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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View 386: Mustang Halloween

I mentioned I got a new car over the summer. Specifically a 2017 Grabber Blue Ford Ecoboost Mustang. I am taking part in an Ecoboost Mustang calendar project and volunteered to do the month of October. Halloween was the obvious choice for a theme and what better place to go than an old cemetery.

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2017 Grabber Blue Ford Ecoboost Mustang photographed outside the Mortuary Chapel and Receiving Vault in Oakwood Cemetery in Syracuse, New York.
Nikon D750/16-35VR, 8s, f/16, ISO 100, EV 0, 16mm Focal Length, Tripod, Macphun Intensify CK.

The Oakwood Cemetery just south of Syracuse, New York contains many old crypts and interesting stone buildings. The Mortuary Chapel & Receiving Vault was built back in 1879 and was constructed in a gothic style using nearby Onondaga limestone.

I found the chapel to be the perfect Halloween background for the Mustang. The Sun was just abut to set and lighting was low. Using a tripod, long exposure and a small aperture, I was able to capture all the detail of the scene and create star bursts from the car’s lights. Macphun’s Intensify CK Soft HDR filter gave the image a suitable mood.

Have a Happy and Safe Halloween everyone!

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Player Introduction

I noticed during player introductions last season, I would sometimes capture the spotlight behind the players as they skated onto the ice. I watched how the spotlight operator would follow a pattern. Once I figured out about when the spotlight would swing in behind a player, I would position myself in the face-off circle nearest where the players entered the ice surface. It took a few games last season to dial in everything. This season, I’m ready for them.

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Syracuse Crunch Tanner Richard (71) being introduced before playing an American Hockey League (AHL) game at the War Memorial Arena in Syracuse, New York on Friday, October 21, 2016.
Nikon D500/24-120VR, 1/250s, f/5.6, ISO 1600, EV 0, 24mmm (36mm DX) Focal Length, Bounce Flash.

Even at f/5.6, the 9 bladed aperture diaphragm of the Nikon 24-120mm f/4 VR lens created a sunburst effect from the spotlight. The arena is bathed in blue light from the Ephesus Lighting LED stadium lighting which the flash counters by bouncing it off the built-in bounce card.

The Nikon D500 camera was in Manual mode with the shutter speed set to 1/250th of a second which is the fastest sync speed for the flash. The ISO can change from 400 up to 1600. In this lighting, 1600 is usually the result.

The only thing I can not control is how the players skate past me. Some come straight out and turn past me like Tanner Richard did in the photo used for this blog. Some keep going straight out and are not lighted by the spotlight in time. Others are too slow or too fast. Over the course of a 38 game season, I will get most of the players like this. The Crunch like to use them in promotional pieces. I just like them.

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