rinse and repeat

I'm getting so repetitive. I did Chicago pictures, and then Stars on Ice, and now I have more Chicago pictures, and next I'll have more Stars on Ice. I'm completely predictable, and I apologize. Someday, when I get caught up, I'll work on being more original.

Les 4 Saisons

In the plaza at old the First National Bank building, Marc Chagall installed a mural in 1974 called "The Four Seasons." It's meant to be a whimsical representation of Chicago at all times of the year. This is the side that faces Dearborn, I believe. 1/125, f/2.5, ISO 400.

Les 4 Saisons

Reverse side of the mural. 1/125, f/2.5, ISO 400.


In the suburb where my mom works, there are all of these stop signs with "additions" to them. My favourite one says "in the naaaaame of love," but when I went back with my camera to find it, I got a little lost in the neighbourhood near her office. So I just settled for this one. 1/3200, f/3.2, ISO 200.

Next: yep, more Stars on Ice.


stars on the ice

On February 23, I went to my first Stars on Ice show of this year's tour. It was also the first show I'd been to on the American tour since 2004. A friend of mine was in Chicago for the show, so Jules and I got our road trip on and went back to my hometown. I did pretty well with the coloured spotlights this time - it helps that Stars on Ice is such a well-rehearsed show and that the lighting is all very professional. The show was just fantastic, and I especially loved the addition to the cast of one of my favourite dance teams, 2006 & 2007 world silver medalists Marie-France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon.

Ina & Zimmerman

Kyoko Ina & John Zimmerman were the 2002 world bronze medalists, but in my opinion, the highlight of their career has been their contribution to pro skating. They've become the pairs team with the big tricks, and this is one of those tricks. Isabelle Brasseur & Lloyd Eisler invented it in the 90s, and it's called the "Fly High and Say Bye." John tosses Kyoko over his head backwards, then spins 180 degrees while she's flying over him to catch her, then pushes her back through his legs. It's hard to explain. 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Sasha Cohen

2006 Olympic medalist Sasha Cohen's programs often highlight interesting positions and her flexibility. This is from her program to "Anytime, Anywhere," a song that I pretty much cannot stand. 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Salé & Pelletier

This photo of 2002 Olympic champions Jamie Salé & David Pelletier ended up being one of my favourite photos that I took all season. I love the purple effect with the spotlight just behind them, and their classic pairs spiral is just fantastic. This program is set to "Thankful" by Josh Groban, and it's a celebration of their relationship and a dedication to their son, born last fall. 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Yuka Sato

1994 World champion Yuka Sato is best known for her uber-fluid skating and soundless edges, so this fun program to "Swing with Me" was a bit unexpected. Shooting with a fixed 200mm lens means that I have to embrace the close-up, and it's worth it when I get shots like this one. 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Dubreuil & Lauzon

Marie-France Dubreuil & Patrice Lauzon definitely have some of the best lifts in ice dance. This one is from the finale, set to that song about making a memory by Bon Jovi. Patrice has such solid lifting skills, and Marie-France hits the most gorgeous positions. They're just fantastic, and provided another fabulous level for the SOI cast, which has not regularly featured ice dancers in recent years. 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Next up: Either some more Chicago or some more Stars on Ice...I can't remember which comes first chronologically.


that's chicago.

I'm so excited for my first hometown post on this blog! I grew up in the Chicago suburbs, but have been living in central Michigan for over 2 years now. I'm only a 3 and a half hour drive from my parents' house, so I go home every chance that I get - usually about once a month. This set of photos are from a day downtown with some friends while I played tour guide, one of my favourite pastimes.

Diamond & Bean

The "Diamond Building," as it's commonly known, is actually the Smurfit-Stone Building, and the big metal blog is "The Bean," which is actually called "Cloud Gate." It was a new sculpture installed in Millenium Park, which opened in 2001, I believe. And no, I did not photoshop that beautiful blue sky. 1/2500, f/10, ISO 200.

