by Nick Anis
On January 15, 2002 I was
covering the Olympic Torch Relay as the Olympic flame passed through Los
Angeles. Part of the torch relay caravan included a press truck that
was 15-20 feet ahead of the torchbearer. I applied for a media pass
to be on that truck, but discovered that if I was on the truck, the type
of shot I would get would be somewhat limited. Also I might cause the
subject I wanted to shoot to not be part of the live coverage of NBC TV News,
because my spot on the truck might be bumping a TV News Cameraman for that
So I set out to cover it on
foot. I picked up one of those nifty "Powerboards" that
they sell at Costco for $400. They go 18 miles an hour and can
travel 12 miles and for 45 minutes on a single charge.
I arrived at the Coliseum
and too pictures of all the luminaries who were going to be torchbearers
including the one I was shooting (Mario Cruz ... a 18 year-old high school
Then I headed off to the
section where Mario was to carry the torch. I noticed most of that
kind of shabby looking - at least from a photography point of view. Using the Powerboard I boarded through the
entire route looking for a good spot to get a shot. In the middle of
his 5 block segment I noticed there was an intersection where the corners
looked nice. There was even palm trees and a little landscaping --
sort of an oasis in the desert, and that's where I decided to
shoot. Then I positioned myself on the sidewalk and looked through
I realized that position
would give me too angled of a shot and I was worried about poles and power
wires getting in my shot and also people blocking me.
So I went into the middle
of the street with the traffic whizzing by me. I looked through the view
finder and said "that's perfect." My next problem was
would the police and security let me stay there long enough to get the
shot. So I put my press ID on a neck badge and crossed my
fingers. I put on a 330mm lenses with image stabilizer circuitry on
my Cannon Rebel G (EOS) because I knew I would only get one shot. I
set the camera to the motion pre-programmed mode.
I checked my lens and
noticed a finger print and I also noticed the autofocus switch was set to
manual. So I cleaned it and flipped the switch to automatic. I
was using 200 ISO print film because I find that 400 or higher is a little
too grainy for daylight shooting with not that much motion.
The helicopters overhead
clearly showed the flame and my subject, Mario were approaching.
There was a sudden excitement in the air. When Mario was about 20
feet away ... I had to zoom out all the way with that 300mm lens ... and I
snapped the shot. Then he was too close and I was going to be in his
way so I ran as fast as I could. I almost got far enough ahead to
take another shot but this kid was just too fast. Most of those
torch runners were running slowly but this kid (a track athlete) which
running briskly ... probably because pace truck goes faster for torch
runners like him and also because this kid loves to run.
But somehow I didn't pass
out and somehow I stayed ahead. I was a bit winded and I think some
of the spectators were wondering if I was going to keel over or
something. So a little winded but still alive, I arrived at
the end of his segment, before he did. I set up quickly and just as
the Olympic flame was about to be passed off to the next torchbearer I was
about to take the shot but they pulled his torch aside and started to turn
off the flame. I protested and they let him pose, but the flame was
dieing faster then he could pose and I could shoot.
So in terms of
"good" shoots. I only got one.
Here is the shot I took.
Olympic Torch Run, Mario Cruz - Photo by Nick Anis
|I saw that trash can on the
right but when I planned the shot I believed it would be obscured by the
runners. I didn't crop this picture. I intended to have the
motorcycle driving off like that and if it wasn't partially cropped it
would take too much attention away from the main subject and his support
runner. The motorcycles and security people help give the shot
validity. The traffic light which happens to be red, reminds us the
torch relay didn't have to wait for traffic lights. The street sign
is a nice touch which is what originally gave me an idea to use this
Mario's flame is lit and in
the full resolution print you can see the heat rising as well as some more
flame but he was running so fast there isn't as much flame visible as with
other shots. I toyed with the idea of adding more flame with
Photoshop but decided to leave this picture in its true form.
Just after shooting this
shot I ran in front of them to get to the sidewalk on the left. That
motorcycle on the left has the loudest horn and siren I've ever heard, and
when I got too close and crossed in front he let me have a blast that
nearly caused me to loose the camera. The press guys (including Fred
Roggin) on the truck were laughing at me and I was embarrassed, but hey
... I got the shot.
