What a season.
The Pen’s quest for a fourth Stanley Cup ended last night with a 1-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, a real heartbreaking loss. Not that all playoff losses aren’t heartbreaking, but you just had the feeling that the Pens were just one lucky bounce away from moving on to the next round. I do have to give Tampa Bay some credit. They played a solid series, fueled by 41 year old Dwayne Roloson in net and by all accounts derserved to win the series. They capitalized on chances nearly every time they got them and Pittsburgh didn’t.
The lone goal was scored by Sean Bergenheim, on an absolute identical play that they scored on in Game 6. With Dominick Moore going around the net, he dropped a blind pass back to Bergenheim who, with Marc Andre Fleury moving to the far post, slammed it into a half empty net. Not that the Pens didn’t have their chances. They finished the game 0-5 on the powerplay, including a six on four for the final two minutes of the game, making them an abysmal 1-35 on the man advantage in the series.
I don’t want to talk too much about last night, just wanted to touch on it. This has been one hell of a season with a lot of ups and downs along the way. CONSOL Energy Center opened this year, replacing the Civic Arena, where the Pens called home for over 40 years. Although we lost the inaugural game to hated cross-state rivals the Flyers, you could just feel the excitement in the building. The consecutive sellout streak also rolled on, eclipsing over 200 at the end of the season. That just shows the support and the dedication of the fans in Pittsburgh.
We hosted the Winter Classic this year at Heinz Field against another rival, the Washington Capitals, as well as being featured in the HBO special, “24/7”. Again, the game didn’t turn out exactly as hoped, as the Pens were handed a 3-1 defeat, but that was an experience like no other. The game was supposed to be played in the afternoon, but inclement weather pushed the game into the evening, underneath the lights, and with 68,000 plus fans screaming, it didn’t matter if there was a monsoon, it would have still been incredible.
However that game will live in infamy, as that is the game where Sidney Crosby suffered a concussion after he took a blind side hit from David Steckel that ended his season. The injury most likely occurred during that hit, but ironically, it was a hit the following game by Victor Hedman of the Tampa Bay Lightning that sidelined him for the next three and a half months, the same Lightning that just ended the Penguin’s season last night.
Sid wasn’t the only one to get hit by the injury bug this year. Evgeni Malkin took a hard hit by Tyler Myers of the Buffalo Sabres that tore a ligament in his knee. Jordan Staal, out the first few months after recovering from foot surgery from an injury suffered in last year’s playoffs, got sidelined again in late October by a broken hand in practice. Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey suffered knee injuries as well, and Arron Asham and Eric Tangradi both, like Crosby were victims of concussions. The final count in man games lost due to injury was nearly 400, yet they were still able to get within 13 victories of the Stanley Cup.
All in all, it was a great season, a fun season to watch and be a part of as a fan.
About the shots in this post, all taken last night. The top shot is one that I’ve been trying to get for a while, and I finally got it last night. I had been trying to get a silhouetted fan waving their rally towel and I think that this one game out pretty good. The next one is someone holding up a beer toasting the Pens, and this one will be my post on flickr today. The next two are both from after the game, one during the handshake between the two teams after the series and the other of the Pens holding up their sticks in salute of the fans after the game. Lastly, I threw on in there from the walk back to the car, because I like how the bokeh turned out.
One more time…Let’s go Pens.
I haven’t really talked about the Pens much over the past week and there are a couple of reasons for that. First, they have only played two games in the past seven days, which has given the banged up team some time to rest. Second, they haven’t been playing too hot as of yet, but that can be forgiven, as they do have some new guys in the lineup (Alexei Kovalev, James Neal and Mat Niskanen), and it is bound to take a few games for them all to gel with the incumbent team. We are starting to see a little more chemistry in every game, so the moves of general manager Ray Shero are certainly showing promise.
