Friday, November 25, 2011

Photographing the San Jose Sharks vs. Chicago Blackhawks

It has been a while since I have photographed a San Jose Sharks game. With my current work load, travel schedule, family time, and other things, it has been hard to fit this in. But, on Wednesday night, the day before Thanksgiving, I got headed over to the HP Pavilion to capture the Sharks vs. the Blackhawks. And this time, I did not shoot from a glass position, but instead used the new Sigma 120-300mm 2.8 lens from a higher position. I wanted to see how this big lens, being shot wide open, would perform in this environment. I usually shoot the Sharks games at ISO 3200 with the Canon 1D Mark IV, but with this lens, I was able to shoot at ISO 800 with an aperture of f2.8 and still get 1/1000 sec. Awesome!!!

I started from the far side of the arena to capture images of the players coming out of the Sharks head. I have photographed this before, using the strobes in the rafters, but wanted to shoot this without any additional light, to capture just the lights from the Sharks head.

Then it was game time, and Antti Niemi, the Sharks goalie, was awesome from the start. (Photographer's note: When photographing hockey, it really helps to get the puck in the shot. Not always, but for the action around the net, it adds urgency and helps the viewer understand what is happening at that moment.)

Logan Couture gets the puck on his stick to keep it out of the Blackhawks players reach.

I love the intensity on the face of Jonathan Toews as he tries to make an offensive move from behind the net. 

Douglas Murray is an absolute tank on the ice, and not easy to take down. Here is a shot of him absorbing a check and protecting the puck.

I usually do not position myself behind the protective nets, but happened to be in this spot when this action occurred. Another amazing save by Niemi.

Chicago's goalie, Corey Crawford, peaking out from behind Joe Pavelski.

This is not one of the best photos from the game, but it happened to be the game winning (and only) goal of the night.

The one and only celebration of the evening, but all that it took to win the game 1 to 0.

Another photo from behind the protective netting, but I love the expression on Joe Pavelski's face as he absorbs a shot in front of the net.

Jumbo Joe Thornton cycling the puck in the offensive zone.

As I went through the 1400 images from the game, this one caught my eye. I liked the way that all three player's sticks were going for the puck. Very geometric! :)

Andrew Murray deflects the puck just wide of the net. Oh, so close to a goal!

Here Michal Handzus shields the goalie and the Sharks almost get a goal. The puck looks like it is going in the net, but it went wide to the left of the pipes.

Then the clock counted down to zero and the Sharks came out with another win.

I was in the locker room visiting with my friends from the team who I have not seen in a while. As we were talking, I was watching all the reporters interviewing Antti Niemi, and decided to shoot a couple of images of this. He had an amazing night with his shut out vistory, and was the number one star of the game.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Senior portraits of Claire - who is not quite a senior yet

It was the middle of October and the weather was really nice here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I had been talking to a family friend of ours for weeks, trying to coordinate a time to shoot images of her beautiful daughter, Claire. Finally we had a day when I was available, they were available, and the weather was cooperating. Time to shoot!

We drove to a couple of different locations to find good light and nice surroundings. I wanted colors in the background that would compliment Claire's skin tone and outfit. As you can see, Claire has great eyes, so I made sure to highlight them in these images. For the above shot, I used an on-camera flash stopped down a full stop to add a touch of light to Claire's face and get some catch light in her eyes. For the image below, I turned off the flash and relied on a silver/gold reflector (thanks to my wife who was holding that) to add light to the right side of her face.

It is always fun to find new perspectives when shooting portraits. For this shot, I climbed down into a dry riverbed and had Claire stand up above on a foot bridge. (Photographer's note: Whenever I shoot portraits, I do my best to make sure that there are no distracting "objects" in the background. In this case, I moved my position to make sure that there was mostly trees behind her head, so that her blonde hair would stand out from the background.)

Usually, when I shoot portraits, I look for a shaded area with a nice background.  This spot next to a tree was perfect. The canopy of this tree and surrounding trees gave me a nice shaded spot and I had some nice greenery behind Claire, so that she would pop out from the background. I added a hint of fill flash once again and really liked the results. (Photographer's note: When posing a subject, the first thing that I do is, I ask them how they would lean against this tree, in this case, if I were not there taking their picture. This helps me get my subject to look the most relaxed and natural. After they do that, I might ask them to change a couple of things, but try to keep them close to their original pose. Why am I doing that? I want them to be themselves. I really do not want hundreds of pictures of people doing the "standard poses". That is not my style.)

After shooting a bunch of portraits, we decided to hit the nearby railroad tracks (which are rarely ever used) to shoot some final shots. If you have been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have photographed my kids and others on the tracks before. But this time I wanted to do some different poses. I asked Claire to go further down the tracks and walk back to me. While she was doing that, I fired off a bunch of images as she balanced herself and walked towards me. She loves being barefoot, and I think this added to the image.

This was one of the last shots that we took that day, and one of my favorites. Claire looks really relaxed in this pose and I love the way that the train tracks curve in and out of the shot. The tracks work as an element to draw your eye right to Claire.

We had a lot of fun shooting these, and I am sure that we will be doing more photos in the future.

