Monday, February 10, 2014

Men's Luge - A photo first for me

The second event that I covered yesterday, was the men's luge at the Sanki Sliding Center up in the mountains of Sochi. I got to the venue press center in time to research the track and found out that, unlike Vancouver which had 4 turns with logos, this track had only 3 turns with logos. This meant that the photographers would all be fighting for position at these turns, since we want to show the logos in our photos. This makes for a stronger image than a slider on plain white.


The event started at 6:30pm, so it was dark before the men took to the ice. I took a press bus up to the top of the run, and then walked down to the 5th turn. This was the first turn with the graphics I wanted. When the competition started, I was amazed at how fast these guys flew past us. I had set my camera for 1/1000 sec, since this is the shutter speed I usually use for fast action sports. But, let me tell you, that was not going to cut it in this case!


Even though the lighting was good, I still cranked the ISO to anywhere from 2000 to 3200 and shot these photos at 1/3200 to 1/4000 sec. That is crazy fast, but needed to get sharp images. I used the Canon 16-35mm wide lens to frame all these shots.


I figured that my best chance of getting a tack sharp image, would be to prefocus on the Olympic logo. But then I realized that these guys were not exactly at the same distance as the logo. So, I would push my camera in about 18 inches (assuming that the men's bodies would be about 18 inches off the ice surface, and lock the focus. Then I would pull back 18 inches, and just frame the shot, listen for the sound of them screaming towards us, and then fire the Canon 1DX at 12 frames per second.



This was me and 4 of my fellow photographers, crouched down next to the track to get our shots. (The IOC would only let us have 5 photographers at a time in this spot, so we would take turns shooting in the lower position.)


This fan had a pretty good idea. He mounted a GoPro on a pole and got it into our photo position. That lasted for one shot before they booted him out of there (because his pole was blocking the remote TV camera.)


There were 39 competitors, and each of them went twice, so there were plenty of changes to photograph them. This gave me a chance to reframe and get them right in the position I wanted, right under the rings.


...and under the Sochi logo...


I like that way that the distortion of the 16-35mm lens makes this man's legs a little large in the photo. When reviewing this image on the back of the camera, it made me think of using a fisheye lens. So I changed lenses to try something different.


I used the Sigma 15mm fisheye lens for this shot. Pretty cool effect.


After a while of playing with the fisheye lens, I switched back to the 16-35mm lens. But, since I had so many photos that were all similar to each other, I decided to slow the shutter once again. This seems to be a theme for me this year at the Olympics. :) This was taken at ISO 100, f/5.6 1/80 sec. I should also mention that I shot in Aperture Priority mode at +0.3 exposure compensation for all the photos. The increased exposure comp helps lighten the image, because the camera sees all the white ice and will darken the image.



This photo was taken at ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/60 sec to add a little more motion blur.


Did I mention that these guys are crazy?



I like this shot of the Australian athlete, more because of the colors of his suit and the way that he pops from the background.


I decided to leave after the first heat of 39 athletes, since I wanted to catch the ski jumping at 9:30pm. This meant that I would have multiple bus trips and I wanted to get a decent position. As it turned out, one of the buses was stopped for security reasons (more on that in the next blog), and so I did not get the best position until later in the evening. But, as I walked along the track, on my way down, I took a couple of photos to show you all what it looks like.


This was a grab shot, as I walked over a bridge back to the press bus stop, but I really like this. As photographers, it is important for us to show where we are, not just the athletes.

Next blog will be ski jumping.

18 comments:

The Digital Hairshirt said...

Outstanding work! And thank you for how you thought about the shot and the mechanics of getting your settings for it. Be safe there in Sochi!

Lawrence Leahy said...

Jeff: Many thanks for the excellent blog posts from the Olympics. I really like the fisheye and the slower shutter speed photos. Also, the panoramic photos showing the venues are great. I really like your writing as well. Blessings on your day today. From Indiana, Larry

Ilkka Helin said...

Great great photos Jeff

Jason Hillian said...

This is all great stuff Jeff! You're awesome for breaking it down!

David Newey said...

These are great thanks for all the info.

Anonymous said...

Great photos!

Anonymous said...

great shots and i agree these guys are nuts

Cantcount210 said...

Insane! So in the lower position you are like maybe 10 ft away from these guys going like, 100 mph!?

Charlie Cotugno said...

Great shots! I'm completely envious, luge and ski jumping are my two favorite events.

Bob said...

Great shots! Want to thank you for sharing and educating as well. I watched 2 of your videos from B&H. The Photoshop tutorial was outstanding and I learned a lot from it. I am surprised they let photographers that close to the luge track. Keep up the great work and thanks again. Be safe.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting your fabulous photos and comments from the Olympics. Can you advise the Canon 1DX AF settings you used for hockey?

Thanks and keep up the great work!

Dave B.
Florida

Gary said...

I really like the fisheye shot

Dawn Gail said...

You see them on TV then see these pictures and it is down right scary to see how they are on that ice track. You are brave to get that close to the track.

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Awesome pics of such a fast sport! Look forward every day to your new blog posts.

Cleibe Souza said...

Jeff, thank you for sharing your Olympic experience. It's a great font of inspiration for a new photographer like myself who likes shooting sports.

Cheers.

David Truland said...

What! No panning at luge like the ski jump? :) Love the blog entries. Wish I was there.

DavidSydney said...

Hi Jeff, thanks for the blog - it's fascinating.

Watching the luge and bobsleigh on television gave no sense of the overall track, the spectators or the location. Just a sequence of standardised shots for each run, with no sense of any audience.

So thank you for your shots showing the track, the shooting positions, the spectators and behind the scenes. It really locates the event and makes it much more real.

Cheers!