Saturday, February 17, 2018

The quest for just ONE image!

The weather was not too bad the other night, and I saw that there were practice runs at the Ski Jump venue.  I decided that this would be a great time to get shots of the ski jumpers. This meant that there would be no crowds to deal with and very few photographers in the photo positions. I bundled up, grabbed my Canon 1D X MK II and Canon 200-400mm lens and headed up to the mountain.

I got the venue about 30 minutes before the practice started and decided to shoot a couple of wide shots to show you what the area looks like.

I found out that they have a monorail that takes us most of the way up the jump. In Sochi, we had to climb our way up.

My first shots were pretty cool, getting close-ups of the jumpers mid air.

I liked shooting these and getting the different colored outfits and visors against the black sky.

After getting numerous close-up photos, and knowing that every photographer could get these shots, I moved on.

I decided to move down the steps to see if I could get something better. I took some landing shots, but still was not feeling it. I wanted something really different and good!

I did notice that, when shooting from this lower position and zooming in on some of the images, some of the jumpers wore visors that reflected the Olympic Rings from below. That was cool, but STILL not good enough.

I walked all the way down to the bottom of the jump and used the long reach of the Canon 200-400mm lens to frame this shot with the Alpensia ski jump tower in the background.

I shot both vertical and horizontal shots...

...some tighter and some a little wider. I really liked these photos but still was wanting more!

Using the built-in teleconverter on the Canon 200-400mm lens, I zoomed in tight on the jumpers as they flew over the Olympic rings.

I framed them over and under the rings.

I also noticed that, as the ski jumpers were just about to land, there were cool shadows being cast from the many lights above. I took a bunch of these landing shots for the collection.

Seeing the jumpers flying over the rings, I knew the killer shot that I wanted!!

I changed the camera to shutter priority and changed the settings to ISO 160 and a shutter speed of 1/60 sec. And yes, once again I tried panning with the athletes. I started with them landing to determine the optimum shutter speed.

I tried panning with my Gitzo monopod attached to the massive zoom lens (since the camera and lens weighs more than 10 pounds combined), but I found that the monopod was too restrictive for what I wanted to do. I removed it and shot handheld the rest of the time. Holding all that gear as steady as I could jump after jump. Yeah - my back was aching, but I REALLY wanted my shot.

When shooting at 560mm at 1/60 sec, 90% of the shots are throw aways. This one looked pretty good in the camera, but when zoomed in, it was not sharp.

This is a crop of the same shot, and you can see how soft the jumper is.

I got this shot, and it was tack sharp, but I didn't like the color of his suit against the rings. Time to keep trying.

Another keeper, but his wight helmet blended in with the snow too much.

This photo was perfectly sharp, but the placement was all wrong.

I like this one a lot, but it still is not what I wanted.

I decided to push things even more. I changed the shutter speed to 1/40 sec and kept panning with the jumpers. My back was saying "no more!" and my head was saying "you can do this!"

And then... BAM!

The jumper was right in between the rings, wearing the right colors and helmet and I got my shot!

Here is a tight crop of the same image to show you the clarity of the athlete.

I ended up shooting more than 1000 photos (with the safe shots and the motion pans) and did so, all to get this one photo. It was one of the tougher photos I have ever taken, but worth the effort for sure.

Now, when you see this image, you will know what it took to get just one photo.

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Dave said...

Great story, Jeff, and it really is a terrific shot!

Ron Freudenheim said...

Thanks Jeff for your really enjoyable blog post. I could feel my back aching from trying to hold such a large rig steady for so long. You nailed it finally. Glad to see it.

Standing Man Consulting said...

Thanks for sharing. Great insights.

Glenn Hermes said...

I really enjoy hearing your thought processes during a shoot. Great shots!

Doug Mathews said...

Jeff, I’m a pro racing photographer in the Indy car racing series. I have enjoyed your Olympic posts for the last few years very much, but this post has been your best by far. We can all get the “standard” shot, but following your quest for the “one” was both great writing and inspiring. The “one” is a really great shot, specially hand-held at 540! Keep up the good work.

Unknown said...

Congrats Jeff, a wonderful shot.

Ron said...

Nice to know even someone of your caliber still has to shoot a lot of shots just to get that one; very nice!

JCusack said...

Love the photos , glad you had some free time to go shoot with little to no big crowds and you could play around to get the shot you had imagined. It’s great !!!

Have an awesome day , glad you got a hockey break and fit in what you are looking to do ����������
Enjoy your day by ��