1972-73 Topps #87: Keith Magnuson
Considering that the 1972-73 Topps Hockey set was comprised mainly of posed shots – with a few grainy game-action photos here and there – this stands out as the strangest card from that set…and quite possibly the 1970s. I mean, what could possibly top this distorted photograph of hockey tough guy Keith Magnuson?
In photography, a circular fisheye lens usually has a field of view of 180-degrees, and appears to “wrap” the image around a sphere. This creates for an extremely wide-angle – and extremely distorted – photograph. The photographer who snapped this picture used such a lens, giving us this rounded-out, distorted view of the Black Hawks defenseman as he sits on the bench. Further back and on the ice is Black Hawks defender Pat Stapleton and a referee. Adding tension and drama to the image is the ceiling of the hockey rink, its pinnacle looming as some sort of black hole, appearing to “suck in” the planks of the roof…and all else in its path.
Since a circular fisheye lens also “crops” the photo, adding the black “frame” that we see around this image, it appears that we are peering in through a hole – giving this photograph a certain voyeuristic aspect. It feels like we are looking through a peep hole – not unlike the one on your own front door – and watching as the action unfolds. But we are not noticed.
Given the usually bland nature of hockey card photography from the 1970s, this is one of the most memorable cards from that decade, if only for its strange visuals. Fisheye lens photography would become a staple in the 1990s, with the implementation of the “goal cam”. But here such technology was used to make for an artful and memorable piece of memorabilia.