Holy Name

This is Holy Name Cathedral, on North State Street. I think it's the "headquarters," for lack of the proper term, for the Chicago Archdiocese of the Catholic Church...but again, those might not be the right terms. At any rate, it is a beautiful building, tucked right into the city. 1/200, f/11, ISO 200.

Tribune Building

Detail from the Chicago Tribune Building. I had a traumatic experience here in sixth grade, regarding the county spelling bee, almost qualifying for the state bee, and not having the right list of words that all the other kids have. You put the pieces together. It's still too painful for me to talk about. Pretty building, though. 1/320, f/5, ISO 400.

Chicago River

I admit, I almost deleted this photo in my camera when I was looking at my pictures from the day on the train out of the city. I forgot to reset my aperture after I went back into the sunlight, and this looked way too overexposed to be salvaged. I was upset, because the broken ice on the river was just gorgeous that day. I kept it, though, and I managed to tweak some settings on the image, and now look at it! Yay! 1/320, f/5, ISO 400.

Next up: same day in Chicago, but a different occasion - Stars on Ice!


a little bit of bball

I like to think of myself as a good sports photographer, not just a good skating photographer, but I quickly learned at the women's Alma vs. Olivet game on February 23 that I'm not so hot at photographing basketball. The lens had a bit to do with it - the gymnasium isn't quite large enough to shoot comfortably with a fixed 200mm lens, but I never got the white balance or the other settings right, either. And then there's the problem of getting a lot of backs, because they would turn just before I clicked the shutter. Since I'm so familiar with skating, I can anticipate turns and changes of direction better. I guess that if I shot basketball all the time and suddenly tried skating, I might feel the same way. Finally, I was there to play in the pep band, so priority number one was playing whenever the clock stopped, and I wasn't completely focused on capturing great moments. Still, I did get a few shots that I like:


I kind of like this shot, with the Alma girl unfocused and the girl from my team about to go after her. 1/250, f/2.8, ISO 800.


Talking strategy and taking a rest on the bench. 1/320, f/2.8, ISO 800.


Natalie, a friend from my major, shares a funny moment with her fellow cheerleaders. 1/320, f/2.8, ISO 800.


Free throw! 1/320, f/2.8, ISO 800.


Air time! This is probably my favourite shot from the game. 1/320, f/2.8, ISO 800.


Here's a back shot, but I took this one on purpose as she was throwing the ball back in bounds, and I kind of like it. 1/320, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Next up: Chicago in February.


off the ice

Well, I'm finally at my last post from the 2008 Canadian Figure Skating Championships. It was quite a week, so I wanted to give it the blogging that it deserved...for my own memory's sake, if for nothing else. I hope some of you have enjoyed seeing the images and reading some of the stories that made the week, though! This last post is "off the ice," and I'm just posting some pictures that I like that I took away from the ice during the week. I tried to capture more of the off-ice dynamic as the week went on, but I still don't have much - that's the difficulty in covering a huge event like this by myself!

Signage for Keegan Murphy

Keegan Murphy was 10th at the 2006 Canadian Championships, and then he decided to retire from competitive skating. This year, though, perhaps it was the draw of competing in his hometown, because he decided to make a comeback. He finished 16th overall, but the experience alone seemed like it was worth it to him. He represents the Sunset Figure Skating Club in Vancouver, and I think he coaches there, too. 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Patrick Chan

At the press conference following the men's free skate, this was the face of the 17-year-old who beat an Olympic medalist to win his first Canadian title with a phenomenal performance. 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 1600.

Signage for Lauren Senft

Lauren Senft is from Vancouver and had a lot of support in the crowd. Earlier, the signs were all right-side-up, and the "and Augie" part was held up, too. This time, though...oups? 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Hann-McCurdy & Coreno

When the dancers sat down for their press conference after the free dance, the woman running the conference announced Allie Hann-McCurdy & Michael Coreno by saying something like, "You listed one of your goals as making the podium at the Canadian Championships...you've done that now, so maybe you have to update your goals." This was that moment. 1/60, f/2.8, ISO 1600.

