Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Photographing Olympic Sailing for the very first time - and having Rio de Janeiro as my background!

About a month ago, before leaving for the Olympic Games, I made a list of photographic challenges for myself. One of those challenges was to shoot Olympic sports I have never photographed before. And, if you are keeping up with all the blog posts, you know know that I did shoot numerous sports for the first time here in Rio.

Today's blog post features another Olympic first for me, and that was sailing.

Earlier last week, I had planned on heading over to the sailing venue to see if I could get on one of the chase boats. Luckily, the night before going over to the venue (which was about an hour each way), I sent an email to the venue photo manager and she said that all the boats were full that day. I asked her if there was a possibility of getting on a boat two days later (when I had no contractual commitments) and she would add me to the list.

Sure enough, two days later I was notified that I did have a spot on one of the chase boats, so I got up early that morning and headed to the marina. I decided to pack light, knowing that space would be a premium on the boat. My gear of choice was one Canon 1D X Mark II and the Canon 100-400mm II lens. This lens gives me a lot of focal range options and is easy to hand-hold for long periods of time. The Canon 200-400mm lens would have been a lot heavier and more awkward to maneuver on this small boat with 6 other people on board.

I had a couple of hours to kill while waiting for the race to start, so I wrote a blog post to share with all of you. And then, about 11:45am, I got the call to head out to the boat with 4 other photographers.

We got situated on the small craft and made the 5 minute ride from the harbor to the race site.


As we rounded the corner from the harbor, I saw the Christ the Redeemer statue up on the hill and took this shot.


And straight ahead of us, was the Sugarloaf.


Up until this point, I had to deal with the Olympic Broadcasting (OBS) people getting in my way at many venues, but I figured that things would be different here. Nope! I was shocked at how low their helicopters were flying, probably just 30 feet over the water.


I saw the USA boat practicing before the start of the race, and waited for the boat to get in front of this background, and shot wide to include the Christ statue and the boat. This is where the 100-400mm lens really came in handy, letting me shoot tight, but also zoom out for images like this.


After waiting for 20 minutes or so, the race began. We had our captain get us into a good shooting position for the start, but right as the horn sounded, the clouds covered the statue on the mountain top. Bummer.


Then it was time for me to use the lens at it's 400mm length to try and get in as close as possible.


At this point, I saw the sailboats heading in the other direction and really liked the backlighting on them.


We chased the boats back to the far turn during their second loop.


I shot a lot of images showing the entire sailboat, but also remembered that when I shot the America's Cup race in San Francisco a couple of years ago, with the great Onne van der Wal, it was often better to get in closer to the sailers.


Here is a tighter crop of the previous photo. I think I like this better.


We jammed back, ahead of the pack of sailboats, to the finish line, so that we could catch images of the end of the race. We were there for a minute or two before the boats got close to us, so I captured this photo to show you where all the spectators were located. Unless they had VERY powerful binoculars, I can not imagine how they would see much, but...


Here are the pack of boats heading for the finish line.



I really like the action in this shot...


...and it would be unfair not to show a similar photo of the Brazilians on their home course.


Here is the British team, coming in for what would be the gold medal.


I noticed a couple of Austrian followers on social media that asked me to capture photos of their athletes, so for you all, here is your boat.


But, as I mentioned, it was the British team who won it all. And they were a happy couple of ladies.


We got a couple shots of them before they turned their boat and headed to shore to celebrate.


We were heading back to the harbor as the British were heading into shore. But I saw the opportunity to shoot this last photo with one of the women raising the union jacks with the Olympic rings in the background, and liked the composition. For all you photographers out there, this is another example of why you want to keep your camera out and your head up as often as you can. Some times, photo opportunities creep up at the last second!

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2 comments:

Richard Hewitson said...

Hi Geff, having followed your olympic blog from the beginning, this is my first comment. Great photo blog, thankyou. For the sailing was there any fear of getting the gear wet/damp? Did you need to take any wàterproofing precautions?

Jeff Cable said...

Richard - I did see other photographers with rain covers over their cameras, but I did not use or need one. It was pretty smooth on the water anyways.