Remote and robotic cameras at the Olympics

Remote and robotic cameras are becoming an increasingly important tool in the arsenal of equipment used by sports photographers in their search for ever more unique images. First, just to explain the difference – a robotic camera is a fully controllable unit where the camera may be manned, tilted, zoomed, focused, exposure setting altered etc, in fact, just about everything a photographer could do with the camera in his hands apart from changing the lens. Robotic cameras are generally placed in position before the first day of competition and remain there until after the event has finished, in other words for the Olympics they may be in position for many weeks. A remote camera is one that is placed in position and set up by the photographer, it is fixed in that position and the photographer fires the camera by wire or radio signal. A remote camera is generally set up just before the start of a days competition and removed at the end of that days sport.

For many years now photographers have been placing cameras in locations where they cannot physically be and firing them by a variety of means, including cable, infra-red and wireless and the 2012 Olympic Games saw more remote cameras than perhaps ever before.

The major photo agencies, including Getty Images, AP, AFP and Reuters invested heavily in remote camera technology for London, including purchasing and installing a number of completely robotic cameras. We had been involved throughout the test events in checking the viability of fully robotic cameras and how they could be operated and both Nikon and Canon finally produced workable models in time for the Games.

IMG_0435

However it was not just the cameras that had to be installed, in many cases well before the first athletes set foot in any arena, but also miles of Cat 5 and Cat 6 data cables, power supplies, control points, and in most cases the cameras could not be assessed after the start of competition so any failure meant that whole unit may be out of commission for the rest of the Olympics. As many of the cameras were positioned either above the field of play or above spectators every installation had to be carefully checked by our staff to ensure that it was safely rigged, and that every piece of equipment that could become detached had it’s own safety cable, much of which can be seen in the image above.

IMG_3827

To operate the robotic cameras special stations were set up so the photographers could get an overall view of the sport. Although one can set up the camera by using a computer screen to check the angles, zoom and focus, it is not yet possible to use the screen successfully to fire the cameras as there is too much delay in viewing the monitor pressing the fire button and the shutter actually actuating. Therefore, once the cameras were set, the photographer has to view the action and still press the fire button manually according to what he sees. The big advantage however is that a few seconds later the image is on the screen and he can then make instant adjustments to the camera settings if required.

IMG_0825

As the technology improves I think the use of robotic cameras will become an even more essential part of the image taking process for the big agencies. The average photographer will have to stick to the use of standard remotes as the cost of robotics will undoubtedly remain prohibitive for most.

IMG_4180

The more traditional remote cameras were still used in many locations such as the image below which is directly in front of the photographers moat at the finish straight of the track.. These were again fired either by directly connected wire, in many cases also transmitting the image back to the photographers computer, or by Pocket Wizard radios. The issue with radios for firing cameras at an event like the Olympics raises all sorts of problems, and is not always entirely reliable due to the huge amount of radio traffic across all frequencies at every venue. In fact the use of wireless internet connections using dongles was frowned upon for the same reasons. The most effective internet connections being a wired Ethernet connection from the working positions.

In some locations and sports, particularly the equestrian jumping events there was a further problem with remote cameras. Due to the close proximity of the cameras to the sport itself, and in this case the horses, the noise of multiple shutters firing simultaneously became an issue. Consequently we had to insist that cameras placed in these location had a sound deadening device fitted (known as a blimp) These had to be either a soundproof bag such as the Camera Muzzle or a completely soundproof box such as those used on film sets. Incidentally, the camera muzzle is an extremely useful tool for wildlife photographers under certain circumstances.

Remote cameras at the end of the finish straight, Olympic Stadium, London, England - August 2012 - Photo: Peter Llewellyn
Remote cameras at the end of the finish straight, Olympic Stadium, London, England – August 2012 – Photo: Peter Llewellyn

 

All photographs in this article courtesy of Dillon Bryden except where indicated.

It’s all over

For those of you who visit my web site with any degree of regularity will see, this is the first blog posting for a very long time. It was just impossible to try and keep up with regular postings as the Games drew nearer so I apologise for the break.

Well, after 15 months of long hours, frustration, triumphs and working with about the best team of Photo Managers, Deputies and Volunteers ever assembled it’s all over. The London Olympics and Paralympics has finally drawn to a close – and what a Games it has been. Despite all our fears of transportation mayhem, bad weather, poor British performances and a million other details, the XXX Olympiad will go down in history for all the right reasons, and I am incredibly proud to have been a part of it. Everything and everyone, came together to produce what is already being called the best Olympics ever.

Prior to London if you had asked anyone who has been to a few Games which was the best, the almost unanimous answer would have been Sydney. When members of the Sydney organising committee took their hats off and said ‘London, you bettered us’ I think that said it all. Added to that, from my own perspective within Photo Operations, when the heads of the world’s major Photo Agencies and many, many individual photographers came to our offices at the end of the Games to tell us how easy their work had been compared to other Games, how good the photo positions had been, and what excellent treatment they had all received from our staff, it made the hard work all worthwhile.