Virtue & Moir

Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir, newly crowned Canadian dance champions, after the press conference. 1/50, f/2.8, ISO 1600.

Cynthia Phaneuf

In 2004, Cynthia Phaneuf came out of nowhere to become the Canadian champion. In 2005, she was 2nd to Joannie Rochette. In 2006, she was sidelined by injuries that kept her out of competition for over a year, and she even questioned coming back at all. In 2007, she fought back to a 4th place finish. And this year, she was on the podium again, winning the bronze medal. She's still not at her best yet, so I look forward to seeing what she can do next season. 1/100, f/2.8, ISO 1600.

That's a wrap on Canadians! I'm not sure what's up next...I think it will either be a basketball game, or a trip to Chicago.



Theme photo post again! While I was going through my thousands of photos of the 2008 Canadian Championships, I noticed a lot of smooching. So I started setting the smooching photos aside, and my conclusion is that ice dancers are far smoochier than pairs skaters. Anyway...these are just some fun smooching photos from the week. It's all just so adorable. Disclaimer for the rumour mill: most of the kissing is choreographed! I'm not saying that all of these teams are couples off the ice, too.

St-Onge & Browne

I didn't get a chance to say it in the junior OD post, but Catherine St-Onge & Alexander Browne had one of the most charming Italian folk original dances. I loved it! 1/1000, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Knippel & Britten

Here's another one from the junior OD. Sophie Knippel & Andrew Britten performed a Russian folk dance, and they went on to win the bronze medal in junior dance. 1/1000, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Lamoreux & Mee

Mylène Lamoreux & Michael Mee opened their Yankee Polka CD with an air kiss. 1/1000, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Senft & Hill

Lauren Senft & Augie Hill had a charming folk dance to music from Cape Breton, which, true story, I am kind of fascinated with the idea of visiting someday. 1/1600, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Miller & Moram

Jessica Miller & Ian Moram congratulate each other after a great short program - my favourite short program of the pairs event, and good enough for fourth place. 1/500, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Dubé & Davison

I can sense the relief in this photo of Jessica Dubé & Bryce Davison. Jess & Bryce had to fight back from a 5th place, borderline disastrous short program. This was taken after they finished their free program, which vaulted them to the silver medal. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Tannett & McGrath

Claire Tannett & Wendell McGrath after their free dance. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Salé & Pelletier

Jamie Salé & David Pelletier, while being inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame, took a moment to thank each other. 1/800, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Next: just a few more photos from the Canadian Championships to wrap things up!


good things must come to an end

Sunday. The final day of the Canadian Championships. It's always bittersweet, especially because Skate Canada generally schedules one free skate for Sunday. For as long as I can remember, it's been the free dance, but this year, it was the ladies' free. So after staying up way too late on Saturday night with the girls, I arrived at the arena at about 8.40 on Sunday morning, just in time for the first ladies' free. After the free skate, there was a bit of a break, and then the ice was reset for the hall of fame induction and the medal ceremonies. Finally, the last event of the competition was the gala, known at Canadian events as the "Parade of Champions," which I think is a pretty terrible name, but I guess no one asked me. The lighting was terrible for the medals and the gala - kind of half-dimmed, with a spotlight that wasn't always where it was supposed to be. The photos are very grey, and I'm not a big fan of most of them, so I'm cramming all of Sunday into one post.