Today I wanted to address the Sidney Crosby story. As most people inside of the world of hockey and out know, Sid has been sidelined with a concussion since January 5th of this year, the result of two hits to the head. The first occurred in the Winter Classic on New Year’s Day, while he was looking back for the puck and David Steckel, who was moving up the ice to go for the puck, caught Crosby blindside with a shoulder to the side of the his head. Then, in the next game against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Crosby took what looked to be a fairly normal check from Victor Hedman, but his head hit the glass in a bit of a awkward way. As a side note, neither of these hits were penalized, yet Matt Cookie of the Penguins received a four game suspension for a hit on Fedor Tyutin of the Columbus Blue Jackets that Tytutin saw coming and just neglected to get out of the way. But that is neither here nor there.
It was originally thought that Crosby would miss just a week with a mild concussion, however eight and a half weeks later, we still have no word on his status, only that he is “getting better” and hopes to come back this year. He has been absent from the public eye, which has lead to some wild rumors being thrown around about the actually severity of his injury. The last thing that we as the fans and more so Sid and the Penguins want to happen is to have him come back too soon and suffer a career threatening injury.
So what does the future hold for the Crosby-less Penguins, who are also missing star center Evgeni Malkin who had season ending knee surgery? Well, the immediately future is looking better than it did just two weeks ago. With the aforementioned acquisitions that the Penguins front office has made, it certainly bolsters a lineup that was starting to thin. Injured players are slowly recovering from injury, like winger Chris Kunitz, Paul Martin, Mark Letestu and Dustin Jeffrey. They have been getting solid goaltending as of late from Marc Andre Fleury, who has really taken the team on his back over the last few months and allowed the Pens to be in games that they may not typically have been in had he not made some unbelievable saves. The penalty kill, which struggled for a few games, seems to be playing like the number one unit in the league again. Jordan Staal has certainly stepped up and embraced his new role as the leader of the team and has certainly gained confidence playing on the first line.
But it’s not the same without Sid the Kid, Hart Trophy winner, Rocket Richard Trophy winner, Stanley Cup Champion, Olympic gold medalist, and frankly the best hockey player in the world. If he doesn’t come back this year, I’m okay with that. I will be a Penguin fan my entire life, I want Sid to stay healthy and a Penguin the rest of his long career and I plan on watching all of it.
To go with the theme of the title I thought that I would switch it up today and post a candid from a few weeks back. I think, subconsciously or not, I’ve been posting one non pager a week, which seems to be a good practice to liven up the stream a bit. The main types of public transportation in the city of Pittsburgh are buses and the “T”, as it’s known locally. The T is more or less a trolley that will take you from about fifteen miles south of the city straight into downtown. I live very close to a few of the stops, so when I go to Penguin games, I simply hop on the T and it drops me right off the next to the arena. Pretty sweet deal.
This is a candid that I took on one of my rides down to a game. We were just about to go over the trolley bridge over the Monongahela River into downtown and this guy seemed to be oblivious that I was there. I wanted to get a picture with the girl behind him and the city bokehed out the window, but I picked a bad seat, as I was sitting right across from them. Cranked the ISO way up and literally put up the camera up the in the air and clicked the shutter. Not too bad for “shooting from the shoulder”.
Just some light processing here. Desaturated the image to give it a cinematic feel, added a warming layer and a blue curves adjustment layer to enhance, well, the blues. Gave it a very light Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex and added the pill box to finish it off.
Hope you all enjoy your Friday and have a great weekend ahead. Let’s go Pens.
One of the great things about living in western Pennsylvania is that we have four very distinct seasons. Unlike a lot of the northern or southern states where it either states cold or warm for most of the year, we see a gradual transition from winter to spring to summer to fall. We get to experience a white Christmas, flowers blooming, barbeques and fireworks and beautiful fall foliage that is painted throughout the region. However, one of the worst things about living in western Pennsylvania is that we have four very distinct seasons. Summer and fall I’m more or less okay with, it’s just the end of winter/beginning of spring that really get me. Don’t get me wrong, I love snow as much as the next guy, but when it dumps eight inches during rush hour on a Monday night in late February, that I can do without. It’s not so much all the snow we got, but the fact that yesterday morning it started out as a torrential downpour of rain. Then, eleven hours later, we have a little blizzard that locks up most of the city.
