The Sports Year in Review: My Top 25 Sports Photos of 2016
Another fantastic year of sports photography is in the books and for me, it was pretty good.
I had a number of firsts in the sports shooting realm, including the highlight of the year as an accredited photographer for Cactus League Spring Training in Arizona where I covered four Seattle Mariners games, went to the camps of the Texas Rangers, Milwaukee Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers and the Mariners, caught a couple of college games and covered the BCPBL Langley Blaze as they were down for some pre-season training work as well.
Another first was covering my first ever professional golfing event at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship Senior PGA Tour event in Victoria, where I got to watch and photograph a number of golfers that I have have admired over the years. Also a first was a Monster Truck and Freestyle motocross spectacular that was held in Victoria.
Also on the baseball front, I continued my work as the official photographer for the Victoria HarbourCats of the WCL, the Victoria Eagles of the BCPBL and the Greater Victoria Baseball Association and managed to work in some games for the BCPBL Victoria Mariners as well.
I continued my work as a freelancer with Independent Sports News / Island Sports News where I had the opportunity to shoot a range of hockey events, notably the Victoria Royals of the WHL, the VIJHL Junior B All-Star game, a Vancouver Canucks old-timers game, the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL and where I provided comprehensive coverage of the Lower Vancouver Island High School Basketball League and various high school tournaments, as well as coverage of the UVic Vikes men's and women's basketball programs.
It is always an interesting task to whittle down the thousands of photos I take in a season to a select 25, but one I feel is worthwhile, not only for me as a learning tool - a way of critiquing my own work and selecting those images that stand out - but hopefully for you, my faithful readers and viewers, who ready my articles on ISN and enjoy the photographs that I decide to run along with those news items.
So without further ado, in no particular order, here are my top 25 sports images of 2016, along with the reasons why I selected the photo. Hover over the image to read the caption and see my reasons for selection, or alternatively click on a photo to go to a larger version of it in the gallery on my website (where you can also purchase images if so inclined!).
Please enjoy and share and if so inclined, leave comments for me as to which which was your favourite!
2016 Monster X Truck Destruction TourJanuary 9, 2016, Victoria, BC - Motocross rider Jeff Banks thrills the crowd with one of his freestyle motocross tricks at the Monster Tour at the Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre in Victoria on Saturday.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: Shooting Monster trucks was a first for me, as was motocross, and while our position in the arena was not the greatest for any cool shots of the trucks, it was great for the freestyle motocross. This trick, his pose and his eyes visible through his goggles, plus the nice soft background with the hint of the crowd present really made this shot pop for me.
2016 Cactus League Spring TrainingMarch 21, 2016, Glendale, Arizona - Los Angeles Dodger outfielder Yasiel Puig heads to first after stroking a base hit in a Cactus League spring training game against the Seattle Mariners at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona. The Mariners would come away with a 6-3 win.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: Baseball is often a game of athleticism, power, finesse, grace and some ballet all mixed together and I felt that this swing pose illustrated that concept perfectly.
PGA Tour Champions 2016 Pacific Links Bear Mountain ChampionshipSeptember 20-25, 2016 - Veteran PGA Tour Champion golfer Colin Montgomerie keeps his eye on the ball as he chips out of a bunker beside the 18th green during final round action of the 2016 Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship at Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, British Columbia. Montgomerie would win the tournament following a three hole playoff against Scott McCarron.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: It is kind of a cliched shot in the golf photography world, but I loved how his eyes, with a fantastic glint of light in them, followed the ball out of the bunker. Add to that the fact that this shot was a crucial shot that allowed Montgomerie to save par on the hole and thus force the playoff and it easily becomes one of my favourites of the year.
2016 UVic Alumni High School Invitational Basketball TournamentDecember 29, 2016, Victoria, BC - Ballard Beaver’s point guard Fresh Ausar (2) would score 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter Thursday, helping lead the Beavers to a 91-77 win over the Walnut Grove Gators in semi-final action at the UVic Alumni Invitational Basketball Tournament in Victoria.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: The pose, the face, the dreadlocks, all nicely backlit by the Vikes Nation sign, just made this a nice basketball composition for me.
2016 Victoria HarbourCats Baseball ClubJune 30, 2016, Victoria, BC - Victoria third baseman Brad Pluschkell (left) puts the tag on the Kelowna Falcon’s Michael Cianco (right) just before Cianco reaches the bag on this play in the third inning during a West Coast League game at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria. The HarbourCats would emerge with a 9-1 win to clinch a playoff position for the first time in team history.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: I will often be asked by players and sometimes umpires "Did you get that play? Was he out or safe?" In this case, I loved that what was a "bang-bang" play to the naked eye, is clearly an out, by inches, when frozen in time. The soft, warm evening light, also made this a great baseball capture.
