Friday, August 26, 2016

The Closing Ceremony of the 2016 Summer Olympic Games from Rio de Janeiro

Before I start this blog post, I would like to thank all of you who have written to me over the last 3 weeks and shown their appreciation for all the photos and blog posts. It has been my pleasure to share all the photos, the stories and the passion for photography with all of you. I also need to thank my wife and kids who put up with me being completely gone (physically and mentally) for a month every two years. Photographing the Olympics is a totally encompassing experience, and I check out of the "real world" for 95% of the time.

I am happy to say that I am home and sleeping in my own bed!!! I am still fighting the darned Brazilian cold, but won't let that stop me from enjoying my re-immersion back into my "normal life".

Again, thanks to everyone for the support, encouragement, and engagement throughout the last month.

And now...on to the photos from the closing ceremony.

The closing ceremony started with lots of color and continued that way all the way through. All of you who watched this on television will know more than I do about the backstories and meanings of all these performances. I am there to capture the scenes that unfold in front of me, but I don't get all the explanations that you do.

The light was very low, so I was using ISO 3200 for almost the entire ceremony, to try and keep my subjects in focus and sharp.

The flag bearers came out with the Olympic flag and Brazilian flag leading the way. I was poised and waiting for the shot of Simone Biles carrying in the American flag.

And then I saw her tiny body coming in. For almost all of these photos, I was using my go-to kit, the Canon 1D X Mark II and the Canon 200-400mm lens. Quite often, I would use the built-in tele converter and zoom into 560mm. I did that for this photo!

I saw this guy with his selfie stick and just laughed. Even at the Olympics, you just can't get away from these things. :)

After the 45 minutes of athletes entering the stadium, the show continued.

I saw this woman standing in the middle of the other dancers and immediately thought "this would be a perfect time for motion blur." I quickly changed the camera aperture to f/13 and a shutter speed of 1/6 second. It was not easy to get this shot at this slow shutter speed and a focal length of 400mm, but I like the way that everyone else is in motion except for my subject in the middle.

I did something similar when the Olympic flag was taken down and being carried away. This time I changed the ISO to 320 and the aperture to f/11, which gave me a shutter speed of 1/4 sec. I panned the lens along with the flag bearers to get this shot.

At the time, I did not know that this was the Prime Minister of Japan, but it seemed like a good photo opportunity, and I took it.

They came out with these cool light cubes. I turned the exposure compensation of the camera down (yes, down) to further darken the scene. This accentuates the light and increases the contrast as well.

I kept a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 16-35mm lens at my side for wide shots.

This photo was also taken at 16mm, but I pointed the camera up a little higher to include all of the stadium opening.  These photos show you how different the same scene can look from a long zoom and a wide angle lens.

At one point, I saw that all the remaining flags were waving, and took this wide shot.

Then it was time for more colorful entertainment.

It was raining during most of the closing ceremony, but this was actually part of the performance. At first, I was not sure, and I thought "wow - the rain is really coming down now!"

The Olympic flame lit...

...and then not. The Games were officially over.

The fireworks went off and I was ready with my wide lens. This also happens to be one of my favorite photos from this ceremony.

And just before running out of the stadium to catch the first press bus out (since I was not feeling great and really did not want to get stuck in hours of traffic), I switched back to the camera with the long zoom and captured this amazing Carnival float coming in.

This is another favorite photo from the closing ceremonies. At this point, everyone was out of their seats and dancing. It was a really great moment, but also sad, as the Games concluded.

And so another Olympic Games is over, making it #5 for me. And now that I am home, people are asking me how it was to be there for a month. Honestly, I think it is too soon to answer that. I was moving so fast, that it hasn't all sunk in yet.

The most common questions in the last 24 hours have been:

* Did I ever feel unsafe? And the answer is no. There was a lot of security in all the areas where I visited, and so I never felt that my wellbeing or my equipment was in jeopardy.

* Was I ever worried about Zika Virus? Another no. Seriously, the entire time I was in Rio, I never saw one mosquito. Not one. I brought numerous cans of insect repellent and only used it on the second day.

* Did I have fun? Of course I had, I was at the Olympics. Even with all the hard work, it is always a great experience.