Peter and Jean, Olympic Flame, Olympic Stadium, London, England - August 2012 - Photo: Peter Llewellyn
Peter and Jean, Olympic Flame, Olympic Stadium, London, England – August 2012

Despite not being able to take photographs during the Olympics themselves there are several memories that will remain with me forever. The first Saturday night in the Olympic Stadium was an experience that will probably never be equaled  in terms of pure sporting excitement. The stage was set when a virtually unknown British longjumper won the first gold medal of the night, and a momentous evening continued with Jessica Ennis winning gold in the Heptathlon. Finally, when Mo Farah ran the 10,000m the atmosphere was at fever pitch. As each lap continued you could close your eyes yet know exactly where on the track Mo was, you simply had to follow the wall of sound that swept around the stadium as he progressed. And yes, Bob Martin the Photo chief and myself would have both loved to have been able to photograph these triumphs, but consoled ourselves in the knowledge that we had made the photo positions and opportunities the best they could possible be.

 

Bill Frake's of S.I. takes a nap, Olympic Stadium, London, England - August 2012 - Photo: Peter Llewellyn
Bill Frake’s of S.I. takes a nap, Olympic Stadium, London, England – August 2012 – Photo: Peter Llewellyn

Then there was the night of the men’s 100m and the inimitable Usain Bolt. Of course, we knew it was going too be busy but hell there were lot’s of other sports going on elsewhere as well. With around 1600 photographers accredited to the Games it was always difficult to predict where they would all go. One photographer even selected his spot at 8.00am that morning and remained there until the race was run after 9.oopm – that’s dedication for you. Finally, by the beginning of the evening session a rough count indicated that around half of the 1600 had decided they just had to get a ‘Bolt’ photo. Every nook and cranny seemed to hold another photographer with a long lens. I actually felt sorry for the guy who had been there since 8.00am when he realised that guys who turned up 10 hours later got exactly the same shot. In face around 500 of the photographers were all shooting the race head-on. Imagine 500 photographers shooting a race that lasts less than 10 seconds all shooting at 14 frames a second and effectively all getting the same photo (that’s about 70,000 photos of one race). And how many of those race photo were ever published – not that many as of course Bolt’s antics after the race has been one is the photo most editor’s are wanting. One photographer Jimmy Wixtrom from Aftonbladethad had an even better idea and handed his camera to Bolt shouting out ‘take your own photos’ which Usain obligingly did.

 

These are just two memories out of dozens that stick in my mind, the noise in the velodrome, watching Phelps sweeping down the pool, the amazing equestrian venue out at Greenwich Park, and not least the fantastic opening ceremonies themselves. All of this to be rapidly followed by a Paralympics like no other. Who could have possible anticipated that the Paralympics would be played out in the stadium to a capacity crowd of 80,000 people for every session, twice a day. In fact there was barely an empty seat at any of the Paralympic venues, and why should there be? These Paralmpians showed us a level of sport that was in every way equal to their able bodied teammates and put Paralympic sport firmly on the map.

Now I am back in Canada I will be getting back not only to posting regularly again but also to getting the Photo Workshops and Tours back in operation. Whilst I will be continuing to offer some classroom workshops, and wildlife photography workshops and tours I am also currently working on a series of sport photography workshops. These will take place at various locations worldwide  including International team training camps, and some major sporting events. You will have the opportunity to work and learn from a couple of the worlds leading sports photographers. More on this soon. In the meantime please let me know if you are interested in any photography workshops and I will add you to the mailing list and keep you informed as developments take place.

If you would like to hear more about my Olympic Experiences and view a show of some of the best of the Olympic Photos I am also available to do talks on the photography at the London Games to any groups. Again please contact me if you would like to discuss this.

Polo without a horse

As many of you will know for many years I specalised to a certain extent in equestrian photography, and covered both sport and general equestrian subjects in conjunction with my wife Jean, a well known equestrian journalist. I have covered many of the top polo competitions in the world but this time it is water polo that is the subject of this post. This is not a sport for faint hearted competitors as the referees only get a clear view of what is happening above the surface of the pool, with many of the fouls taking place surreptitiously below the water – the women being equally as tough as the men!

London, England, 05-05-12. Nicola ZAGAME (AUS) and Annika DRIES (USA) in the VIsa Water Polo Invitational. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 05-05-12. Nicola ZAGAME (AUS) and Annika DRIES (USA) in the VIsa Water Polo Invitational. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

 

Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II Lens at 400mm, 1/1000th at f4, ISO 1250,
Gitzo Carbon Fibre Monopod
Looking closely at this photo, done early in the first game, I realised I needed a bit faster shutter speed so upped the ISO to 1600 

Much of what was said in the last post about photographing synchronised swimming, also holds true for water polo. Fast shutter speeds to freeze both the action and the water droplets, and shooting a lot of frames to get a few usable ones.

