looking shots are the guys that shoot through the little holes at the corners in the glass (you can see them on TV in the background sometimes), but if your rink doesn't have that on the bench or in the stands is probably your best bet for crystal clear, though the shots through the glass would at least be good enough for looking at form and positioning stuff.
Also, I don't know what type of camera you're leaning towards, but you pretty much HAVE to use a real, interchangeable lens SLR camera for this... hockey rinks, regardless of how well lit they may seem, are extremely dark and you can't (and shouldn't) use an external flash unit. Earlier SLR's with lower ISO limits are going to be struggling autofocus and shutter-speed wise, but semi-new cameras like say, the Nikon D7000 and above or the Canon 60D and above will be decent. It also helps a lot to have a wide aperture telephoto lens, like a 70-200mm f/2.8. I used an older Sigma (off-brand) model of that and it performed great, and they run less than half the price of the Canon/Nikon equivalents. Lenses also hold their value really well, I sold mine for basically what I paid for it 3 years earlier.
Good luck, if you get any good shots post them up here. I love that stuff.
Detailed settings: Shoot manual, at the widest possible aperture (say, f/2.8 if you can) and put the ISO the highest you're willing to go before the grain (noise) gets so bad it smears details. Try to keep the shutter at 1/200 or higher... I got some pretty good shots from up in the stands at an Atlanta Thrashers game way back, but it also was a pro-lit rink. I was at ... let's see... 300mm @ f/5.6, ISO 1600 and 1/800 shutter. The shots were intentionally too dark, but I shoot RAW and brought the exposure up in photoshop afterwards. Here's one from that game: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bretmcg...in/photostream.. you can sort of tell it was too dark and I couldn't make it lighter without getting artifacts in the grain. I probably should have been at 1/500 or 1/400 instead, but then more blur starts to creep in.
Last edited by lonewolfsx: 05-07-2013 at 09:13 PM.
I used to be a newspaper photographer, and did a lot of shooting of our local Junior A team.
The best place to get action shots is standing near the face off circles, a few rows up. If you use a wider aperture (like lonewolfsx talked about above), the glass isn't a problem. You can go onto a bench, but the neutral zone is harder to get decent action pics from.
Because hockey moves so fast, anticipating the play will often lead to the best shots.
With decent equipment, the light in newer arenas should be adequate. I got some good photos of a friend's tournament last year, in a basic local arena, with a 5 or 6 year old Canon Rebel I borrowed.
Yeah actually I guess super high ISO stuff isn't that important in hockey photography because the rinks are generally pretty well lit. For some reason I thought I shot that game with the camera I have now, which I just used for basketball and had to be at 6400 to get it light enough... but I was *only* at 1600. So you could pretty much get good shots with any SLR.
Good point on the bench thing, I'd imagine you'd get a few good shots of your d-men on the breakout but you probably want to be somewhere 3/4 angle behind the net your team is shooting at to get those cool images of your guys shooting and passing.
getting on the bench for beer league or USA Hockey sanctioned games can be tricky. I know that our league doesn't allow anyone not on the roster and not in full gear on the bench for insurance purposes.
recently when my gf's travel team went to USA Hockey Nationals I had to be classified as a coach in order to be on the bench and even then in one of the games a tournament official came over and told me that I wasn't allowed to shoot because it "wasn't fair to the contracted photographers"
Thanks. I will tinker around with some of that. I could possibly shoot through the netting over the glass, but I really like the idea of shooting through the glass if it is not too cloudy. I saw some shots from a team that was playing against us and shooting there own stuff, and I love the ice level angle. I was really surprised it could still be that clear through the glass. The attached shot is not the clearest of the bunch, but is probably typical of the angle, light level, etc.