Archive for August, 2012

We always rely on the kindness of our friends, and they always come through. For the Olympics, they came from Portugal, Britain, India, Germany, South Africa, France, Italy, Sweden, Canada, Norway, Belgium, Japan, Australia, and China with good will and amazing resources. Laura and I are very well equipped both gear and experience wise to deal with pretty much any situation, but at an event as intense as the Olympic Games, there is always room for more help. Just a few examples. Our cameras on the roof, Nikon D4s, needed to be powered with AC units since we left them on continuously for days. When we went to install them, we realized, much to our chagrin, that there were no units to be found. Like cards, card readers and power leads, these disappeared quickly when left unattended. I sent a mayday email to several of the NPS folks. Bill Pekela, NPS USA, answered quickly and managed to track some down, and they were available for us at Fixation, the camera store inside the Main Press Center, by the next morning. Peter Brodin, NPS Nordics, sent an email an hour later. No problem he said. He found some in Stockholm and had them delivered to my hotel room in London by 11 p.m. Amazing. Between the two fixes, we had power for all our high angle cameras. Nikon and Canon were in place at the Main Press Center loaning massive amounts of equipment and doing fast repairs. Their generosity and commitment were extremely impressive. The folks at Nikon made our lives so much easier with their fast responses and kindness -- after three weeks in the dust and dirt of the Olympics and the streets of London, my gear left London as clean as clean can be. Pocket Wizard also sent a team to London to work with photographers. Lorenzo Gasperini and Patrick Clow were a huge help. They loaned gear, helped program units, gave mini seminars and pretty much made sure everyone was up and running. The new software allowed my wizards to work from the bottom of the Olympic Stadium and across the breadth of the facility. Bob Martin, Director of Photographic Operations at the Olympics, my longtime friend and a former staff photographer at SI, had things sorted out. He did an incredible job making sure things were as absolutely good as they could possibly be for all of us. The entire photo corps owes him a huge thanks, it was a herculean effort. The Photo Marshalls at the Olympic stadium have my enduring respect and friendship. Craig Dutton, a terrific shooter in his own right, climbed to the top of the stadium with us, at least daily, sometimes twice a day. He made a tough part of the job fun. Venue photo manager Tony Waymouth provided calm leadership. He made sure everything worked smoothly, not an easy task with so many photographers each with their individual needs and considerations. He did it with a smile and great patience. Last but not least, Raquel Cavaco Nunes stepped away from her law practice to run the infield -- a tough job that she did with grace and ease. Our kind friends really made London successful.

The best part of the Olympics for me, selfishly, is being around my friends. It's a joy and an education. My main gig at the Games is the head on the moat at Track and Field. There's a core group of folks in the pit with me, all of whom I have know and worked alongside for years, coming from around the world.

Finish line photographers (L-R): Michael Steele/Getty Images, Lucy Nicholson/Reuters, John Mabanglo/EPA, Pascal Rondeau/L'Equipe, Anja Niedringhaus/Associated Press, Bill Frakes/Sports Illustrated, and Olivier Morin/AFP, Robert Deutsch/USA Today

Anja Neidringhaus, AP based in Geneva, is a Pulitzer Prize winning, Harvard educated laugh machine. Her new book WAR is brilliant -- and yes, I bought four copies of it on a recent trip to Dussledorf. If you love photojournalism, as I do, I suggest you get a copy. Sports and war. Interesting way to make a living. Pascal Rondou, LeEquippe, requires I mention that he is very good looking every time I write about him. Another very funny, good humored person. And of course, since he is French, often the target of our barbs. We have worked together many times through the years, and it has always been a pleasure. The last night in the moat, he looked at me with a sad smile, extended his hand and said, you know "Bill this is the last finish line we will do together." Bittersweet. Olivier Marin, AFP, is now based in Milan -- which is clear from the fashionable way he comports himself, always with the three day stubble on his face, with a cleanly shaven head -- has a home on a Finnish Island. I adore him, I wish he was my next door neighbor. The Getty guys move in and out. They take turns doing the head on. The Brits, Michael Steele and Stu -- I don't get to see them often, once a year, but it always feels like it was just last week and the conversations pickup right where they left. We share dozens of friends around the world, and it's always great to catch up. Streeter comes straight from the American South. His calm drawl and healthy laugh took me home when I needed it. Alexander Hassenstein -- German who I have known since his first Olympics at 21 year in Barcelona. He named his daughter after mine -- Havana. The newcomer in the pit is British, Lucy Nicholson from Reuter. Based in California, she is a bundle of energy, always with a smile, always in motion. We had fun. EPA's John M is an American which is of course confusing because he works for the European Press Agency. He's based in LA, and we don't see him nearly enough. The US is big country and with so many talented SI photographers based in Southern California, so I don't get there much. Bob Deutsch from USA Today is always quick to help everyone, and  he is even older than me. His sarcastic wit and generosity keep me smiling. When of course, I am not laughing at Anja and Oliver. A typical exchange from right before the men's 100 meter final. As you read this remember these are career defining moments for all of us. To complicate things, we are all shooting tethered -- which means your images flow straight into a computer and to the world. Plus, we are all running multiple remote cameras which are placed in tight confines to increase the angles and images we can each produce. Many things are going on, lots to concentrate on, and not much time to do it.

Anja: "Who do you think will win this race? Bolt?" Me: "Gatlin or Blake." Anja: "Why?" Me: "Because they are faster." Anja: "Okay. Makes sense." Ten seconds later. Anja: "You were wrong, and I really don't like Blake's hairstyle." Big laughter. Quick glances. Great feeling of comraderie. Meanwhile, the images are streaming to screens around the world. During the Games, Laura and I put together a short piece on the working atmosphere from the moat. It is on SI.com now.

Nikon has a new 800 f5.6, and I was lucky enough to get to play with it for the last two weeks at the Olympics. The lens is incredibly sharp, relatively lightweight, and something else I will need to purchase. Soon... The equipment doesn't make the images, I do. But it does allow me to expand the possibilities.

While the rest of the planet called to the Games of the XXX Olympiad the Social Media Games, the photographers charged with delivering a record number of images at unbelievable speeds to the world's viewers referred to them as the Technology Games. Laura and I put together a short audio slideshow looking back at the work we did at the Olympic Stadium and giving a short explanation of how we did if for SI.com and SI's Live from London App. It can also be viewed on the digital edition of Sports Illustrated on the iPad. Check out the slide show now at SI.com. Looking back at London and ahead to Rio, SI Senior Writer Alex Wolff narrated another piece "Reflecting on the London Games," which is now on SI.com.

The Man has left the building. Said goodbye to Heinz Kluetmeier last night. HK made all of this possible for me. He brought me to Sports Illustrated and taught me so much of what I do. My first finish line for SI, he walked with me to the stadium making small talk. When I started setting up my cameras, he could tell I was really nervous and a little flustered by the commotion and swarming international press corps. He put his hand on my shoulder and gave me some encouragement. "You will be great at this," he said. "It is no different than what you do every day. Don't let the scene and the noise bother you. Concentrate on your work, remember what we've talked about, focus yourself, and everyone will get out of your way and this will be your home for a long long time." Heinz and Jeff Kavanaugh, his great assistant and a good friend to all of us, are out the door for the States this morning. The getaway is key --Heinz taught us all that lesson very well. Kluet ruled the pool, as always. He was the first one to put a camera in a pool at the Olympics. I was with him in Barcelona doing that initial install, but that's a story for another time... and he still does it best. So much to aspire to.

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