Best of Views Infinitum 2016

This year, I decided to let others pick my best ten (10) photographs of 2016. Specifically, the people who follow me and/or view my photos on my flickr account based on the number of Favorites or Favs each got.  I will preface this first by noting I did not upload a lot to flickr this year nor have I posted as regularly on this blog. Still, I think I got a very good set of photographs.

10.) Contemporary Christmas (17 Favs). As I mostly upload photos from my Disney trips to flickr, it is not surprising most of the photos are from Walt Disney World as I visited three times in 2016. Starting from the latest trip in December of 2016. On the last evening, my family and I visited the resorts along the monorail line to view each one’s Christmas decorations. At the Contemporary Resort, I found this composition of the large tree outside in front of the resort.

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Disney’s Contemporary Resort’s Christmas Tree for 2016.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/10s, f/8, ISO 6400, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length.

9.) Epcot Monorail (17 Favs). In the Spring, Epcot turns into a colorful landscape of flowers during the annual Flower and Garden Festival. One of the features are the floating flower beds in the ponds the monorails travel over upon transversing the park.

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Monorail in Epcot during the Flower and Garden Festival at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/250s, f/16, ISO 160, EV 0, 35mm Focal Length.

8.) All-Star Goal (18 Favs). The American Hockey League’s All-Star Game for 2016 was played in Syracuse, New York and hosted by the Syracuse Crunch whom I photograph for. I bided and won the contract to photograph the event which featured fan events, AHL Hockey Hall of Fame ceremonies, Skills Competition and the game itself. During the game, I photographed from one of the team’s benches. What an experience to meet all the young talented players and to interact with them. Many have already moved on to the National Hockey League including the goal scorer pictured below.

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North Division Michael McCarron (25) of the St. John’s Ice Caps scores on Central Division goalie Eric Comrie (37) of the Manitoba Moose in the AHL All-Star Challenge at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Monday, February 1, 2016.
Nikon D750/80-400VR, 1/1000s, f/5, ISO 5600, EV +1.0, 122mm Focal Length.

7.) Summer Flower (19 Favs). Every three years, the sunflower fields surrounding the The Inn Between restaurant near Camillus, New York bloom. I visited the flowers towards the end of their showing. While many flowers were bent over, I found this one standing tall.

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Sunflower maze at The Inn Between restaurant near Camillus, New York on Saturday, August 20, 2016.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/160s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length.

6.) On Top of Bald Mountain (12 Favs). In mid-October, my wife and I hiked up to the top of Bald Mountain near Old Forge, New York in the Adirondack Mountains. This was the view from the summit processed in Macphun Aurora HDR software.

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White Pine Tree (Pinus strobus) pokes up on the summit of Bald Mountain with Lake Rondaxe below on an Autumn day near Old Forge, New York on Sunday, October 16, 2016.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, f/16, ISO 1250, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, HDR Image.

5.) Cinderella Castle at Dusk (21 Favs). During my September visit to Walt Disney World, I had set a goal to photograph a sunset in the Magic Kingdom with Cinderella Castle as my foreground subject. The weather was not too cooperative until after the Sun had set. I’ll take it.

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Cinderella Castle just after sunset at the Magic Kingdom on Friday, September 9, 2016 in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 1/3s, f/22, ISO 100, EV 0, 24mm Focal Length, Tripod.

4.) Warming Up at Saratoga (24 Favs). For the second summer in a row, I traveled to the world famous Saratoga Race Course in Saratoga Springs, New York to enjoy and photograph the thoroughbred horse races. Before the stormy weather hit, I got in some motion photography with this panning shot of a horse being warmed up ahead of a race.

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Jockey John Velazquez warms up Leviathan before Race 3 at Saratoga Race Course on Saturday, August 13, 2016 at Saratoga Springs, New York.
Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/30s, f/14, ISO 100, EV +0.3, 98mm Focal Length.

3.) Galactic Mountain (32 Favs). Disney’s Hollywood Studios now has nightly fireworks shows. With Disney’s Animal Kingdom not too far away, a fellow Disney photographer told me about this angle to capture fireworks with the thrill ride Expedition EVEREST in the foreground.

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Fireworks from Disney’s Hollywood Studios go off behind Expedition EVEREST IN Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Tuesday, September 6, 2016 in Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 11s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 92mm Focal Length, Tripod.

Before I get to the last two photos I want to define what flickr Explore is. A photo is selected for Explore by a complex algorithm calculated into something Flickr calls “interestingness.” Each day, photos are posted to the Explore home page. When a photo gets explored, its views and favorites climb very fast. The Favs for the last two photos were taken back on December 27, 2016 after being Explored.

2.) Christmastime on Main Street USA (Favs 110). After the last stage show in front of Cinderella Castle each day in the Magic Kingdom, you can walk up to the castle’s entrance and see a view right down Main Street USA. Being all decorated for Christmas with a big tree, I could not resist taking this photo even if I didn’t have a tripod with me. Turned out thousands of people could not resist viewing the result.