London, England, 05-05-12. Fran LEIGHTON (GBR) takes a shot while Bianka POCSI (HUN) defends during the Great Britain v Hungary game in the VIsa Water Polo Invitational. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 05-05-12. Fran LEIGHTON (GBR) takes a shot while Bianka POCSI (HUN) defends during the Great Britain v Hungary game in the VIsa Water Polo Invitational. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

 

 Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II Lens at 400mm, 1/1250th at f4, ISO 1600,
Gitzo Carbon Fibre Monopod

Photo positions for the water polo are available at both ends to shoot the attacking players, much like you would expect at a football game, and from elevated positions both side on and head on. During the course of a couple of matches I tried all them, and each gives a slightly different perspective. Overall I think the elevated positions worked best where you can assure yourself of a clean background most of the time by using the blue of the water. However, although I think this gives the nicest shots I don’t think this will be the most popular at the Olympic Games.
in

London, England, 05-05-12. Lisa GIBSON (GBR) and Kata Maria MENCZINGER (HUN) during the Great Britain v Hungary game in the VIsa Water Polo Invitational. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 05-05-12. Lisa GIBSON (GBR) and Kata Maria MENCZINGER (HUN) during the Great Britain v Hungary game in the VIsa Water Polo Invitational. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II Lens at 400mm, 1/1250th at f4, ISO 1600,
Gitzo Carbon Fibre Monopod

Generally photographers do all they can to keep unnecessary clutter from the background of their images, particularly advertising boards as these can have a profound effect on the saleability of images. However, the Olympics is completely different. Here we do all we can to get us much Olympic background material into the images as possible, and shooting the water polo from the elevated positions will mean you have little in the images that screams “London Olympics’.

 

London, England, 05-05-12. Goalkeeper Elizabeth ARMSTRONG (USA) assisted by Brenda VILLA (USA) in the VIsa Water Polo Invitational. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 05-05-12. Goalkeeper Elizabeth ARMSTRONG (USA) assisted by Brenda VILLA (USA) in the VIsa Water Polo Invitational. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3, AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II Lens at 400mm, 1/1250th at f4, ISO 1600,
Gitzo Carbon Fibre Monopod

As I found myself shooting all images at the 400mm length on my 200 – 400 lens this is one occasion when perhaps a 400 f2.8 might have proved a bit of an advantage.

Fierce looks and makeup

London, England, 22-04-12. Anastasia GLOUSHKOV and Inna YOLFE (ISR) in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Qualifications
London, England, 22-04-12. Anastasia GLOUSHKOV and Inna YOLFE (ISR) in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Qualifications

 

Many regard synchronised swimming as more of an entertainment than a sport, and to be fair that’s hard to argue with, although it might surprise some to find out that this has been an Olympic sport since 1988. However there is also no doubt that the girls who take part in this event are supremely fit and strong. They seem to spend most of the routine with their heads submerged below the surface of the pool, only raising their faces to grab a few quick breaths and perform their balletic movements. It does however seem strange that there is a requirement to pull faces that would scare the pants off the average New Zealand rugby player while he is performing the Haka!

As with many of the water sports timing is everything in making a good image. You have to choose the exact moment when the swimmers are facing toward you with their faces visible, and as many of the movements are quick you have to rely on rapid reflexes and shooting a lot of frames to ensure you hit the best of the action. To shoot this sport in the ‘old days’ of film would have been an expensive undertaking as my success rate of keeper photos dropped way down to only around 20%. This was not a case of out of focus images, or bad exposures but simply lost images due to water in front of the faces, or a composition that was not pleasing because, for example, the competitors were not exactly in tune with each other.

London, England, 22-04-12. Nadine BRANDL and Livia LANG (AUT) in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Qualifications. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 22-04-12. Nadine BRANDL and Livia LANG (AUT) in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Qualifications. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

As with swimming the commonest mistake in photographing synchro is too low a shutter speed. The water droplets fly around incredibly fast and to freeze them in mid air requires a shutter speed of at least 1/1000th sec. Fortunately the lighting in the Olympic Pool is very good so it is relatively easy to achieve this.

London, England, 22-04-12. Kristina KRAJCOVICOVA and Janna LABATHOVA (SVK) in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Qualifications. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 22-04-12. Kristina KRAJCOVICOVA and Janna LABATHOVA (SVK) in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Qualifications. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3s, 500mm f4, AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR, Gitzo Carbon Fibre Monopod, 1/1250 @ f4, ISO 1600

An elevated photo position can give something of a view as to what is going on under the water, although the only way to achieve truly good underwater images is from a camera in an underwater housing (there will be several in place during the Olympics) or using the underwater viewing windows of the pool. Unfortunately I was only able to attend a single session of the synchro due to a number of other test events running concurrently so contented myself with using a couple of the elevated positions.

London, England, 22-04-12. Darya NAVASELSKAYA and Iya ZHYSHKEVICH (BLR) in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Qualifications. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 22-04-12. Darya NAVASELSKAYA and Iya ZHYSHKEVICH (BLR) in the FINA Synchronised Swimming Qualifications. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3s, 500mm f4, AF-S NIKKOR 500mm f/4G ED VR, Gitzo Carbon Fibre Monopod, 1/1600 @ f4, ISO 1600
The slightly faster shutter speed is due to changing my shooting position from the side to the elevated gantry at the end of the pool.

All in all, probably not my favourite sport to photograph!

To see a selection of photos from this event click here then select the synchronised swimming gallery or use the search feature and enter “synchronised”.

Hard water!

You might be thrown by the title of this weeks blog. That is until you imagine being a diver coming down from 10metres up and getting it all wrong. Suddenly that nice soft landing into 15 metres of water must be like landing in wet concrete. Unfortunately Mexican diver Rommel Pachero found out this hard way when he failed to make the last 1/4 turn and landed rather painfully.

