Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Photographing Olympic Sailing for the very first time - and having Rio de Janeiro as my background!

About a month ago, before leaving for the Olympic Games, I made a list of photographic challenges for myself. One of those challenges was to shoot Olympic sports I have never photographed before. And, if you are keeping up with all the blog posts, you know know that I did shoot numerous sports for the first time here in Rio.

Today's blog post features another Olympic first for me, and that was sailing.

Earlier last week, I had planned on heading over to the sailing venue to see if I could get on one of the chase boats. Luckily, the night before going over to the venue (which was about an hour each way), I sent an email to the venue photo manager and she said that all the boats were full that day. I asked her if there was a possibility of getting on a boat two days later (when I had no contractual commitments) and she would add me to the list.

Sure enough, two days later I was notified that I did have a spot on one of the chase boats, so I got up early that morning and headed to the marina. I decided to pack light, knowing that space would be a premium on the boat. My gear of choice was one Canon 1D X Mark II and the Canon 100-400mm II lens. This lens gives me a lot of focal range options and is easy to hand-hold for long periods of time. The Canon 200-400mm lens would have been a lot heavier and more awkward to maneuver on this small boat with 6 other people on board.

I had a couple of hours to kill while waiting for the race to start, so I wrote a blog post to share with all of you. And then, about 11:45am, I got the call to head out to the boat with 4 other photographers.

We got situated on the small craft and made the 5 minute ride from the harbor to the race site.


As we rounded the corner from the harbor, I saw the Christ the Redeemer statue up on the hill and took this shot.


And straight ahead of us, was the Sugarloaf.


Up until this point, I had to deal with the Olympic Broadcasting (OBS) people getting in my way at many venues, but I figured that things would be different here. Nope! I was shocked at how low their helicopters were flying, probably just 30 feet over the water.


I saw the USA boat practicing before the start of the race, and waited for the boat to get in front of this background, and shot wide to include the Christ statue and the boat. This is where the 100-400mm lens really came in handy, letting me shoot tight, but also zoom out for images like this.


After waiting for 20 minutes or so, the race began. We had our captain get us into a good shooting position for the start, but right as the horn sounded, the clouds covered the statue on the mountain top. Bummer.


Then it was time for me to use the lens at it's 400mm length to try and get in as close as possible.


At this point, I saw the sailboats heading in the other direction and really liked the backlighting on them.


We chased the boats back to the far turn during their second loop.


I shot a lot of images showing the entire sailboat, but also remembered that when I shot the America's Cup race in San Francisco a couple of years ago, with the great Onne van der Wal, it was often better to get in closer to the sailers.


Here is a tighter crop of the previous photo. I think I like this better.


We jammed back, ahead of the pack of sailboats, to the finish line, so that we could catch images of the end of the race. We were there for a minute or two before the boats got close to us, so I captured this photo to show you where all the spectators were located. Unless they had VERY powerful binoculars, I can not imagine how they would see much, but...


Here are the pack of boats heading for the finish line.



I really like the action in this shot...


...and it would be unfair not to show a similar photo of the Brazilians on their home course.


Here is the British team, coming in for what would be the gold medal.


I noticed a couple of Austrian followers on social media that asked me to capture photos of their athletes, so for you all, here is your boat.


But, as I mentioned, it was the British team who won it all. And they were a happy couple of ladies.


We got a couple shots of them before they turned their boat and headed to shore to celebrate.


We were heading back to the harbor as the British were heading into shore. But I saw the opportunity to shoot this last photo with one of the women raising the union jacks with the Olympic rings in the background, and liked the composition. For all you photographers out there, this is another example of why you want to keep your camera out and your head up as often as you can. Some times, photo opportunities creep up at the last second!

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And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.
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If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
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Monday, August 22, 2016

Olympic Wrestling - The Olympic may be over, but the blog posts continue!

Yeah, I know, you already watched the closing ceremony for the 2016 Summer Olympics. But hey, I still have some collections of photos to share with you.

Today was the first day in weeks without shooting any sports, so I took some time to return camera gear to Canon (thanks CPS!!!!!), turn in my locker keys, and just check myself out of Olympic mode for another year and a half. I spent some time with my friend, Vitor, cruising around rainy Rio today, and did a little eating and shopping.

Now I am back at the hotel to write this blog for all of you, before heading out for some dinner. And this time, it will NOT be the Olympic Park hamburger!

Today's blog shows my photos from a visit to the wrestling venue. And it was a fun time shooting this sport.