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Main Street USA all decked out for the Christmas holiday at the Magic Kingdom on Wednesday, November 30, 2016 at Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida.
Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/100s, f/4, ISO 6400, EV -1.0, 120mm Focal Length.

1.) Soarin’ Over the Matterhorn (198 Favs). Disney updated the attraction called Soarin’ in The Land pavilion of Epcot. The first version featured scenes from California in the United States of America. The new one is more fitting for Walt Disney World as it features scenes from all over the world starting with the Swiss Alps. I used a Fisheye lens to allow me to frame the photo using people on the ride with me.

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Going over the Matterhorn’s summit while riding Soarin’ Around the World in The Land pavilion at Epcot’s Future World.
Nikon D750/Sigma 15mm Fisheye, 1/125s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

There you have it. My Best of 2016 as selected by the flickr community.

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View 390: Hockey Week in Syracuse

Last week was a busy week for the Syracuse Crunch, an American Hockey League (AHL) team and affiliate of the Tampa Bay Lightning, with three games in four days. All games were played in the friendly confines of the OnCenter War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York. The Crunch started the three game home stand with a slim percentage points lead in the AHL’s North Division.

The first game featured the one and only time the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers, would travel to play in Syracuse this season. It was a one-sided affair as the Phantoms dictated the play for most of the game. Yet, the Crunch came out the victors behind a 48 save effort by goalie Adam Wilcox.

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Syracuse Crunch goalie Adam Wilcox (32) makes a save against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Wednesday, December 7, 2016. Syracuse won 4-2.
Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/3.5, EV +1.0, 200mm (300mm DX) Focal Length, Cropped.

After a one day break, the Crunch took on the Albany Devils, affiliate of the New Jersey Devils, and right behind them in the standings. This was a very entertaining and close game. Until the Crunch pulled away in the third period with a goal from behind the net by Forward Yanni Gourde.

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Syracuse Crunch Yanni Gourde (37) scores a goal from behind the net against Albany Devils goalie Ken Appleby (41) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, December 9, 2016. Syracuse won 4-2.
Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/4, EV +1.3, 200mm (300mm DX) Focal Length, Cropped.

The next night, the closest team geographically to Syracuse, the Utica Comets and affiliate of the Vancouver Canucks came to the Old Barn (as everyone likes to call the War Memorial Arena). This was the fourth of twelve games these teams will play this season. Being as the cities are so close, fans of both teams filled the place.

Like many games between these two teams, the game went past an overtime to a shootout. The Crunch came out on top in the shootout, 2-1, for the 4-3 win.

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Syracuse Crunch Tanner Richard (71) scores the winning shootout goal past Utica Comets goalie Michael Garteig (35) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, December 10, 2016. Syracuse won 4-3 in overtime.
Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/4, EV +1.3, 200mm (300mm DX) Focal Length, Cropped.

Whew and, after the ice chips cleared, the Crunch had built up a six point advantage over the second place team in the division.

What a work out for the players and for myself. I shot over 1,500 images in covering the three games which will get edited down to about 100 to 200 keepers. The Crunch are on the road this weekend and I get a break to catch up. Next game is a week from today.

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View 389: Disney Christmas Celebrating

Back from a vacation to Walt Disney World where Christmas celebrations merge traditions, technologies and stories to weave holiday magic.

During the months of November and December, Walt Disney World produces Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom on several evenings. It is a special ticketed event which features limited attendance, holiday shows with Disney characters and fireworks, Christmas cookies and drinks, character meet and greets and Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. The parade cumulates with the big guy himself, Santa Claus.

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Santa Claus waves from a Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade float during a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party in the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.
Nikon D750/50mm, 1/200s, f/2.8, ISO 6400, EV 0.

Epcot presents their annual Candlelight Processional which recounts the biblical tale of Christmas interwoven with rich orchestral music and song by a mix of professional singers, Disney employee choir and high school chorus groups from all over the United States. Each evening a guest narrator tells the story of Christmas in between the music of the season. The night I attended the CP (as Disney fans like to call it), Neil Patrick Harris who starred in such television series as Doogie Howser, M.D. and How I Met Your Mother, was the narrator.

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Neil Patrick Harris was the guest narrator for the Candlelight Processional in Epcot’s America Gardens Theatre on Thursday, December 1, 2016.
Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/30s, f/5.3, ISO 3200, EV 0, 100mm Focal Length.

Over in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney Imagineers mixed fireworks, lasers and projections to create the Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM Holiday Show each evening using The Great Movie Ride for its screen. The story features Pixar’s Prep and Landing crew who need to find Santa Claus and brings in clips from Disney’s extensive film library of Christmas and holiday movies and shorts.

