Beach Volleyball and BMX

Although some might describe both of these sports as ‘extreme’ it would be for vastly different reasons! I guess that for some the mode of dress of the competitors in the Beach Volleyball might well be considered extreme. That’s not the only thing these sports have in common, they are both events that have all the young hype of loud announcers, and even louder music that seems to accompany our most recent additions to the Olympic events schedule. Call me old, but I can’t quite understand the necessity for the pop culture that surrounds these sports.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I am in awe of the athletic ability of both sets of competitors, and there is not a shadow of doubt that huge amounts of training, stamina and skill goes into both sports. So, after finishing up with last weekend’s cycling road race that finished in the mall I felt compelled to walk across the park to Horse Guards Parade to check out the beach volleyball. Purely of course to check out the photographers positions were all in the correct places for next years Games!

Horse Guards Parade, location for the beach volleyball event

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 Zoom, set to 26mm, 1/2000th @ f5.6, ISO 200, aperture priority automatic, hand held.

The venue for the beach volleyball could not really be more removed from a beach so tons of sand was shipped in to make the arena. In fact the last time I photographed beach volleyball it was completely the opposite, Bondi Beach in Sydney being about as much a beach as one could imagine.

FIVB Beach Volleyball International, Olympic Test Event, Horse Guards Parade London, England

FIVB Beach Volleyball International, Olympic Test Event, Horse Guards Parade London, England

Nikon D3s, AFS Zoom Nikkor 200-400 f4 Zoom, set to 200mm, 1/1250th @ f4, ISO 200, aperture priority automatic, hand held.

So, to the action. Beach volleyball is incredibly difficult to photograph well. Only two players on each side of the net with a relatively large field of play, and lines people at all four corners means that there are really two points of action to concentrate on, either trying to get the spike at the net, which is not easy, especially trying to keep the ball in the frame as well, or you simply pick a single player on the far side of the net and concentrate your shooting on that person in the hope of getting a good diving shot, below the level of the net.

Nikon D3s, AFS Zoom Nikkor 200-400 f4 Zoom, set to 200mm, 1/1000th @ f5.6, ISO 200, aperture priority automatic, hand held.

Following on from the beach volleyball came the BMX test event, the first event in the new Olympic Park at Stratford in East London. Now these athletes are really something else, hurling themselves at high speed down a ramp and then over a series of massive jumps where 30′ into the air is a regular occurrence and throw in a few hairpin bends just for good measure.

Renaud Blanc (SUI), BMX Supercross World Cup Olympic Test Event, Olympic Park, Stratford London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Renaud Blanc (SUI), BMX Supercross World Cup Olympic Test Event, Olympic Park, Stratford London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 200-400 f4 VR Zoom, set to 200mm, 1/2000th @ f4, ISO 400, Gitzo carbon fibre monopod,
aperture priority automatic +2/3 stop from metered exposure to compensate for bright sky and retain detail in rider.

This is certainly a young event with loud music and a certain culture involving loud music,  and is more of a lifestyle than a sport for many of the competitors. As I have mentioned before however these are definitely brave athletes and accidents are not uncommon.

Caroline Buchanan (AUS), BMX Supercross World Cup Olympic Test Event, Olympic Park, Stratford London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Joyce Seesing (NED), BMX Supercross World Cup Olympic Test Event, Olympic Park, Stratford London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Nikon D3s, Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 Zoom, set to 80mm, 1/2000th @ f4.5, ISO 400, aperture priority automatic +1/3 stop from metered exposure.

Each race lasts for only around 40 seconds so during the course of an event you get many opportunities to move around the venue and get a variety of different shots. This particular test suffered badly from a series of rainstorms that swept through so we were subject to a number of rain delays asd it is impossible to compete in BMX on a wet track.

L to R - Romain Riccardi (ITA), Oliver Hoarau (FRA), Luke Madill (AUS) and Manuel de Vecchi (ITA), BMX Supercross World Cup Olympic Test Event, Olympic Park, Stratford London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

L to R – Romain Riccardi (ITA), Oliver Hoarau (FRA), Luke Madill (AUS) and Manuel de Vecchi (ITA), BMX Supercross World Cup Olympic Test Event, Olympic Park, Stratford London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

 Nikon D3s, Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 Zoom, set to 90mm, 1/1600th @ f4.5, ISO 400, aperture priority automatic +1 stop from metered exposure.

The down side is that after a while you get a bit bored with shooting riders sailing through the air. So finally, looking for something different I selected my fisheye lens and looked for a creative opportunity on one of the bends.

Moana Moo Caille (BRA), BMX Supercross World Cup Olympic Test Event, Olympic Park, Stratford London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Moana Moo Caille (BRA), BMX Supercross World Cup Olympic Test Event, Olympic Park, Stratford London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Nikon D3, Nikkor 16mm f2.8 fisheye, 1/2500th @ f4.5, ISO 400, aperture priority automatic +1/3 stop from metered exposure.

The building in the background is the velodrome, more from that venue early next year.

In the next few days I will be posting from the canoe sprints at Eton Dorney. This is a completely new event for me having never photographed it before so will be something of a challenge.

Peter L.