Feb 15 2010

Day 6 – Ear buds and funny sport jackets

So yesterday ran a bit long with 2 games, some equipment issues and then a team meeting before our big day of shooting portraits and team photos of the men’s team, so unfortunately, I didn’t get to write anything until now. And as it is, we are just between teams and we are waiting for team Russia to arrive.

Yesterday afternoon was interesting though, and a bit of a first. Team USA was playing team China in the first women’s game at the UBC Thunderbird arena and Vice President Joe Biden decided to take in the game and was in attendance. That being said, along with the VP, come an entourage of staff and support people, some of which are wired and have strange looking sport jackets. And as you can imagine, it cause a bit of a stir, especially with a full house of press photographers on hand to capture the USA team in action.

The game was as expected with the US winning 12-1, but China’s lone goal was something to celebrate and gave the fans a touch of thrill towards the end of the game.

More images @ http://www.iihf.com

Enjoy,

MM


Feb 14 2010

Day 5 – A Day of Firsts’

Today was the first day of hockey games for the Women’s event here in Vancouver. It was also the first games to be played at each of the two hockey venues, UBC and CHP. It was the first time Slovakia played in the Olympic Winter Games on the women’s side and it was the first time Canada has won a game by such a large margin, beating the Slovaks 18-0.

With it being the first Olympic hockey game I have ever shot, it was also the first time I had the chance put the Nikon D3 camera to the test along with the new 70-200m f2.8 AF-S II,… and it was pretty amazing. I don’t typically shoot with such a camera body as frames per second and buffer capacity don’t typically offer much to a guy who shoots with lights 99% of the time, but it was kind of nice to get out of the box for a bit and try squeezing off a few rounds like my press colleagues do. Although the power and sound gave me a sense of confidence that nothing could flash by me without my shutter rattling off a few dozen frames of whatever was in front of the lens, I wasn’t thrilled about having to edit through 10 times as many images as I would typically shoot. It was interesting to see what I had captured during a few of the bursts though, as the camera was grabbing moments at 11 frames per second. It was quite impressive actually.

Well, tomorrow with bring some more hockey games before we take a day to capture the men’s teams portraits and team photos, so time ot call it quits and get rested for another day.

Be sure to check out the image gallery at http://www.iiihf.com and enjoy,

MM


Feb 13 2010

Day 4 – Opening it up!

Today was a little crazier than the others, so far,… Given that the open ceremonies were schedule for tonight, something as simple as going to pick up some gear at one location and moving it to GM Place or Hockey Canada Place as it is now known, was an all day ordeal. Thankfully, we took our tickets and gear with us when we left the hotel this morning, knowing that the chances of getting back home (the hotel in this case) and then back down to BC Place was going to be next to impossible, but it all worked out.

Now, the opening ceremony was unlike anything I have ever see before. I was seated in one of the photo tribunes, which was what seemed like miles away from the action, and there were at least 60 other photographers in this designated area alone. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big deal at all, but considering pretty well everyone was sporting a 400mm lens or bigger along with 3-4 bodies and laptops for filing, real-estate quickly became at a premium. Now, for all those keeping score, it looked like a 50/50 split, Nikon/Cannon. Most of us made our way to our seats around 3:30pm for the 6:00pm local start as that is what was stated on our ticket, so the wait for things to get going was a long one, but once the show got started, it was pretty amazing.

Once it was over though, it when the chaos began again, trying to get out of the building and over to CHP to access our office and file some pictures. 50,000+ people, all with the same idea as you, but being herded in a single direction made it a bit difficult, along with the rain.

Once we rendezvoused at the office and filed our pictures, it was of to the hotel for a beer, some food and a hot shower,… that’s next!

Until tomorrow, enjoy!

MM


Feb 12 2010

Day 3 – More Team Photos

Today was a pretty straightforward day where we had more team photos and player portraits on the schedule. We were able to knock off the remaining women’s teams, which we didn’t capture yesterday. The Swedes set the tone of the day in fine style with a fairly relaxed photo session and it set the mood for the rest of the day, which was a real positive vibe.

Then, this evening, Jukka, who flew in yesterday and joined our team from Finland, and I went to the joint Cannon/Nikon party at the Vancouver Aquarium and had a few beverages and some food on the company while getting a chance to chat with some fellow pros.

Now, at half past midnight, it is time for bed.

Enjoy,

MM


Feb 11 2010

Day 2 – The real beginning!

