View 418: Summer Weekend in Upstate New York

Summer in Upstate New York took its time to arrive this year. Spring was one of the wettest on record so last weekend’s hot and humid weather was most welcome. My wife and I celebrated by driving over to Sylvan Beach, New York for dinner at Captain John’s before walking the beach and enjoying a summer sunset over Oneida Lake.

Oneida Lake Sunset

A pair of jet skis on lifts in Oneida Lake as the Sun sets from Sylvan Beach, New York on July 6, 2019. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/50s, f/16, ISO 400, EV 0, 120mm Focal Length, Cropped.

The next day we meet up with the Syracuse Shelby Mustang Club for a cruise to the Watkins Glen International race track for pace laps and lunch. After the second of three laps, all of us lined up at the Start/Finish line for photos of our cars on one of the most famous race tracks in the world.

Watkins Glen International Finish Line

Syracuse Shelby Mustang Club members lined up behind the Start/Finish Line at Watkins Glen International race track near Watkins Glen, New York on Sunday, July 7, 2019. Nikon D750/24-120VR, 1/125s, f/16, ISO 180, EV +0.3, 30mm Focal Length, Skylum Intensify CK Soft HDR filter.

The clouds hid the Sun but it was still warm and a great time with fellow Mustang enthusiasts.

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View 417: Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

I finally got over to the Lake Apopka North Shore while visiting Florida earlier this year. This area is part of the St. Johns River Water Management District or SJRWMD, for short. The SJRWMD covers an 18-county region in northeast and east-central Florida and is tasked with the management of the water and land related resources to benefit people and

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive Location

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive central Florida location.

the environment. One of the benefits for people is outdoor recreation and the Lake Apopka North Shore has hiking trails, picnic areas, kayaking, boating and wildlife viewing. Lake Apopka North Shore also offers extraordinary bird-watching and photography opportunities. It is one of the top three birding areas in the entire state of Florida. During the winter months, more than 150 species can be seen.

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, which is only open between sunrise and sunset on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and on U.S. federal holidays, was the reason for my interest. The drive is an 11 mile (17.7km) one-way, well maintained gravel road through wetlands filled with wildlife from birds to reptiles.

Riding in the back of an SUV driven by my daughter while my wife rode shotgun, I was accompanied by my 2 year old grandson who took great delight in grandpa’s maneuvering around to photograph out the windows on each side of the vehicle. Nevertheless,  I did accomplish to get a few good photos along the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

Great Egret

Great Egret (Ardea alba) photographed on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive near Apopka, Florida on Friday, February 8, 2019. Nikon D500/80-400VRII, 1/500s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 270mm (405mm DX) Focal Length.

There were many Great Egrets (Ardea alba) about hunting along the shore line. Vegetation was lush making for nice backgrounds behind the white wading birds.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) photographed on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive near Apopka, Florida on Friday, February 8, 2019. Nikon D500/80-400VRII, 1/1000s, f/4.8, ISO 220, EV 0, 125mm (187mm DX) Focal Length.

I have rarely seen Tricolored Herons (Egretta tricolor) in upstate New York and was thrilled to see several along the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

Green Heron

Green Heron (Butorides virescens) photographed on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive near Apopka, Florida on Friday, February 8, 2019. Nikon D500/80-400VRII, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 320, EV 0, 400mm (600mm DX) Focal Length, Spot Metering.

This Green Heron (Butorides virescens) was leaning in for a strike which I missed “by that much”. This bird was not in a good position to the Sun so I switched to Spot Metering.

I have been photographing Great Blue Herons (Ardea herodias), or GBH, for decades and I have never witnessed the behavior you see below.

Great Blue Heron Cooling Off

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) with wings drooped to cool off along the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive near Apopka, Florida on Friday, February 8, 2019. Nikon D500/80-400VRII, 1/1000s, f/6.3, ISO 100, EV 0, 220mm (330mm DX) Focal Length, Spot Metering.

The explanation is simple. Birds do not sweat or pant so they need ways to cool off. This GBH is cooling off by drooping his wings and letting air movement to do so. Maybe it’s hotter in Florida than where I live in upstate New York.

Great Blue Heron with Fish

Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) with fish photographed on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive near Apopka, Florida on Friday, February 8, 2019. Nikon D500/80-400VRII, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 100, EV 0, 400mm (600mm DX) Focal Length, Spot Metering.

