Archive for the ‘Sport Event’ Category

This beautiful stretch of whitewater has been scheduled to be the venue for the whitewater events at the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Games. It is located just below the dam at Horseshoe Lake, where the Trent Severn Waterway holds back large amounts of water in order to prevent flooding of Minden. Unfortunately, this past spring the 100-year flood levels were just too much for the dam, and many areas in Minden have been flooded.

Usually suffering from low water volume in the summer, this year the water levels and volume are still at record levels. All the rain has kept the Horseshoe Lake water levels above the dam very high and the river continues to run strong. There were still sandbags on the concrete walls on both sides of the river, as the evidence of the recent flood.

Sand bags on the concrete walls above the dam

The spring flooding of the Gull River has damaged infrastructure at the Minden Wild Water Preserve. Just below the dam, you can see the toppled wall, part of the engineered whitewater course, built in 1972 from heavy concrete blocks. The heavy and long wall was installed to funnel water onto the side of the main channel. When the large blocks gave in, water rushed in and opened another river arm on the left side, creating an island. The problem is that if left this way, the main channel wouldn’t get in the summer months enough water. In addition, the erosion in the left channel might continue, altering significantly the entire course.

Damaged concrete block wall below the dam

Kayaker coming down from the upper part of the river


There was a kayak race in the morning, which I regrettably missed, so the following photos are from the afternoon after the slalom gates have been taken down.

On the top of the chute

Coming Through, one way or another!

Nothing will stop this fellow

Looking ahead to the next set of rapids.

Planning the next step

If you don’t feel like paddling, you can enjoy the spray of the whitewater in a more leisurely way. Not recommended for people who tend to roll in their sleep.

Woman On The Rocks

The bottom portion of the course is very popular, especially at high water levels. The last few rapids are not dangerous, but still fun to play in.

Perfectly synchronized team in an inflatable kayak.

Two men in a tandem kayak

In the calm water below the course


In closing, it was the strongest summer flow I’ve seen on this river in thirty years. A few years back, I used to run it in my Mad River Explorer canoe myself, but having seen that recent power of the river, from now on, I think, I’ll stick just to photographing others.


For more pictures from the whitewater course, you can visit my FAA Gallery at http://les-palenik.artistwebsites.com/art/all/whitewater2013-07-13/all


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Heavenly Experience

The latest transit of Venus took place on June 5th, 2012. If you missed it, next occurence will take place in 105 years.

Although the afternoon was partly cloudy, the clouds cleared around the sun and the Venus appeared as expected, around 6pm EST. I’m always amazed, how exactly the astronomers can calculate these events. (But I guess, it must be more straightforward than to forecast weather for the next day).

I was lucky to get a ticket to the Dunlap Observatory in Richmond Hill. The David Dunlap Observatory is located in eastern portion of Richmond Hill, Ontario, and houses the largest telescope in Canada. The Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Toronto Centre, operates the 74-inch reflecting telescope, but the large building with moveable dome was closed for this event.

The grounds opened at 5:30pm, and each visitor received protective sun shades. The filter on the shades looks like an aluminum foil, in effectiveness comparable to a welding shade between #10 and #14, and it is so dark, that you can’t see anything through it. If aimed squarely in the direction of the sun, one can see the sun (which when viewed this way, is surprisingly, a much smaller circle than you would think – smaller than the moon image).

Weather was great, the DDO grounds spacious, green and clean, and the volunteer astronomers very friendly and helpful. The main thing, there was lot of equipment available to observe the spectacular event.

This young couple is setting up their big gun – a 1200mm Orion telescope.

Many telescopes had cameras attached to it, and one could observe the magnified image either through the viewfinder or the back screen on the camera. This telescope was quite strong and you could see just a magnified portion of the sun. At that magnification, the sun moves very fast. The telescope had to be rotated slightly every few minutes or so to keep the Venus visible. Both celestial bodies were moving nicely in sync.

Here we have a smaller telescope, coupled with a larger camera screen, and Venus is visible as a small dark dot in the top portion of the big circle.

The next picture shows the administration building with two of the observatory telescopes built on the top.

One of the telescope on the building was connected to a camera that was feeding the images to a large computer monitor beside the building.
The transit began around 6:00pm when Venus appeared as a small dark spot in the right upper corner of the sun. You can see also some light clouds in the lower portion of the monitor.

The celestial body moved very slowly and the whole transit was supposed to last about six hours. Unfortunately, around 7:15pm the clouds moved in and put a stop to the show.

Great opportunity for a pleasant and memorable family outing and once-a-life learning experience for children. Actually, I had more fun observing the things around the telescopes than through the telescopes.

All pictures were captured with Canon T2i, and Tamron 17-50mm/2.8 DX lens.

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Another year, another whitewater race.