Rommel PACHECO (MEX) lands badly while competing in the men's 10m platform semi-finals
Rommel PACHECO (MEX) lands badly while competing in the men’s 10m platform semi-finals

 

Nikon D3, AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor 200-400 f4 lens at 400mm, 1/1000 @ f4, ISO 3200, set manually, hand held

Photographically this image just goes to show how important it is for a sports photographer not to let his or hers concentration lapse for a moment. One of the hardest things for a sports photographer to do is to maintain a high level of attention in a repetitive sport like canoe sprints, dressage or diving. But of course one lapse means you miss the shot that can be that incident of the day, and you can be sure if you don’t get it someone else did! On this occasion, the someone else was me – no other photographer got this shot – just goes to prove I’ve still got it.

To shoot the best images of diving you need to take a different approach depending if the event is 10 metre platform of 3 metre springboard and if it is singles or synchronised diving. I chose to shoot the men’s highboard from the pool deck basically shooting up from water level. This is a difficult sport to photograph and you need to be prepared to have a lot of outtakes as the divers twist and somersault through the air you will inevitably end up with many images of the divers backs or arms and legs will obscure much of the body. For the highboard I expect a success rate of only around 25%.

London, England, 12-02-25. Gleb GALPERIN (RUS) competing in the men's 10m platform semi-finals at the 18th FINA Visa World Cup Diving, Olympic Aquatics Centre. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-25. Gleb GALPERIN (RUS) competing in the men’s 10m platform semi-finals at the 18th FINA Visa World Cup Diving, Olympic Aquatics Centre. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

 Getting the timing right in this sport is more a question of luck than judgement. One of the few sports where this is actually the case.

Nikon D3, AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor 200-400 f4 lens at 400mm, 1/1000 @ f4, ISO 3200, set manually, hand held

London, England, 12-02-25. Peter WATERFIELD (GBR) competing in the men's 10m platform semi-finals at the 18th FINA Visa World Cup Diving, Olympic Aquatics Centre. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-25. Peter WATERFIELD (GBR) competing in the men’s 10m platform semi-finals at the 18th FINA Visa World Cup Diving, Olympic Aquatics Centre. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

These athletes must be among the fittest and strongest in the Games, certainly if the 6 pack on Peter Waterfield of GBR is anything to go by!

Nikon D3, AF-S VR Zoom Nikkor 200-400 f4 lens at 400mm, 1/1000 @ f4, ISO 3200, set manually, hand held

For the 3 metre springboard the angle of shooting needs to be a little different, especially for the synchronised events. Rather than shooting up I decided to go to the highest photo position available, way up in the upper levels of the seating area, parallel to the boards so that I could shoot down at an angle where I could see both divers clearly, with the added advantage of having the water itself as a clean background. This is a real long lens shot from this distance requiring at least a 500mm.

London, England, 12-02-25. Alicia BLAGG and Rebecca GALLANTREE (GBR) competing in the women's synchronised 3m spring board at the 18th FINA Visa World Cup Diving, Olympic Aquatics Centre. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-25. Alicia BLAGG and Rebecca GALLANTREE (GBR) competing in the women’s synchronised 3m spring board at the 18th FINA Visa World Cup Diving, Olympic Aquatics Centre. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

 Nikon D3, AF-S VR  Nikkor 500mm f4G lens, 1/1250 @ f4, ISO 2500, set manually, Gitzo monopod

Note that I was able to drop the ISO a little from this position due to the direction of the lights, shining more directly onto the boards and coming from overhead much more than for the 10 metre platform.

London, England, 12-02-25. Katja DIECKOW and Nora SUBSCHINSKI (GER) competing in the women's 3m spring board at the 18th FINA Visa World Cup Diving, Olympic Aquatics Centre. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-25. Katja DIECKOW and Nora SUBSCHINSKI (GER) competing in the women’s 3m spring board at the 18th FINA Visa World Cup Diving, Olympic Aquatics Centre. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3, AF-S VR Nikkor 500mm f4G lens, 1/1250 @ f4, ISO 2500, set manually, Gitzo monopod

Note how in all the springboard photos I have included the tips of the diving boards to give a sense of place to the event, otherwise it can be difficult to tell exactly what sport is taking place.

To see the full selection of diving images click here

 

World Cup at the Velodrome

This weekend was the UCI World Cup Track Cycling at the Olympic Velodrome, the latest in the series of test events.

Now I like to ride my bike – a road bike to be sure. There’s nothing quite like coming down a decent hill, the wind ripping away at your face, senses keenly aware of every bump, and more especially every pot hole on the English country roads where I ride. But when my bike computer shows around 30 mph I must admit that I begin to lose my nerve and the fingers begin to twitch on the brakes. This weekend I realised that the weakest of the girls on the track had far more guts than I do, on a bike with a fixed gear, and no brakes to slow them even if they wanted to. These guys belt around the ramped track at speeds sometimes touching on 43 mph and do so within inches of each other.

