What a great way to close out the regular season at home last night at CONSOL Energy Center for the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Pens put up four goals on former Penguin netminder and current New Jersey backup goalie Johan “The Moose” Hedberg to move one step closer to clinching home ice for the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The start of the game was a little shaky, as the Pens were trying to break the 1-3-1 trap that the Devils play, but once they got in the groove, they owned the ice, picking up goals Jordan Staal, Chris Kunitz on a great feed by Tyler Kennedy and two from Pascal Dupuis, one being an empty netter with time expiring in the game during a Devils powerplay.
There is something magical about playoff sports, well at least for playoff hockey. I’ve never been to a Pittsburgh Pirates playoff game and only one Pittsburgh Steelers playoff game when I was younger, so playoff hockey is really the only playoff action I know. Don’t get me wrong, the regular is awesome, especially against rivals like the Flyers and Capitals. But everyone just seems to cheer a little bit louder, the players skate harder, and there is just a buzz that resonates throughout the entire building.
Very few times will you see someone sitting back in their seat, casually watching the action. No, everyone is hanging on the edge, just waiting for that big goal to be scored by a superstar like Sidney Crosby or Jordan Staal, a talented young star like Mark Letestu or Chris Conner, or a grinding role player who is ever so important to the team like Craig Adams (pictured in the first shot above) or Max Talbot. Playoff hockey is about watching Marc Andre Fleury make an unbelievable save to bail out a defenseman and keep the game close or seeing Brooks Orpik or Deryk Engelland flatten someone into the boards so hard you need a spatula to get them off. I can’t wait.
Today’s shot keeps with the theme of the post as it is the exterior of CONSOL Energy Center. While the new home of the Pens doesn’t quite have the character of the old Civic Arena, it still as its own mystique, especially early in the morning with the sun rising. I took this one a few months back during an early morning photowalk around downtown Pittsburgh. This is the lower gate of the arena, the American Eagle Gate, located on 5th Avenue. I thought that it was so cool how you can see reflections on the left side of the glass on the building, but in the front you can actually see right through into the stairwell that ascends to the seating level.
This is a nine exposure HDR processed in HDR Efex under the “Clean” HDR method. After fixing some of the dust spot, I masked in the entire blue sky, because I wanted it to be rich and contrast nicely with the warm look of the building. I also added blue and red layer curve adjustments to bring out some contrast in the sky and building, and a slight selective coloring layer to enhance the sun. Finally I added a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and sent it off the blog.
Thanks to everyone who stops by, see y’all tomorrow.
First off I just wanted to thank everyone who gave their input on flickr and Explore in my post yesterday. I really enjoyed the feedback and hearing some different views on it.
Yesterday’s post was a bit long in verbiage so today I’ll give you a break and make it a bit longer but in pictures. Every so often I like to put up a whole series of action shots that I took before the Pens games and today is just one of those days. Originally I was thinking about doing this for today’s post because I thought that we would have pulled out a great win last night against our hated in state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers and pull even with them for the division lead. The Pens were looking great to, all over the ice, help two one goal leads, but the Flyers proved the luckier of the two teams last night, with pucks bouncing over, around and under Marc Andre Fleury for a 5-2 win by the men in orange.
So where does that leave the Pens? Probably in fourth place at the end of the season, which means that we will have guaranteed home ice advantage, at least for the first round and that our like opponent will be Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning. I like this matchup for Pittsburgh, as the Pens are a much deeper team than the lighting with a lot more playoff experience. However, anything can happen at any time in the playoffs.
On to the shots. The first one above is Mike Rupp, and I thought that this one was appropriate to start off with as it was one of the first pictures I took from last Friday’s game. All the images you see here today are from that contest between the New Jersey Devils and the Pens, which the Pens won in a 1-0 thrilling shootout victory. I was able to capture this one right as Rupp skated on the ice, and I was lucky enough to get the spot light right on top of him, which has never happened before.
Next up is winger James Neal, one of the players taking the Pens to the new horizon. He came over from the Dallas Stars along with Matt Niskanen back at the trade deadline for Alex Goligoski. Neal is a hardnosed, physical player who has a lethal wrist shot. He’s got speed and puck handling ability and was a very valuable add to the roster this year.