The Open Canoe Slalom Race 2011 took place on the weekend September 10th and 11th in Minden, Ontario, the weather was perfect, and we had a great turnout in terms of paddlers and boats.

River rescue - click to see the photobook

I was photographing the event on both days – primarily with a Canon T2i and a prime 200mm/2.8L lens, and with a Nikon D300 equipped with 70-300mm and 70-200 VR zoom lenses. The light conditions were challenging – harsh light and dark shadows in the sun and quite dark in the upper stretch of the river that was shaded from both sides with tall trees. And those boats move fast!

It would be great to see the absolute differences between the three long lenses, but the comparison was difficult because each shot was captured under different conditions. What became obvious is that in good light all three lenses deliver great results and that the light, shutter speed, aperture, and the angle under which you shoot are much more important that the actual lenses.

The 70-200mm/2.8 Nikkor zoom lens, although quite heavy, focused fast and accurately throughout its entire range, and was a pleasure to use. The Canon camera and 200mm/2.8 lens combo was the lightest, focused also very fast and the lens has perhaps the nicest bokeh of the three. In good light, even the relatively inexpensive 70-300VR Nikkor performed admirably (especially in the tested 100-200mm range), but it did not resolve the details as well as the other two lenses, while the dark river sections constituted a challenge and introduced a lot of noise even for the Canon 200mm/2.8L prime lens. (To be fair, in that light the weakest point was the sensor and not the glass).

The entire whitewater section of Gull River is relatively narrow, everywhere you are relatively close to the action, and from most vantage points you can fill the frame even with a 55-200mm lens. On a few occasions, I dialed up the Nikkor 70-300mm lens all the way to 300mm, but at its maximum aperture of 5.6 sometimes you have to compromise the speed and the resulting sharpness.

As a side note, there are a few tight spots on the river to experiment also with a wide or short telephoto lens, and Glenn, my shooting buddy got some interesting shots even with a 12-24mm zoom.

Here are some images from Sunday, Sept. 11th. The small web-sized pictures (reduced from 12-18MP twenty times to about 0.5 MP) don’t do justice to the actual images, but they all look great at full resolution, and would print nicely in 8×12″ or even larger size.

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-300mm ED VR - ISO 250, 140mm, F5.6, 1/2500s

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-300mm ED VR - ISO 250, 185mm, F5.6, 1/2500s

Canon T2i, 200mm EF prime - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/4000

Canon T2i, 200mm EF prime - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/4000

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-200mm VR - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/5000s

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-200mm VR - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/2500s

More images from the river in the photo book by Blurb

See also slalom images at the Shutterstock site

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The Whitewater Slalom National Championships were held at the Gull River Wild Water Preserve on Saturday July 31st and Sunday August 1st in Minden, Ontario. This stretch of river is beautiful, the conditions were ideal with sunny weather and high water levels, and the event was attended by the top slalom racers.

Here are some action shots from the event.

Click here to see a video clip

Minden 2010 National Championship Slalom Book

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Power Hockey Cup 2010

On August 7th, I was invited to watch and photograph the Powerhockey event at Ryerson University. The Toronto Power Wheelchair Hockey League (TPWHL) hosted the 2010 PowerHockey Cup at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, Canada from Aug. 6th through Aug. 9th, 2010. The tournament was attended by the Calgary Selects, Carolina Fury, Michigan Mustangs (WCHL), Minnesota Stars, Minnesota Saints, Ottawa, Toronto Rock, and the host Toronto Lake Raiders.

PowerHockeyâ„¢ is based on basic hockey rules with a few adaptations to allow everyone in a power wheelchair the ability to participate. Relatively new sport, it provides a competitive sports opportunity for persons not possessing the physical upper body strength needed to participate in other sports (such as wheelchair basketball, sled hockey, quad rugby, etc.). Participants not only get to be a part of a fast paced exciting game, they build life long positive attributes such as teamwork, good sportsmanship, strategy, self-confidence and self-esteem.

All games in the tournament were filmed by a professional crew, and simulcasted on http://www.gretzky.com. I used Canon 2Ti camera with a 50mm and a 200mm prime lens, both for action shots and video recording at 1080p. All pictures and footage were captured in the available light, without any flash. I was very pleased with the video quality of this camera. The little built-in microphone on the camera delivered also amazing sound quality. When filming outside, the recorded sound is usually compromised by the wind or even slight movement of the air, but inside the gym this was not a problem and sound quality of the clip is surprisingly clean. Make sure, you check out the short video clip below.

This year, Minnesota Saints team took home the 2010 Power Hockey Cup.
Below are some pictures from the game between Ottawa and Minnessota Saints teams.

Click here to see a video clip

Power Hockey Book
Link to Powerhockey.com

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