London, England, 12-02-18. The field in the women's Omnium elimination race at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-18. The field in the women’s Omnium elimination race at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3, AF-S Zoom Nikkor 200-400mm f4 at 380mm, 1/640th @ f4, ISO 1600, hand held

One of the great things about photographing track cycling is that you get a wide variety of disciplines, from a single rider in the sprints going hell for leather against nothing but the clock, the cat and mouse tactics of the sprint finals, the massed riders of the scratch and elimination races and the spectacle of the riders being paced at ever increasing speed by a cute little motorcycle, the Kierin, until the last few laps when it’s an all out race to the finish.

London, England, 12-02-18. Competitors follow the motorcycle pace bike in the finals of the men's Keirin at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-18. Competitors follow the motorcycle pace bike in the finals of the men’s Keirin at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3, AF-S VR  Nikkor 500 mm f4, 1/640th @ f4, ISO 1250, Gitzo Monopod

Of course the Kierin has become a British speciality, this being one of Sir Chris Hoy’s gold medals in Beijing, as well as world champion no less than three times. Chris has announced he wants to add to this tally at the Games, and his win in the event yesterday puts him well on the road.

London, England, 12-02-18. Sir Chris HOY (GB) celebrates victory in the men's Kieren final at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-18. Sir Chris HOY (GB) celebrates victory in the men’s Kieren final at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3, AF-S VR  Nikkor 500 mm f4, 1/640th @ f4, ISO 1250, Gitzo Monopod

If you get a chance to go to a track meet take it. It’s a wonderful opportunity to spend time experimenting and honing your techniques at photographing high speed sport. This sport lends itself to panning techniques and I spent a fare bit of time experimenting with different shutter speeds, and lens combinations.

London, England, 12-02-18. Luis DIAZ (VEN) in the men's Omnium scratch race at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-18. Luis DIAZ (VEN) in the men’s Omnium scratch race at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3s, AF-S zoom Nikkor Nikkor 24-70 mm at  f2.8 set to 66mm, 1/30th @  f11, ISO 640, hand held

In a shot like the above it’s important to pick a point to focus on, in this case the rider’s head and try and keep the active focus point on your camera exactly on the same spot throughout the pan. Here I also decided to make a strong crop of the original image to create almost a panorama effect.

London, England, 12-02-18. Competitors on the men's Omnium scratch race at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-18. Competitors on the men’s Omnium scratch race at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3s, AF-S zoom Nikkor  Nikkor 24-70 mm at  f2.8 set to 50mm, 1/60th @  f11, ISO 640, hand held

Here’s another shot with the same lens, this time a little wider than the first and shot with the riders still well away from me. Note how by doing this you have a dual effect, first the rider you are focusing on remains relatively sharp, but, due to the out of focus riders behind, attention is always drawn back to that leading rider.

London, England, 12-02-18. Kaarle McCULLOCH (AUS) competes in the Women's Sprint at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.
London, England, 12-02-18. Kaarle McCULLOCH (AUS) competes in the Women’s Sprint at the UCI World Cup, Track Cycling, Olympic Velodrome, London. Part of the London Prepares Olympic preparations.

Nikon D3s, AF-S zoom Nikkor  Nikkor 80-200 mm at  f2.8 set to 200mm, 1/800th @  f2.8, ISO 800, hand held

Finally, don’t forget to get in for some close-ups of the way out gear these riders wear. Actually, come to think of it, maybe I’d go faster if I had a helmet like that!

To see a selection of my images from the World Cup click on the Search tab and enter the key word velodrome

 


Hoops, Balls, Ribbons and Clubs

The seconds part of the gymnastics the rhythmic gym tool place this week at London’s Excel Centre, following on from the traditional artistic gymnastics. This sport is the exclusive domain of the girls consisting the four discipllnes of ball, hoop, ribbon and clubs. some of the world’s top athletes took part in the latest of the London Prepares series.

Runa YAMAGUCHI (JPN) competes in the ribbon, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.
Runa YAMAGUCHI (JPN) competes in the ribbon, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.

 

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 70 – 200mm f/2.8 ED lens, 1/1000 @ f2.8 ISO 1600

Unfortunately due to work commitments I was only able to get a single days shooting so had to be content with just the ribbons and clubs.

Francesca JONES (GBR) competes in the clubs, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.
Francesca JONES (GBR) competes in the clubs, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.

 

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR lens, 1/1000 @ f2.8 ISO 1600, set manually after shooting test shots and checking histogram

To freeze the action of the various pieces of apparatus used in the rhythmic disciplines a shutter speed of at least 1/1000th second is necessary. As the the light was very consistent across the floor I simply took a few test shots and checked the histogram until I was able to lock the exposure I wanted manually.

Kseniya MOUSTAFAEVA (FRA) competes in the ribbon, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.
Kseniya MOUSTAFAEVA (FRA) competes in the ribbon, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.

 Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR lens, 1/1000 @ f2.8 ISO 1600,
set manually and shot from an elevated position in the stands.

Although the rhythmic gymnastics will not take place at The North Greenwich Arena, but actually at Wembley, every effort was made to replicate the same photo positions to be used at the Games, and I made sure to shoot images from both the field of play positions on the corners of the mat and the elevated positions in the seating stands. For this sport I found that the elevated positions were probably the best for showing the apparatus in action, especially the ribbon.

Victoria VEINBERG FILANOVSKY(ISR) competes in the ribbon, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.
Victoria VEINBERG FILANOVSKY(ISR) competes in the ribbon, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.

