Monday, August 9, 2021

The Closing Ceremony: Bringing these Tokyo 2020ne Olympics to a close

Last night was the closing ceremony for these Olympic Games, and like these Olympics, I felt a strange combination of gratitude, sadness, pride, accomplishment, relief and closure. I am always grateful to be at the Olympics, especially being part of a team, and this is never lost on me. I was sad because there were tens of thousands of people who would have loved to be there in person and could not be. (There were thousands of people on the streets around the stadium just to be close to the ceremony.) I had immense pride for what the athletes accomplished, especially in such a tough year. I felt accomplishment for making it through my seventh Olympic Games, pushing myself as hard as ever to shoot for the team, shoot for me, and share the stories every day with you all. There was definitely relief that everybody I knew was Covid free (being tested almost every day) and that this did not become a pandemic disaster. The closure I felt is the same as any other Olympics, with me looking back at all the images and stories that are now part of my life. But along with that elation, I look forward to a little bit of normalcy before heading to Africa in a week. 

With all that said, let me take you through the images from the closing ceremony.

The day started with a storm and lots of rain. My last sport to shoot was the men's water polo game where they took 6th place. As I entered the water polo venue, I questioned whether I would make it to the closing, thinking about sitting in rain for 6 hours. But looking at the weather, it showed no rain in the evening forecast, and that held true. Off I went.

I left for the stadium at 4:15pm to get into a good shooting position. I arrived around 5pm, found a spot close to the center (same area I shot the opening ceremony from) and waited until the start at 8pm. Luckily, this time I remembered to bring my inflatable seat cushion!

The Olympic Flame was lit on the floor of the stadium, bot not much else was happening, other than some last minute practice. 

These were the opening fireworks. For this evening, I was using two Canon R5 cameras (since I already returned the "other one" to Canon). One camera has the Canon 200-400mm lens and the other had a Canon RF 24-105mm lens. One for long shots, and one for wide shots.

The beginning of the ceremony, they brought out the Japanese flag. I framed this to include the shadows, which I feel adds a lot to the image.

Speaking of shadows, when these Japanese women entered the arena, I was not going to take a photo ( since they were in two lines and facing away from me). But I liked the way that their shadows formed an interesting pattern on the ground. So I fired off some photos.

The raising of the flag. It is not an amazing photo, but it tells the story, and that is our job.

After the flag was raised, they announced the entrance of the flag bearers. This process is really different from the opening ceremony, where the teams follow the flag bearer in. 

As you probably know by now, I really like leading lines and patterns. I shot this because I liked the arc of the flags and how it draws your eye through the photo.

Once the circle of flags was complete, I used the camera with the wide lens to capture this. 

Then it was time for the athletes to enter the stadium, and once again, this is not like the opening ceremony. They all just entered the stadium informally. They actually entered from four different corners, so I had to be extra attentive to find my teams amongst all the people walking in. This shot, captured at 560mm, shows many of the US water polo athletes enjoying the moment.

Then it was about an hour of entertainment. I was just looking for interesting colors and patterns. 

...and I always had the cameras with the wide lens ready for fireworks.

The last couple of Olympics had boy bands, but Tokyo went with something more traditional...

...but rocked it out with this DJ.

I had no idea who the performers were (since I am not getting the commentary that you all do on TV), but liked the photo opportunities.

More great colors.

I looked down, using my long lens, and I saw Jesse Smith (Captain of the men's water polo team, who happens to be sitting by me here on the flight home), asking for other Olympians to sign a book that he wrote. 

I also saw this team arranging themselves for a photo and loved that.

They brought out this massive drum and it filled the stadium with sound. I quickly changed the settings on the camera to slow the shutter speed, showing movement in the drummers hands. Luckily, he kept his head steady.

A little yoga to relax us all.

More cool colors and patterns being projected down onto the floor of the stadium.

And then...after some speeches...

...the Olympics are officially closed, and the Olympic Flame is extinguished.

Time for the closing fireworks. And for these photos, I changed my settings to slow the shutter speed to 1/50th sec to get a little more movement in the fireworks.

I loved these fireworks but just wished that they had more color on the floor at the time.

Just for the fun of doing so, I combined my favorite fireworks with one of my favorite floor shots to get this image. It is not one I can use for any purposes, since it did not happen, but I thought it would be fun anyways.

And that my friends, completes these Olympics. 

I will have at least one more Tokyo Olympic blog post for you all, which includes some of the funny stories that I have yet to share with you. And believe it or not, we are only 6 months away from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, and that one could be as "challenging" as this one.

But before that, a week from now, I am off to Africa for a month, teaching photography on photo tours. The Africa blog posts will not be daily, so your inboxes will not be spammed by me any more. If I am lucky, I may be able to get one written per week. Stay tuned!

Lastly, I would like to thank all of you who followed along on this journey with me, and the many who wrote to me, commented on social media, and commented on the blog. Your energy kept me going.


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Jimmy Deraime said...

Hi Jeff, many thanks to you for you blog, your stories, your feelings, your advices etc ... For all lovers of sport photography as I am. Maybe I will meet you in Paris 2024. Keep me in touch. Bye.

Unknown said...

Thank for these blog posts!!!!

John said...

Thank you for your daily Olympic blog. It was an educational and interesting daily read at lunchtime here in Connecticut. I hope your Africa trip is as successful as your time at the Olympics. John Sepples

Vera said...

Thankyou so much for your great story and Photos.. Usually my son would have been there but as a print journo never sent many photos.

Mike Wagner said...

And you didn’t mention the nice volunteer that gave you a snack

Mike Wagner said...

And you didn’t mention the nice volunteer.

Mike Wagner said...

And you didn’t mention the nice volunteer that gave you a snack, or post the nice picture you took.

ElectricChicken said...

Your Olympic coverage has been great — awesome photos and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun to read the backstory. Thanks for showing us what it’s like being there!

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Mike - you are right! I missed that! :)

You were awesome! Thanks for the snack and the company at closing!