Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Olympics, the human spirit and some memorable moments captured!!!

Every Four years we have an amazing congregation of athletes from around the world. They compete against each other representing their country. All those who make it to the medal round are elite, representing a small minuscule percentage of the population of the Earth. They are individuals who were given natural gifts and had an opportunity to maximise it and they did. The medal rounds represents their effort, perseverance and mental fortitude to fulfil their potential.

Though these are the very best of the best there are accompanied by another set of elite human beings. The photographers who capture these breath taking moments with their camera and send it across the world. These photographers are masters of their craft. To put it in perspective they have sometimes have a few moments to make a photo and send it over the inter-webs!!! Most of them shoot jpeg not raw (Sheer volume of data is mind numbingly high to shoot raw). If you shoot raw you are out of space and perhaps miss a moment! To get it right they have to shoot manual everything - ISO, shutter, aperture and white balance. (Most of them either shooting custom white balance for each location or sometimes between shoots fix white balance in post processing as a batch fix)

Here are some of the many memorable moments from the Olympics and a brief breakdown of what I see.

The above image is PV Sindhu making a shot of-course. But take a look in terms of composition -having both the athlete in the top thirds and the shuttle in the bottom third all while managing a ultra-telephoto lens shooting from way above and thinking about the depth of field (long lenses tend to have less depth of field) If the aperture is really small the whole photo is not in focus then having to balance a really fast shutter with high ISO speed to freeze motion.

The photo above the Russian team competes with ribbon rotation - This may look like a simple shot but this perfect circle with the dancers jumping backward happened only once during entire routine. Yes that's right, only once! Add to that if the frame is off just a bit this image is not possible. The dancers moved all over the floor. In this case the photographer had to have kept in mind the lens choice, beforehand apart from the all of the above discussed level of difficulty. (I am shaking my head in dis-belief one shot)

How about this photo of Marcel Nguyen flying off horizontal bar to finish off his routine. he forms a perfect diagonal line and his head is on the thirds line!!!! The focus dead on. Fast glass pre-visualisation and being ready when the moment arises. All this with all the difficulty explained above.

Capturing "the moment" is as an art and requires the same level of dedication that athlete put in their field. The athlete focus for months and sometimes for years on this single goal. It's a once in a life time opportunity for many of them. Same is true for the photographers. They have years of experience behind them, many missed moments in games, many failed attempts at capturing a photo, working through different lens combinations and understanding use of multiple cameras and multiple flashes.

The athletes concentrate, keep their emotions in check, fight though pain, sacrifice family time and many of the things normal people take for granted. Then with each passing day as they get closer to the goal, dealing with the next opponent, the media, family and not to mention the host of distractions. They channel all this energy for the next game, the next opponent, the next event and then... finally the moment arises, - the final victory - It's theirs!. At that moment we see this burst of emotions. Emotions which cannot be recreated, a spontaneous release of all that pent up energy, hard-work and dedication released, all in that one one single moment. For the photographer it's the same, years of practice, experience of situations and knowing their gear along like their second skin. Add to this they need to have knowledge of the game, the players involved and their tendencies - how they celebrate and how they in defeat. The perfect moment captured is a summation of all this. 

While the athlete exhales and celebrates the photographers captures the moment. The moment will be gone but the photo with emotion will live on for all of us to see. All I would like to say is to the Olympic photographers out there a big salute!

All the photos below and many others encapsulate these emotions.  Read on to know my favourite photo

Before we get my favourite photo check out the many behind the scenes of what goes into creating these amazing photos. Most photographers have at least two cameras

Now for my favourite photo of the entire tournament. The photo is of Usain Bolt running ahead of the entire pack and looking back and cheekily smiling as he crosses the line. What is amazing is that the photographer was looking to make a panning shot and not only did he nail it he got an amazing photo of Usain looking back. Enjoy the photo and check out the full interview of Cameron Spencer, on how he made the photo. 

If you saw something else in these photos or found a beautiful photo from Rio which caught your eye share in the comments below.