There is something eerily calm about the snow. I spent the better part of two hours last night unburying both my driveway and a few of my neighbors and when the wind died down it was a very serene mood. The street lamps were glowing warm light that was being diffused by the falling snow, there wasn’t anyone on the road and it was just quiet. You could not tell where one person’s yard ended and another began. You couldn’t even tell where the yard ended and the street began. A plow truck hadn’t been through in over an hour, so the road was completely covered again. I found myself just standing there, with ice forwards on my hair and gloves, taking it all in. And for as much as I do not really like to spent until midnight shoveling and being freezing cold, it was oddly peaceful.
Some shots from the storm, all taken with the S95.
Now to completely switch gears. Yesterday’s post was all about the Winter Classic and the matchup between the Penguins and the Capitals. Well, the Pens lost (title reference #2), in a hard fought, 1-0 game. I can’t be too upset, as the goalie for the Capitals, Michal Neuvirth, played an outstanding game. Since I talked hockey, I didn’t get a chance to post my picture from flickr. I’ll make up for that today, since they are the same subject. Heading back to New York. On the Friday we were we spent a lot of time doing some of the touristy things, like Grand Central, Central Park, FAO Schwartz and the New York Public Library. I hadn’t planned on stopping at the library, but since we were so close and we hadn’t been there before, I thought that it would be worth a quick peak. We made one lap around and then headed on our way.
The first shot is the front of the library. It was a bit of a pain to process because of all the people walking around in front. I just wish for one second I could get everyone to stand still so I could take the picture. I think for all the HDR photographers out there, we should be given a remote to stop people as we please. Just a thought. Anyways, it is a five shot handheld HDR, and HDR Efex did a decent job of cutting down the ghosting. I had to tonemap the +1 image to mask in all the people, and I also did a 100% mask of the -2 exposure for the sky. Desaturated the reds a bit, added a blue curves layer to the sky and applied a Tonal Contrast filter in Color Efex. Lastly did some high pass sharpening.
For today’s flickr post, we have one of the hall ways inside the library. Same issue with the ghosts here. Five exposure handheld, tonemapped the the +2 image for the people and masked them in. Then I tonemapped the -2 and masked in the window at the back of the scene, as I was metered on the shadows and the window was very blown out. Added a slight blur around the edge of the frame to put the focus on the center and finally added a Tonal Contrast filter.
That’s all for today my friends. See you tomorrow.
Usually coming up with a title is one of the more difficult parts of writing these blog entries, but today was easier than most. If you stopped by on Friday, you read that this evening will be a rematch between the Pittsburgh Penguins and the Washington Capitals at CONSOL Energy Center in Pittsburgh. This is not the first time the two teams have played since that cold, rainy New Year’s Day game, but it’s the first time the Caps have been back in town since then. The make up of the Pens is vastly different this time around, with the ranks still being depleted by injuries. It’s going to be a good show none the less, as it is always is when two rivals face off.
Rivalries are one of the best things about sports. Of course every fan dreams about their team winning a championship, as that is the ultimate prize for any league. Individual player awards are nice, but they don’t do a whole lot for the fans. Rivalries though, that is what really gives sports that edge, that intensity, that can’t miss game appeal. It’s amazing how rivalries in games can transcend into the culture of an entire city. Take my hometown, Pittsburgh and their football team the Steelers (notice I said their, not our) and one of their most hated rivals, the Cleveland Browns. The competition between the two teams has spread from the football field and into the streets of the cities, with Cleveland being called “The Mistake on the Lake”, t shirts that say “The only sign of intelligence in Cleveland is ‘Pittsburgh – 170 miles’”, and general ridicule for all things Cleveland. It doesn’t really help that the Browns haven’t been able to really field a competitive football team in years, but I think if they had, it would only fuel the rivalry further.