This GBH had his mouth full of a fish still very much alive and not liking his current position in life. Eventually, the fish would stop struggling and would be eaten whole.

All these photos were taken between 11am and 12:30pm on a hot day. I hope to visit this place again far earlier in the day in the future for better light and more wildlife subjects.

The links in the first paragraph will take you to websites with more information and maps for planning a trip to the Lake Apopka North Shore and Wildlife Drive.

 

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View 416: A Day at the Zoo

I recently spent a day at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York. Here are some of its citizens I photographed during my visit.

A family favorite, this Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) was very active seeking out and munching on some Spring greenery inside its enclosure.

Red Panda

Red Panda (Ailurus fulgens) at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York on Monday, April, 22, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 180, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length, Intensify CK Soft HDR Filter.

Nearby, I noticed these Snow Leopards (Panthera uncia) huddled close together. There was no Zoo people nearby to confirm this but I think the two leopards facing left were the twins born at the Zoo last Spring.

Snow Leopards

Snow Leopards (Panthera uncia) at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York on Monday, April, 22, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/5.6, ISO 400, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

Inside the Social Building, I photographed this sleeping Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis) who looked very comfortable in his tropically heated enclosure.

Green Tree Python

Green Tree Python (Morelia viridis) at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York on Monday, April, 22, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/5.6, ISO 1100, EV 0, 300mm Focal Length.

The building houses many monkey species including this Black-and-white Colobus Monkey (Colobus guereza) who was as interested in watching the people as the people watching him were.

Colobus Monkey

Black-and-white Colobus Monkey (Colobus guereza) at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York on Monday, April, 22, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/125s, f/4.8, ISO 1250, EV 0, 68mm Focal Length.

The reason for my visit was to share the zoo with my grandson. He is the subject of my favorite photo of the day. It is not technically good but the moment is something I will enjoy forever.

Jaguar Face-Off

Little boy coming face-to-face with a Jaguar at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, New York on Monday, April 22, 2019. Nikon D750/28-300VR, 1/60s, f/3.5, ISO 2000, EV 0, 28mm Focal Length, Intensify CK Soft HDR Filter.

There were many families with young children at the zoo that day enjoying themselves and bonding with all the animal species on display. All of which need help to survive in this world where humans are more often the enemy of wild animals and places. My hope is some of them will go on to make the world better for all living creatures, not just Man.

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View 415: Syracuse Crunch 2nd Half-Season Favorites

So, how have you been? The plan was not to put this post after the last one posted at the end of January. Alas, that is what happened so let’s get to it.

The Syracuse Crunch 2018-2019 season has ended a lot sooner than most fans and followers of the American Hockey League expected. Thus, I am writing this at the beginning of May instead of the middle of June. While that may seem bitter, the season was on all accounts a huge success for the team and some of the players. For a recap, I suggest you head over the this RawCharge article here: It was a very good year for the Syracuse Crunch.

For me though it is all about the photography I so enjoy doing for the Crunch. Here are my favorites since the last time (er, post). I am starting with one which overlaps a bit as it is from December. I discovered this one when a fan asked me for a photo of Ross Colton and this is the one I sent him. I know Ross was impressed when he signed it for the fan.

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Syracuse Crunch Ross Colton (22) with the puck against the Binghamton Devils in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, December 7, 2018. Syracuse won 5-0. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/4.2, ISO 1600, EV +1.3, 34mm (51mm DX) Focal Length.

While I wish I could have straightened it more as that would have clipped the end of Ross’ stick, this photo has a lot of elements I love in a hockey photo: flying ice chips, a player’s facial expression and excellent background with the opposing players and goalie.

This next one is why I hope still sport photos never go out of style. The frozen action while static shows a fluid motion as Andy Andreoff (15) was able to redirect the puck over the outstretched glove of Utica Comets goalie Ivan Kulbakov (31).

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Syracuse Crunch Andy Andreoff (15) flips the puck over Utica Comets goalie Ivan Kulbakov (31) for a goal in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, February 1, 2019. Syracuse won 4-0.

You may have noticed on the first two photos, I grudged them up a bit with added contrast and clarity to pull out detail in the ice and players. Even us sport photographers like to get creative from time to time.