Today was the first day of shooting assignments on our schedule and we had 5 of the women’s teams on tap for the day. A reasonable day on all accounts, but then again, things aren’t always what they seem.

After an early start and a decent breakfast, Steve and I grabbed a cab and made our way to the UBC, Thunderbird Arena. (The host venue for the Women’s Ice Hockey event) Along with ourselves, our computer bags and camera cases, we had the standard compliment of studio gear for shooting the portraits and team photos on the ice. A luggage entourage consisting of 2 hard-shell cases which are about the size of a large suitcase (and weighing just as much), 1 long light stand bag (similar to that of a long golf bag) and 1 monster of a duffle bag, full of cables and extension cords. All-in-all weighing in at somewhere around 300 pounds I would say.

After making our way through various suburbs of Vancouver and seeing some very impressive houses along the way, we arrived at or near the UBC campus, and the rink, as was evident by the ever-present green, turquoise and blue branding of the 2010 games. Unfortunately, the security and traffic protocol made it so that our cab wasn’t able to get any closer to the entrance of the building than about 1 kilometer. Now typically, 1 klick is not considered a great distance, but with 7 heavy and awkward bags, along with an ever-shrinking timeline to get set-up and started, the distance became somewhat of a challenge. Steve set off to try and locate some help for our little endeavor while I stayed with the gear at curbside of the vehicle checkpoint. After a good 15-20 minutes, I could see the familiar silhouette of my colleague making his way back towards me,… no back up in tow. “I guess we have to haul it from here!” he said, and off we went. Finally, after multiple trips, we arrived at the media entrance to the venue and we were greeted by a contingent of security staff and scanning equipment that would rival most small airports. Thankful, the crew of staff and volunteers were efficient and friendly throughout the ordeal of inspecting each and every piece of gear we had and finally the door to the rink was actually in sight. An hour and a half of time for traveling between 2 points that are suppose to take 10 minutes on a normal day.

Once inside, I began to setup the lights and other materials required at the various spots designated for our work while Steve took on the task of trying to locate and contact the team leaders from each team to coordinate our photo efforts.

Things started to roll along in the right direction with the arrival of the athletes and some familiar faces from events gone by. As they made their way through our gauntlet of posses and continued to lighten the mood as they went, the hours dropped away and we found ourselves on the ice with team USA taking the last team photo of the day. Although 1 team wasn’t able to get their photos completed because of a some missing personnel, we made a health start on many of the tasks we need to accomplish in our time here and it just went to show that when you are persistent and work to stay positive, things will and do turn around to come out right in the end.

Enjoy,

MM


Feb 10 2010

Day 1 – Arrival

Ok, so today was the day,… on the plane at 9:55am this morning after a nice little breakfast with my favorite girls and then off to Vancouver. The flight was good, a nice little upgrade certificate made it all that much more enjoyable, with a brief connection time in Toronto, just about 6 hours later I was in the land of blue, turquoise and green. (the Olympic colours in Vancouver)

Steve and I grabbed our bags from the very busy luggage carousel and made our way out in search of the shuttle that would take us to our hotel. Finally, after what seemed like a lifetime, we hopped into the econoline van and we were off to the Coast Vancouver Airport Hotel. Not a bad spot, nestled between a highway and the runways @ YVR, I am sure for the 4 or 5 hours a night we will get to spend in our rooms it will be quite nice. Not kidding by the way, once the men’s hockey event gets under way, our last game of the day gets rolling at 9:00pm, local time, which doesn’t get us out of the rink and back to the hotel until somewhere around 1:00am.

Anyways, after we arrived, checked in, located the additional gear we had shipped in advance, we grabbed a cab for downtown in search of our colleagues and our credentials, which anyone will tell you, is worth its weight in gold around here. After meeting up with the team of writers and department managers at their downtown hotel, Steve and I made our way to the MMC (Main Media Centre in Olympic lingo) to have our credentials activated and get all the other media related details. Once we were checked in and scanned and x-rayed, (not kidding again!) we were on to the photo desk to receive our photo specific briefing material, photo position arm band and Pocket Wizard certification we were just about covered. Oh, we did receive a swag bag along the way, which had a number of items in it, including a Snickers bar. Yum! I then sought out the Nikon Pro Services booth to get the lowdown on their protocols and procedure and I was completely blown away by the number of huge lens cases and camera body boxes they had in back room which are to be utilized as loaner gear during the event. Unbelievable!

