Photo By Barnick

The Story Behind the Shots

Editing Hockey Photos Shot Through The Glass

I’ve discussed in previous blogs my disdain for taking hockey photos through the glass rather than through the hole in the glass.  However, since I don’t shoot for a publication and am completely freelance, I am not given top priority when it comes to assignments at games.  Therefore, I’ve had to learn how to get my photos to look their best when not shot under the best conditions.

I shot high school hockey this past season and these arenas never have holes in the glass.  So I ended up having a lot of practice in finding out what works best for me while editing these photos. 

Here, I’ll work through a couple of my photos from Michigan hockey and show you my edits and why I’ve edited them this way.  Hopefully this helps.

Below you’ll see the final copy of an image of Garrett Schifsky that was shot through the glass:

Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey
Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey

So here is the unedited version of that same photo:

Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey Unedited
Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey Unedited

It’s a very bland photo that could be tempting to simply toss.  Looking at a photo like this, I’ll do one of the following things first when editing the photo.  I’ll either crop it if it requires a lot of cropping to help with editing, I’ll try an “auto” adjustment in Lightroom (all edits here are in Lightroom) to see what I get with that, or I’ll adjust the white balance if it’s off.  In this case, it was obvious that the white balance was off (the image is too yellow) so I changed that value and this is what I got:

Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey after white balance change
Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey after white balance change

Then I did the “auto” adjustment.  It helped out with giving me a starting point.  You can see a bit more “pop” in the image but it is still lacking contrast and brightness.

Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey after "auto" adjustment in Lightroom
Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey after “auto” adjustment in Lightroom

Then I worked on the tone of the image.  I like to bring down the highlights and increase the shadows and whites.  How much I change those two depends on the image of course, but I like to increase shadows so that I get more detail showing in the face.  I bring down the blacks which also helps increase the contrast in the image.  It does also darken the image so I’ll sometimes have to adjust exposure and whites after changing the blacks. 

In the “presence” part of the Lightroom edit, I added some clarity and also dehaze.  I used to add a lot of dehaze when shooting through the glass but I’m using it a lot more sparingly lately.  Give it a try and see what you think of it.  You’ll know pretty quickly if it is helpful to your image.

Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey after adjusting "tone" and "presence" in Lightroom
Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey after adjusting “tone” and “presence” in Lightroom

After this, I felt that it was still missing something.  It needed more contrast and wasn’t jumping out of the page at me.  One thing I had forgotten to do, which should be done right away, is lens profile corrections.  These corrections can change how your photo appears in a positive way very quickly. 

Usually when I’m editing a bunch of photos, I’ll get one specific type of photo exactly how I like it and then paste those settings onto other photos that have similar lighting etc (for example, shooting through the glass at one end of the rink).  Those newly adjusted images will have all changes that I’ve previously made to that one photo and will be a great starting point for each additional image in editing.  So as long as I’ve done all corrections properly on the one first image, then lens profiles will be adjusted on all other ones.  That of course didn’t happen for this image.  

As a side note, I was looking at this image and all the adjustments I had made and was wondering why it wasn’t popping like the image on my site.  What made the difference was the lens profiles!

Here it is after all edits are done.  I did end up fine-tuning a couple other setting as well from above but nothing major.  

Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey after all adjustments
Garrett Schifsky Michigan Hockey after all adjustments

This was a bit long for me to include additional pictures so I’ll call this one “part 1” and do this with additional photos in “part 2” and beyond.  I hope you realize that you’ll never get a photo shot through the glass to look as good as it would have shot through a hole.  But this is how I edit them.  It sounds like it takes a long time but once you do this several thousand times, you get pretty good at it and fast!  Hope this helps!

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