Hockey players like to get creative, too. Here Laval Rocket Dale Weise (21) is doing his best to not make contact with the puck as kicking it into the net is a no-no. Nevertheless, Crunch goalie Eddie Pasquale (80) was up to the task.

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Syracuse Crunch goalie Eddie Pasquale (80) makes a save despite the screen by Laval Rocket Dale Weise (21) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Wednesday, February 20, 2019. Syracuse won 4-2. Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 1400, EV +1.3, 200mm (300mm DX) Focal Length.

Nice pivot, Mr. Weise.

This next photo got me curious as to why these two hockey players on opposing teams might be all smiles in the mist of a scrum along the boards. While I have nothing to go on as Troy Bourke was sent to Orlando before I got a chance to ask him, I believe he and Sam Jardine knew each other from their time with the San Antonio Rampage back in the 2016-2017 season. Or, Referee Brandon Schrader is one funny guy.

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Syracuse Crunch Troy Bourke (20) and Toronto Marlies Sam Jardine (25) share a laugh with Referee Brandon Schrader (46) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, February 23, 2019. Toronto won 3-2 in overtime. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +1.6, 140mm (210mm DX) Focal Length.

Either way, it made for a fun and unexpected photo in the middle of a very competitive game.

Here is another flying ice photo, enough said!

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Syracuse Crunch Mitchell Stephens (67) checks Lehigh Valley Phantoms Zach Palmquist (7) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, March 1, 2019. Syracuse won 4-0. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/3.8, ISO 1400, EV 1.6, 23mm (34mm DX) Focal Length.

Again, the wide angle aspect of the Nikon 18-140mm lens comes into play to catch the action.

Many of the players, coaches and people who are around the Crunch daily have remarked how close the 2018-2019 team became over the course of the long season. I think this photo shows that closeness not only between two players but between the fans and their team.

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Syracuse Crunch Alexander Volkov (83) and fans celebrate the goal by Cory Conacher (89) against the Utica Comets in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, March 23, 2019. Syracuse won 6-2. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +1.6, 140mm (210mm DX) Focal Length.

This photo also shows my battle with the Syracuse Crunch blue uniform color. To me this is very close to what I see with my eyes. However, if I have to lighten the photo in any way, the blue gets much brighter (see the photos at the beginning of this post as a reference). I created some Lightroom Develop Pre-Sets as the season progressed. Still need some tweaking to get more consistent.

Hockey is a full contact sport. Players of various sizes skate at full speed in the confined 100 wide by 200 long feet of ice. Many collisions happen all the time along the boards which are easy to capture.  Mid-ice ones not so much but I did get this one during the short playoff run the Crunch had.

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Syracuse Crunch Boris Katchouk (13) and Cleveland Monsters Ryan Collins (6) collide over a loose puck in American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup Playoff action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, April 19, 2019. Cleveland won 5-3. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/6.3, ISO 4000, EV +1.3, 85mm (127mm DX) Focal Length. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/6.3, ISO 4000, EV +1.6, 85mm (127mm DX) Focal Length.

Boris and Ryan here are about the same size and basically stopped each other in mid-stride going for the puck.

I would like to finish this photo recap with two photos of the unsung heros (many fans consider them villains) of each AHL hockey game, the Linesman. These guys skate the whole game and, except for the face-offs at the beginning of each period, handle all the face-offs, call every off-sides and icing and can help out the referees when it comes to a couple of penalties like Too Many Men on the Ice and Delay of Game when the puck leaves the defensive zone without being deflected.

Here Linesman Peter Feola slides into position to determine Crunch Alex Barré-Boulet (12) crossed the Blue Line with the puck on-sides.

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Syracuse Crunch Alex Barré-Boulet (12) crosses the Blue Line onside according to Linesman Peter Feola (33) against the Rochester Americans in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, April 6, 2019. Rochester won 5-2. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +1.6, 140mm (210mm DX) Focal Length.

Linesman also have to be adept at avoiding the puck as players send it up and down the ice. A referee or linesman contacting the puck could alter the play for the benefit or deterrence of one team or the other.  Here Linesman Tyson Baker (88) show us his jumping ability. Mind you, this is on skates.