Here are some tips for photographing Olympic Sports
How to Photograph Olympic Sports
Regardless of whether you are one of the millions of lucky spectators,
camera in hand, at the 2002 Winter Olympics, or you are at your local high
school hockey game, here are some tips from the New York Institute of Photography
http://www.nyip.com to help you take exciting pictures at
your favorite winter sporting events. According to Chuck DeLaney, Dean of
the world’s largest photography school, “These tips will help you get great
photos regardless of whether you are at the Olympics or your child’s hockey
If you’re way back in the stands, you’ll need a long lens 200mm or longer and use a tripod if allowed to steady the shot and fast film to
stop the action ISO 800 is a good choice. Hint: When something exciting happens, everybody stands up! So if you’re sitting in crowded stands, don’t be surprised that at the height of action, when something is actually
worth photographing, the guy in front of you jumps up and gets in your way. The solution is to try and sit where there is no one in front of you,
which might happen at a local game, but certainly won’t be an option at the
major venues in Salt Lake City.
Indoors, don’t use a flash. Most indoor arenas don’t allow it because it
can distract the athletes. Rather, take advantage of the arena lights, which can provide adequate lighting if you use fast film.
When photographing skiers or skaters, you may want to convey a sense of motion in your photos. NYI Dean Chuck DeLaney suggests that you use a slow
shutter speed, say 1/30th, and follow the subject in your viewfinder as he
skates past, keep him there as you shoot, and keep following him after you shoot. “You want a smooth motion, like a tennis player swinging and following through with the ball.” When photographing skiers, timing means
everything. If your camera does not offer auto-focusing, use “zone focusing” that is, estimate your distance to the point where you expect
the action to be, pre-set your camera for this distance, and then don’t adjust it when you shoot each picture. This works
especially well if you are using a small aperture, f/8 or smaller, which will increase your depth
Don’t rely on a point-and-shoot camera to capture a gyrating skater at the
height of a leap. It won’t. All point-and-shoots delay a bit, some up to
a second between the time you press the shutter button and the time the picture is taken. To get a good action shot, use an SLR in Manual Mode.
When photographing a hockey game, watch out for reflections in the glass panel separating you from the action. If you use an autofucus camera, make
sure it’s focusing on the action, not on the glass.
Finally, don’t forget to look for reactions shots too. Yes, the action on
the field during the battle may be intense. But many a great picture of tragedy or triumph occurs after play is over or on the faces of the
fans. You’ll find similar reaction shots after a spectacular ski jump or
ice skating performance.
You’ll find complete tips on How to Photograph Olympic Sports, including
skiing, hockey, ice skating, and other winter events at www.nyip.com.
In addition, visitors to
their site will find tips on how to photograph skiers and snowboarders, by visiting
2001.html, and Cold Weather Photography http://www.nyip.com/tips/topic_coldtemps01.html.
# # #
Nick Anis is a food, wine, and travel
and technology writer with over 24 books in print published by
McGraw-Hill, Random House, Bantam, Ziff-Davis, Tab, and others. Nick's
articles have appeared in The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, West Coast
Media, The Family Publications Group, The Weekly News, and Travel-Watch.
His beats include food, travel, snow and waters sports, entertainment,
family recreation, consumer electronics, home improvement, and automotive.
He is responsible for the Restaurant Row Ethnic Dining Guide, co-published
by the Long Beach Press Telegram. Nick is an
accomplished downhill skier, PADI certified SCUBA diver, and when he's not
sitting on his butt goofing off, enjoys a variety of active recreation
including tennis, riding motorcycles, ATVs, wave runners, snow machines,
horses, skeet and trap shooting he's also taken a stab at riding camels,
donkeys, elephants, ostriches, lamas, dolphins, Reindeer, bulls,
mechanical bulls, and buffalo. Nick is a member (A
Secretary/Treasurer) of the International Food, Wine, and Travel Writers
Association (IFWTWA), a member of the North American Snow Sports
Journalist Association (NASJA), Computer Press Association, The Writer's
Guild, and listed in Books in Print, Media Map, and Press Access.
You can reach Nick at Editor@Travel-Watch.com.
Portions of this article were reprinted with permission from the New
York Institute of Photography Web site at www.nyip.com.