The first wrestling matches were preliminary rounds, and not medal matches. It was good for me to get used to photographing the sport before the medal rounds. This guy was from Puerto Rico and I loved his hair. Yeah - I am jealous.


As I shot more matches, I learned to wait for those key moments where the athletes were more aggressive.


There were also times when the athletes were in weird positions.


My leg hurts just looking at this shot.


Due to the fact that these guys are constantly fighting for position, it is not often that I could get a clean shot with both of their faces, when they were down on the mat. This was one of those shots when I had both athletes visible in the frame.


 A take down.


I mentioned that there are times when the guys are in strange positions. This is one of those times.

Then it was on to the bronze medal match with J'den Cox from the United States against Cuba's Reineris Salas Perez.


Not knowing the sport very well, I just shot the match and was looking for those key high energy moments.

And then something amazing happened.


The US team challenged a take down call, and J'den waited to hear the outcome.


His friends were all pleading for the correct call to be made.


And then when it was announced that the call was made in J'den's favor, his family celebrated.


I love the emotion in this guy's face!!


Needless to say, Reineris was not too pleased with the call, and he refused to come back onto the mat for the last 6 seconds of the match.


He was disqualified and J'den was announced the winner. Reineris was so upset that he would not even join them on the mat for the final decision to be announced.


J'den went crazy with excitement, which was a perfect photo opportunity.


He turned towards me and gave me this! How is that for emotion?


After he ran around the mat for a minute or two, he immediately went over to his parents. Even through the camera, I could see his parents crying with joy, knowing their boy just won an Olympic medal.


He then hopped over the gate and joined in on the party. This my friends is why I love photographing the Olympics. There are so many great moments to capture with our cameras!

As I said at the beginning of the bog, I still have 3 or 4 more sporting events to blog and then a blog from the Closing Ceremony. So stay tuned for those. Until then...


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And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


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If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

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Sunday, August 21, 2016

Photographing Athletics at the Olympics - including hurdles, high jumping and long jumping

As I have mentioned a couple of times, with all the shooting and moving around here at the Olympics, it has been tough to make time to blog in the last couple of days.

I am currently sitting in the main press center and getting ready to hop on a bus to head to closing ceremonies. And once again, I am still not feeling very good. I think I have only felt 100% for 2 or 3 days of these games. The good news is that I can sit here and write a blog, and not do anything too strenuous.

The tough part about opening and closing ceremonies, is that we have to leave the Olympic Park by 3pm and the ceremonies don't start until 8pm. It will be a long night for all of the press covering this. Part of thought about skipping them and just resting in the hotel room, but the photos opportunities are too good, so I will work through this one last day.

OK, now, on to the Athletics that I photographed to other day.

I really wanted to shoot the hurdles, since they are visually cool and I have alway been amazed at how these athletes can jump these hurdles with such ease.

When arriving at the stadium, I walked around the perimeter to determine the best shooting location for the race. I wanted to shoot this head on from a low position, but like so many other venues, this spot was reserved for the photo agencies and TV.

So I opted for a spot just off center from them.


Using the Canon 200-400mm lens with the built-in tele converter switch on, I was able to shoot this photo of the men (at 540mm) making their first hurdles from way back.


As they ran closer to me, I was rolling the zoom lens back to keep them in the frame.


As the different heats happened, I tried shooting images both tight and wide. I kept my ISO at 3200 to assure me a shutter speed of 1/800 sec. And as always, I was in AI Servo mode and letting the autofocus on the camera and lens help me keep these guys in focus, even at the high rate of speed they were moving.


Since I was near the end of the race, I could capture the athlete's reactions.


At one point, in between some of the action, I looked up and saw this beautiful full moon. I figured that, since I had the camera and big lens with me, I should at least capture one shot of this moon.


Then it was back to the hurdling.


I love the determination in Jeff Porter's face as he closes in on the finish line.


From where I was standing, I could also get some photos of the high jump.


This man from Puerto Rico just barely cleared the high jump.


He came over towards me to communicate with his coach, and I grabbed a shot of this happy man.


At one point, I moved to a shooting position by the long jump. I took some shots, but was totally frustrated by all the distractions.


This was one of the few frames I was able to capture without a total mess in the foreground and background.


I gave up on the long jump and headed back to the races.



Here is Team USA's Byron Robinson coming right at me...



...and then running by me.


This is my favorite shot from the evening, with Team USA's Kerron Clement easily clearing one of the hurdles.

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And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.


_________________________________________________________________________________

If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.

_________________________________________________________________________________