 

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR lens, 1/1000 @ f2.8 ISO 1600

In shooting this sport it’s necessary to keep a sharp eye open for the amazing shapes made by the athletes and apparatus. One thing that’s for certain, these girls are very ‘bendy’

The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London

Nikon D3s, AF-S NIKKOR 400mm f/2.8G ED VR lens, 1/1000 @ f2.8 ISO 1600

For a further selection of rhythmic gymnastics images enter rhythmic in the keywords box on the search page.


 

It’s Olympic Year – 2012

We finally have to stop calling it next year’s Olympic Games, it’s now this year’s Games and we are getting closer to delivering one of the best Olympics ever.

The test events have started up again the same day I arrived back from spending Christmas and new year at home in Canada with the artistic gymnastics running last week at the North Greenwich Arena, perhaps better known as The Dome. Gymnastics has always been one of my favourite sports to photograph with it’s huge range of photographic opportunities, offering strength, grace, acrobatic skill, speed, and daring and featuring both men and women competitors and all taking place in a single arena. A photographers dream.

Isaac BOTELLA PEREZ (ESP), competes in the floor exercise, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics
Isaac BOTELLA PEREZ (ESP), competes in the floor exercise, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics

Nikon D3s, AF-S VR 500mm f4/G lens, 1/800th @ f4, ISO 2500, set manually

Gymnastics requires a bit of thougt in your photography. Different disciplines require different minimum shutter speeds to freeze the action. For the floor excercises you can get away with a speed of 500th or so, although I prefer to go a little faster when the light allows.

Erica FASANA (ITA), competes in the vault, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 12, 2012.
Erica FASANA (ITA), competes in the vault, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 12, 2012.

 Nikon D3s, AF-S VR 300mm f2.8/G lens, 1/1000th @ f2.8, ISO 3200, set manually
Image processed with Noise Ninja noise reduction software

Although the Nikon D3’s are excellent at high ISO settings I felt that some of the images taken on apparatus at the edge of the arena where the light falloff was a little more than I would like could benefit from a quick run through Noise Ninja. see www.picturecode.com for full details of this program www.picturecode.com

Matteo ANGIOLETTI (ITA), competes in the rings, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 12, 2012.
Matteo ANGIOLETTI (ITA), competes in the rings, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 12, 2012.

Nikon D3s, AF-S VR 300mm f2.8/G lens, 1/640th @ f2.8, ISO 2000, set manually

The rings is a lot slower in it’s movements, apart from the dismount which usually makes horrible photos anyway, so you can get away with a slower shutter speed. Note how I have consistently tried to use the lowest ISO possible that enables me to achieve the shutter speed I need. Although the latest cameras are great at  the higher ISO settings you will still achieve the highest quality of file with the lowest you can get away with.

Francesca DEAGOSTINI (ITA), competes in the beam, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.
Francesca DEAGOSTINI (ITA), competes in the beam, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.

Nikon D3s, AF-S VR 400mm f2.8/G ED lens, 1/1000th @ f2.8, ISO 2500, set manually

I love photographing the beam. There is a host of opportunities within this one piece of apparatus to shoot detailed close-ups, full frame shots, and various actions. Although much of the action is slow and graceful you need to keep a high shutter speed for the flips and somersaults, not to mention the odd fall!

Carlotta FERLITO (ITA), competes in the beam, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.
Carlotta FERLITO (ITA), competes in the beam, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.

Nikon D3s, AF-S Zoom 80 – 200mm f2.8 ED lens, 1/640th @ f2.8, ISO 2000, set manually

Masahiro YOSHIDA (JPN), competes in the parallel bars, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.
Masahiro YOSHIDA (JPN), competes in the parallel bars, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.

Nikon D3s, AF-S VR 400mm f2.8/G ED lens, 1/1000th @ f2.8, ISO 2500, set manually

Masahiro YOSHIDA (JPN), competes in the parallel bars, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.
Masahiro YOSHIDA (JPN), competes in the parallel bars, The London Prepares Visa International Gymnastics, Olympic Test Event, North Greenwich Arena, London, England January 13, 2012.

 

Nikon D3s, AF-S VR 400mm f2.8/G ED lens, 1/1000th @ f2.8, ISO 2500, set manually

Watch out for details around the field of play at sports event. They can often be as interesting as the sport itself as in this image of a gymnast preparing his hands

To see a selection of images from this event go to the main web site and do a search for “gymnastics”

Many thanks to Nikon for the loan of a 400mm f2.8 lens to cover this event while my 200-400 zoom is in for repair.

Watch for details of shooting with a D4 coming soon!

The year comes to an end

Well, I am back in Canada after a somewhat protracted trip home due to an aircraft failure at Heathrow.This meant a night in a hotel in Chicago and not arriving back on Gabriola Island until 6.00 pm on Monday, having left for Heathrow Airport at 9.00am on Sunday. The joys of international travel!

