Welcome back to the new edition of Sunday's Best. Originally, this was a weekly feature on a subject of my choosing and, through a multi-step evolution, became View from Ice Level -- a way for me to offer a personal take on elements of a game I'm covering.
It's mostly something you see during the Penguins season, hence the "ice level" portion of the name, but I'm expanding that to View from the Dugout when warranted at a Pirates game and there will be an iteration of it for the coming Steelers season and beyond.
But, I still wanted to find a way to present a more photo-centric feature every week, so Sunday's Best is back in the weekly fold for that purpose. The View pieces are wonderful for me to offer a voice in the game I'm covering, but they're more mini photo essays than they are a look at a game's best images.
The goal here is to offer a weekly recap of my take in the week's best photos. Some weeks, there will be hockey, baseball and soccer. Or football and hockey. Or football, hockey and baseball. Some weeks, that also means there will be a lot of baseball -- there just isn't always something else going on over the summer when hockey ends.
But, other weeks it will give me a chance to mix in more Riverhounds photos when I shoot them, show off the features and portraits we don't always have a place for on the site (particularly when they're of the other team from events), use photos I shoot in my personal life and just get creative sometimes.
For instance, because I hate sleep apparently, I'll be hopping in a car today after the Penguins game, driving to Cleveland with my brother and seeing a show by one of our favorite bands, The Movielife, from Long Island of all places. In a hypothetical Sunday's Best, I might include an image I take there, if warranted, and include it alongside photos from the week's slate of Pittsburgh sports.
It's a week-to-week feature, so I should typically have an abundance of photos to choose from without getting overwhelmed in the choosing of them. For this first edition, though, I've included photos from a few days before the past calendar week.
I just couldn't find it in myself to start this up without including a couple photos from the Pirates' non-baseball action against the Reds as well as my photo of Jason Martin smiling at his fiancee on the day he was called to the majors and a shot I liked of Joe Musgrove delivering a pitch as Eugenio Suarez crept more than halfway down the third base line.
The first image up there, and man did I have a lot to choose from in this week's action in Uniondale, N.Y. is of Mathew Barzal heading off of the ice as the No. 2 star of the Islanders' Game 2 win over the Penguins.
I used this image in the gallery on my View from Ice Level from the game, but I really wanted a chance to put it on the home page, and there isn't always an excuse to do so when it's a feature of an "opposing" team.
I've become a fan of Barzal's -- he's like watching Johnny Gaudreau but right-handed -- and I've enjoyed shooting portraits of the guys dressed in blue and orange from my third period position at Nassau Coliseum. My hole for that third period is located right beside the runway to the Islanders' locker room, so there are plenty of chances to capitalize.
I loved the back light of the spotlight and the way I was able to get Barzal and his great hair while getting the spotlight, some J.J. Abrams-like lens flares and enough of the bottom of a couple banners to show off more blue and orange than on the young star's jersey.
That's followed by an image I really thought I'd use as the main photo, but I just couldn't supplant the Barzal photo with it. It's a ridiculously tight look at Casey DeSmith's face through his mask. I really love this shot as well, especially because it's so tight in a sport you can't always do that with, but I just couldn't do it. 1a and 1b.
After that, you'll find a mix. A couple Pirates photos I've mentioned, a few action photos from the Penguins' duo of games in New York and a number of features from there as well.
Hopefully the photo fans on the site enjoy a weekly look through some of the week's best photos, and I'll see you guys and gals in the comments.