Monday, November 14, 2011

A new addition to the Cable family - Our new puppy, Cooper

OK, I will be the first to admit that I was not thrilled with the idea of getting a puppy. We have our hands full with the kids, work, sports and so much other stuff, but the family really wanted a new dog. Since our gentle giant, Bailey, passed away, there was a noticeable void in the house. So, a couple of weeks ago, we got a cute little Labradoodle (labrador retriever and poodle mix) and named him "Cooper". He is a handful, but he is so cute that he makes for the perfect photo opportunity for me. :)

This is Cooper hanging out in the backyard, at the age of 10 weeks.

It is hard to resist this cute puppy face.

Cooper, enjoying his new toys.

Time for some action shots.

I shot these last 3 images as a test of the new Sigma 120-300mm 2.8 lens. I love shooting this lens wide open as it gives great separation between Cooper and the background. I think Cooper will be a well photographed dog. Welcome to the family Cooper!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Photographing a Bar Mitzvah for the Rabbi's son (no pressure!)

Saturday was an amazing day! Almost a year ago, the Rabbi at Temple Emanu El in San Jose, CA asked me if I would photograph the Bar Mitzvah of his son. I was so honored that he asked me to capture this important day for their family, and I was excited for the opportunity. Rabbi Magat is an amazing guy and I have always loved shooting at his temple. He has this easy-going attitude and a genuine passion for what he does, and I knew that this day would be a key moment for him and his family.

Now that the day is over, I will admit that I did feel a bit more pressure on this day. I can only imagine the pressure on Raya, his son, who had to stand in front of a full synagogue and try to manage the expectations of his father and so many others. But, not only did Raya exceed expectations, he showed maturity and countless emotions during the day. It really was a photographer's dream job.

We started with family photos in front of the temple. I was happy to wake up to a cloudy morning with no rain. To a photographer, this is perfect weather. It is like having a giant soft-box in the sky, with perfect diffused light and no harsh shadows.

It was pretty cold outside, so we quickly moved inside to shoot all the shots with Raya and the Torah. While I was photographing the family with the Torah, it seemed like most other mitzvahs, but as soon as we entered the Rabbi's office, that all changed. This was the first moment when Raya's dad had to juggle being the Rabbi and a very proud father. I have photographed him with other children in his office before, but this time, it was his own son!

After shooting images facing the parents, I quickly moved behind mom and dad/Rabbi, to get some shots of their son facing them. I love the this perspective and it really helps tell the story.

This was not your normal turn out to a mitzvah. You would have thought that it was the high holidays with all the people who came to see this momentous event. I grabbed my fish eye lens and took this shot to show the crowd in the temple.

I mentioned the emotions that Raya exhibited during the day, and this is one of those moments when he broke into a big smile. I captured endless photos of him embracing the day.

What I love most about this image and the images that follow, is that you can see the loving relationship between, not only his father, but with the Cantor too.You have to remember, this boy (now a man) has literally grown up within the walls of this building.

Comfortable with the Rabbi and Cantor? Yep - I think so!

This temple is notoriously dark inside, and I have photographed here enough to know that I would be pushing the camera to it's limit. So this time, I came armed with the new Sigma 120-300mm 2.8 lens. This is a 6.5 lb beast of a lens, but it was amazing! All of these shots were taken from the back of the synagogue with the Sigma lens.

Not every moment was filled with a smile. There was time for some other emotions too. As I stood in the back of the temple and shot these images, I realized how much more emotion was being presented in front of me, and I cherished every moment to capture this in camera. 

These last three frames show totally different emotions, and yet all of them were captured within a 40 second time span. This gives you an idea of the magnitude of the day, and the level of intensity that was up at the bema.

Then, later that evening, it was party time.

I love this shot of Cheriel (mom) dancing at the party. (Photographer's note: I purposely slowed the shutter of the camera for some motion blur shots. The works best when panning at the same speed as your subject. The flash will typically freeze them while blurring everything in the background. Why do I do this? It gives a sense of the action and motion in the dance.)

While everyone else is watching the photo montage of Raya growing up, I watch for the reactions of the family and friends. I love the expression on the bar mitzvah boy's face. There is no way to fake this! (Photographer's note: I try to get the DVD from the family earlier in the day. I do this for two reasons. The first reason, is that I want to test the DVD in my laptop to make sure that everything plays correctly. Secondly, it gives me a chance to preview the photos and guess at the one's that will get the most response from the guests. I then key in on different family members, trying to remember when those "key images" are coming up and capture their reactions.)

The mother/son dance with dad / daughter in the background.

Cheriel having a great time at the party.

It is not uncommon at the end of a mitzvah party to have something called a "closing circle". This is when the child (well...I guess they are an adult now) goes around and thanks everyone for coming. I usually shoot images from within the circle, but this time decided to go outside the circle to shoot. Just as I moved from inside to outside, I saw Raya pick up his friend and spin him around. I quickly raised my camera over the heads to the kids and fired off 4 or 5 shots and caught this.

Then...the party was over and I started packing up my camera gear. Raya's mom came up to me to thank me and then said that she had to hurry down the hall to her husband's office, where Raya's grandmother was about to give him a special gift. Unfortunately, Raya's grandfather had passed away 3 weeks ago and his grandmother was about to give him her late husband's shofar (Ram's horn which is traditionally used as a horn during the high holidays). This was a key memory in their amazing day and I knew that I could not miss this moment! I quickly threw together a 5D Mark II and a 24-105 lens, popped on a 580EX II flash (with diffuser) and followed Cheriel to the office.

I captured numerous images from inside the Rabbi's office, but this moment was the most precious. I think the image speaks for itself.