Steve Wiens Photo

Motocross National Championships at Walton Raceways

Before Walton I knew almost nothing about Motocross.

I mean its just a bunch of guys riding around on dirt bikes, right?

Wow, was I wrong…

The races at Walton were some of the most intense and gripping action I’ve ever witnessed.

These racers have more guts than most people I have ever met. One mistake on a landing or accidental brush with an opponent can result in broken bones and concussions. In fact this is so commonplace that a rider who makes it through many years without injury is assumed to be a crappy racer by his/her peers.

The high risk of injury means that riders rarely race past age 25. In fact at Walton all but one age group was between 6 and 25. It was the +40’s. They tended to avoid getting air on jumps…

The action was intense, the sun was burning my skin but I had a blast and got some exciting shots.

Even the kids were impressive:


Hockey, the TRUE Beautiful Game

It would be easy with all the attention paid to the World Cup right now to write a post about soccer…. However I’m not going to do that. Hockey is and always has been my favourite sport since I watched my childhood idol Wendal Clark and the Maple Leafs. Come to think of it they were almost as bad as the Leafs were this past season…. but that’s beside the point.

Hockey is just as photogenic as football. The major difference to photographers is that its mainly an indoor sport and many arenas have TERRIBLE lighting.

Even the best arenas can put your sensor to the test. Secondly you often are forced to shoot through glass that is chipped or scratched.

Many photographers attempt to shoot from the benches or from above with a longer telephoto lens if they have one. Some arenas have ports in the corners of the rink where you can shoot glass free.

(Hey goalie, I’m pretty sure you’re supposed to keep your eyes on the puck!)

Hockey is the fastest sport on the planet so anticipation is key.

There’s just so much going on that its hard not to come away with at least a few good shots.

Hockey is just as entertaining for me to shoot as it is to watch and play… and I love watching and playing hockey!

Shooting Football
June 10, 2010, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Football | Tags: , ,

When I started this blog I promised an overview of some of my work. Well, I got a little sidetracked. I focused on school and the shoots I needed for assignments so thankfully now I have graduated!

Now that I’m done I have some time to focus on posts for individual sports. The major ones like football, hockey, basketball and possibly even rugby will get their own posts while some of the others that I have shot less may get lumped together… We shall see.

First up – Football. Canadian Football more specifically. This brand of football is one of the most photogenic sports out there and therefore relatively easy and exciting to shoot. In most cases its played at an outdoor stadium meaning that the only time you need to worry about getting enough light is during a night game. Thankfully those are a rarity.

(I just felt I needed to throw this shot into the Football section. It’s probably the best shot of two players reaching for a catch that I’ve got!)

Of course that means you are also at the mercy of the weather – the temperature, rain, snow/hail, and wind can all wreak havoc on you and your equipment. These conditions can also result in some great shots!

The fact that football is outdoors generally makes it easier on the photographer exposure wise. Unless its partly cloudy and the lighting conditions are changing you can set for any exposure you’d like. Generally this would be any shutter speed faster than 1/500th of a second and around f4 to get enough selective focus. Sunlight or overcast skies should allow the use of ISO 100 – 400 easily for these exposures. A telephoto lens at least 200mm long is necessary to reach the shots you’ll be looking for.

Exposure is something you can figure out on your own though. In order to actually get a good shot where should you shoot from? This is the easy answer – ideally from the sidelines.

For most offensive plays you’ll want to stay about 15 to 20 yards ahead of the line of scrimmage to get the standard action shots (catches, runs, most tackles,) and stay low. Lower is better. Of course these rules should be broken when needed. Some shots like the QB sack can’t be had unless you shoot from behind the line. How do you know when that sort of thing is going to happen? Know the sport. Its an important part of sports photography. If you don’t understand what’s going to happen you will miss the best shots. Like this:

I know I’ve shown this shot before but had I not realized that Laurier was backed up against their own goal line I wouldn’t have moved behind them in the endzone for this shot.

Sometimes you manage to catch awkward moments like the one above. In order to get those shots you have to understand Peak Action. Of course, it is what it sounds like – the peak of the action on any given play.

Understanding when these events happen and timing your shot to capture them can be tough to learn but has a much higher success rate than “spraying and prayin,” (putting your camera on drive and firing constantly through the action.) Just because you have 30 shots of one sequence doesn’t mean you have one good one.

Those are the basics: be aware of the weather, understand the game, shoot low from the sidelines 15-20 yards ahead of the play (sometimes,) and like any sport – get the peak action!

CIS East-West Football Game 2010
May 9, 2010, 3:12 pm
Filed under: Football | Tags: , , , ,

May 8th 2010 saw some interesting weather in London, Ontario. The temperature was 7c which is not bad… if not for what else was going on. The day started off rainy, rained some more, hailed, snowed, became sunny, hailed, snowed some more and finished with more rain. Oh, did I mention the wind? How strong was the wind? Well….

Yep, it blew the padding off the uprights! It was in these conditions that the 2010 edition of the CIS East-West Bowl game at TD Waterhouse Stadium were played. Despite these conditions it was a blast to shoot! Thanks to Craig Glover for acquiring access for me to shoot.

East Wide Reciever tackled by a West Defender:

West QB Laurence Nixon searches downfield for a reciever:

East CB Bradley Daye intercepts a pass intended for West WR Zach Bull:

West WR Dustin Zender evades an East tackler:

East Safety Jeff Hecht fights West WR Marcel Samuel for the ball:

These are just a few of the shots from what was a very exciting and pass intensive game despite the weather. I look forward to seeing some of these players in the CFL!

Adrenaline MMA Fighter Shannon Ludlow
April 25, 2010, 9:34 pm
Filed under: portrait | Tags: , , ,

Recently I had the opportunity to do a photoshoot at the Adrenaline Training Center in London, Ontario with the amazing Shannon Ludlow. Prince Justin Atkinson was gracious enough to set this up and also help with lighting and insight during the shoot. Shannon needed a photo for an article being written about her which gave me the chance to shoot in an octagon. I won’t lie, the idea had me salivating!

Not only did this session provide some great pics but also gave me some great lessons on environmental photography. Several factors coincided so that the first time I would actually see the facility would be at the time of the photo shoot. This would prove to be important because a) there was a lot of equipment around that was hard to avoid putting in the frame and b) there was significantly more ambient light from the many windows than I was expecting. In the end the ambient light had little effect on the photos because of the lighting setup I use but it was still a learning experience.

The shots turned out great however, and here are a few:

In almost every shot I used a Canon 5D MkII, 24-70mm 2.8 lens, 1/125th, ISO 320 and f/9. Three Photogenic 1500 heads were used with 2 strip boxes and a standard square softbox.

Thanks again to Justin and especially Shannon!

Hockey Environmental
April 1, 2010, 4:07 pm
Filed under: portrait | Tags: , , ,

Recently I returned to the studio to work on improving the lighting technique I used previously on basketball players. I also attempted to use a moderate amount of a high-pass filter to add extra sharpness and a more dramatic flavour to these images.

And here’s a couple with Pawel’s actual favourite team. I’m sure the blue and white felt uncomfortable:

Special thanks to “Waterboy” Ryan Robbins and to the model, Pawel Wnek. Pawel is a photographer at Fanshawe as well – be sure to check out his work here.

Check it out!
March 18, 2010, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

My friend Paul has a new photoblog! Be sure to check it out – he’s a fellow Fanshawe student and he’ll have some killer stuff up for you to enjoy!

PWnek Photo