Sunday, August 1, 2021

BEHIND THE SCENES: A typical day for me at the Olympics

I have been in Tokyo for almost two weeks now, and I am both exhausted and exhilarated. I have photographed many different events and posted at least two blogs a day. It is a grueling schedule, but hey I am at the Olympics so there is no complaining. Honestly, other than shooting for USA Water Polo, everything I photograph is for my portfolio and to share here on the blog with all of you. I keep pushing myself to shoot more, strictly because I love what I do and I get excited about the photo opportunities that await me each day.

Many people have asked me if I sleep or what my typical day is like here in Tokyo. So...here is my typical day:

8:00 I wake up and do a quick check of my email and answer social media comments

8:10 Get dressed (always shorts and short sleeved shirts with collars (otherwise the lanyard rubs my neck)

8:15 Go downstairs to breakfast (or what I call my early dinner with chicken, rice and miso soup)

8:20 Check the bus schedule to determine when I need to get out of the hotel

8:30 Pack up the camera gear, grab my credentials and vest and head out

8:35 Take the bus to the Main Transport Mall (MTM) and start writing the next blog post using the images from the day before (Tokyo time)

9:15 Transfer to the next bus which will take me to my venue (and keep writing or retouching images)

10:00 Arrive at the venue

10:15 Take photos for a couple of hours

12:30 Take a bus back to the Main Transport Mall (MTM) while downloading images on the bus

12:40 Transfer to the bus that will take me to the water polo venue

12:45 Register online for the events I want to shoot the next day

1:00 Drop off my Covid spit test

1:25 Grab some free food (peanut butter and jelly sandwich) from the press room at water polo (or if I am lucky and have time, I can get lunch from one of the few places we are allowed to eat in the MPC (typically pizza or a burger)

1:45 Head up to the pool deck to hold my spot for shooting the water polo game

2:00 Start of the game - shoot for the duration of the game

3:20 Finish shooting the game and run back down to the press room

3:25 Start downloading and retouching all the best images from the game (I typically have more than 2000 images to go through - I will blog that process soon)

4:15 Deliver at least 25 finished images to the team communications lead (using their portal)

4:30 Take all the best images from the game and upload to the blog

5:00 Leave the water polo venue and head back to the MTM (or take a cab to the next venue if I am cutting it close) - Continue writing the blog

5:45 Arrive at the Main Transport Mall (MTM)

6:00 Transfer to the next bus which will take me to the next venue - Continue writing the blog

7:00 Arrive at the next venue and determine the best shooting positions

7:30 Eat something at the venue (only cold food and very limited)

8:00 Start shooting the evening event

10:00 Pack everything up and head to the TM bus again and post a blog from the bus. If time, I will download images on the bus and go through them as well.

10:45 Arrive at the Main Transport Mall (MTM)

11:15 Transfer to the next bus which will take me to my hotel

12:00 Arrive at the hotel and recharge camera batteries

12:10 Post another blog

12:25 Finish going through the rest of the images from the day

12:45 Backup all the days images onto at least 2 SSDs and my Drobo back home

1:00 Do laundry in my bath tub and hang everything to dry (I only have quick dry clothes - shout out to 32 Degrees clothing for inexpensive and fast drying clothing)

1:10 Take a shower (because it is really hot here and I am a sweaty mess) and get to bed

And then...it is rinse and repeat. 

The schedule does change slightly depending on what time the sporting events are happening, but the pace does not change.

And here is a photo of me writing this blog while on the press bus to the boxing venue. :)


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Saturday, July 31, 2021

BMX Freestyle for the first time at the Olympics: And a lucky shot!

Yesterday I went to the BMX freestyle park to try photographing this new Olympic sport for the first time. It was really hot and humid outside, but I braved the heat because I really love photographing new sports. 

The first thing I did when I entered the venue, was to scope it out for good backgrounds. The most obvious of these was the Olympic Rings which were at the far end of the venue. I positioned myself down in the Field of Play (FOP) area so that I would be photographing up at the bike riders.


I was hoping that some of the BMX riders would come over by the rings (many of them did not), and started shooting. I thought it would be a top notch shot with the rider right in front of the rings.


When I finally got this shot, I was not so sure. I like it, but it is a bit busy.


I could not decide which image I liked better, the entry, the centered shot, or this exit shot.


Then I climbed up the rafters to get some photos above the rings. The men were practicing, which gave me a chance to determine the best lens for this shot and frame it up. I ended up using the Canon R5 with the Canon RF24-105mm f/4 lens. It was wide enough to get what I wanted, but not too wide.


