The story of an amazing hockey photo

one we cannot capture in Hungary

Hungarion version
The puck passes through a hole cut in the glass for photographers as Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, left, Vancouver Canucks’ Jannik Hansen, centre, of Denmark, and Chicago’s Sheldon Brookbank, right, skate during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on February Friday 1, 2013. Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

The puck passes through a hole cut in the glass for photographers as Chicago Blackhawks’ Patrick Kane, left, Vancouver Canucks’ Jannik Hansen, centre, of Denmark, and Chicago’s Sheldon Brookbank, right, skate during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Vancouver, B.C., on February Friday 1, 2013.
Photo by Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Here is a recent hockey photo that is a rarity of its kind. At the Ice Hockey world championships starting today in Budapest I strongly doubt we will have a chance to shoot anything similar. I don’t think we can even expect to ever have photographer holes on the glass here in Hungary – but I’m not sure if I really miss it or not.

It is different through the glass
Here in Hungary the ice is surrounded with closed glass surfaces. These partially help the game and protect the viewers and of course the photographers working behind the goal. This state of affairs however obviously doesn’t help photo quality. I think many Hungarian photographers would take the risk of a head shot with the puck just to get a chance to shoot better photos.

The thick glass is disturbing for photographers even if it’s clean as it produces large amounts of light distortion, while the surrounding area and people are reflected in it. No matter how good our cameras or lenses are the quality of the glass greatly affects how sharp – or rather blurred – our images become. The glass in reality is often stained, snotty and even scratched. Even if the organisers go to the bother of clearing the glass before each match (or in better cases before every period) it can still get splashes and scratches during the game when players collide with each other into the glass or when they hit the glass with their sticks or the puck.

There are many places in the world especially in the US and Canada where there are relatively large holes on the glass. These gaps give photographers unobstructed views to the ice (event organisers there after all consider it a high priority to help photographers take the best possible photos). This solution on the other hand is less safe. The chances of the 7.6 cm puck finding its way through the hole are low, but it does happen from time to time. You can imagine it doesn’t feel good to have this large rubber puck in your face during work, especially when it can reach speeds of 160 km/h.

The special photo
So if it’s a rare thing for the puck to fly out of the photographer, it’s even more rare to have someone capture it in such a great photo. The briliant photo above was taken by Darryl Dyck, a photographer of Canadian Press (you can see more of his great hockey photos on his Tumblr blog), when Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks played on 1st February this year.

The photographer recalls:

“I had a 1DX with a 70-200 in my hands with the strap over my shoulder and a Mark IV with a 8-15 (set around 13/14mm I believe) on my neck.
I dropped the 70-200 on my shoulder and rushed to pick up the camera around my neck thinking Sheldon Brookbank was going to check Vancouver’s Jannik Hansen into the boards in front of me.

I still don’t know if Hansen or Brookbank tipped that puck, all I remember is seeing it come into my field of view so I got the camera up to my eye and pulled back away from the hole, still thinking the two players were about to crash into the boards in front of me and squeezed off a couple frames.
I didn’t see through the viewfinder that the puck had passed through the hole due to the mirror being up but I did feel something hit my right side and it wasn’t until I heard the clang of the puck on the metal floor that I realized the puck had actually come through the hole.

I made sure the puck was directed over to a young girl sitting a few seats over and then checked the back of the camera to see if I had anything and was surprised to see the image.
I wasn’t injured and no gear was damaged luckily since I immediately remembered Toronto Star photographer Steve Russell getting struck by a puck shot through a hole a few years back.

Have also witnessed lenses being hit but I’ve never had one come directly through at me in all the games I’ve covered. Usually they just sail around the top of the boards, pop up along the glass or hit the netting above and drop straight down into the stands.”

This video shows how it looks in motion when the puck hits the photographer’s head and how he still manages to continue working afterwards.

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