Hockey Tips

In January of 2018, club members received these Ice Hockey Tips from Steve Reyer, who passed in June of 2018. These tips seem to be very fitting in light of the MSOE Field Trip coming up on January 12, so here are Steve’s tips:


1. Choose a“fast”lens — one that can be opened up rather wide, such as f/2.8 or even f/2 if you have it. A lens with the widest aperture of f/3.5-4.5 can be used too. If you have something super fast, such as an 85mm f/1.2, bring it along. A focal length around 100mm is good. I use a 70-200mm lens, but some people use a 135mm prime lens, for example. You won’t need anything longer than 200mm, to be sure. A wide maximum aperture (small f-number) is more important than a particular focal length.

2. Image stabilized (Canon) (vibration reduction on Nikon) lenses can be used in “panning” mode — “mode 2” on a Canon lens. Some IS (or VR) lenses have only one IS/VR mode. In that case you’ll probably want to turn off the IS/VR,as it will “fight” you as you attempt to pan with the players. I often turn IS off, even though I have a dual-mode IS lens.

3. OPTIONAL Start by taking a shot of the ice in Program mode, and use this to set your camera’s custom white balance (see the camera’s instruction booklet). The ice is a relatively whitish surface and can be used as a color reference. Unfortunately, the color ofthe lighting varies from one end of a rink to the other, and sometimes from instant to instant (rapid flickering of the lights not perceivable by eye). Or, just use automatic white balance mode.

4. I usually run my camera in aperture priority mode (Av mode), with the lens wide open—f/2.8 in my case. Wide open gives a shallow depth of field, unfortunately, making focus errors more apparent, but lets in much needed light. This will generate faster shutter speeds. With the fixed aperture and fixed ISO in Av mode, the camera’s meter adjusts the shutter speed accordingly.

5. The ice is quite bright and will confuse the camera’s meter, making the ice appear gray. To compensate for this, increase the camera’s exposure compensation by one stop or so. This augments the metering—you’re telling the camera that the meter is giving a conservative reading, and you need more light. Unfortunately, this will slow the shutter speed by a stop (that’s how it gets more light, after all). To bump the shutter speed back up, increase the ISO setting, such as to ISO 1600. Keeping the meter-adjusted shutter speed at 1/500 or faster is the goal (ha. ha). The trade-off is that high ISO photos can be noisy.

6. Run the camera in “continuous” shooting mode, where you can fire off a sequence of shots at top speed (3 fps will work, but 5 or even 8 isnicer). Operate the focus in“servo” mode using the center focus point only so the focus will track the moving players.

JPEG or RAW? Unless you have a strong reason for shooting RAW, I’d avoid it (use JPEG instead). With RAW the camera’s buffer will fill up quickly on fast-shot sequences, the memory card fills quickly, and post processing can take a long time.I can easily shoot 500 shots during a game, of which maybe 5-8% are worth keeping, and maybe 1-2% are actually “nice”. Dealing with JPEGs is easier, in my opinion, with few draw backs if exposure is reasonably close.

7. Some people prefer “manual” metering mode. You have to experiment with this, but start with the lens wide open and shutter speeds around 1/500-1/750. Adjust ISO for a good histogram (keeping the ice “bright”). The brightness of the lighting can vary from one end of the rink to the other, and this can be a problem in manual mode.

8.Have fun with the new challenge!