Friday, August 5, 2016

Preparing the shoot the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics

The big day has arrived. Tonight is the Opening Ceremonies of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and I have a lot of emotions right now.


Like many others I have talked to here, I am ready to get the games started. Sure, I have taken photos around town and in the press conferences, but I am anxious to start capturing the athletes doing what they do best. But before that happens, I need to think about the ceremonies tonight. And this makes me anxious as well. Before every opening ceremonies, I have the same hard decisions to make:

Did I pick the right location?

I was lucky enough to get an early pick for my tickets, and I had 7 spots to choose from. Some were higher and some lower. Some were in the middle and some were on the ends. I chose a position close to where the president of Brazil will be sitting, figuring that the performance will be positioned towards that box.

What cameras and lenses do I bring with me?

I want to have a long zoom lens and at least one wide lens. Sure...I would love to bring my rolling back full of gear, but that can not happen. This is one of the few times when us photographers are in spectators seats (although in sections dedicated to photographers), and we only have the room that is in front of us. And if you have been in stadium seats, you know that this is not a lot of room. I am here at the press center and was all ready to take my Canon 100-400mm lens, a Canon 24-70mm lens and a Canon 11-24mm wide lens. I was hoping to keep my gear load light and transportable. But I just talked to one of my photographer friends who has been to both of the practice sessions for the ceremonies and he said that they are VERY dark and not very colorful. He also said that the few photographic moments are VERY far away. That means that the 400mm range will not be enough, and the f/5.6 aperture won't work either. I am now going to take the Canon 200-400mm lens with the built in tele converter. And I will now bring my Gitzo monopod to support the big lens. That may not even work... It also means that the 11-24mm lens may be too wide, but I will take a chance on that one as well.

It sounds like this opening ceremonies, like most others but more so, is made for television. It could be a touch shoot tonight.


Even with all the for mentioned anxiousness, I am still excited to be going to the ceremonies. It is the kickoff of the Olympic Games and a fun spectacle.

Logistically challenged

The Opening Ceremonies are a logistical challenge for the thousands of press people at the Games, mostly due to transportation. There will be buses leaving every 20 minutes for the stadium, and we are supposed to be there anywhere from 2 to 4 hours before the show starts. I am not too worried about that part, but I had one time when our press bus was held up for a really long time (with Matt Lauer and the NBC crew on board) while many of the dignitaries were entering the arena.

Once I get to the arena (which is enormous) I need to find my section and hold a seat. I am hoping for one on the end of the row so that I can get up and stretch once in a while and also make a quick exit at the end of the show. I am actually planning on leaving early and missing the fireworks. I heard that they are not very impressive from inside the stadium, and I do not want to be stuck there until 3am. I also have a USA men's water polo game tomorrow morning at 10:30am, and need to be somewhat awake for that. :)


Even with what I just heard, I am still hopeful that I will come away with some good images. I guess time will tell.


I know that there are many photographers here who will not be able to go. Heck, I am happy to be here at all!   I know that there are many people who would trade places with me. This will be my fourth Opening Ceremonies (I was outside the arena in Beijing) and I am lucky to be a part of this special occasion.


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Anonymous said...

Have so much fun! Cant wait to see the pictures!

GreggS said...

Keep up the great work! I'm sure you'll get some fantastic shots.

Kathryn said...

Very exciting to read your blogs. Thanks for sharing the writing and photos!

Michel Biedermann said...

This kind of behind the scenes look is priceless! Your coverage is so much better than what we'll get from TV. I absolutely LOVE this background information. Again, Jeff, you are doing an AWESOME job keeping us in the loop!

Mike B said...

Jeff, I am enjoying telling people that I "know" an Olympic photographer. Well, I feel like I do. It was awesome looking for you on TV during the winter Olympics and then seeing your shots from that location.

I really appreciate your efforts. -Educational and Entertaining!

Unknown said...

Super excited to be following another Olympics with my "guy-on-the-inside"! Thanks for all the effort you put into the blog for us!!
Randy P.

AmyN said...

So fun to read and congrats on finally quitting your day job!

Unknown said...

looking forward to seeing the shots that you capture

dark said...

I am speechless and stunt!!!

Keep awaiting your next post and the next post! it!!..keep it up mannn!!