How Frustrating!

This Week So Far – How Frustrating!

In a departure from blogging about sporting events, I feel the need to get something on paper or screen about my experience working as a press photographer this week.

After enjoying the half-term holidays bumbling around the beaches in Pembrokeshire, Wales with my wife and kids, my first day back “in the office” was going to be OK. An early morning drive around the M25 motorway to the training complex of Arsenal football team to preview their upcoming Champions league match. It’s an easy assignment, apart from the 100-mile round trip. It consists of being chaperoned to the training pitches ahead of the players. Once Arsene Wenger and his team arrive on the pristine grass the clock is ticking. Fifteen minutes watching and shooting players stretching, doing keepy-uppies and several hundred frames later we’re ushered away just as the “proper” training begins. I used to get frustrated with the lack of opportunity to make a nice picture, now most of my middle-age colleagues and me look at it as an easy day. After an hour of editing while sipping a skinny latte mocha chino I’ve sent all there is to send. I managed 14 frames, but it didn’t help the pitch was completely backlit from our position and the field was shrouded in a mist. How frustrating!

However, Tuesday (1st November) wasn’t going to be an early finish. I had been assigned to cover the state visit of the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos. I got into London mid-morning “suited and booted” in preparation of a three-part assignment. The first part I correctly predicted wasn’t too exciting. I needed to take a position on The Mall to photograph the cars and carriages pass by containing The Queen and the Nobel Peace Prize winning President. I was there partly to cover the event, just in case the wheels come off or a protester steps into the road. But I was also there to justify my 8-hour shift. As you might already guess, nothing out of the ordinary happened and I didn’t make a very good picture of the procession as it passed. How frustrating!

The next part of my assignment and the reason for dusting off my threads, consisted of being the rota photographer (my pictures are shared amongst several picture agencies) in the Palace of Westminster – Houses of Parliament to photograph President Santos giving a speech to various distinguished guests including a former Prime Minister, Lords and Baronesses. I had several hours to kill before my report time, so I wandered through St. James’ Park feeling like I needed to find a picture even if it was just to prove to the picture editors I was actually doing something.

I found a “pretty” picture of the trees and their multi-coloured leaves. Using a long lens, while standing on a small mound I waited for a jogger to run up a path crossing through my landscape. Typically, there were a few people “getting a sweat on” elsewhere but not where I wanted them. Eventually, I settled for a couple of policemen walking their beat on the right path as I watched through my viewfinder. Once I shot that I couldn’t stand around anymore and I moved on to another position where I’d shot a similar frame a few years before.

As expected, there were plenty of joggers where I needed them and I had a half-decent picture within a few minutes. While photographing various flouro-clad office workers doing their lunchtime exercise, I noticed a woman and small child playing and running through the trees. Crouched on one knee in the dirt (wearing my suit) I shot a sequence of pictures of them playing and enjoying themselves. I was pleased – it made a nice frame and one worth sending to those editors back at base sipping their builder’s tea. When the woman and her daughter drew level she noticed as I continued to photograph other runners. She approached me, and asked/ordered me to delete the pictures of her and kid. At this point I said I was happy not to use them if she felt offended. If she had taken a different approach, I would have been happy to send her a photo out of courtesy. How frustrating!

However, she didn’t leave it. She wanted me to delete all of my pictures while she watched. When I refused, she ran to get two passing police officers; two young constables asking what I was doing were now questioning me. However, I must say they were very reasonable although I still had to produce my press card and give them personal details that were noted as the woman looked on smugly. At this point, she had started to allude I was there to photograph children and I could potentially be a paedophile. I told her and the policemen I was there photographing the autumn colours in a public place. I hadn’t done anything wrong and I’m simply doing my job. But what has it come to when a photographer, whether they’re professional or an amateur, can be made to feel they have done something wrong or accused of being a sexual predator for simply taking a picture of a kid in a park. How frustrating! And now I was getting cross.

Despite the police officers telling the woman I was within my rights and they couldn’t force me to delete my photos, she started taking pictures of me with her phone demanding I give her my name – all this while leaving her daughter unattended 30-yards away. Eventually the police officers ran out of patience and told me to walk away while they listened to her complaints. I carried on ambling through the park and discovered a couple, this time adults, kissing while sitting under a canopy of leaves. I shot a few frames, still feeling uneasy that I was “spying” on people. Luckily for me, they never noticed me as I shot several different angles and compositions as they smooched. I actually quite liked the frame and I know how my French employers like a good kiss picture!