Above is Ben Lovejoy, a right handed shooting defenseman who has certainly made his mark in the NHL this year. Lovejoy is a shutdown d-man who has a decent shot too, and always willing to jump into the offensive play. I’m posting this more for the funny expression on his face than anything else.
Here we have Mike Comrie, another new Penguin this year. He was signed as a free agent, and although he has missed most of this season due to hip surgery, has put up 30 goal seasons in his past. I happened to catch him right as he was spitting in warm ups, which made for an interesting shot.
Taking a shot during warm ups is winger Pascal Dupuis. Dupuis is a high energy player, very quick, always flying around the ice. He gets a minute here or there on the penalty kill, but strength other than his speed is his killer slap shot. He may not be able to maneuver around you, but he can definitely rip it past you.
Last but certainly not least is a name that is near and dear to many people in Pittsburgh and that is Alexei Kovalev (right in the above shot), or Kovy. Kovy is on his second tour with the Pens, reacquired at the trade deadline this year for a conditional 6th round pick from the Ottawa Senators. Though he has only put up two goals (and two more in the shootout), Kovalev can still wheel and deal the puck with the best of them. The game is certainly faster than the last time he played for Pittsburgh and was in his prime, but it’s still so much fun to watch him play. He showed off some of that stick handling ability in the bottom shot here, where he bounced the puck on his stick from the red goal line all the way to center ice. Just awesome.
Today’s shot is a view from our new office building that my company moved into on Monday. We have a great view of the sunrise, which is much better than the view we had before, which was none, as we were smack in the middle of our last building with no windows at all. I know you can see the reflections of the lights in the window, but I just wasn’t able to clone them out. If you look directly to the right on the bottom part of the reflection, you can see the moon as well.
This was a seven exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex under the “Natural” setting. No masking in this one, just adjusted overall curves and then added a green curves adjusted layer to enhance the grass. Cloned out a few dust spots, increased overall saturation and finally added a Tonal Contrast filter to everything but the sky.
Well, that ended up being longer than yesterday. I’ll try to keep it shorter tomorrow.
So yesterday I had the chance to meet some of the Pittsburgh Penguins at an autograph session at one of our local malls. You donate to charity and then get to stand in line for a few hours to get some autographs. It’s the third year that I’ve done it, but it is still pretty cool! I know I’m not a little kid, but it’s hard still not to be a little star struck around these guys. I mean here there are, world class, Stanley Cup champion athletes, sitting right in front of you! You see people getting jerseys, pennants, flags, shirts, hats, pucks signed, which is all well and good, but for me, one of the most exciting parts is having them sign a picture that I took. Then I know that no one else has an autograph like mine! Just wanted to say thanks to the Pittsburgh Penguins for putting the event on and of course Pascal Dupuis, Eric Godard and Tyler Kennedy for taking the time out of their day to sit down and sign autographs for their fans!
Today’s shot is a bit different than my last couple weeks worth of posts, because it is not an HDR and it is not a busy New York scene (though it kinda still is); it’s me! This is a shot that my wife too on our last day in the city when we were on the Brooklyn Bridge. She has a nice eye for taking pictures and I keep trying to get her to come out shooting with me, but she won’t! One of these days I’ll get her out! Anyways, every once and a while she will ask for my S95 and say “Let me get a picture of you.” On this occasion I thought sure, why not, struck my best action pose, and this is what she got!
Now, just because she takes good pictures doesn’t mean she edits them. I wanted to do something a bit different with this one and not just a tonemapped single exposure HDR. So, I plopped it in Photoshop and the first thing I did was recover some of the blown out sky. And this point in the day it was a bit overcast, so the sky was a little “Eh”. Then I thought, “Why don’t I just do the whole thing in B&W?” So I did! Ran it through Nik’s Silver Efex, used a veryyyyyyyyyyyyy slight sepia color filter, a bit more structure and the vignette and was feeling pretty good about it! Back to CS5, blurred the background a bit as I was taking a movie before this shot and forgot to switch back to Aperture Priority and f2 (I think she just used Auto) to give a nice depth of field. Added a bit of grain for a film effect too. So there ya go! That’s me!
Look at that, you got to meet three professional hockey players and a very amateur photographer today…we’ll work on the greet another time!