Monday, July 26, 2021

USA women's water polo - Bad officiating, BLOOD and a win!

Today was the second game here in Tokyo for the women of USA Water Polo and they pulled off another win. But the win against China was not as easy as I thought it would be. And actually, neither was my morning, trying to get to the venue. The press bus was an hour late showing up to the hotel, which meant that I had to head straight to the water polo arena and not stop at the press center for my Covid spit test. 

I started shooting today's game in the same photo position as yesterday, for the men's game. But this time I used the Canon RF24-105mm lens to get a wide shot during the National Anthem. I changed the aperture of my camera to f/20 so that I would get a little bit of starburst effect off the lights.

I then quickly switched to the other camera with the Canon 200-400mm lens to capture the action. This was the opening sprint. Before the women even started racing for the ball, I had locked focus on it. This way I had the Tokyo 2020 logo in focus even with all the splashing that was going on.

Once again, I was shooting in full burst mode at 1/1000 sec. The light in this venue is decent so I am typically staying at ISO 2000.

I thought that the US women would dominate China, but the Chinese started off strong and actually took a two goal lead at one point.

Since I am shooting behind the net on the near side, it is hard to capture the action behind the twine. But with a little finessing, I was able to lock focus on my subject, even through the webbing.

Normally I like to have a clear "subject" in every photo. This one is an exception. Really, the big splash is the subject as opposed to one of the athletes. But hey, it is something different, which is what I strive for in every game.

The toughest part of shooting in this venue, is the crazy reflection that goes right through the middle of the pool.

Here is another photo taken through the net. I saw the ball barely crossing into the goal, and saw the goaltenders reaction. I focused on her as fast as I could and grabbed this.

I love the big extension here!

I watch the shot clock pretty closely in water polo, and when the time gets below 7 seconds, I lock focus on the goalie and assume that a shot is coming. This allows me to get Ashley Johnson in focus even with all the chaos happening in front of her.

I laughed when I was going through my photos immediately after the game. I love the funny expression on Maggie Steffen's face. I even texted her this photo and asked her what she was thinking at this moment. She responded right away with a laugh.

Mid way through the game, the woman came back to take the lead against the Chinese...

...but there was one bad call after another, and Adam Krikorian was not very happy about the officiating. As the team photographer, I need to be aware of everything going on, since not every part of the story is happening in the pool. Luckily I heard him yelling at the ref and grabbed some photos of him during his not very common loss of temper.

A little more exasperation after some more bad calls.

Everything was going quite well until...

...Maggie Steffens took an elbow into her face. This is the first time that I have photographed water polo and captured blood. Knowing that Maggie is OK (since we communicated after the game) we all laughed at Ashleigh's reaction in the background. Maggie posted this on her Instagram feed and said "When she says you look fine, but makes this face after 🤭

This is yet another example of why me locking focus on the goaltender helps, regardless of the who is in front. I love all the hands forming a triangle of sorts, with Ashleigh in focus in the background.

This is probably my favorite image from these Olympics so far. It is classic Ashleigh Johnson and she is tack sharp at the peak of action.

You have to love the reaction from the bench!

I photographed the third period from the pool deck, but then decided to shoot up by the TV camera for the last period of play. I planned this earlier in the morning, hoping to get one key shot.

This is the shot I was hoping for. A wide shot of Ashleigh in net, with the Olympic rings in the background. Last week, when I first met the venue photo manager, Arnold, he told me about this shooting location, and I had to give it a try.

At the end of the game, I ran back down to the pool deck as fast as I could, to get photos of Maggie and her war wound during her interview.

As you can tell, she is one tough cookie who was not fazed by an elbow to the face. 

Tomorrow is an early game at the venue, and it is close to midnight here. Time to post this blog, take a quick shower and get to bed!

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Unknown said...

Great photos. and thanks for the comments on the photos. Are you using the electronic shuttter?

Unknown said...

Jeff, I am totally enjoying your photos. How lucky to be one of few who get to be in the midst of all the action! Keep them coming. Looking forward to meeting you in Africa soon.

Stefan said...

Great Pics!

Does the R3 have a built in GPS Sensor? - because that's the reason why I don't buy the R5!

Enjoy the Games!

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing the photos!