Off to another coffee shop to edit and sup yet another mocha-latte or whatever takes my fancy. The boom in London coffee shops has to be somehow related to press photographers in between jobs.While editing I thought, why should I delete the picture of the psychotic woman, so I sent a frame along with the snoggers to the editor who validated the picture to our clients worldwide.

I then made my way back to the Houses of Parliament for my official duties. Ushered to the very dark and ornate Robing Room I listened to the eloquent Colombian President address his audience as I shot pictures on extremely high ISO’s quietly from the side.

Now, twilight outside I couldn’t face another coffee and opted to pass the time in a noodle restaurant before making my way from one palace to another – Buckingham Palace being my third and final assignment. Once through security, greeted by a press officer, who immediately noted: I wasn’t wearing the “right” kind of shirt. I was led through corridors and stairways – behind the scenes, and entered front of house past the Yeoman of the Guard standing to attention with their pikes. Once in position in the music room alongside state banquet guests in all their finery the minutes ebbed past. Until the splendid mirrored doors opposite me opened and Her Majesty and the President entered the room and posed for me. A minute or two elapsed and I had 25 frames written to a CF card before I was politely told my “opportunity” was over. This time it wasn’t going to be a long edit while drinking coffee. I managed two suitable decent frames. Oh well, how frustrating!


The Hydrogarden Weston Beach Race 2016

The Hydrogarden Weston Beach Race 2016

I’m still finding sand in hard to reach places! After some treatment from a stiff brush and a rub down with baby wipes……. my cameras are once again clean.

The sand comes courtesy from the beach at Weston-super-Mare via the back wheel of a motorcycle. I re-visited one of my favourite photo assignments, The Weston Beach Race last weekend. The 3-hour endurance race is predominantly for moto-cross bikes, plus a few gluttons for punishment piloting Paris Dakar style enduro bikes, quads and heaven forbid…. sidecars!



weston-45762The track takes 10 days to mould and construct on the beach courtesy of massive earth-moving bulldozers and diggers. It consists of a long straight smoothed by the previous nights’ high tide followed by a series of jumps, bumps and house-sized dunes. Once the riders “scream” their machines off the start line and along the flat part of the track they turn away from the Bristol Channel and plough their way up and over the man-made dunes. Thirty-seven dunes to be precise which then completes a lap. Whoever completes the most laps during the 3 hours wins the race.


In the run-up to the race this year, I’d been looking at the weather forecast. This time the sun was going to be in attendance – roll out the flags! I’ve covered the race three times before, once in sunshine and twice in the rain. It’s much more of a pleasure with a little bit of nice light!


I would imagine, much like the riders, there’s a bit of pleasure and a lot of pain involved if it’s raining. Working in persistent precipitation is thoroughly horrible! With my cameras covered and tightly wrapped to protect them from the flying sand. Adding water just makes the sand stick wherever it’s splattered. However, everything is just more difficult working with your gear covered. It’s hard to adjust exposure settings, to review the picture you’ve just shot or nigh on impossible to change a lens. With this in mind, I equip myself with three Canon EOS 1 D-X cameras each with a different focal length lens. In this case a 16-35mm wide-angle, a medium telephoto 70-200mm and a 300mm long lens. From the outset all my toys are hanging from my neck and either shoulder. Put anything down during the race at your peril. Drop anything and it’ll be swallowed in the sand. Unfortunately for friend and fellow photographer Andy Matthews found out the hard way when his MiFi dropped out of his pocket while we were clambering around one of the biggest dunes during the first lap mayhem. Perhaps it’ll be discovered by a Time Team enthusiast in years to come.


Arriving a day early gave me plenty of time to pick up my credentials, learn where everything is and walk the course in anticipation of the main race on Sunday. In the past I’ve clambered my way to the top of the first or second dune in anticipation for riders getting stuck midway. Unlike previous years, the opening sequence of dunes appeared smaller, only a mere 3 metres high. This time, the dunes got bigger and bigger as the course went on. Probably not so good for pictures but better for the riders to naturally spread out on the opening lap according to their ability rather than getting caught in a mass traffic jam at the foot of a monster dune. Realizing this, I decided to concentrate shooting the riders “tear” down the beach at the start. Some of them perched on the rear mudguards of their bikes letting their front wheels skip over the bumps, other waving and attempting wheelies as they pass thousands of spectators.


