Sunday, February 28, 2010

I get my Gold Medal

Having press credentials at the Olympics has great advantages: great shooting positions at the events, a dedicated bus system, separate lanes on the highways, food stands with no lines...but I also found another advantage to having this credential. I could go to the Royal Canadian Mint, which was only 4 blocks from the Main Press Center, and get a chance to hold a Gold Medal. The general public also had the opportunity to hold this medal, but the line was 7 hours - yes I said 7 hours long!

The mint had a separate room for the press where I could go in, put on the special gloves, and hold the much coveted piece.

People have asked me if it is heavy, and it is a solid piece of metal and does weigh a fair bit. They tell me that each piece is unique, since they are created by hand, by just one person.

I asked my friend (who I took in with me as my "assistant") to take this picture of me holding the Gold Medal. I initially held the coin dead center to my body and the mint official stopped us from taking the picture. They did not want anyone taking a picture with the medal, looking like it was draped around my neck. They explained that I could alter the image and remove my hands from the image and make it look like I was wearing it as an athlete. Of course, I could do this anyways, but I thought that it was interesting.

Friday, February 26, 2010

USA vs. Canada hockey: GOLD MEDAL GAME

It was a sold out house in the Canada Hockey Place last night and everyone expected a battle between Team USA and Team Canada. Both teams played well but the Canadian goalie put on one hell of a show. She stopped everything that came at her and shut out the American team. The final score was 2 to 0 and the U.S. women were visibly disappointed at the end of the game.

Here, the American goalie is trying to signal the official that the net had come off.

Once again, great crowds at the MPC. Clearly, there were way more Canadian fans than U.S. fans.

And then...the clock hit 0 and the Canadian's celebrated their victory. I was bummed that the U.S. women lost without even scoring one goal, but I was happy for the Canadian team. As the clock was counting down below 20 seconds, all I could hope for was the puck to come back to my side of the ice so I could get this celebration shot. It did and they did not disappoint.

This was the hardest part of the evening, watching Team USA as they watched Team Canada celebrate their Gold Medals.

The crowd was surprised when they blew off fireworks inside the arena. I shot a couple of shots with my long lens and then quickly fired off a couple with the 5D Mark II (armed with the fish eye lens).

And so...the quest is over for Team USA Womens hockey at this Olympics. They did get the Silver medals, which is darned good, and I hope that they celebrate that as a victory in itself.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Canada vs Russia: Mens Hockey

Last night was a big hockey game which had the Canadian men against the Russians. I figured that it would be a very close game between two very good teams, but that wasn't the case. Canada came out really strong and before the first period was over, they were up 4 to 1 with more than 20 shots on goal. Holy cow!

For this game, I did not want to shoot the whole event, instead I wanted to key in on the guys from the San Jose Sharks and some of the Russian superstars.

Alex Ovechkin is an amazing player but could not get it going last night.

Evgeni Nabokov did not have one of his better games and got pulled in the second period. I was just glad that they did not pull him in the first, since I wanted to get some images of him in net (on my side of the ice) in the second period.

Big Joe Thornton.

Patrick Marleau, with Chris Pronger (boooooooo!) in the background.

The Canadians sneak another goal past the Russians, this time against Ilya Bryzgolov who replaced Nabby in net.

...and the Canadians were loving every goal.

Now I am getting ready to shoot the gold medal match between USA and Canada (Women). It should be a great game. These ladies are used to playing in front of 100 people and tonight they will be skating in front of 17,000 fans. How cool is that? Then I am going to rush back over to the Main Press Center for their press conference. That will probably be my last visit to the MPC before I head out tomorrow. This makes me both happy and sad. I will recap the two and a half weeks in a little while.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

USA vs. SWITZERLAND - Ice Hockey

I am in the press area of the hockey arena and just cranked out my edits for USA Hockey just in time to catch the next game, which should be a really good one. Canada against Russia. That means that 4 of the San Jose Sharks players, playing for Canada, will be going up against their own goalie, Evgeni Noboklov, who is playing for Russia.

In the mean time, here are some of the images from the USA vs. Switzerland game which just completed about 2 hours ago.

I love this shot with the spray coming off of Jamie Langenbrunner's skate as he crashed the net. The guy from Sports Illustrated just looked over my shoulder and said "nice shot!"

So...this may not qualify as an action shot in the game of hockey, but I cracked up when I reviewed my images in the camera and saw that I captured the exact moment that Jonas Hiller spit out some water. Funny huh?

SKI CROSS: Oh! So this really is the winter Olympics!

I have now been in Vancouver for 2 weeks and yesterday was the first day that I really felt like I was at the Winter Olympics. My new friend, Ian (Sports photographer of the year for the last two years in the UK) convinced me to make the trek back to Cypress yesterday to shoot the women's snow cross event. I saw some of his shots from the men's event from the previous day, and really liked the venue. we went to get some shots of the snow crossers.

When we first got up the mountain, the weather was overcast and cold, but I could totally handle that. Actually, I was loving the overcast skies since that meant that I could shoot the skiers without harsh shadows. We arrived up the 300 stairs at approximately 12:30 for the 1pm start. The weather was holding and we set up our gear.

Then at 1pm, the games began and we shot the image (below) of the first race. of the Russian skiers fell really hard and they stopped the race for 30 minutes while they put her on a stretcher and got her out of there. Normally the race goes continually one after the other. So...we waited...and waited...and as we waited, the snow started falling and it just got worse.

This is the one clean image that took of the first race. I think that this was the 3 frame shot after I got up the hill.

And you might be able to see that the weather was getting worse. I had to edit this image and the next one just to increase the contrast and black levels to make the skiers visible.

At this point, my hands were frozen, my shooting gloves were soaked, my camera and lens were covered in snow, and the servo focus on my camera was trying to figure out if I wanted to focus on the skiers or the snow flakes. All of us photographers were cursing. What really kills me is that, if the Russian skier had not wiped out, we would have had a lot more clean shots to work with.

This was my favorite shot of the day. Canada's Ashleigh McIvor beat out the others to win the Gold medal. And even though my hands were frozen and many of us photographers were huddled behind a hut, I grabbed the camera and ran up to the finish line area to catch this shot of her reaction. This shot almost made the trip worthwhile... :)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


This was another first for me, never having photographed ariel ski jumping before. It was fun to shoot images of these guys flying off the jump and catching major air. I did find that the big challenge in photographing this sport was trying to find a unique perspective. They did let some of us credentialed photographers climb up to the launch area, which gave us a better shot of the skiers, but once they launched into the air, it was all skier and sky.

You can see that the day was ending and we were transitioning from day to night. This is my favorite time to shoot pictures, and the deep blue sky helped to make some cool shots. But, of course, with the setting sun came really cold temperatures and tougher shooting conditions.

I really liked the trail of snow left behind by the skier and tried to use that element in some of the proceeding images.

Believe it or not, this was one of my favorite images from the hour and a half of shooting. In between each skier they have to repack the snow on the landing area and check the jump. But in this case, in between heat one and heat two, they did a major repair. This guy came out to re-freeze the jump and I saw the smokey effect that it was creating. I quickly grabbed my camera and shot this image. I wish they could have this effect when the skiers were going off the jump!

One other note: Yes, I chose to shoot this sport instead of going to Ice Dancing. Yep, hard to believe huh? But as I wrote this blog entry and the one before it, I am barraged with TV coverage of the Canadian's who won that event. They have replayed their performance so many times that I think I am going to scream!