Today I turned my hand to being a sports photographer for what is reputably the most difficult sport to photograph due to the speed its played at. An ice hockey puck can be hit at over 100 miles per hour and while the recreational game is a lot slower, it still isn’t easy to keep up with the puck as it whips across the rink.
Leeds Knights is a new ice hockey team based in the city of Leeds, but currently playing their home games in Sheffield and Bradford until a new ice rink is built in the south of the city, on Elland Road, next to Leeds United’s football stadium. They are a recreational team playing a series of challenge and charity games with a view to joining an organised league in the future.
Having been a long time supporter of Blackburn Hawks, I had been hoping for hockey to arrive in Leeds since I went to live there 12 years ago, so when I heard about the Knights I had to go and watch a game. Before I did, I was contacted by the teams GM, Neil Fox who asked if I would consider taking some photographs of the game. I couldn’t say no!
The game was my first in eight years and I’d only taken photos from the stands, as a fan in the past. Bradford Ice Rink is a much more difficult place to shoot than Blackburn Arena too, smaller, darker and poorly maintained. I arrived early to get a feel of the rink and find the best locations to shoot from. The plexiglass was to dirty and scuffed to see through, never mind take photographs though. The main fan area was covered with safety netting which rules out any decent photography. There was an area near the team bench, at ice level and near the goal line which was great for the camera – no plexi or netting; but not so great for me because when your eye’s against the viewfinder keeping up with where the puck is heading isn’t that easy. Luckily I only came close to injury once and that was from a well checked shoulder rather than the puck! The rink has an upper balcony level as well which was much safer and meant I was shooting down onto the ice from a high level. That was good in terms of being able to see beyond players to where the action was at, but seemed to take away an element of being in the game. Something to think about for next time maybe; great shots, or safety?
I shot over 1,000 pictures during the game and have submitted over 200 of them to the Knights for promotional use. A few of those images can be found below, with many more over on flickr.
If you’re interested in finding out more about Leeds Knights visit their website at leedsknights.co.uk.Leeds Knights Ice Hockey Today I turned my hand to being a sports photographer for what is reputably the most difficult sport to photograph due to the speed its played at.