Lesley Hawker

When I'm behind the camera, I'm not as emotionally invested in the performances as I am when I'm just watching. That being said, my level of emotional investment in figure skating is kind of sky-high to begin with. So even when I'm working, a great performance can still make me cry. Not many get me crying after the first jump, though, which is what Lesley Hawker's free skate did for me. Skating last in the penultimate group, she needed a big comeback, and the performance that she gave was probably her best skate ever. As soon as the first jump was landed, she just settled into the music and skated with such freedom and passion. This photo was snapped during her footwork near the end of her program, and I just love the expression on her face, even if it looks like her arm has been amputated at the elbow. Someone in seventh place after the short program does not often get a standing ovation, but by the time Lesley's music finished, the audience was already on its feet. Although it wasn't quite enough for the podium, it's definitely among my top five moments of the week. 2nd in the free, 4th overall. 1/1250, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Joannie Rochette

It's only taken me three years, but I finally got a photo of Joannie Rochette doing a split jump! This performance wasn't quite as incredible as Lesley's, but she has more difficulty in her program, so she defended her title well. This win gave her four consecutive victories at these championships. 1st in the free, 1st overall. 1/1250, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Salé & Pelletier

Seven years ago, Jamie Salé & David Pelletier were crowned world champions in Vancouver, not here at the PNE, but at GM Place. This year, they were finally inducted into the Canadian Figure Skating Hall of Fame with a touching ceremony and a lot of tears. Being able to share this moment with my friends was so meaningful, since many of us originally met because of our shared fandom for Salé & Pelletier, back in the day. Another one of my top five moments of the week...even though Dave is wearing brown shoes with a grayish suit. You can't see them in this photo, but I think he's also wearing black socks. 1/400, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Shawn Sawyer

I could have picked any one of about five photos of Shawn Sawyer from the gala to post. He always has such great line and dramatic positions. Bronze medal winner. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Dubé & Davison

Jessica Dubé & Bryce Davison had a new show program to Barry White music that was just hilarious. It kept repeating the line, "So...what do you wanna do?" and I may have gone through a phase when I tried to turn that into my catchphrase. Don't worry, the phase was short-lived. Love this photo. Silver medal winners. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Jeff Buttle

Here's a funny story about this program. Jeff Buttle began the season using this, "I Pagliacci," as his short program, and I loved it. But before Canadians, he announced that he would be returning to using last year's program. When I saw him later on Sunday night, I told him that I loved his short program, but then I felt like I had to clarify which one, so I said, "But not the one you skated this week...the other one." Jeff, always a class act, ignored the fact that I kind of dissed the program that he decided to use, just grinned and exclaimed, "Thank you!! I skated that one in the gala today!" My very eloquent response: "I know!! But...it's not the same." Props to him for not acting like I was a power tool. It's not that I don't like the other program, really, I just thought this one was fantastic, and I have a weakness for operas. Silver medal winner. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Langlois & Hay

Anabelle Langlois & Cody Hay's win this week was definitely a surprise - even to them! I was sitting next to my friend Chele during the pairs free, and I can say with a fair amount of certainty that she is their biggest fan. It was awesome to be able to share that moment with her, so I wanted to post this photo - it's my favourite that I took of them all week. 2008 Canadian pairs champions. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Salé & Pelletier

Jamie & Dave were asked to skate in the gala after their induction, and it was the first time I'd seen them skate since their son was born a few months earlier. I couldn't believe what incredible shape Jamie was already in! It was such a treat to be able to photograph the team that got me back into skating after I let my fandom lapse in what I call the "Nagano Aftermath" between 1998 and 2001. I love their classic pairs spiral, and that they held it with such control that I literally have about six photos of it that are almost identical. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 800.

Bourne & Kraatz

Shae-Lynn Bourne & Victor Kraatz, 2003 world champions and 10-time Canadian champions, were the honourary chairs of the event and they emceed the gala together. They stopped skating together in fall 2003, and for a couple of years, rumours have been flying about a reunion. I'm not sure I'd call this a complete reunion, since it wasn't a full program, but they surprised the audience by skating together for a few moments, doing some of their old trademark moves. As someone who became a fan of theirs in 1996, it was fantastic to be in the audience for this. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 800.

