Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Short Track Skating - Shooting from the ice level this time

Yesterday, there were no hockey games for Team USA, so I was free to go around and shoot whatever events I wanted. I thought about going up to the mountain again, but decided that I would stay down in the Olympic Park to photograph short track and speed skating. I remember shooting this sport at the Olympics in Vancouver and really loving it. It was a good decision, because I really like the photos that I got yesterday.

I have yet to edit the speed skating, but those will come in a blog post some time soon. This morning I woke up and went through the short track photos and worked on those. Here are some of my favorites:

Last time I posted a blog of short track skating, I was in an upper position, looking down on the skaters. This time I was in an ice position, and you can see the difference in the photos. Now I could focus on their eyes and see the athlete's emotion. It is not to say that these photos are better, just a totally different perspective.

When photographing this sport, I had my Canon 1DX in servo focus mode to track the skaters as they went around the track. I started using the Canon 70-200mm lens and then later switched to the Canon 200-400mm lens to get in even tighter. I had the ISO set at 2000 with an aperture of f/4 and a shutter speed of 1/1000 sec.

As you can see in this photo and the other above this one, I really liked capturing images showing clusters of people. There is symmetry in the skaters that I really like.

The good thing about photographing this sport is that there is good action on the turns as well as the straight-aways.

More cool symmetry.

When photographing sports, it is a real bonus to be able to see the athletes eyes. When you look at this particular photo, it is hard not to be drawn right to the eyes.

Once again, I was really impressed with the focusing abilities of the 1DX and the 200-400 lens. So many of the photos were tack sharp! And these skater move really fast. This is where it is really advantageous to have the Lexar 1066x memory cards, as I will filling the buffer all the time as they rounded each corner.

I also like the colors that they were wearing, really making them pop from the background.

For sports photographers, or heck any photographers for that matter, it is good to shoot photos of the less obvious. Most people would want to photograph just the skaters coming towards them, but it is also good to show them rounding a turn going away from us.

And speaking of shooting the non-obvious, during one of the breaks, some of the volunteers came out to fix the ice and I saw this guy with a fire extinguisher. They were repairing a spot, but I loved the mist coming off of the ice.

And after every race, they would resurface the lanes by adding water to the track...

One of the Americans at the starting line.

While shooting the photos, I couldn't help but notice the cool reflections in the ice, so I waited for the skaters to be in a good location and shot this photo. I cropped the image to remove the people above and a lot of the extra ice at the bottom of the frame. This also helps draw your attention to the skaters and reflection.

More cool reflections and with the Sochi 2014 logo nicely framed above the skaters.

After the individual races, there was the women's relay race.

It is really fun to photograph this race, because there are more skaters on the ice, and they push each other off as they transition from one skater to another.

Here you can see some of the teammates coming up to speed on the inside track, getting ready to trade off with their current skater.

Since I had the long lens, and felt that I had enough of the straight-on shots, I decided to come in tight on one of the Korean skaters, knowing that they had a very good chance of winning gold at this event.

Towards the end of the relay race, one of the Italian girls fell while pushing off her teammate.

And then the race ended with the Korean's winning gold, the Canadian's taking the silver medal, and the Italians grabbing the bronze.

I quickly walked from my shooting position to the other side of the rink, to shoot some photos of the flower ceremony. As I was walking around, I saw the Russian girls who bring out the flowers and photographed them with the 70-200 at f/2.8. I love the shallow depth of field, and how it highlights only the first girl, but you can still see the smiles on the girls in the back.

Then the women got their flowers and waved to the crowd. I was not allowed to shoot straight on to them, since I am not one of the "chosen photographers" for this event. But I shot this since it is a perfect ending to the story.

If you ever get a chance to shoot short track skating, you should do it. It is a ton of fun!


Cleibe Souza said...

Jeff, how exciting it must be to shoot all these events but I bet it can be quite tiring as well.
It's amazing how you still have energy to shoot sports that you don't have to.
I like your comment about the 70-200mm f/2.8. I've been saving to buy one. They're quite expensive, but worth it.


SEH said...

I just want to thank you for sharing all these great photos, your reactions and observations, and helpful tips. I am certainly enjoying them and am so impressed with how terrific they are.

Sullivan J Photography said...

These are amazing!! Beautiful work!

rcortinas said...


As always, great pictures. I really enjoyed the symmetry of the skaters in some of the pictures.
That 70-200 f/2.8 is really a beast. Is not to big, it is fast and just to look at those pictures you are showing us, they speak for themself.
Great job. Thank you again for the time you spend to keep us inform and share your picture with all of us.
Keep the great job and be safe.

Roberto C.