2015-2016 Victoria Royals Hockey ClubApril 19, 2016, Victoria, BC - Members of the Victoria Royals and their fans, react in disbelief, as the Kelowna Rockets scored with just 0.2 seconds remaining in regulation time to tie the game 2-2 and force overtime in Game 7 of their second round WHL playoff series at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre on Tuesday night in Victoria. The Rockets would then win 3-2 in in overtime to put an end to the Royals season.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: This is one of those "Agony of Defeat" photos. Even though this was not defeat yet, the fact that Kelowna scored, unbelievably, with only 0.2 seconds on the clock was stunning. This is shown by the reaction of the players, but more importantly by the reactions of many of the fans in the stands behind the net, some of whom have hands over their heads, some who look just plain gobsmacked and some who seem to find it all somewhat amusing.
2016 Victoria HarbourCats Baseball ClubJune 30, 2016, Victoria, BC - Members of the Victoria HarbourCats celebrate in the locker room after defeating the Kelowna Falcons 9-1 at Royal Athletic Park Thursday, clinching first place in the first half of the 2016 West Coast League season and thus securing their first playoff appearance in team history.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: This photo highlights a couple of firsts, including my first ever locker room celebration and the HarbourCats first ever playoff appearance, coming in a season that saw them eventually reach 40 wins - the best in the league and a WCL record. The boys certainly did a good job of celebrating the first half title here and gave me a great "Joy of Victory" photo.
2016 Boulders Climbing GymApril 9, 2016, Central Saanich, BC - April 9, 2016: Czech climber Libor Hroza heads up the wall during the 2016 Climbing Escalade Canada Speed Climbing Championships at the Boulders Climbing Gym in Central Saanich Saturday. Hroza would win the event with a best time of 6.08 seconds.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: In speed climbing, athletes sprint UP a 15 metre wall in 7 seconds or less and truly meet the definition of "Spiderman." It is a tough sport to photograph close up, as you only have a split second to get them as they take off from the floor and all the shots start to look the same, so I decided to step back, pull out the long lens and try and get a shot that illustrated the Spiderman concept. I think this shot of Hroza did that and I liked the pose I captured him in and the composition of his body within the three holds that he is navigating.
2016 Victoria Mariners Baseball ClubJune 2, 2016, Victoria, BC - Victoria Mariners pitcher Liam Kruse goes horizontal and uses a little extra tongue action to make a throw to first base after fielding a short ground ball in a BC Premier League baseball game against the Victoria Eagles at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria. The Mariners would come away with a 3-0 win.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: Catching athletes in strange or unusual positions always makes for an interesting photo and this certainly meets that bill. It was also a fine play (he made the out) and involved a great effort and the facial expression also adds a bit of humour to the shot.
2016 Lower Vancouver Island High School BasketballDecember 2, 2016, Victoria, BC - Lambrick Park Lions guard Austin Somers soars to the hoop while surrounded by a quartet of Mark Isfeld defenders in a Vancouver Island High School Basketball pre-season game at Mt. Doug High in Victoria. Mark Isfeld would surprise the Lions with a 65-52 win.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: There is something here about the symmetry and consistency of 4 of the 5 players visible all having their hands and fingers extended, plus the fact that the 4 Isfeld defenders nicely frame Somers, who himself has been captured in a great leap to the net. I could live without the big heating duct in the background, but I think the strength of the photo overcomes that aspect.
2016 Victoria HarbourCats Baseball ClubJune 16, 2016, Victoria, BC - Victoria HarbourCats right fielder AJ Alcantara makes a great leaping catch of a flyball during a West Coast League baseball game against the Gresham GreyWolves Thursday afternoon at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria. The HarbourCats would come away with a 3-2 win.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: I think if you look back to all my Top 25 selections over the years, there is almost always a diving baseball catch included in the bunch. I like capturing these because outfielders rarely get any "lens love" given their distance away from where I normally shoot. In this case, I happened to be on the first base side of the field and close to where AJ made the catch and was lucky enough to find him, grab the focus and get the shot.
