Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Synchronized swimming - A fun time photographing the Pairs and Teams

Along with providing photos to USA Water Polo, I also helped out the USA Synchro team with some images for their web site and social media.

This year, the US only had a pair and not a full team, which I hope changes by time the Tokyo Olympics come around in 4 years.


This first photo shows Anita Alvarez and Mariya Koroleva competing in the pairs competition. For this session, I shot everything from a high position, looking down at the ladies.


It is hard to believe that they can perform maneuvers like this without touching the bottom of the pool. I can see where synchronized swimmers and water polo players have a lot in common.


And like the water polo athletes, these girls use their leg strength to get themselves high out of the water.


Anita and Mariya were both very happy with their performance and their advancement into the finals.


For their next performance, I decided to shoot from a low position, to get a different look from the previous competition.



The lower position allowed me to get in closer to the ladies...


...and include the logo.


They had great symmetry in the pool.



Even though they did not win medals, they were once again very happy with how they placed.

On the second to last day of the Games, I decided to photograph the team performances of synchronized swimming. I had shot this once before, albeit very briefly, in London and remember it being pretty nice for photographic compositions.


Unlike the pairs competition, eight women in the pool to perform even greater maneuvers out of the water. Remember, none of the swimmers are touching the bottom of the pool. They are supporting these ladies with the strength of their kicking. Pretty remarkable.


From my position (which wasn't really a photo position, but an area in the spectator area which I liked), I was able to capture the teams facing me...


...and facing the other direction.


So cool!


This woman came slowly out of the pool and just kept going higher and higher.


Just like when I photographed the Rhythmic Gymnastics, I looked for good patterns and symmetry.



These ladies were showing off some amazing arm strength, to get themselves this high out of the pool.



This was not a difficult sport to shoot. The three biggest challenges were:

1. Finding the right location to shoot from.
2. Making sure the focus was in the right spot, since they move around under water and then come up quickly.
3. Keeping my hands on the zoom ring, since I was sometimes keying in on one athlete and then the group would all come together forming a cool shape and I would have to zoom accordingly..



I really enjoyed capturing images of this sport.


I hope that you get a sense of how much fun this is to watch. I know a lot of people joke about synchronized swimming, but takes a lot of strength, finesse, lung capacity and skill.

Well folks, this is the last blog post showing sports from the 2016 Summer Olympics. The only post left is from the closing ceremony. And since I am writing this on the way to the airport in Rio, the last one will likely be posted from the good ole USA. And even better, from my house, with my own bed, safe water, fast Wifi, and safe streets. As amazing as it has been here, I cannot wait to get home!!!

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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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Rhythmic gymnastics - Trying something different again

I have photographed artistic gymnastics before, but never had a chance to shoot the rhythmic gymnastics until a couple of days ago. It was the day before closing ceremonies and most of the other sports had completed, so I thought I would give this a try.


I started from a high position, thinking that this would be more visually interesting.  The other reason I went to this photo position, was that it was on the same side as the judges, and most of the performances would be facing in this direction. Surprisingly, all the photo positions on the floor were behind the ladies.


As always, I tried some motion panning to see if I could get some nice motion blur shots.


I slowed the shutter of the camera to 1/20 second and followed the ladies as they moved on the floor. I think you will agree that this adds more interest to the photos.


This is a wide shot also using the 1/20 sec shutter speed. But for this photo, I kept the lens steady and had my focal point on the girl in the middle. You will notice, at this very moment, she was still for a split second when the others were moving.


After shooting in the high position for a while, I decided to take my chance and shoot from one of the low positions. I went to a spot where I would have the Olympic rings in my background.


Even though I could photograph the girls anywhere on the floor, I only shot in this spot where the rings and logo were behind them. Honestly, the other backgrounds were just not visually compelling.


This was the shot I wanted, with one of the athletes in the air, right over the Olympic rings. I just wish that the judges had been a seated a little higher to give me a clean background. And yes, it is all about the photographer! :)



When shooting this sport, I generally looked for clean lines and good symmetry.


Here is one of the few shots I took without the rings  in the background. This photo would have been so much stronger if there was a solid wall behind them.


This is another one of those shots that I was aiming to get. They were at the height of their jumps and in front of the rings. But once again, not the best background. Ugh. As photographers, we can move positions and change camera settings, but some things we can not change.  But it was still fascinating to watch them perform, and fun to try something new once again.

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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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Olympic Field hockey - Argentina vs Germany in the semifinals

Here I am on my last day in Rio (flying home tonight), and I am taking it easy in my hotel room and trying to get caught up on my editing and blogging.

I just went though my photos from the men's semifinals of field hockey, and I thought I would share some of those with you.


I arrived at the venue early in the afternoon, and it was REALLY hot that day. I started shooting in the sun and found it unbearable. I looked over and saw a photo position at the far side of the field, and it was shaded. Needless to say, there were quite a few photographers camped out there, but I found a spot and shot from that one location for the entire game.

Once again I was using my trusty Canon 200-400mm lens so I could shoot fairly tight almost anywhere on the field.


The only times that I would move back into the sun, were during the short corners. I wanted to get this photo of the defenders looking out from inside the goal.


There was good action out on the field.


The Argentinians dominated the game, and were seen here celebrating a big goal.


Minutes later, they almost scored again.


The Germans fought back but could never really get back into the game after going down by 3 points.


Another score for the team from Argentina.


Another short corner, this time by the German team.


The German's did score a late goal, but lost the game 5 to 2.

I scored too, with the venue photo managers offering free bottles of water to all the photographers at each period break. That was much needed! :)

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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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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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