I stood in that position for about 10 minutes to get this shot and then left. It was too darned hot up there on the metal bleachers.


I moved around down on the FOP trying to find some good shots with decent backgrounds. That was a bit of a challenge. 


I got some peak of action shots of the riders, but the background was all media and volunteers.



Oh, and there were a lot of teammates at this venue. Hence the crowd you see on the left of the photo up top.


Not liking the other background, I moved to a position over by the rings.


This is one of the stronger images in the collection, with the rider filling much of the frame and the rings in the background.


I liked how the Ausie was straight out on his bike in this photo.


This would have been a much nicer photo if there were people in the stands watching the rider.


The only person in the stands was a TV cameraman. So sad. 


I got some nice photos of the Costa Rican rider. I spend so much time down there, I had to get some photos for my friends in that awesome country.


This next photo combines a little bit of skill and a whole lot of luck...


I got down low to try and photograph the Costa Rican rider in the sky, I tracked him and fired off a bunch of photos with him against the open sky and clouds. Seconds later, I looked in the camera to see if I got a good shot, and I saw the airplane in the background. Perfect timing! This was definitely my favorite photo of the event.


I also used a nearby apartment building as a background, since the muted colors really helped the bike rider pop out.

I was just about to pack up and head over to the water polo venue when I realized that I had not tried any motion panning at this venue. So, for the last rider, I slowed the shutter speed to 1/25 of a second and grabbed some images like this one. 

Overall, it was a lot of fun to capture photos on the first day of a new Olympic sport, and I was really happy with the results.


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USA men vs Hungary in Water Polo: Another loss for Team USA

I photographed a lot today, starting with a tiny bit of indoor volleyball, then BMX freestyle (which I am still retouching images from), the water polo game for the men of Team USA, and a press conference with Katie Ledecky.

While I am working on the images from the BMX competition, I thought I would share these images from this afternoons game against Hungary.


Today I decided to shoot three periods facing the offense attack of the US and one period facing the defense. This way I had more front-on shots of our guys for the team to use.


Since I have photographed a lot of games for the team, I am looking for different images to deliver to them. This one was one of those.


The Hungarian player took a big shot on net... 


...and this was a great block on that shot.


Some reaction from the team when they scored a goal to tie the game.


Alex Wolf had a good game, with a lot of blocks. But the offense just could not find the back of the net, and the team lost their second game of these Olympics.


Max coming high out of the water again for a big shot.


At the beginning of the third quarter, I saw the ball in the middle of the pool with the logo facing me. I thought that it might be fun to slow the shutter speed down from 1/1000 sec to 1/60 sec to see if I get some cool splash effects, and I did.


I love this shot of Luca Cupido in action! This is where shooting at a really fast shutter speed (1/2000 sec) helps to freeze not only my subject, but also the water coming off the ball. They took a lot of shots, but their scoring ratio was just not there. Hopefully they will do better in the next game.

Tomorrow, the women have a day off, so I am free to roam. I am hoping to photograph fencing and boxing. Stay tuned.



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If you are interested in purchasing ANY 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.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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My little photo opportunity with Katie Ledecky tonight

This evening there was a small press conference with Katie Ledecky. She just won her third straight 800 Free (2012 in London, 2016 in Rio and here in Tokyo) and raised her medal count to an impressive ten.


I photographed the press conference and kept thinking "I really need to get a shot of her with her medals and without her mask". She answered questions from the press for about half an hour and then was preparing to go back to the athletes village. 


Luckily, she was open to have a photo taken without the mask, and holding her medals up. I took this one first...


...and then I asked her if she could step forward (away from the background) to get this shot. As one of the press said, "that necklace looks pretty nice on you!"

Congratulations to Katie for an amazing achievement. I look forward to seeing her again in Paris in 2024!


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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY 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.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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BEHIND THE SCENES OF THE OLYMPICS: Transportation, frustration, and elation!

Let me start this out by saying that all of you who are watching the Olympics on television are seeing a lot more of the Games than any of us who are here. You get to see a huge variety of sports and get all the back stories that we don't get. And many of you have asked me if I am going to get to this sport or that sport. Well folks, we are lucky to get to more than 1 or 2 sports a day. On a really good day I have been able to hit 3 events.

And here is why...

At most Olympics the media relies on press buses to get us from one location to another. These buses are referred to as "TM Buses" (Transport Media) and they are the key to our internal travel.  Typically, those buses run about every 30 min and usually for 24 hours a day. In London, we were also given Oyster Cards so that we could use public transportation if it worked better for us.

