Vancouver Olympics, day 19: Bronze medals and multimedia hiccups

Anja in probably her last start in the olympics ever

I’m ready to go home – I guess we all are.  Three more days. I’m wet, I’m tired… Presently shooting women’s slalom in real low visibility, due to heavy snowfall. Even if you expose correctly,  set the whitepoint and then push the black all the way to the 100 in ARC, you still use about  one third of the dynamic range only. So not great, far from it.

Takes quite a lot of Photoshop skills to get them even remotely resemble anything usually referred to as an “ok” sports image…

My not-so-official olympic hat

I am happy I got my “olympic hat” one of the first days I was here. It looks real ridiculous with goggles on but it just totally  works. And sold out in the local sports stores. And I have to add looking at that picture:  I have not put on any weight, it is just that I store all the equipment under my jacket.

Finland has been doing real bad in these games. The worst ever, I think. Yesterday we got something though, as women got a bronze in icehockey and in 4x5km relay as well. I was shooting the latter (images in the gallery). Decided to shoot the whole thing in panning – but I have a hunch they did not appreciate that in the Helsinki end.

Aino-Kaisa Saarinen in 4x5km relay - 1/30th of a sec. on 400mm

But one has to try out something, otherwise I just shoot the same boring images day after day.

Click image to see the multimedia

I decided to do a panoramic piece on the prize giving ceremony in the evening. I was a bit nervous, as I had not been there before, I had no idea how the light would be, what I would be allowed to do etc. But it worked out alright in the end. Click here or on the image to see it. I also included it into the series of panos I have been doing from here earlier. Took me a while to build up (like maybe three hours) but I think it was worth the effort.

And then I almost flipped: the server where all the multimedia I have created for all the ALMAMEDIA papers  from these games  went down. Called their support – and no answer. Just what you need after 18 hours of working. So I thought there was some total catastrophy in Helsinki and they were too busy to even answer the phone… But, turned out that it was just some unexplained hiccup – eventually the support answered and it actually never went down, I just couldn’t see the server from here. But my heart did couple of extra laps around my neck…

Talking of ALMAMEDIA, I was so happy to notice that some of their small – should I say tiny – local papers (Satakunnankansa and Lapinkansa) were using the multimedias I had created just as I had thought they should be used. But due to their very limited  resources, it is a shame that they cannot keep up with the updating.

I mentioned sometime earlier that I always get curious when I notice some unusual traffic into my site. Two days ago I noticed that an article Tom Gralish had  posted was generating high traffic – from Philadelphia. Philly?

Turned out that he had listed some 18 blogs worth following from the Olympics. Agencies and staffers – nine freelancers – only one european. Yes, you guessed right.

Ok, big deal, what is he fussing about? But IT IS A BIG DEAL and means a world to me: Tom Gralish is Pulizer-winning photojournalist, excellent photographer and very highly respected. To be listed on the same page with Getty, AP and lots of the big names –  including my all time favorite Donald Miralle.  First time ever I make it to the same page with him – and probably also the last and only time ever… ;-)

But: the second round of women’s slalom is about to start and Tanja Poutiainen is 6th presently. So back down to the earth and out into the rain. Three more days, three more days…

2 Comments

  1. Laurizio
    March 3, 2010

    “Decided to shoot the whole thing in panning – but I have a hunch they did not appreciate that in the Helsinki end.

    But one has to try out something, otherwise I just shoot the same boring images day after day.”

    This comment of yours I didn’t quite understand. Am I wrong if I make the conclusion, that you have to make a choice between panning and dull pictures?

    How come using the same method of photography throughout the competition and producing similar images of different competitors prevents you taking boring pictures?

    Reply
    • kkuukka
      March 4, 2010

      Ciao Laurizio –

      thank you for commenting. Now it was my turn not to be sure if I understand… but I hope I did; i.e you were really asking a question and not being sarcastic… ;-)

      What I mean is: one shoots the same sport, in this case X-country for two weeks. Pretty soon you have done the “default” pictures (tight crop of the skier coming towards you, the last twenty meters, using a long lens fully open to achieve a blurred background, using a wide angle through some branches to get some depth, etc). Basically, there is basic set of different “tricks” or approaches you can do to shoot a particular sport. Variables you can vary: speed, aperture, focal lenght, angle, crop, etc. Your basic photographic variables. Think about ski jumping – it is actually very limited what you can do…

      Doing the obvious, say for instance the head-on finish images day after day gets very boring – to do and to view on the page. In ski jumping doing your basic flying images day after day. Imagine my case, where there is only a handful of atheletes I am supposed to shoot (the finns). Even the people in the images start to repeat themselves.

      You try to vary your approach every day, if possible, do something you did not do yesterday. And this is what I meant that I decided to do panning. Yes, in a way, it is “a trick”, an approach among others, but I had not really used it earlier. So, what I did is turn the speed down to 1/30th or something, stopped down to 32 on a 400mm, set the stabilizer to affect only vertical movement and try to follow the subject as consistently as possible. Hoping that the subject would have a sharp face but show nice movement in the arms and legs; hope, that you’d achieve nice beautiful backgrounds…

      Everytime you try to do something a bit more artistic, you run a chance of a total failure. In this case, I might have ended with totally blurry pictures, nothing to send home … (and remember, they do pay you to deliver images…).

      If I remember correctly, it was 4x5km relay – and I did indeed manage to get a decent sharp/blurry -combination pan of each of the 4 finnish athletes.

      What I also achieved was a surprised question from the desk back home: “Is this all you are sending?” Yes, I had your basic jubileum shots on the finnish, posing with the flowers etc., but I did not have the basic “sharp” skiing shots.

      I have sometimes thought that the difference between a seasoned professional and a newbie lies exactly in this: how much do you dare to try something “different”, more “artistic” – and get away with it…? Not have your boss saying: “hey, this is blurry, out of focus – do this one more time and we won’t ever send you to the games again” but have him say instead: “hey, this is nice; a bit blurry but definitely different – let’s run this big”.
      I have done this long enough that I know I have to strive for this second option. Even if it sometimes means that the cover picture has “Getty” of “AP” in the byline – as the person doing the layout did not appreciate your effort to be different.

      This was a lengthy answer… but you actually touched something very important.

      regards,

      k

      Reply

Leave a Reply