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Linesman Tyson Baker (88) jumps to avoid a puck during an American Hockey League (AHL) Calder Cup Playoff game between the Syracuse Crunch and Cleveland Monsters at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, April 20, 2019. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 6400, EV +1.6, 140mm (210mm DX) Focal Length.

Gee, I wonder if Dunkin’ Donuts would want to use this photo?

That concludes this season of exciting Syracuse Crunch hockey. I will now be covering high school field lacrosse and indoor box lacrosse until baseball starts up in early June. Sigh, I’d rather be shooting hockey. Is it October yet?

 

 

 

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View 414: Syracuse Crunch Half-Season Favorites

The Syracuse Crunch have passed the half way mark in their 2018-2019 American Hockey League (AHL) Season. Here are a few of my favorite photos to this point in the season. Below each photo I will discuss and/or comment on it.

Connor Ingram at Binghamton

Syracuse Crunch goalie Connor Ingram (39) makes a save against the Binghamton Devils in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the Floyd L. Maines Veterans Memorial Arena in Binghamton, New York on Friday, October 19, 2018. Syracuse won 4-0. Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1250s, f/4, ISO 3200, EV +0.3, 70mm Focal Length.

This is Connor Ingram’s second year with the Crunch. He has taken on a much bigger role and has played in 15 games so far this season. He would have played more except for an injury which sidelined him for a month. His early season performance earned him a spot in the AHL All-Star Classic which was held this past weekend. The photo shows the kind of concentration an ice hockey goalie must have to succeed at the professional level.

Andy Andreoff Face-off

Syracuse Crunch Andy Andreoff (15) before a face-off against the Belleville Senators in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, November 2, 2018. Syracuse won 5-4. Nikon D750/70-200VRII, 1/400s, f/4, ISO 1600, EV +1.0, 200mm Focal Length.

Andy Andreoff preparing for a face-off checks this stick’s blade before lining up. I really like how this photo shows Andy’s strength of character in how he holds himself when playing. He is not a natural center and has been learning his new position on the job. He is doing it very well, too. Fun fact: if you watch any hockey games in person or on TV and see a stick break, the cost to the team is about $250.

Alex Barré-Boulet Flying Ice

Syracuse Crunch Alex Barré-Boulet (12) scoring attempt is stopped by Binghamton Devils defenders Kevin Rooney (21) and goalie Eddie Lack (31) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Wednesday, November 14, 2018. Syracuse won 5-2. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5, ISO 5600, EV +1.3, 60mm (90mm DX) Focal Length.

Alex Barré-Boulet is a rookie for the Crunch this season and was signed as a Free Agent by the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning have made a habit of finding underappreciated and undersized players over the last decade and making them into NHL stars. Alex hopes to follow in the skates of players like Yanni Gourde and Brayden Point who are currently playing with the Lightning in the National Hockey League (NHL). As for this photo, I am a sucker for flying ice shots.

Connor Ingram at Utica

Syracuse Crunch goalie Connor Ingram (39) makes a save against the Utica Comets in American Hockey League (AHL) action in the Adirondack Bank Center at the Utica Memorial Auditorium in Utica, New York on Friday, November 16, 2018. Syracuse won 4-0. Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 3200, EV +1.3, 175mm (262mm DX) Focal Length.

It is hard to win in the AHL and even harder to shutout any team in the league. Here, Connor Ingram makes one of his 34 saves towards a shutout win over the Utica Comets. Even more impressive is he did it in Utica. A very hard place for visiting teams to play. Often when I photograph a goalie save, I might be a second to early or too late. I got it at just the right time in this photo.

Mitch Hults Hockey Fights Cancer

Syracuse Crunch Mitch Hults (86) wearing the special Hockey Fights Cancer jersey skates with the puck past the Upstate Cancer Center dasher board against the Laval Rocket in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Saturday, November 17, 2018. Syracuse won 6-4. Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 1100, EV +1.0, 200mm (300mm DX) Focal Length.

Upstate University Hospital sponsored the Syracuse Crunch’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night with two special dasher board “I Fight For” ads. The names on the dasher boards were nominated by Crunch fans of family and friends who are currently fighting cancer or have fought it. My sister, Linda Drew, can be found on this one. Forward Mitch Hults is wearing the lavender Hockey Fights Cancer jersey the team had on. The jerseys were later auctioned off with proceeds going to the Upstate Cancer Center.