And that wraps up the highlights from the week! I still have two more posts on the week in the works - one of photos from "around the rink" and one "theme" post, kind of like the one I did for the senior compulsory dance with all of the kicks.


footloose and fancy free

Saturday, January 19, at the 2008 Canadian Championships. Part two of a highly emotional day. 15 senior dance teams skated their senior free dances. On the line: 1 title...but everyone knew who was going to get that, anyway. What was really on the line were two additional berths on the team going to the 2008 World Figure Skating Championships and four additional berths on the 2008-2009 senior national team, and the top group of teams certainly put up a great fight. There were some unexpected results, and there were some great efforts. And since I'm feeling generous, and obviously everyone loves ice dance as much as I do, here are photos of the top ten teams, besides Mylène Lamoreux & Michael Mee, who placed 7th. I had a brain fart during Mylène and Mike, and I shot their whole dance on the wrong settings. I did the same thing with Siobhan Karam & Kevin O'Keefe, who skated right after that, but because Mylène & Mike had white costumes, I wasn't able to salvage any good shots of their dance.

Puttkemery & Gallagher

It's difficult to get good shots of the side-by-side footwork in ice dance. I was shooting from the 10th row, but with the aperture set to 2.8, it's tough to get both skaters in focus when everything is moving so quickly. However, in Bethany Puttkemery & Kevin Gallagher's dance, I flipped my camera to horizontal and got this shot while they were at the far end of the ice from me. I probably won't be able to print this photo any larger than 5x7, but I shoot primarily for web, so that's fine. Love Bethany's skirt action and the bright colours in this dance to music from Swing Kids. 10th in this dance, 10th overall. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Chong & Gfeller

Andrea Chong is so expressive, but she skates with her eyes closed most of the time, if my photos are any indication. It doesn't matter in this shot, though. She & partner Guillaume Gfeller had a bluesy free dance to "It's a Man's World" with a very mature presentation, despite their ages and the fact that this was their first season together. Their coach and choreographer, Julie Marcotte, is, in my opinion, one of the best choreographers in Canada, especially for ice dance. 8th in this dance, 9th overall. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Senft & Hill

After all that babble about how difficult it is to take a good photo of side-by-side footwork, here's another. The straightline footwork isn't usually one of the highlights of a dance for me, but this element from Lauren Senft & Augie Hill really accents their free dance to music from Chicago, since they stay in the character of the dance, even though the steps are difficult. Very close 9th in this dance, 8th overall. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Karam & O'Keefe

Here's one of the dances I shot on the wrong settings, so I apologize for their glowing quality. However, I do love the motion in this shot. Siobhan Karam & Kevin O'Keefe had a great dance to music from Notre Dame de Paris. They're in their first season together, but they are so well-suited for each other. Unfortunately, they had to skate in the penultimate group, and I felt like the scores skyrocketed when the last group began. So although some aspects of Siobhan & Kevin's dance were much better than the dances that followed them, they didn't have the same standard of inflation on their scores, and they were unable to make a move into the top five. But what a great moment, though. I was at their first competition together last August, and the progress that they made in four months was astounding. 6th in this dance, 6th overall. 1/320, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Crone & Poirier

I have really high standards for tangos, okay? They're so lame if you don't do it right, and no one likes a lame free dance - not when there are so many other styles that could have been picked. So I'm usually very opposed to first-year senior teams choosing a tango. However, Vanessa Crone & Paul Poirier proved that there are exceptions to this rule. Their tango free dance was simply fabulous. It was so well-skated, so well-choreographed, and even though the scoring system has made a cookie-cutter approach to ice dance possible, this young team pushed the limits of the system and didn't earn their points in the same way that most of the other teams do. The judges ranked this free dance 2nd of the night, which was so well-deserved, and they finished in 4th overall, less than a point from the podium. Vanessa & Paul were awarded a spot on the 2008 Junior World team, where they won the silver medal. Watch out for them next year! 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Girard & Dougherty