2011 has been a big year for me, moving temporarily to London, and being involved with the biggest sporting event on earth, the 2012 Olympic Games. By the time I head back in January it will be Olympic year and the pressure will really start to ramp up. The test events have shown us that we are well on track to delivering an amazing games and I hope to see some of the best Olympic photos ever produced. As soon as I get back the test event will start again, with the next being the Gymnastics, one of the biggest and most popular Olympic sports, and I will continue to bring you information on how I shoot  these sports. Please don’t hesitate to pose any questions you might have on sports photography and I will do my best to answer you.

The final test events of the 2011 year were the wrestling and the weightlifting, which again took place at the ExCel Centre.

Wrestling is one of the oldest Olympic disciplines, having been contested at every modern Games since the first in 1896, and is as far removed from the modern TV version as chalk and cheese. In Greco-Roman style there is no holding below the waist, being the major difference with the other form of Olympic wrestling, freestyle.

Using the experience of having shot in the same halls last week I decided to take a lesson from the work I had to do on those images. I realized that the lighting in the ExCel Centre is exactly 5,000 degres K, and for some reason my D3s were having some trouble with the white balance set to Auto. There are few occasions when I take my white balance from the auto setting but this proved to be the exception and with manually setting my balance to 5,000K I had perfect white balance on every shot. Don’t forget the golden rule – if you set your camera to any type of manual setting such as this then set it back to the normal setting immediately you have finished the shoot.

Rami HIETANIEMI (FIN) in red v alo TOOM (EST) in blue, 96kg class, Greco Roman Wrestling

Nikon D3s, 80 – 200 f2.8 lens set to 145mm, 1/800th @ f2.8 1600 ISO, exposure set manually, white balance set to 5000k manually

You have probably noticed that almost all the sports I shoot indoors are with the camera set to fully manual exposure. This is because at indoor arenas there are so many conflicting areas of light and shade that, even with the most sophisticated cameras available today, they are still easily fooled into giving incorrect exposure. It is essential that you know how to read a histogram, probably the most important tool in the digital photographers arsenal. All of my indoor shots are set up by taking a few test images checking the histogram, and then tweaking the exposure manually.

At the same time as the wrestling was taking place in one hall, the weightlifting was going on in another. As the lighting in both halls was identical I only needed a quick histogram check on my first images and then continued to shoot away. There are two disciplines in Olympic weightlifting, the snatch and the clean and jerk, with the combined total deciding the winner

You need to shoot the two types of lift a little differently. For the snatch, where a single movement makes a good lift it is all about facial expressions and so a head on spot usually provides the best images. My problem in the weightlifting hall was that my 200 – 400 f4 lens, that would have been ideal for this, was in the Nikon repair facility with the manual focussing ring completely jammed. This meant that I had no lens between 200mm and 500mm. Well, these thing happen, so I decided to use the situation to my advantage and get in really tight on some faces during the snatch with the 500mm.

Dmityiy KAPLIN (KAZ) in the snatch

Nikon D3s, 500mm f4 lens , 1/500th @ f4 1600 ISO, exposure set manually, white balance set to 5000k manually

In fact you don’t need to see the whole of the barbell to indicate what the sport is all about, the faces say it all.

For the clean and jerk I moved to a side-on view, but decided I would still give the 500mm a go. I think the image below works just as well from this angle.

Mart SEIM (EST) in the clean and jerk,

Nikon D3s, 500mm f4 lens , 1/500th @ f4 1600 ISO, exposure set manually, white balance set to 5000k manually

The image below shows the more classic view of the clean and jerk.

Ferenc GYURKOVICS (HUN) in the clean and jerk

Nikon D3s, AFs zoom 80 – 200 f2.8 lens set to 135mm, 1/640th @ f4 1600 ISO, exposure set manually, white balance set to 5000k manually

A great Christmas to all and I look forward to bringing you a lot more sports images in 2012

 

New Olympic Test Event Series

The next of the Olympic Test Event series is now well underway. The past week has seen the boxing, fencing and table-tennis events running in London’s Excel Centre, their home next year when the Games start.

The Table Tennis test was performed us part of the ITTF Table Tennis Tour and saw most of the world’s leading players, and of course the main contenders for next years medal. The Chinese continue to dominate the world table-tennis scene and an amazing men’s semi finals between the world’s # 1 and 2 proved to me that the table tennis I play is nothing like the game played at the highest level!

Unfortunately the lighting was not the same as that to be used during the Olympics and left a little to be desired. I found myself shooting at between 3200 and 6400 ISO to get anything close to the shutter speed required to freeze the action.

 

Long MA (CHN) the world #1, competes against Hao WANG (CHN) the world #2, during the ITTF Table Tennis Tour Grand Finals, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011. Long Ma went on to win the tournament beating Zhang Jike in the final.
Long MA (CHN) the world #1, competes against Hao WANG (CHN) the world #2, during the ITTF Table Tennis Tour Grand Finals, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011. Long Ma went on to win the tournament beating Zhang Jike in the final.

Nikon D3s, 80-200 f2.8 AF-S Zoom Nikkor at 145mm, 1/1000th @ f2.8, ISO 5000, exposure set manually after shooting test images and checking histogram.
The high resolution output files all ran through Nose Ninja to help reduce the digital noise

The fencing provided some wonderful creative opportunities, especially during the finals on the main piste. The whole arena has ‘theatre style’ lighting meaning that the playing area is brightly lit while the surroundings are in almost complete darkness. I started by shoting some regular sports photos of the fencers in action.

