skating

Thirsty Work

A few weeks ago I was asked to photograph a synchronized skating practice. Its a bit of a different assignment as the goal isn’t necessarily to get perfectly composed and beautiful photos. Its more of just getting some pictures. These shots are then pored over by the team and coach to see where they…well, aren’t in sync, because if they aren’t, they lose marks. But I’ve mentioned that before.

I used my Fuji X-T1 with its new autofocusing magic and the 16-55 f2.8 to grab a bunch of images.

It was a longer practice with lots of review and instruction. During one of the breaks in the skating, I saw and shot this photo of the line of water bottles. I will shoot from the player’s bench side of the rink – typically in the penalty box – because there is no mesh that gets in the way of the focus, so all I had to do was lean out. Thanks to the LCD view, I could extend my arms a bit farther out and still see what I was composing.

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Synchronized World

I have mentioned before, that my girlfriend is a synchronized skater. A team of between 16-20 skaters basically dancing on the ice.

Last weekend was the world synchronized skating championships in Hamilton, Ontario. Being only a short hop down the 401 from Ottawa, and my hometown of Dundas (meaning a place to stay), we took it in. Now, I watch the amateur competitions each year, and am very impressed with what I see. So imagine how it was to take in a world class competition. It was awesome.

I brought along my X-T1 and my longest lens, the 60mm in hopes of catching some of it. I don’t have anything extremely telephoto, which is a good thing, because they wouldn’t allow big lenses in. The 60 did a good job. Getting shots at ice level is tough enough, but in the stands even more so. All photos were processed and cropped in Lightroom.

The costumes are always interesting as a part of the interpretation of the music. I don’t recall which team this was, but I’m feeling Latvia.

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I think a lot of the spectators were synchro fans and skaters. When team Canada came out, the crowd went crazy. They knew the team and the costume.

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There were two Canadian teams. I don’t recall which one this one was, but they did a fantastic job in the short program.

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The United States had two teams as well. Hamilton being fairly close to the United States, there was a decent contingent of American fans on hand.On the Saturday for the long program, one team did a fantastic performance. It brought my girlfriend to tears of emotion, and a standing ovation from the Canadian spectators. Sadly, then didn’t end up with a medal. It was an outstanding set. The photo below is their stance at the beginning of the long program.

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In the end, the home team won by fractions of a point, followed closely by the Finnish team, and the Russian team.

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I can’t think of many other things that raises ones pride in their country than a sporting event when there is a large crowd waving flags and cheering. It was great to see not only the Canadian fans, but the Americans, and a large contingent of Finnish fans as well as others.

And it was fun as we left the venue, to see the various team skaters trading flags and mementos of the weekend. Particularly the Russian skaters as they collected Canadian flags, and begged for red and white scarves and hats.

Skate

Here in Ottawa, one thing in winter that everyone looks forward to it the opening of the Rideau canal for skating. Touted as the world’s longest skating rink (yeah, there are a few others, but not as practical), its eight kilometres (almost 5 miles) of skating on the canal. Its a prelude to Winterlude, the annual winter festival.

Cold temperatures arrived and were sustained, and finally, the canal was open. I endeavoured on Friday to skate the length of it. I did it, pitifully being out of shape and practice, in about 45 minutes. The ice was in fine shape, and kudos to those who make it usable (there is a team that floods and cleans off the snow).

During my efforts, I took a number of breaks. This one I took the time to take out my X-Pro1 and grab a shot of the Pretoria bridge. The lighting on it was fantastic.

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In Sync

In Sync. No, not the boy band.

My girlfriend is involved in synchronized skating. Typically, its about 18-22 women on the ice doing the exact same thing for 2-3 minutes. Think synchronized swimming, but on ice (and no nose plugs). When we first started dating, it was a new thing for me. And in the ensuing years, has become very interesting, and I’ve become totally involved. I’ve learned the lingo and know my “chaussay” (that’s the phonetical spelling) from a “mohawk”.

I also have become the unofficial photographer of the team. That is, I shoot the team photo and their practices, and the occasional competition/show.

When I started shooting the shows, I was diligent in culling the not-so-great shots from the cool ones. I was told they want all the shots. But, I countered, some aren’t great. You want the great ones. I quickly learned, that they want them all for training purposes. Those shots show where members are out of step, and where to improve. So I’ve eased on the culling. But (shhhhh), I still remove the odd one. I will take on the course of a 3 minute program, about 250 shots. They don’t need each shot second-by-second. That’s what video is for.

This shot isn’t the team. Its a different team. They recently did a showcase, and the first few teams up I shot to get my metering and focus set for their performance. But looking through the shots, I like this one. Not that the shots of our team weren’t great, the dress, the pose; everything just fit.

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Its actually the very end of their program. Watch for it, I’ll probably put something up from the Green Machine team later on.