Ross Colton Face-off

Syracuse Crunch Ross Colton (22) facing off against Binghamton Devils Blake Speers (18) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, December 7, 2018. Syracuse won 5-0. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/3.5, ISO 1400, EV +1.7, 18mm (27mm DX) Focal Length.

Every once in awhile I get closer to the action than I want to. Along the boards in The Oncenter War Memorial Arena, I use photo holes which get me very clear photos of the action. But, I must be ever aware of any action which comes close to my location. I do not want anything hitting my camera or myself in turn. Luckily, this puck hit the boards underneath the photo hole. Made for a very dramatic photo, too.

Connor Ingram Shutout

Syracuse Crunch players congratulate goalie Connor Ingram (39) on his shutout against the Binghamton Devils in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, December 7, 2018. Syracuse won 5-0. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/500s, f/4, ISO 3200, EV +1.0, 23mm (34mm DX) Focal Length.

Did I mention how hard it is to get a shutout in the AHL? Well, Connor Ingram is making a habit of proving me wrong. So far this season, he has had four of them. Another reason for him being named an AHL All-Star. After each win, the players come out to congratulate their winning goalie. It is a great time to get candid photos of the players.

Captain Gabriel Dumont

Syracuse Crunch Captain Gabriel Dumont (40) skating against the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, January 4, 2019. Syracuse won 3-1. Nikon D500/70-200VRII, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 3600, EV +1.0, 200mm (300mm DX) Focal Length.

When I can capture a player’s eyes cleanly, it more often than not creates a stunning image showing the intensity he plays at. Crunch Captain Gabriel Dumont is skating at full speed trying to get to a loose puck before his Bridgeport opponent. I do not often use what many in the industry call Nikon’s best lens, the Nikon AF-S 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II Zoom, from the photo holes because it is a tight fit using the Nikon D500 DX dSLR Camera to capture action around the net from them. This photo, which is slightly cropped, shows Dumont crossing the Sound Tiger’s Blue Line.

Alex Barré-Boulet Goal Celebration

Syracuse Crunch players congratulate Alex Barré-Boulet (12) on his goal against the Cleveland Monsters in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, January 11, 2019. Cleveland won 4-3 in a Shootout. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/3.5, ISO 5000, EV +1.7, 18mm (27mm DX) Focal Length.

After Alex Barré-Boulet scored the first goal of the game against the Cleveland Monsters, all the Crunch players on the ice at the time converged to congratulate him. While it is not even close to the Nikon 70-200VRII lens in focusing speed and image quality, the Nikon 18-140mm DX lens works very well with the Nikon D500. It allows me to get wide angle and telephoto images to capture moments likes this.

Alexander Volkov Puck Battle

Syracuse Crunch Alexander Volkov (83) battles for the puck with Cleveland Monsters Dillon Simpson (18) in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, January 11, 2019. Cleveland won 4-3 in a Shootout. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/4, ISO 4000, EV +1.7, 27mm (40mm DX) Focal Length.

To capture this scene of Alexander Volkov digging out the puck from a Cleveland Monsters defender, I did shoot through the protective “glass”. The reason this photo looks a bit over processed is because it is. Had to add more contrast then usual to clean up the image and a slight dose of Dehaze using Adobe Lightroom Classic to finish it up. I still like it for showing the type of hard work the players put in to gain control of the puck.

Captain Gabriel Dumont Complaining

Syracuse Crunch Captain Gabriel Dumont (40) complaining after being throw out of the face-off against the Belleville Senators in American Hockey League (AHL) action at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, January 18, 2019. Syracuse won 5-3. Nikon D500/18-140VR, 1/1000s, f/5.6, ISO 5000, EV +1.7, 140mm (210mm DX) Focal Length.

Gabriel Dumont was having a rough game at the face-off dot. This linesman had thrown him out of the face-off circle numerous times. Dumont, frankly, had had enough of it and let the linesman know he was not pleased. I could lighten this photo up some but I did not want to loose the emotion of the scene.

The Crunch are fighting for first place in their division with two and a half months to go before the playoffs start. I will be there to photograph the fun and excitement of each game and the players who make the game of ice hockey so special to me.

If you have any questions about any of these photos or would like to make a comment, please, do so below.

 

 

 

 

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