Thursday, July 29, 2021

Photographing Judo for the first time and trying some multi-exposure tricks!

Good morning to all of you in the US who are waking up right now. It is about 7pm here in Tokyo and I am heading to the Beach Volleyball venue to try my hand at photographing that sport this evening. We have a fairly cool evening here (82F) , which will be really nice for the outside venue. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let's talk about last night when I photographed Judo for the first time.

I promised my friend, Steve, that I would make it to the Judo venue to get some photos of this sport, and I am so glad that I made the trip. I had no idea that this sport was taking place in the famous Nippon Budokan building. This was built for the 1964 Olympics for the same sport. And, of course, has been the same building where the Beatles and Muhammed Ali performed. And for those of us old enough, I wore out my "Cheap Trick Live at Budokan" album from playing it so much.

I digress. Let's get back to the sport.

I was asked by my friend who is with USA Judo to come over and get some photos for them. Unfortunately the American was knocked out of medal contention before I made it to the arena. I honestly do not know much about Judo, but I had fun capturing images anyways. 

People ask me all the time "What is your favorite sport to shoot at the Olympics?" and my answer is almost always "Anything new!" I just love the challenge.

I got into the venue and headed downstairs to a great shooting position. I decided to use the Canon camera with the Canon 200-400mm lens to get in close to the action. I was photographing these women when I saw the Russian coach celebrating for his athlete in the background. I quickly reframed to include him in the background of the shot..

She may have gotten a point when the coach was cheering, but she looked like she had been really beaten up.

And a couple of minutes later, she was choked and out cold. The medical team revived her quickly. Now I look at this photo and think "Good god people, this is the Olympics, let her sleep for a little bit!" :)

Sh walked right by me on her way out of the competition area and I had to get a tight shot of her face.

Then it was back to capturing the action...

I had the camera set to ISO 800 which gave me a shutter speed at 1/800 second, enough to capture the fast action.

After the women competed, the men came out.

I was shooting, looking for the best action and expressions, since I really don't know the sport.

I was very aware of the background, and hoping that the athletes would stay away from the TV cameras and in the clean backgrounds. In this case, I saw the two men fighting in front of the Olympic Rings and fired off a bunch of photos. I was shooting wide open (the best aperture the lens could get) which was f/4, so the men are sharp and the rings are soft in the background.

I took hundreds of photos of the fighting and then felt like I was getting fairly repetitive shots. I wanted to push myself to get something more creative. And then it dawned on me, I should try the multi-exposure of the camera. I have done that with fencing at other Olympics, and it was worth a try here. So...I did.

For those of you wondering what multi-exposure mode is simply a setting in the camera where I can set how many images I want to overlap. The camera then combines them into one photo. I set the camera to 3 photos and I changed the burst mode to slow. This was my first capture...OK, but nothing special. 

I then captured this shot of the Japanese fighter celebrating his win. I have never done a multi-exposure shot of a celebration before. I kinda like it.

And was just me having fun.

My friend from USA Judo sent me a text asking me to get a shot of the venue. I used the Canon R5 with the new Canon RF15-35mm wide angle lens and set the camera to f/20 (at ISO 5000) to get this photo. The narrow aperture of f/20 is what creates the starburst effect off the lights that you see here.

Then I was back to the multi-exposure shots some more.

I like this last one with the women's face in numerous places as she fights off her opponent.

I am curious what you all think of these images. Do you love them, hate them, or just find them to be OK? Let me know in the comments.


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lo said...

Well done Jeff with multi exposures. If you have time to to fencing and try it there.

Stay safe.

Mike B said...

My favorite is 3rd from the end. No faces, yet it tells the story - uniquely.

I once included 2 multiple exposures in a set and got chastised for overusing the technique. So, I keep that in mind. P.S. your fencing pic is the best multiple exposure I have ever seen.

Geoff S. said...

Hello Jeff,

Wondering if you could answer a two-pronged question for me? Watching the games, I've seen a bunch of photographers using Pocket Wizards. My question is where are they placing their remote camera? Mostly overhead (looking straight down for events like the balance beam) or are they placing cameras in elevated positions since there are no fans?
Secondly, since Pocket Wizards only have so many channels, what is the process of being able to use one at an event?


Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Geoff - people mount cameras all over the place. Railings, rafters, and anywhere they think there is a good shot. I am not doing any remotes this time around. But, as Olympic photographers, we get special frequency codes from Pocketwizard so that we do not bash into each other. most venues require special permission to mount and use them.

The Logician said...

Loved the multiple exposures. Third from last in the Judo competition reminds me of the Isle of Man logo with the three running legs!

R Ruotolo said...

Awesome multi exposure photos! Checking my camera now for that mode. :)

CB said...

Hi Jeff, ~ Love your inventive, exciting multi-exposure shots. For me, they show action better than videos and are much more artful. These & your regular Olympic shots always draw me into the action so I feel as if I'm actually at the event. Bravo!! & Thanks!!

Unknown said...

Like the multiple exposures. Celebration was the best! I like to do a similar thing in gymnastics set up a tripod by the balance beam take multiple photos and merge in photoshop they come out very cool. Basketball break away, and free throws work well. Will have too try the multiple exposure in the camera.

Linda Allen said...

Love all the images, especially the multi-exposures. My favorites are #17-two guys facing each other and #20-guy in blue celebrating while guy in white looking to the side. You really are the best at multi-exposures! By the way it's almost 10pm here in Dallas, TX and it's currently 90 degrees with a heat index of 97 degrees. (smile) Ready for cooler weather!

I am amazed at how you photograph many events and still have time to produce excellent Blogs. Stay safe, have fun, and keep up the good work!

Unknown said...

Just found your blog...loving it!!! and i LOVE the multi-exposure shots and it has inspired me to try it in my sport photography.

Mike in Pittsburgh

mcfotosfo said...


Excellent shots and storytelling as usual. Multi-exposure is ok for Judo but works best, IMHO, for linear action sports such as fencing! I'm a bit behind on catching up on your blog but I see that you have some fencing shots coming up. I can't wait!

Thanks again!