Thursday, March 1, 2018

Photos from the closing ceremony from PyeongChang

Each Olympic Games ends with the closing ceremony, which is a combination of pageantry and party. Although many photographers choose to skip this due to exhaustion or lack of interest, I like attending this event, as it is usually fun to photograph and a fitting end to a really long month.  Luckily, the evening of the closing ceremony was 20 degrees (F) warmer than the opening ceremony.

I arrived at the Olympic Stadium around 4pm, since there was a photographer meeting at 5pm and I did not want to get stuck in a massive line to get on a press bus. I spent a couple hours editing photos in the media room before making my way up to my photo position around 6:30pm. The ceremony did not start until 8pm, but I saw this site of the Olympic flame and thought it would make a nice photo. (For you photographers out there: I was shooting in Aperture Priority since the lights would be changing often throughout the evening. When taking this photo, I set the exposure compensation of the camera to -1.3 to keep the flame from being over exposed.)

As I did for the opening ceremony, I had two cameras with me. I had one Canon 1D X MK II with the Canon 200-400mm lens on my Gitzo monopod for the zoom shots, and my Canon 5D MK IV with a Canon 24-70mm lens for the wide shots. This photo was taken with the 5D and wide lens to capture the beginning of the festivities.

For all the tight shots, like these kids on inline skates, I relied on the Canon 1D and long lens to get in close to the action.

Every time they would blow off fireworks, I would quickly grab the Canon 5D for the wide shot.

In the 5pm photographer's meeting, they told us the agenda of the show and gave us some ideas of when certain events would happen.

This was the arrival of the Korean flag.

It is tough to shoot this event since there are so many things happening at one time. I might be keying in on a certain subject only to look up and see that these guys were performing on this ramp.

These ladies were dancing in front of my position and I saw that, at certain times, the light would hit just one of the lady's faces. I waited for that moment and fired off my shot. I like the way that this would highlight just one of them and separate them from the rest, giving the viewer a place to focus their attention.

I then saw this lady come out and she was moving slowly amongst all the other performers. I took this photo...

...and then quickly rolled my ISO down to 200 to give me a shutter speed of only 1/5 sec. I waited for a moment when she was not moving at all and took a couple of shots. This froze her and showed motion in everyone around her. I have used this same technique at the last 3 closing ceremonies of the Olympics, when the opportunity presents itself.

I was shooting the slow shutter shots of the lady (holding the camera as steady as I could) when I looked up from the eyepiece and saw this. I quickly grabbed the other camera and got my wide shot.

Then it was time for the athletes to enter the stadium. Unlike the opening ceremony, all the flag bearers come in together and the athletes follow in mass.

As the athletes were coming into the stadium, I was looking for key people or interesting moments. I saw this French woman and laughed and she and the Korean women entered the ceremony in style.

Since I shoot for the American team, I always grab lots of shots of them coming in. I saw Madison Chock coming in with Evan Bates and grabbed some shots for them. I met them at the Today Show a couple of days before and had sent Madison some photos. I thought she would enjoy this shot (which I sent to her yesterday).

I loved this reaction from Lindsey Vonn as she was carried in, and sent this to her as well. Here is the crazy thing. Most of these athletes do not get photos of themselves at the Olympics. Almost all the photos are taken by agencies, and they do not offer them to the athletes, only to publications. I always share my photos (for free) to the athletes.

This was another historic moment as the North and South Koreans came in together.

Just after the athletes finished entering the stadium, Intel impressed everyone with their drone light show. Because I was still focusing on the athletes, I almost did not see this!

As someone who owns and flies a drone, this formation of over 1000 drones just amazes me.

The Korean's were very creative with the animal art forms.

As is always the case, they have the medal ceremony for cross country in the middle of the closing ceremony. (Note: This motion blur on her arms was not a planned shot for me. I was at ISO 3200 with an aperture of f/5.6 and could only get a shutter speed of 1/100 sec which was not enough to freeze her waving arms. But since her face is sharp, I think it adds to the shot.)

I was able to freeze the action in this shot since I timed the photo right at the pinnacle of her jump.

I love taking advantage of the creative lighting of these ceremonies.

I had no idea who this performer was (she goes by CL), but had fun shooting the photos anyways.

Towards the end of the ceremony, they take down the Olympic flag, which is always a bitter sweet moment for me, as I see another Olympics come to a close. It is bitter sweet because it is ending, but also because I am exhausted at this point and ready to go home and see my family and friends.

They passed the Olympic flag to Beijing (who is hosting the next Winter Olympics) and performers from China put on this cool show with panda bears and cool light panels.

I am sure that the Opening Ceremony in four years will be amazing. I believe it will be back in the Birds Nest where the 2008 Summer Games were opened and closed. That was my first Olympics, and it will be weird to be back there again 12 years later to do it all again.

Awesome colors on the floor.

Many of the stars from current and past Olympics, including the shirtless Tongan cross-country skier pose for a photo with Thomas Bach (President of the IOC).

I got a good chuckle when photographing the Korean-Chinese boy band called EXO. It seemed to me that all boy bands look, dance and sound the same, no matter what country they come from.

The Korean girls who were standing behind me were screaming at the top of their lungs, so I guess that is the same everywhere as well.

A giant box came out and opened to reveal this snow globe.

I saw these ladies standing and holding the snow globes and saw how the light was shining on their faces. I love the lighting of this photo.

The snowflakes went up to the Olympic Flame and then is was extinguished. The 2018 Winter Olympics were now officially over.

They brought out some more props and invited the athletes to come onto the floor to dance. At that point, I quickly packed up my gear and made my exit out of the stadium. I have done this enough times to know that if I make the first press bus I can get out quickly. If not, it can takes hours to get back to the Main Press Center or the Media Village.

I ran for the press bus with all of my gear, and turned around to see the fireworks being launched behind me. Right as I approached the bus stop, I dropped all my gear down, grabbed my Canon 5D MK IV and shot these photos from the exterior of the stadium.

The funny thing is, this was not a planned shot, but something I had tried before and never succeeded in getting. You have to move really fast to get the closing inside shots and the external fireworks photos. I was able to capture these and then as soon as the fireworks ended, I tossed my camera back in the backpack and hopped on the bus. Two minutes later we were rolling out of there.

And that my friends concludes the 2018 Winter Olympics. I still have a couple more blog posts about PyeongChang and the experience. And then we wait until 2020 for Tokyo, and I think it may take me that long to recover from this Olympics. :)

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Jeff said...

Hi Jeff:

You are a true craftsman/artist. Your entire coverage of the Olympics was superb!!

I am just curious what happens to all of the photos you captured. I know you are "required" to take certain photographs of certain events, but what about the photos of the closing ceremonies? Will they (some of them) be published somewhere?

I don't want to be nosy, just curious!

Thanks for all of your efforts. I am a true fan!


J. Ross

David McKellar said...

Thanks for a great series of blogs Jeff, much appreciated!

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Thank you.
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Thank you for all the efforts. Photos from the closing ceremony at Pyeongchang I'm a real fan.

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