Monday, August 8, 2016

Photographing at the White Water venue of the 2016 Olympics - Fun Stuff!

Yesterday was my one free day without any water polo commitments, so I woke up and got to decide what sports I wanted to photograph for the day.  Four years ago, when I was in London shooting the last Summer Olympics, I had a great time capturing photos at the white water pavilion. Looking at schedule on the Rio Olympic Portal, I noticed that the canoe and kayak events are only for 5 days of the Games, so I made it a priority to get over there as soon as I could. And, as it turns out, I am really glad that I went there.

I got to the venue just before the competition was supposed to start, but as I walked in I was told that the start time was being pushed out an hour due to the high winds. No problem...I went into the photo work room and cranked out one of yesterday's blog posts. Remember, rest is for after the Olympics!

At 1:30pm, I headed up to the man made river and started to shoot. 90 percent of the photographers were parked in the head-on spot towards the end of the river. I joined all of them and started getting some shots. I knew that I would mainly use the Canon 200-400mm lens shooting tight, but wanted to get a wide shot to show you all what the river looked like.

After getting a couple of wide shots to show the overall scene, I then zoomed in tight to grab the action as these guys came racing down the rapids. As always, my goal is to keep the focus point of the camera on the eyes of the athlete.

It was so much fun capturing these photos, with all the great expressions on the paddler's faces.

I liked the action in this shot, not only of the athlete, but of the water coming off the boat.

And more intensity...

After shooting the in head-on position for a while, I decided that I had enough of those shots and wanted to get something different. I walked further up the river and found a spot that get me right across from the Rio 2016 sign. I checked with the race officials to make sure I could position myself there, and got clearance as long as I was laying down on my stomach. (They needed to be able to see each gate to see if they cleared them.) I got down low and used my Canon 24-70mm lens out over the edge of the wall.

This allowed me to get a very different look at the guys as they maneuvered the course. I love this shot of this athlete doing his best to clear this gate.

And then I decided to get some photos that were even more different. Time to slow the shutter down and do some motion panning!

I started shooting photos with the 24-70mm lens at 1/50 sec. And, if you are into photography, you may know that I then follow the boater at the exact same rate that they are moving. This helps to freeze them but blur everything else.

Look at the motion of the water coming off the wall...

...and flying up into the sky.

More motion panning, but now at 1/40 sec.

After shooting a bunch of motion pan shots with the Canon 24-70mm lens, I moved back a little and panned with the big 200-400mm lens (on my Gitzo monopod). This got me in closer to the action.

And...once in a while everything just comes together...

This my friends, is my favorite photo of the 2016 Olympics (so far). I love this photo for the following reasons:

* It is really hard to capture motion pan images where the athlete's face is sharp.
* I love the action of the water flying in all directions from the boat.
* I like the way that he is leaning into the water.
* I even like the matching blue on his vest and the barrier.

Pretty darned cool, right? So much better than showing you 100 photos of the same head-on shot.

OK - time to head into Men's Gymnastics. I am the only one left in the press room!


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Gary N. Blum, DDS, MS said...

Stunning photographs. Wouldn't miss your blog on the Olympics since last time at Sochi they were so enjoyable with the explanations, observations and wonderful photographs. Thanks for thinking of us.

Unknown said...

Yes I agree - you are so busy and must be so tired yet you take the time to blog for us. Love your photos, love hearing the excitement thru you, thank you, thank you!