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Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM holiday show in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 46s, f/11, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod.

I was able to enjoy all these events with my family which was the best part of the whole trip.

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View 388: Hockey Code D500

I finished shooting my seventh hockey game with the Nikon D500 Digital SLR camera last weekend. I am more and more impressed with each outing with the D500. The shutter speed of 10 frames per second (fps) and super fast auto-focusing system has helped me greatly in getting photos like this one:

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Syracuse Crunch Joel Vermin (92) leans into a shot for a goal against the Rochester Americans in an American Hockey League (AHL) game at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, November 12, 2016.
Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/4.8, ISO 2800, EV +1.3, 52mm (78mm DX) Focal Length.

The Nikon D500 utilizes a cropped sensor which is designated as DX. That means a lens’ focal length gets multiplied by a factor of 1.5. This is a good thing for when I photograph a field sport like football or lacrosse. For hockey, it is a mixed bag. When I shoot from above the glass, my 70-200mm lens becomes a 105-300mm one without loosing a stop of light to the sensor. The issue comes when I use this lens from the photography holes along the glass. The focal length can be a little too much.

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Syracuse Crunch Adam Erne (73) cuts through the crease with the puck between Bridgeport Sound Tigers Bracken Kearns (38) and goalie Stephon Williams (35) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, November 11, 2016.
Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 3200, EV +1.3, 27mm (40mm DX) Focal Length.

I experimented with a DX Nikon lens last weekend which I rented from LensRentals.com. The Nikon 18-140mm DX VR lens or 27-210mm with the crop factor seemed to be the perfect focal range. The lens was not perfect as it is a variable aperture lens going from f/3.5 at 18mm to f/5.6 as it is extended to its longest focal length of 140mm. That is a full one stop slower than what I shoot the 70-200mm lens at or f/4. It makes a big difference as the images are not as bright and the ice looks a bit grey. It will add time for me in processing the images.

Shooting the Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII lens from the photography holes does give me great close up shots of the players. Not much cropping was required on this photo of the Syracuse Crunch goalie in action.

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Syracuse Crunch goalie Adam Wilcox (32) makes a stick save against the Providence Bruins in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, October 29, 2016.
Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 2800, EV +1.0, 70mm (105mm DX) Focal Length.

Again, when shooting above the glass, the 70-200mm becomes a 105mm-300mm lens which was what I needed in Binghamton to capture the action from the Press area. I did have to crop this action photo but not a lot. The 10fps came in to play here to allow me to pick the peak action image from a set of six.

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Syracuse Crunch Ben Thomas (26) knocks the puck away from Binghamton Senators Buddy Robinson (10) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, New York on Friday, October 28, 2016.
Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 2000, EV +1.0, 200mm (300mm DX) Focal Length.

I will keep shooting with all my lenses or renting others until I find my along the glass lens. Or maybe Nikon will make an 18-140mm DX Pro version with a set aperture of f/4. I can only hope.

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View 387: Championship Football

I covered a couple of High School Championship Football games over the weekend. These championships were for the New York State Public High School Athletic Association (NYSPHSAA) Section III which represents 105 school districts in central upstate New York. It is a big deal to the athletes to hoist a Sectional banner in their gyms or stadiums.

The first game was between two undefeated and state ranked teams. Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) and Cicero-North Syracuse Northstars have been on a collision course all season. Fittingly, the game was tied 14-14 going into the fourth quarter until…

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Christian Brothers Academy Avion Othman (6) catches the ball for a touchdown over Cicero-North Syracuse Northstars defender Nate Geloff (15) in Section III Class AA Football Championship action at Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, November 5, 2016.
Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/3.5, ISO 4500, EV +0.6, 70mm (105mm DX) Focal Length.

Photo Gallery: CBA and Cicero-North Syracuse Section III Football Championship Game

The throw by CBA game MVP Quarterback SirVocea Dennis to Avion Othman turned out to be the winning touchdown as the Brothers went on to win the Sectional title for Class AA schools, 27-14.

The second game featured much smaller schools in the Cazenovia Lakers, defending Section III Champs for Class B, against the Homer Trojans.  The Lakers showed early and often why they are past champions.

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Cazenovia Lakers Nate Morgan (10) tackles Homer Trojans Dante Yacavone (81) in Section III Class B Football Championship action at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York on Sunday, November 6, 2016.
Nikon D500/80-400VR, 1/800s, f/5, ISO 6400, EV +0.6, 180mm (270mm DX) Focal Length.

Photo Gallery: Cazenovia and Homer Section III Championship Game

After taking a 24-0 lead into halftime, Cazenovia Lakers cruised to a 31-7 successful defense of their Section III title.

In both photos, I was in the right spot at the right time. This is a skill all sports photographers learn by studying the games they cover, learning from other photographers and through trial and error. I missed other photos as well but feel I got enough to satisfy my client.

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