We recently got the call to shoot the Red Bull Open Ice finals on Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Over the past 8 weeks qualifiers for the international pond hockey tournament have been held around the world. 32 teams were scheduled to compete throughout the day culminating in a final matchup under the lights.
Having never shot hockey, or any traditional team sports for that matter, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect. I did a ton of digging around on the intramanets and found that the majority of the stick and ball (or puck) photography felt pretty generic and stock. After I arrived in the twin cities and did a site walk I was even more convinced that I’d need to do something a little different to keep the shots up to Red Bull’s high standards of creativity. Though the event was well branded and the 9 rink set up was impressive, it was still happening on a flat featureless pond with the skyline far in the background.
Since the day I got the call to shoot the event, I was envisioning some sort of protective casing that would allow my camera to mount in or behind the goal. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to build anything beforehand and the need for a unique angle felt even more urgent as I stood on the ice during our pre-production walk… so I headed straight to the hardware store.
I picked up a Rubbermaid garbage can, a piece of lexan, some hardware, and a piece of scrap 2×4 for $10.54 and headed back to the hotel.
Luckily my good friend and fellow photographer Bill Hickey lives close by and was willing to help. He brought over some tools and a few delicious home brews and we went to work creating a first round ghetto prototype on the hotel floor.
Here’s what we did (really simple):
-Cut the Rubbermaid in half (just deep enough for the camera with a Nikon 10.5 fisheye to sit behind the lexan)
-Drilled a hole though the bucket and the block of wood for a 1/4 20 bolt to fit through and thread into the bottom of the camera
-Hammered a t-nut into the wood for the super clamp mount and drilled a corresponding hole in the bucket.
-Used sticky velcro to attach the lexan to the bucket (pretty ugly but a good quick solution).
-Velcro on side for Pocket Wizard
-Hole in top for Pocket Wizard antennae
-Tested with a hammer.
At about 1:30am we were satisfied that we had created something that would protect an expensive piece of glass attached to an even more expensive piece of electronics from an errant puck.
Overall I was pretty psyched on what I was able to put together for almost no money and within 12 hours of the event but there are a number of things I’d like to change on the next round:
-I think black gaffer tape or some black rattle can on the inside would kill the glare/reflection from the inside of the rig.
-A quick release camera mount of some kind (maybe off my Gorrilla Pod) would be a huge timesaver while shooting.
-Access to the camera would be nice… maybe some a hinged door on the back of the box as long as it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the box.
-Viewing window in the back of the box.
-Some kind of rubber block instead of wood would be nice for dampening in case the box took a hard hit.
-Trim the corners of the Lexan so there is no leverage point for it to get forced off the front of the box.
Here’s a couple more stock shots to give you a feel for the event: