Sunday, February 03, 2013

Pond Hockey, Eh?

The weather out there is frightening!
I remember when winter was winter and summer was summer. When I was a kid growing up in Montreal, I walked to school through blizzards and snowstorms and three feet of snow (5 miles, uphill both ways, of course). I remember playing in caves we dug in the snowdrifts and snow piles created by the huge snowblowers that prowled the streets (in hindsight, how stupid is that? Imagine the snowblower coming along and turning kids into minced meat...).

I moved up to Haliburton 5 years ago. The first year, we had 11 feet of snow. Snowfalls of 3- and 4- feet in one day.

Here's a shot from March (!) 2008. I had been in Toronto for a couple of days and came back to this immense snowdrift in my driveway! 

December 2009. This is the door to my garage after clearing the three-foot snowfall that day. 

For the past 3 years, nothing like that. Sure, we had snow, but 2 cm at a time (aha! It's when they changed from inches to centimeters! Snowpiles are a lot smaller now that we measure them in centimeters!). We had a two week long period in January this year where the temperature barely touched the freezing mark during the day, although the nights were cold enough to freeze the lakes and the ice fishermen were out there trying not to break through the ice...

On Sunday this weekend, we had about 10cm (that's 4", folks!) of snow and I brought out the ATV to clear it. I was in Toronto for a couple of days and when I got back, the temperature reached over 10°C (50°F) and you could see green grass, and of course huge puddles of melt. My sump pump worked overtime draining the basement.

Today (Thursday) as I look out, it's -5°C, it's windy and snow is falling. The ground's not completely white yet but it will be. The freeze should be enough to allow them to play pond hockey up in Haliburton. But what's with this weird weather? Where's our Highlands snow?  They say that Global Warming will continue to bring us these strange weather patterns. Sad. I miss winter...

Also December 2009. 
2013 Course Schedule
As most of you know, I teach people how to step up from taking point-and-shoot snapshots to making photographs with a DSLR camera. My goal is to get them off "automatic" and to understand WHY they're doing what they're doing. "Give a man a fish..." you know the rest.

I haven't set the 2013 course schedule yet, but I've got people already interested in attending sessions, either here in the Highlands or in the Toronto GTA. A course is usually two 5-6 hour sessions, best a week apart, and I need a minimum of 2 students in a session (4 is better). Dates are very flexible, especially before I set a schedule. The cost is only $150 per person for the two sessions.

The website describing the course from last summer is here: with obvious inaccuracies relating to where and when... I'll work on that in the next week or two. It would help me out to know what people want so I can set the times accordingly.

So if such a course interests you or if you know someone who has a relatively new DSLR and is anxious to improve their photography skills, please pass this information and link on, or email me and I'll contact them.

PS: if you're elsewhere in the world, I can still come to you, if it makes sense. I haven't figured out where I want to go this year; Newfoundland, Ireland, Iceland, New Zealand, Australia... let's make it happen!

Ice Racing is back!
Every year the Minden Fairgrounds are converted to an ice racing track. It's a great spectator sport, for one thing, because you can get right up to the track and a close-up view of the racing cars. Here are a couple of shots from Saturday, when Ron and Mark came up for a visit and came to the track with me.

This was a crash into the snowbank on the back corner. The driver of this car is a novice (orange triangle on the back of the car) and was going for it: beyond what you can do on ice! That's what the snowbank is for, he was able to continue after the crash. FWIW, I was standing on top of that snowbank about 5 minutes earlier! 

The studded tires throw ice dust into the air. When the wind is calm, it blocks your view of all but the lead car or, on occasion, when a gust of wind comes along, a car pops out of the fog. That's what happened here. I used a bunch of Photoshop layers and Topaz Adjust to create this image, but I did NOT strip the car in, that's exactly what it looked like live. 

Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships
Haliburton hosted the Pond Hockey Championships this year and I got to shoot at the match. The games went on for 6 days, I shot 5 of them (I begged off on the last day, wasn't feeling up to scratch and didn't want to go out in -20°C temperatures). I'll put a few images here, and when I get the final site set up, I'll give you the link to the location. In the meantime, here are a few shots.

The first weekend was pretty serious hockey. Pond hockey is different from regular hockey, smaller rink, 4 players per team, no goaltending, no slapshots and theoretically no contact. (!!). The biggest difference is that when someone falls down, an opposing player is likely to go over to help him up and ask, "are you OK"? But hey, competitive is competitive! 

The net's less than a foot high, so no lifting the puck. My favourite shooting position was directly behind the net. And yes, I got hit a couple of times. The one that really hurt was the one in the shin. As I type this, it's red and painful almost from knee to ankle.  

This shot hit me. I was holding the camera below waist level. Let's just say it missed everything important! Actually it wasn't a hard shot, but both teams came over to see if I was OK. Next day, as I stood behind a net, a volunteer scorekeeper came over to me and said, "did you hear about the photographer who got hit in the..."? I'm famous.

This was the winning team in the Open division. This picture was on the front page of the Haliburton Highlander. OK, well not THIS picture, the one that Matthew Desrosiers took standing right next to me. He came up with the staging for the shot, I clicked at the same time! I learned a lot listening to and watching Matthew. 

The second weekend was very different. People were there to have more fun. Someone said, "there was a party going on in the beer tent, and a hockey game broke out!" There were a lot of girl teams, and their outfits were really creative! Recognize the guy in the picture? Dr. Ron, kidding around with the Big Birds! 

Lots of pretty girls around! These were the "Frozen Beavers" from Toronto.  

I'm a sucker for pretty blue-eyed blondes. Her team were the "Bee's Knees" and her nickname was, I think, "Friz" Get it? "Frizbee..." 

OK, one more picture. I can picture this one as the cover shot for the tournament next year or as a mural painted on a wall...

That was last Friday. With the wind chill, it was like -30°C. But everyone had fun. 

'till next week!

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