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.