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The Olympics of Photography

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Shaun White by Cameron Spencer - Getty ImagesNOTE: This is a replay of a blog I wrote in 2014 relating to photography at the Sochi Olympics, and I expect that the technology and processes in place to bring real-time imagry from Rio will be even more impressive.


Enjoy the Games!



I do love the Olympics!  If you think that the athletes are the best in the world, read the linked articles about what it takes to record the Winter Games.

The Gizomodo article - The Inside Story of How Olympic Photographers Get Such Stunning Images - tells the incredible tale of how Getty Images and the AP can publish quality images to the world less than three minutes after they are taken on the snowy slopes of Sochi.  Tens of thousands of dollars of the newest cameras and lenses, many miles of LAN cable, and dedicated 100Mbit WAN links bring us near-real time stills that tell the story that video alone can't provide.

We are visual creatures - 70% of our brain goes to processing images.  Not only are pictures worth a thousand words, but they can tell us those 1,000 words in a fraction of a second.  Shaun White's Olympic dreams ended in a fraction of a second when he missed his landing by a few inches.  As the story's author Ario Aguilar describes it -

"White's board, looking like it might snap in half. The American flag bandana startled out of place. White's mouth agape at the shock from the impact. This is what it looks like when you fail to defend your gold medal."

The article is a must-read.

Below is another article about photography at Sochi that tell you how the digital world has shrunk the clock for sports photographers, and there is a link to some beautiful Sochi images.




In his current blog entry Jeff Cable Describes What it Takes to Keep Up with Insane Sochi Photo Deadlines, long-time Olympic photographer Jeff Cable writes about how still photography at the Hockey venue becomes a race against the clock. As he describes it -

"Wow - how things have changed in just a few years! As you all probably guessed, all of us Olympic photographers have short deadlines. When I first shot the Olympics, my contract allowed me 12 hours to go through the photos and get them back to the team. When I photographed the Summer Olympics in London, my deadline was shortened to 2 hours. That means that I would have to go through thousands of photos, pick the best, edit them and submit them to the team within a couple of hours.

Now, with the ever increasing immediacy of the Internet age, They want me posting images at each break. So that means that, when the buzzer sounds at the end of the first period of hockey, I have 14 minutes to download my photos (I shoot full RAW), go through them, edit, resize them and upload to Team USA. And I need to do this so that I am ready to start shooting again at the start of the next period. No pressure!"  

Find out how he pushes the ever-shrinking deadline.

The large portion of my photography business is real-estate - homes, apartment complexes, and commercial properties. Jeff Cable's 14 minute turn-arounds (see below) are not in my budget, nor my client's expectations, yet.

How about a live webcast of a wedding to relatives thousands of miles away? How about producing a Matrix-like walk-around of a new product, or an arial view of a home taken by a drone helicopter that shows not only the home but its setting in compelling ways?


And, just for fun, take a look at these images captured in Sochi these last two weeks - http://www.theatlantic.com/infocus/2014/02/2014-sochi-winter-olympics-part-i/100678/.

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Scott is co-owner of Wave's End Services, LLC, a Colorado-based provider of Web, IT Consulting, photography, video, and training services.