Finally, on to the rink for the dime tour, GM Place, or Canada Hockey Place as it is known for the time being. (more Olympic lingo) After a few rookie laps around the outside, we found our way in and began the search for our office space,… where we would be living for the next 20 odd days. We did take a few moments to watch the rehearsal going on inside and we were again, amazed by the Vancouver 2010 Olympic branding.

Of course, by this point, it is now 9:00pm local time (midnight back home) and time for us to grab some dinner before cashing out for the night. A quick bite at a nearby Milestones and Steve and I grabbed a cab for home,… Uh, I mean the hotel.

That’s it for today, quite enough really, but definitely, more to come!

Enjoy,

MM


Feb 10 2010

Here I am!

Ok, so it has been a while since my last post,… too long in fact,… 33 actually, but is has taken this long for good reason,… at least that’s what I am telling myself!

Preparing for the Olympics has proven to be a bit more challenging than I originally anticipated, which is fine, but I was also continuing to work on some other projects as well as some other shooting assignments, which I completed over the same time. I have attached a few pictures below and I will be doing my best to file from the Olympics everyday.

Until then, enjoy!

MM


Jan 6 2010

End of a Journey

Well, the 2010 World Junior Championships will certainly be one to remember. Two storybook games between Canada and the US, each with a different out come but evermore entertaining. I have had an amazing time capturing and creating images as well as working alongside many top-notch professionals. Of course, having said that, the trip hasn’t been without it’s challenges, and I can tell you, it has been tough, especially over the last few days, with 3 games a day, subzero temperatures, in the media centre (which is inside the building) and not much to eat other than rink dogs, but what would a project like this be without a little adversity? It has been great, but now, at 3:50am local time, as I head off to bed for a quick nap, I can honestly say I am very much looking forward to my flight home, as was the case with many of the other media and crew working the event.

I have attached just a few of the images I created during this project and I hope to get a gallery with some more content soon. Please feel free to check out the image gallery at http://www.iihf.com .

Enjoy!

MM


Jan 1 2010

Something for the kids

Through December, I was trying desperately to find some meaningful gifts to give the many clients who have supported CornerStone Creative Group over the past year. Unfortunately, I was struggling. Luckily, after listening to some of the ways in which my wife had been making a difference in her work, I realized the best gift I could give would be one that might benefit a number of people. It would be a gift that would benefit the people who believe most in the Christmas season, but perhaps, are not in the best of spirits given the circumstances at this time of the year.

I am happy to say that CornerStone Creative Group has made a donation to the ‘KGH Children’s Cancer Fund’ on behalf of our many clients and partners. Without you, this would not have been possible. It is my hope that this donation has helped make the Christmas season a bit better for some children and families who are facing very challenging times and that their new year will start on a more positive note.

For this opportunity, I say thank you.

Best,

MM


Jan 1 2010

Starting over

It is the first day of the New Year, 2010 and it is dark outside. On the left side of the bus, the moon is full, still high in the sky over Regina, Saskatchewan. On the right, traces of pink and orange can be see as the sun lumbers somewhere under the horizon. It’s cold, very cold.

For me, 2009 ended in very much the same fashion as it started, on the road, in a hotel room, by myself. Last year it was much the same, but I was in Calgary. This year, it is Regina. Next year, could be Buffalo, who knows. Never the less, 2009 brought many challenges, learning experiences and opportunities. I can only hope to build on the progress I made in 2009, in every aspect of my life.

Last night, as I finished up my second game of the day between the Czech Republic and Russia, I began the process of tearing down all the gear and packing up the office I had put together in Regina, just before Christmas. Jan 1 is a travel and load-in day in Saskatoon where I will hook up with the crew that is already on-site at the CUC. We will prepare to provide 2-man coverage of the playoff rounds of the 2010 World Junior Championships for the IIHF and the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Images on Ice program. Jeff Vinnick and myself will be shooting and Steve Poirier will be editing our material as we work through 11 games in 4 days. Matthew Murnaghan, who was my editor in Regina flies back to Toronto this morning to look after a corporate project on the 2nd of January. Although the crew in Saskatoon has already been there and working since the tournament began, it is all new for me when I arrive and I will be staring at square one all over again. It marks the start of a new adventure in one that is already underway. Similarly, January 1st marks the start of another great adventure as I move into my 2nd full year operation with CornerStone Creative Group. It is a year that will take me through numerous events, which should prove challenging, including the Winter Olympics in Vancouver. I hope I can make the very best out of every moment and opportunity that happens my way.

Best wishes for 2010.

MM