Wednesday, March 7, 2018

A recap of the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang

I have been home from the Olympics for a week now, and yesterday was the first day that I felt like I was back to normal, normal as I ever am. During the last week I have had time to digest the madness of the last month and wanted to share with you my recap of these Olympic Games.

Photo credit: Calvin Anderson / Canon

Here are some stats that may interest you:

Days in PyeongChang: 20 days
Miles walked: 159 miles (according to my FitBit)
Flights of stair climbed: 800 flights (according to my FitBit)
Hours spent on buses: Approximately 35 hours
Number of Olympic blog posts: 39
Average blog writing time: Two hours
Average blog post time: 12:30am (Korean time)
Readers of blog last month: 345,000
Most popular blogs: Behind the Scenes of Canon CPS / My worst day of the Olympics
Average sleep: 5 1/2 hours
Number of RAW images taken at the Games: Approximately 48,000
Number of images retained: 17,000
Amount of storage needed for kept images: 445GB
Most used cameras: Canon 1D X MK II
Most used lenses: Canon 70-200mm, Canon 100-400mm, Canon 200-400mm

The toughest day: As most of you can guess, the toughest day of these Olympics was the day that my roommate lost my green sleeve.  That was such a frustrating day, but ended being a good story to bring home and we can all laugh about it now.

The best day: For these Olympics, the best was the day that the women of USA Hockey won the gold medal in an overtime shootout. It was an amazing match and something I wanted more than anything else at these Games. Not only was it fun to capture this for the team, but it was fun to spend the evening with them at the Today Show and the next day as they basked in the glory of the gold. Oh, and getting the upcoming cover of USA Hockey Magazine is pretty cool too!

My biggest frustration: Due to the schedule and proximity of venues, I never had a chance to see any snowboarding, skiing or any of the aerial sports. I never even had a chance to visit the Phoenix Snow Park which was located about an hour a half from where I was staying. Not having visited this area at all has left a hole in my Olympic experience.

The biggest difference from other Olympics: As I look back at these Olympic Games, I have to say that the Korean people made the biggest impression on me. These people were absolutely amazing, and always willing to do whatever they could to help us out. As opposed to the last two Olympics (Sochi and Rio), these Games were way more organized and the people were so much easier to deal with.

The biggest surprise: Having been to Asia many times, I know how good the Internet is in this region. I was expecting super fast Internet speeds and amazing connectivity at these Games. I was let down with only 20% of the press buses having working WiFi and many of the venues where the WiFi just flat out didn't work. I succinctly remember the women's gold medal game where the WiFi was either jammed with media trying to post or just not working. But either way, I sat there at ice level and tried to post to the team and could not. I thought that my contact at USA Hockey was going to kill me, except that when I texted him about the issues, he said that he could not even post a tweet. At the end of the second period I had to resort to "sneakernet" and met him in the mix zone for a handover of my USB drive to get him images.

My biggest reminder:  Since my return from PyeongChang, I keep telling my photographer friends, "If you think you are a good photographer - go to the Olympics".  Every time I come back from shooting the Olympics, and seeing the work from so many amazing photographers, it is a humbling experience. I look at my images and wonder if I belong there. Seriously!

My biggest challenge: Now that I have photographed 6 Olympics, it gets harder and harder for me to create images that stand out. At these Olympics, I was pushing myself to shoot more artistically (when I could), but having shot many of these sports before, it is hard to do something different. At past Olympics, I would motion pan at 1/40th second. So this time I tried pushing myself to get good images at 1/20 sec, 1/10 sec or even slower shutter speeds.

I actually had a second challenge, and that was shooting in really cold temperatures. Being a California boy who does not deal with snow or really cold temperatures, there were times when it was tough for me to tackle the really cold weather and winds.

My favorite accessory (not camera related): After dealing with a sore back at the last couple of Olympics, I decided to bring an inflatable seat cushion. My wife found this amazing Teton ComfortLite cushion that was a lifesaver! We are constantly sitting on metal seats, wood risers or hard plastic seats when we are shooting, and having this seat cushion was awesome. I can not tell you how many photographers looked at it and wished they had one.

My biggest appreciation: There are so many people that supported my along the way. Most of all my wife and kids who basically lose their spouse and father for a month every two years. I appreciate the fact that they put up with my frantic self in the months leading up to the Games, then share in the experience from afar, and finally have to deal with the after effects of the Olympics on me when I return.

And I could not have captured all the images without the amazing support of Canon. They not only leant me the cameras and lenses, but were there to service my Canon products throughout the Games, as I bang them around and put them through their tests. And then I have Manfrotto who furnished me with their newest monopods, Tiffen who made sure I had enough of their awesome filters, Drobo who helps me keep all this data secure, Zenfolio where I post everything on the web, and Photodex who is helping me create a cool video of my favorite images. All of you are amazing!

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