2016 Mt. Doug Rams FootballSeptember 9, 2016, Victoria, BC - Mt. Douglas Rams running back Olti Shala (4) seems to be telling Barsby Bulldog defender Dominic Bertrand (90) how many touchdowns the Rams scored on Friday during this play late in the Rams' 35-18 pre-season win at Mt. Doug Field in Victoria.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: This shot is all about capturing a classic football pose (the stiff arm) and in this case, the fully open hand and five fingers seemed an apt and comical way to illustrate how many times the Rams scored in the game. The facial expression (eyes) of the Rams player is also great and the lighting is simply fantastic.
2016 Victoria Mariners Baseball ClubApril 24, 2016, Victoria, BC - Victoria Mariners second baseman Dylan Price makes a great leaping grab of an errant throw during the Mariners 7-2 win over the Whalley Chiefs in BC Premier Baseball League action Sunday at Henderson Park in Victoria.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: In addition to this simply being a great leaping catch, this is a case of being rewarded for knowing the game and being ready for the shot. The Chiefs had a speedy runner on first and I knew given the situation of the game that he would likely be stealing, and as such was ready to frame up and focus the second baseman who would cover the bag. As he went to cover, the throw from the catcher sailed wide and Price had to react to it. I kept him in frame and was rewarded with this shot. A little bit of tongue effort and the dirt coming off the toes of the cleats also adds to the shot.
2016 Pacific Links Bear Mountain ChampionshipSeptember 21, 2016, Victoria, BC - A group of golfers prepare to hit their approach shot to the first green of the Westin Bear Mountain Mountain Course during pro-am play at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain PGA Tour Championship held in Victoria.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: When you cover a golf tournament, many shots, especially those of swings, start to look the same. As such, I tried to get a little creative over the tournament and create some more artistic shots that still clearly "spoke" golf, but that were not just players hitting shots. I thought this shot was one good example of that concept.
2016 Greater Victoria Baseball AssociationJune 19, 2016, Victoria, BC - Carnarvon Rockies batter Chase Kittleson watches the ball after a big hit during the Rockies 2016 GVBA Mosquito Championship game against the Peninsula Royals at Lambrick Park in Victoria. Carnarvon would cruise to an 13-4 victory.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: At the 9 and 10 year old age group in minor baseball, when a kid makes solid contact on a pitch (rare) they almost always have a look of shock on their face for a brief moment before heading to first base. I have been trying to capture that look for a number of years now and I think on this shot, I finally succeeded! Technically, I also like the lighting and the soft focus of the fans in the background that really make the batter standout.
2016 Victoria HarbourCats Baseball ClubJuly 9, 2016, Victoria, BC - Bend Elks second baseman Jack Strunk (2) and Victoria HarbourCats baserunner Dakota Dean both appeal their case to umpire Phil Borgeois (left), who would call Dean out after he slipped off the bag at second on this steal attempt during the HarbourCats 3-1 win over the Elks in West Coast League baseball action Saturday at Royal Athletic Park in Victoria.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: This photo illustrates the importance of shooting "through the play." That is, continuing to shoot past the peak action. In this case, Dean over-slid the bag, tried to get back on and hoped that the ump would not see it. Unfortunately for Dean, he did, as did the second baseman and I simply liked the expressions here on both players faces and the ump pointing as well and beginning to make his out call.
PGA Tour Champions 2016 Pacific Links Bear Mountain ChampionshipSeptember 22, 2016 - Golf legend Colin Montgomerie enjoys a quiet moment to take in the vista from the top of the 15th tee of the Mountain Course during the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship Pro Am on Thursday at Bear Mountain Resort in Victoria, British Columbia.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: Shooting the PGA Tour Champions event was a highlight of the year for me and a chance to watch, up close, some golfers that I grew up admiring. I had a chance to follow Montgomerie around for a few holes and when we got to the top of the 15th on the Mountain Course, Montgomerie was quite taken with the expansive view of Victoria and beyond. He took a brief moment to quietly enjoy this view and I snapped this image. I think it is an illustration that good images do not always come directly from the "field of play" or the game action. Often things that happen away from the main action can make compelling and powerful photos and I felt this image illustrated that nicely.
2016 Cactus League Spring TrainingMarch 19, 2016, Peoria, Arizona - Seattle Mariner's designated hitter Nelson Cruz mulls what could have been after making an out Saturday during the Mariners Cactus League game against the Arizona Diamondbacks in Peoria, Arizona. Cruz was 0-4 on the night and the Mariners would drop a 4-2 decision to the D'Backs.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: I thought this was one of the strongest "sportraits" I captured all year. The distinctive features of Cruz, the glint of light of his black curls and face, his stare of into the field, all against the beautifully blurry background bokeh effect of the fans.
