Monday, September 01, 2008

Beijing Olympics: Day 12-Closing

Yeah yeah yeah, I know this is over a week overdue... I will be honest... things got really busy, and because I'm not being paid to do a blog like many newspaper photographers are, I chose sleep over updating this page. And then I went on vacation where I had extremely limited access. But for the sake of closure, here is what happened from Day 12 to the Closing Ceremonies....

So as the Olympics begin winding down, obviously, almost every day of competition is a medal game or a medal round. And with USA doing so well in so many sports, we spent our last few days frantically traveling around from venue to venue, trying to cover as many of our athletes as possible.

My schedule worked out so that I shot the two gold medal beach volley ball matches. When you think about it, it's kind of silly that beach volleyball is played in Beijing. For one thing, there is not really any large body of water (that I know of) in Beijing, and therefore, no beaches. So the Chaoyang Beach Volleyball Ground is pretty much a big pit of sand in the middle of the city that happens to have bleachers and press tribunes surrounding it.

Anyways, back to the actual sport... the first gold medal game feautred beach volleyball legends Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor against a Chinese pair. Walsh and May-Traenor carry some ridiculous winning streak (it's over 100 international matches), so obviously they were going to win. I quickly realized that this was a venue that would not have very good backgrounds. Too many speakers, cameras, and tents from ground level, and therefore the best images as far as clean action goes, would be from up top. Nothing overly special, but I think these two at least illustrate how the match was going for Walsh and May-Treanor.

Although the action from up top was decent, I made the decision that I would go back down to "beach" level and shoot their reaction after they won the match, crappy backdrop be damned. I felt that the reaction photos would be nicer from down low, because I could get closer to them and get a tighter frame. Another reason why I came downstairs was because of the venue's set up. There are only photo positions in the stands on one side of the venue, so if the winners won on the "far" side from me, their entire celebration would get blocked and ruined by the net (as you can see from the above photos, it would not look so pretty to see people celebrating BEHIND a net). Well, they made that nice react, but in my opinion, the background completely ruins it for me.

I think a nicer frame was this one of Walsh, after winning some random point late in the match as the rain is falling all around her.

Another one I liked was one of the pair on the medal stand listening to the national anthem as the silver and bronze medal Chinese pairs look oh so sad!

The next day, I was back out to Chaoyang to shoot the men's beach volleyball gold medal match. What a much nicer day. After yesterday's crappy background jubilation shot, I decided I would do the exact opposite strategy from the previous day... and that was start down low, and then move up higher in the match-clinching sets to shoot some action and react.

I was a bit worried about the winning point being on the side opposite from me, and therefore the net would become a problem, but that ended up being a moot point, because the USA team of Todd Rogers and Phil Dalhausser clinched the match on the side closest to me from up high. It made a nice frame, as both Americans jumped in the air and the two Brazilians started walking off of the court.

Are these guys happy that they won silver, or that they lost gold? No really, I have no idea!

Also going on the same day that the beach volleyball golds were going on was women's soccer and also softball (and also water polo I think). I was kind of bummed I did not get to cover them, and was instead sent out to do synchronized swimming (one of our contract sports, so we had to go), and also taekwondo. I told myself when going to my venues, I should just feel lucky to be here. Besides, I got to photograph Michael Phelps history, so anything else is just gravy.

Well, I guess I should have an open mind, because synchro was pretty neat (and also extremely easy to photograph... just go up higher and wait for cool patterns to develop).

Taekwondo was just as neat. It's just people trying to punch and kick each other in the head. I mean, how can you go wrong? So obviously, the point of taekwondo was to score more points than the opponent, but I could not understand the scoring system (people would fall down and sometimes they would be given a point, sometimes they would lose a point, or there would be no change in points). In any case, it made for nice action, and also some great jube.

The last two major medal events I covered was the two basketball gold-medal games. Both of course, featured heavily favored USA teams. The women came into their game and dominated Australia. The problem with these dominating victories, is that they don't really give great reaction photos... and the best I had to show for this victory was of some of the players jumping up and down on the bench right after the final buzzer sounded.

My last sports assignment in Beijing was the men's gold medal basketball game. Basketball has become so international these days, as the NBA has been extremely successful in creating markets outside of the USA. Therefore, media coverage for this game was expected to be crazy. In order to guarantee a spot on the floor to photograph this game, I arrived for this game at around 10am for a 2pm start. The bronze medal game was actually scheduled ahead of it at noon, so I mean, I'm sitting in the seat.... I might as well shoot something, right?

Surprisingly, the men's gold medal against Spain was a close one. Like the women, every game has been a laugher of a blow out. However, Spain played a really aggressive, physical game against the Americans, and there were tons of diving around for loose balls and hard contact with and away from the ball.

In the end, the latest edition of the Dream Team pulled away, and celebrated their gold.

Not a bad way to finish off my first Olympic Games. It has only been a week or so since the games are wrapped... but I miss Beijing and the Olympics already. Wo Ai Beijing!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow , jerry , you were actually photographing for the Olympics .. Amazing .. -bobby-

9:04 PM  

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