There will also always be those classic rivalries, like Lakers-Celtics in the NBA, Yankees-Red Sox in baseball, Packers-Vikings in the NFL and Duke-North Carolina in college basketball. But it can be really exciting to watch rivalries grow, like the one between the Pens and Capitals. Sure they have been Eastern (or Wales back in the old days) Conference competitors for decades, but with the emergence of Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin as the two best players in the world, it has taken the feud to an all new level and makes them the most exciting two teams to watch in the league, especially when they play each other. No matter what happens with for the rest of their careers, Sid and Ovechkin have left their mark on these franchises that will last a lifetime.
On to the shots. I won’t be going through the processing on these, just wanted to share a few sights from the 2011 Winter Classic. Check out the caption below each for the description. You’ll have to excuse the quality on the close ups of Sid, Geno and Ovechkin. We weren’t allowed to bring in big cameras, so I had the S95 at full zoom, which doesn’t giving the most crisp shots. The other in game action shots were taken with it as well, and they turned out great.
Well, it’s Friday, and is any day better than Friday? Ok, Saturday is equally as awesome, no work to look forward to the next day, a whole day to do nothing. Sunday is okay until around 5, when you realize you have to go to work in less than twelve hours. But Friday. There is just something about getting in your car and heading home on a Friday afternoon, knowing that a weekend of infinite possibilities lies in front of you. And hopefully some photography time. My goal is to motivate myself to be out of bed at 6:00 tomorrow morning to catch the sunrise in downtown Pittsburgh. We’ll see how that turns out.
We’ve had a bit of a warm spell these last few days, with temperatures hitting the upper 60s yesterday. However they are calling for more snow on Monday, as temperatures are going to continue to fall throughout the weekend. This is probably my least favorite time of the year. Don’t get me wrong, I love winter, snow, seeing the ground covered for months, I think it’s great. Winter starts out great, because although it doesn’t officially start until December 22nd, right after Thanksgiving at the end of November I feel that the seasons are changing. Then you have Christmas (my favorite holiday) and New Years, and then in the Northeast US we get most of our snow in January and February, although this year it was pretty much the whole country. Then the weather warms up to low 40s, all the snow melts, it rains a lot and there is just nothing enjoyable about the end of February through late April. I don’t normally look forward to spring and summer so much, but this year I definitely am.
This Monday the Penguins will have the Washington Capitals at home in Consol Energy Center for the first time, and it will mark the first time the Caps will have been in Pittsburgh since the Winter Classic, which the Capitals won on New Year’s Day. It may end up being a bit of a tough one, as the Penguins ranks are still relatively depleted with injuries. In honor of that meet up, today’s post is a shot from the day after the Winter Classic, right outside Heinz Field. Being the spouse of an employee, I got the chance to skate on the ice from the Winter Classic the next day, and had my camera to take as many pictures as I could. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity, because those signs, that ice, will never be there again. It’s not like a simple playoff game, when you know your team will probably make it again next year. This had the possibility to be a once in a lifetime event. I’ll more than likely be posting a few more pictures from that weekend on Monday. For now, this is a shot of North Shore Drive, and you can see the Winter Classic banner hanging from the lamp post, with a bit of the city in the background.
Nothing groundbreaking in terms of processing for this shot. Five exposure HDR processed with HDR Efex. Masked in the entire sky from the -2 exposure as well as the tree branches that were swaying and created a few ghostly looking branches. Added a Tonal Contrast Filter in Color Efex as well as an S Curve in CS5 to give it a bit more contrast. Since it was early afternoon on a sunny day, the whole scene had a very blue tint, so I added a sepia filter to help warm it up a bit. Lastly, did some High Pass sharpening to give it a crisp look.
Thanks for all your visits this week and I hope you all have a great weekend.