Mylène Girard & Liam Dougherty had a bit of a rough start to their season (and their new partnership), with a disappointing placement at an international competition, but instead of being discouraged, they trained harder. With this free dance to music from The Mission, they presented a side of their skating much softer than what was seen in their flamenco original dance, and they really won me over with it in December at the 2008 Senior Challenge, the qualifying event for Canadians. I didn't think this performance was quite as wonderful as Challenge, but it was still excellent, and they earned a place on the 2008-2009 national team. Very close 3rd place in this dance, 5th place overall. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Hann-McCurdy & Coreno

Allie Hann-McCurdy & Michael Coreno train in Burnaby, BC, practically just down the road from the arena in Vancouver, so they had a lot of support from the audience. They looked like they had a blast skating their free dance to "Rhapsody in Blue," and it is a style that works well for them, but I thought that the dance lacked the choreographic complexity of the other teams in the top five. I actually thought that Siobhan & Kevin, who placed sixth, even had a better dance, and more flow across the ice. Still, Allie & Mike skated this very well, and although it was a close fight, they managed to hang onto 3rd place. After placing 8th last year and considering quitting, their first podium finish was a huge accomplishment, and they were also awarded the opportunity to represent Canada at the 2008 World Championships in Sweden last month. They finished a respectable 19th there. 5th in this dance, 3rd overall. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Weaver & Poje

Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje were last year's big surprise, when they finished 3rd in their first season together. This year, they had a lot to prove, so they chose a very mature free dance to "Blues for Klook." On a personal note, I kind of hate that music, but I thought that the style worked well for them. The first half of this dance was great, but unfortunately, Andrew fell in the middle section of the dance. Since it was not on a specific element, their deductions for the fall weren't huge, and they managed to hang onto the silver medal and a return trip to the World Championships, where they placed 17th. This shot is from the first few seconds of the dance. Verrry close 4th in this dance, 2nd overall. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

Virtue & Moir

Since the skaters at these championships skated in reverse order of the standings, the audience was given the wonderful treat of watching Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir close the event when the rest of the competition had already been decided. Watching them without worrying about anyone else made me enjoy this program to music from Les Parapluies de Cherbourg even more. I'll be honest - this shot is a little too blurry in its original resolution, but I was able to sharpen it to post here. Tessa & Scott skate so fast and with constant changes of position that it makes my job as a photographer quite a challenge. I so desperately wanted to get a great shot of this lift - it's pretty much the high point of the whole dance, timed perfectly with the music, but my shots started to blur as Scott came around the curve and Tessa's face came into better view. Ah well. I get better at photographing them every time I see them, so I'm hoping for some good results next week. Anyway, back to this event...although Tessa & Scott skated this program without any mistakes and put on a mesmerizing performance, I don't think they peaked here, which was good. In my opinion, their best performance of this free dance came in March at the World Championships, where they won a silver medal - in only their second trip to the event. These kids are amazing. 1st in this dance, 1st overall. 1/640, f/2.8, ISO 400.

The overall quality of dance this year was just incredible. I thought the same thing two years ago, when the race for the 2nd Olympic team spot gave me an ulcer, and the rest of the competition was enjoyable, too, but this year surpassed 2006. It's definitely a huge rebound after last year, which was quite disappointing for dance. For example, this year, Mylène Lamoreux & Michael Mee scored 160.91 points overall and placed seventh - a perfectly respectable finish and two places higher than they finished last year. However, last year, 160.91 points would have been enough for third place and a trip to the World Championships. Of last year's top ten teams, only six returned, so many were expecting that 2008 would be a rebuilding year. Perhaps it was, but if this was only a rebuilding year, then I can't wait to see what next year holds.

Next time: highlights from Sunday that will probably include the ladies' free and the hall of fame induction. Maybe I'll post the Parade of Champions with those, too, depending on how many photos I want to put up.