Here in Tokyo, with the pandemic still in full swing, we are not allowed to use public transportation, since they do not want us mixing with the public. This is true until we have been here for at least 14 days. Today is day 11 for me, but I am not sure I want to use the public transportation in the days ahead and risk getting lost.

The problem is that the buses here do not run every 30 minutes. For much of the day, the bus from my hotel runs every 2 hours. This is crazy. As I explained to the people at the transportation help desk, two hours at the Olympics is like 12 hours in "regular times". And all the buses that run from hotels takes us to the Main Transportation Mall (MTM) where we then connect to another bus which takes us to the venues. And those buses might run every 30 minutes and can take anywhere from 15 minutes to 2.5 hours depending on the venue we are traveling to.  Trust me, this adds a ton of stress to an already stressful environment.

At most Olympics, the MTM is located at the Main Press Center (MPC), but here it is not, We have to take yet another bus to get to the MPC. This adds another layer of complexity, since it is at the MPC where I do my Covid tests, get tickets from the USOPC office, and can eat.

At every Olympics past, the bus schedule is like that of the subways here in Tokyo. When they say that a bus will be at your hotel at 8:17, it will be there and leaving at 8:17am. Surprisingly, that is not the case here. My bus this morning arrived on time for the first time during these Games. I have had times where I have waited 45 min for a bus. On that day, I ended up shooting only one event.

Sometimes the bus is packed (with no social distancing)...

...and other times the bus is completely empty. 

I like the empty ones because I can go farther back away from the driver and take my mask off. Many of the buses have a protective plastic shield to protect the driver from all of us. Wearing a mask all day (especially when I am shooting) is not easy. The skin on my face actually gets irritated.

The second day after I arrived at the Olympics, I learned that they were giving out 14 taxi coupons to the media, which are good for up to $100 in taxi fare. The taxi tickets are only good for one type of Taxi service, approved by the IOC, and those taxis are amazing. These tickets are like gold here! I have currently used 4 of my 14 and trying to keep the others for dire emergencies (like when the bus does not show up, or I need to get somewhere fast). 

The taxi drivers are also protected from us with big plastic shields.

Some of them are better than the limos at home, with luxury seats, WiFi and even big screen TVs.

The good news is that ever since the Summer Olympics in Rio, all the TM press buses are outfitted with Wi-Fi. This is a great thing. Most of the blog posts that you are reading were written on (and sometimes posted from) the bus. I am writing this post while traveling from my hotel to the Ariake Area to photograph BMX freestyle. But since the competition ends around 12:30, I can not rely on the bus timing and one bus transfer to get me to the water polo venue on time, and can not miss the game (since I am contractually bound to be there), so I will use one more of those valuable taxi tickets.

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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY 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.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

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Friday, July 30, 2021

The women of USA Water Polo: Solid win and new Olympic record for Maggie Steffens!

Yesterday afternoon I photographed another match for the women of USA Water Polo and it was a good one. It was the last game of the group play, and not only did they beat the Russian team (ROC), but there was also an Olympic record set!


The US had a total of 18 goals...


...and Ashleigh Johnson held the Russian team to 5 goals.


At the beginning of each quarter there is a sprint to the ball, which is placed in the center of the pool. I prefocus the camera on the ball (especially when the logo is facing me) and wait for the swimmers to come into frame and I shoot a burst of photos.


The job of a photographer is to tell the story in photos. For the second game in a row, coach Krikorian was not happy with the officiating. I saw him bantering with the ref and I think this photo tells the story perfectly.


This photo captures an AMAZING stop by Ashleigh. Look how high she comes out of the water!


Maddie Musselman takes a shot...


...and scores!




Another shot and another stop.


This is one of my favorite photos from the game. I love how Ashley is rising in the back, while there is a full on battle happening in front of her. My focus point was on the goalie, so everyone in front of her is soft and Ashleigh's eyes are tack sharp.


Oh...I mentioned that there was an Olympic record broken during this game. Maggie Steffens set the all time record for most goals scored by a women water polo player at the Olympics with a total of 49 goals. Here is a photo of her scoring on the Russian net minder. And she is not done yet!


Here is Maggie walking from the pool to the media interview area.


As the women walked by me, they all stopped for some fun photos. 


It is fun to be their team photographer.




Maggie stopped to be interviewed by NBC and I stood back and took some photos of her being interviewed. 

Then I asked her if she could move to a better position and give me two thumbs up. I had set up this shot while she was being interviewed. I set the camera to f/10 so that she would be in focus and the rings in the background would be softer, but still clearly visible. Congratulations to the team for a win and to Maggie for setting the record!


__________________________________________________________________________

Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY 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.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Cuba, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours. 

__________________________________________________________________________