* How many photos did I take in Rio? Since I was shooting and culling all the time, I don't have the exact count, but I am guessing that I took between 50,000 to 60,000 shots total. This is less than I used to shoot, mainly because I have photographed many of the sports before and have a better idea when to hit the shutter, and when it is not necessary.

* How many people read the blog? I just checked, and there were more than a quarter million views of the blog in the last 3 weeks. The most read blog post was the post showing the vast amount of equipment that Canon brought to the Games to loan to us photographers (60k views).

* Will I be shooting the Winter Olympics in Korea in a year and a half? Oh heck yeah!

I hope that you all continue to follow along on the blog in the months and years ahead. Thanks again to all of you for sharing this with me. I loved reading all your comments through my days in Rio. Now it is time for some sleep. Oh wait, never mind, I am shooting a Bar Mitzvah all day tomorrow. :)


And also, remember that you and your friends can enter your email address at the top right of this blog to get an email any time I write a new blog post or send my monthly newsletter.

If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.


Mike B said...


My favorite Olympic Sport is trying to spot you on the sidelines. Okay . . . favorite after beach volleyball.

I can tell that it is a labor of love. There is no doubt that you love being a part of the games. But, you have also brought to life the realities of working the games. And that is a perspective us civilians don't get anywhere else. I do hope you will do this again at the next Olympics.

If you ever get to Baltimore, dinner is on me!

Lois said...

Once again...thank you for sharing your 2016 Olympic experience! I enjoyed being there through your photos. Your photos challenge me to take better pictures...mine will never come up to yours in quality...but I can at least strive in that direction! Yesterday I got to photograph my granddaughter's volleyball game...I claimed it as "my Olympic" photo challenge to come up with some good shots in not ideal ended up shooting photos of her by pointing my lens under the net. More than one way to skin a cat in have taught me that! Hope that you get some much deserved rest and get to feeling better. Welcome back to U.S. soil!

Tom Gibson said...

Really enjoyed your blog of the games and how you did what you did.....often wonder why you stay with Canon as they are not staying up with other camera company's in regard to DR and tilt screen,built-in camera flash, built in to trigger off camera flash, built in camera crop options....etc. but I also read their customer service and lens selection is superior to others.....

Thanks for your great reporting on a variety of subjects...and the how and why you do it....

Tom Gibson

Linda Allen said...


Thank You for sharing your Olympic journey with us. I felt like I was right there with you. You are an amazing storyteller through your images and your blog. Glad you are back home. Now get some rest and get over that cold! :-) Looking forward to your next blog post.

Anonymous said...

I thank you for sharing your experience of the 2016 Olympic's it was actually the only parts I have seen from the games itself, have not been able to see any on TV due to work & renovations, so thank you, loved every bit and also the learnings you share, was hanging out for your updates. Milena.

rcortinas said...

Thank you so much for all yours blogs, pictures, photography tips and everything you do to bring us the insides of the Olympics games from the photographer's prospective. I really appreciated it very much.
I wasn't able to write comments on every one of your blogs because the really busy schedule, but I read every single one.
I hope now, like you said, you can relax and go back to the normal life but, we will be waiting for more blogs soon.

Thanks again and enjoy the precious family time now that you area back.

congviet said...

sofa gia re nice

mcfotosfo said...


Thanks so much for sharing your Olympic experiences! I can't believe how much you accomplished in such a limited amount of time. Your 'inside baseball' perspective is like no other and has given me tools to be a better photographer. Thanks again!

Rosalinda said...

Hi Jeff, with my busy life I barely saw your 'closing ceremony' photos and let me tell you...I love them!!!! I made a point to sit down and watch every minute of the closing ceremonies and at the same time I was thinking--I'm sure Jeff is taking the best shots right now!! ---
Thank you so much for bringing 'Rio 2016' to the comfort of our homes :)
Btw, I appreciate that you give details of the speed, aperture, etc of the photos you take. Thanks a million!!!

Felipe Quintella said...

Hi Jeff!

Thank you very much for the opportunity to seen the Olympic Games through your lenses. It has been a great time here in Rio to host these incredible games, and following it through your blog posts and photos gives it another perspective.
I was only able to catch up with the posts today, so here is my message in your favour.

Keep it up :)

All the best,