Erwan Le Pechoux (FRA) [left] v Keith COOK (GBR)

Nikon D3, 80-200 f2.8 AF-S Zoom Nikkor at 165mm, 1/1000th @ f3.5, ISO 2000, exposure set manually after shooting test images and checking histogram.

Looking for something different I set my D3 to multiple exposure mode capturing 4 consecutive images  on the same frame. Having the theatrical lighting really adds to this affect. The main trick is to ensure you keep the camera as still as possible during the exposure and resist the temptation to move the lens to try and keep the subject centred. Just hold the button down and let the action do the moving. Ideally one would use a tripod but that’s nearly impossible when shooting sport from crowded photo ares. As the shot below demonstrates it is possible to handhold this type of photo but you do need a fast shutter speed.

Marcel MARCILLOUX (FRA) [left] v Husayn ROSOWSKY (GBR) [right] during the men's foil competition at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011.
Marcel MARCILLOUX (FRA) [left] v Husayn ROSOWSKY (GBR) [right] during the men’s foil competition at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011.

Nikon D3, 80-200 f2.8 AF-S Zoom Nikkor at 86mm, 1/1000th @ f3.5, ISO 2000, multiple exposure turned on and set to 4 frames. Exposure set manually after shooting test images and checking histogram.

Finally I headed down to the Boxing Hall. This was not taking place in the hall that will be used at Games time so was really more of a test for the technical and sports people than for our photo positions.

Boxing is not one of my favourite sports to photograph, in fact it’s not one of my favourite sports period. In fact I find it’s actually a difficult sport to create great images especially amateur boxing.

Con SHEAHAN (IRL) [red] v Lazaridis EUGENIOS (GRE) [blue] during the men's super heavyweight final at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, ExCel Centre,  London, England November 27, 2011. Sheahan went on to win the title.
Con SHEAHAN (IRL) [red] v Lazaridis EUGENIOS (GRE) [blue] during the men’s super heavyweight final at the London Prepares Olympic Test Event, ExCel Centre, London, England November 27, 2011. Sheahan went on to win the title.

Nikon D3s, 200-400 f4 AF-S Zoom Nikkor at 380mm, 1/800th @ f4, ISO 2500. Exposure set manually after shooting test images and checking histogram.

You may have noticed that in all the above images I chose to use manual exposure. This is because the lighting in each of these sports presented particular challenges, especially as the backgrounds were lit considerably differently to the field of play. This can easily cause erroneous exposures, (especially at the fencing with that black background). However the lighting on the filed of play was completely consistent so, after shooting a few test exposures and checking the histogram, I was able to hit the exposure dead on.

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.

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.

Badminton World Championships

This week the shuttlecocks are flying in Wembley Arena at the World Badminton Championships which is serving as an unofficial test event for next years Olympic event. This is not an easy event to photograph as the lighting is somewhat patchy and with black backgrounds almost impossible to get a good shot of any player in dark clothing.

Pui Yin Yip (HNK), World Badminton Championships, Wembley Arena London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn
Pui Yin Yip (HNK), World Badminton Championships, Wembley Arena London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Nikon D3s, AFS Zoom Nikkor 80 – 200 f2.8, at 80mm
1/1250th @ f2.8, ISO 3200

Lot’s of additional tweaking in Aperture for this one.

You need to keep the shutter speed at least 1/1000th or better to freeze the action in this sport as the racket head moves with enormous speed. Once again the high ISO capabilities of the Nikon D3 cameras score heavily. I can remember way back photographing Badminton at the All England Championships in this same venue when we were using tungsten balanced film at 160 ASA and pushing it two stops to achieve 640. You had to be sure to fire the shutter at the exact end of the backswing to ensure that the racket head was almost completely stationary to be able to freeze it – those were the days! And people ask me if I would ever want to return to the days of film – definitely not, we have many more opportunities available to us today.

Kevin Cordon (GUA), World Badminton Championships, Wembley Arena London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn
Kevin Cordon (GUA), World Badminton Championships, Wembley Arena London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Nikon D3s, AFS Zoom Nikkor 200 – 400 f4, at 360mm
1/1000th @ f4, ISO 3200
This is an image was shot from the top row of the stands, one of the positions that will be available to photographers at Games time next year.

This is a sport dominated by the Asian countries with a small scattering of Europeans. Many finals are all Chinese affairs and I am sure it will be the same way next year.

Dan Lin (CHN) , World Badminton Championships, Wembley Arena London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn
Dan Lin (CHN)
, World Badminton Championships, Wembley Arena London, England, Photo by: Peter Llewellyn

Nikon D3s, AFS Zoom Nikkor 80 – 200 f2.8, at 80mm
1/1250th @ f2.8, ISO 2000

And now for something different. As I was somewhat disappointed with the quality of ‘straight’ sports images I was getting I decided to experiment a little. In the image above I set the D3 to shoot 4 images on the same frame.

Are you interested in learning how to take images such as those seen on the blog in recent weeks? Watch out for announcements coming soon on formal sports photography workshops where you will get the opportunity to learn all these techniques and more on three-day workshops to be led my myself and a couple of the world’s best known sports shooters.

Peter

 

The finals are being dominated by the Chinese