2016 Pacific Links Bear Mountain ChampionshipSeptember 24, 2016, Victoria, BC - Spectator Danny Martin peers over a tee box sign to watch the second round action Saturday at the Pacific Links Bear Mountain Championship at the Westin Bear Mountian Resort's Mountain Course in Victoria.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: Another example of looking away from the play for interesting photos and of looking for a golf related photo that was not simply of a golf swing. In this somewhat comical shot - Danny was one of the few spectators tall enough to see over this sign - you know right away that it is a golf tournament thanks to the sign and that Danny is a spectator at it. Some may say the Yankees hat detracts from the photo, but I felt it was a nice touch!
2016 Cactus League Spring TrainingMarch 20, 2016, Peoria, Arizona - A young fan lets Seattle Mariners shortstop Chris Taylor know that his dad has the pen needed to autograph a souvenir baseball during an on-field Kids Day promotion prior to a Cactus League game against the Cleveland Indians at Peoria Stadium in Peoria, Arizona. The Indians would come away with a 3-1 win in the game.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: This was simply a funny situation that I managed to capture. Kids came on to the field at each position and this little guy simply forgot to bring the Sharpie needed to get his ball signed and matter-of-factly pointed to his dad by the dugout and told Taylor he had it. The Sharpie was eventually delivered and all ended well!
2015-2016 University of Victoria Vikes BasketballJanuary 29, 2016, Victoria, BC - UVic Vikes forward Mack Roth (6) goes up for a shot during the Vikes 79-51 loss to UBC in CIS Canada West basketball action Friday at the CARSA Performance Gym at The University of Victoria. The Vikes were wearing special jerseys in honour of Shoot for the Cure night.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: I simply liked this as a good basketball action shot. The player is intent and focused on the hoop with his hands in a good shooting position and the blue background makes him stand out nicely.
2016 Victoria Eagles Baseball ClubApril 24, 2016, Victoria, BC - Coquitlam Reds catcher Kyle Maunahan (left) looks for the call at the plate after tagging out Victoria Eagles baserunner Aden Richardson on the final play of the game to preserve the Reds 7-6 win over the Eagles in BC Junior Premier Baseball League action Sunday at Lambrick Park in Victoria.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: A close play at the plate with a potential tying run on the last play of the game. Baseball drama at its best! Another example of shooting through the action to get, in this case, the questioning look of the catcher, the start of the incredulous look of the baserunner reacting to the out call by the ump (it was a close and controversial play) and the reaction of the Reds fan in the background who is beginning his celebration.
2016 Victoria Eagles Baseball ClubApril 9, 2016, Victoria, BC - Victoria Eagles pitcher Brody Stark delivers a pitch during a BC Premier Baseball League game against the the Parksville Royals Saturday at Lambrick Park in Victoria. The Royals would emerge with a 3-2 win.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: This pitcher has such an exaggerated "backswing" to his wind up and I wanted to try and capture it as best as possible without his face being blocked out. Perfect lighting and the perfect angle from behind the plate, led to a perfect shot of his unusual delivery.
2016 Mt. Doug Rams FootballSeptember 23, 2016, Victoria, BC - Mt. Doug Rams receiver Dante Carbone (5) lays out in an attempt to catch a pass over Vancouver College defender Owen Ker (2) during a BC High School Football Junior Varsity game at Mt. Doug Field in Victoria. The JV Rams would emerge with a hard fought 25-25 tie.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: Simply a great effort at a catch. Did he get it? Did it fall incomplete? I like the fact that unless you see the next two or three frames, you don't know the answer to that question. I like to think that he hauled it in. The timing was perfect, both players have their eyes on the ball and while I am not keen on the background here, it is still one of my nicest football pass captures of the year.
2016 Cactus League Spring TrainingMarch 18, 2016, Phoenix, Arizona - Members of the Milwaukee Brewers Minor League teams hold a brief meeting prior to their work out during 2016 Cactus League Spring Training at the Maryvale Sports Complex in Phoenix, Arizona.
WHY I CHOSE THIS PHOTO: I like to think that this photo summarizes what spring training is all about...a number of MLB prospects, under a clear blue Arizona sky, patiently getting some instruction and advice before performing a series of drills that will decide their fate. Another shot that is not action per se, but nicely establishes the setting and event of the day.
Christian J. Stewart
Island Sports News
Couldn't possibly choose just one. They're all fabulous !
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