Some brave riders hit triple figures on their speedos – if they had them. Former motocross world champion Dave Thorpe riding a road-going Honda Africa Twin said he hit 130mph during a practice session. The 54-year-old veteran managed four laps on his 1000cc behemoth while current M-X rider Stephen Sword did nine laps on his “stock” machine.



The races start at Weston by corralling hundreds of riders behind fences. They can only stare through the fence trying to spot their machine parked in rows handlebar to handlebar in the paddock. Once the starter is ready, the gates are unlocked and competitors run to their bikes. During the next few minutes of pandemonium the fastest runner/riders start their bikes and jostle their way through the paddock to a quad-riding marshal. They follow him and ease their way through to the official start line on the beach. Minutes later a cumulative roar of motorbikes are heard as they blast down the seashore in a cacophony of sound. Racers spinning their back wheels in the soft sand trying for the whole shot for the lead. It’s pretty incredible!



This time I took a carefully considered position on the beach shooting as “head-on” as possible as hundreds of bikes streamed past flat out. The pier and town making up a nice backdrop. Once the bulk of riders passed, I hurdled a barrier or two, clambering my way to the top of a big dune. Each step I took sinking, two or three steps got you a couple a feet up the house-sized dune. Eventually making it to the top “no hands” alongside a couple of hardy marshals before the first bikes arrived. Looking back along the first section of dunes, some riders perched and stuck at the top, others hidden in the dips sending rooster-tails of sand flying into the air. Within a minute or two the leading riders were climbing my dune, a decent run-up and they were down the steep side and away. As the pack approached, one rider got bogged down, his wheel swallowed by the soft rutted sand. Another rider fell, and then another toppled over. Revving engines, the air took on a tint of blue from the oil, sand flying past your face at a serious rate of knots. A slightly perilous place to be, but as famous conflict photographer Robert Capa once said, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” Anyway, mayhem ensued in a good way. But it didn’t last too long – spectators parted a few fences and the riders skirted around the side of the dune and on to the next one.weston-25358


Despite this being my fourth visit to the race I was shouldered with a couple of new experiences. On this occasion, I decided to bring my son, Finn to the race. Now, I recognize I’m lucky to enjoy my job that takes me to a variety of places and events. However, it can sometimes be a lonely existence. There’s only so many times you can tell your mates down the pub about what a great time you had, “Oh yeah, I was at a fantastic event this weekend,” blah blah blah before they slowly glaze over. It’s nice to be able to share the experience. This time around, I’m hoping 11-year-old Finn will be boring his teacher or his mates in the playground about how he went to this amazing motorbike race, stayed in a 3-star hotel and got given free cans of WD40 oil every time he sauntered past a couple of young girls dishing them out to the racers in the pits.

As well as my boy by my side this year, I was also tasked to shoot a video web clip for AFP. Now for those that don’t know me, it’s not really my normal cup of Earl Grey – however I’m actually beginning to like the taste! And as our business model changes in journalism I’m happy to go with the flow.

Although shooting video on long lenses without a tripod can be very tricky. I made do by wedging my camera through gaps in the metal fences lining the course and using the image stabiliser on the lens. But it sure is difficult trying to follow focus motorcycles as they speed toward you!

Admittedly I was slightly anxious about making the video and in the end I made a decision to shoot only video on the adult quad race. Trying to mix your mediums with stills and video at the same time is a very difficult recipe to follow! After the racing it was a brisk walk back to the hotel for a mammoth edit. An hour and a half later I had edited and transmitted my still pictures from the junior races earlier in the day and sent my “rough cut” video to an editor in London for final approval. I needed to work fast; Finn was hankering for dinner and a special treat. Greasy fingers and a bargain bucket courtesy of Colonel Sanders were scheduled – much to his mothers’ disapproval!

Time Management

Right On Time

I’m writing a quick 100-metres style blog before leaving for Brazil to cover the Games of the XXXI Olympiad. I just wish I could do it in 9.58 seconds, Usain Bolt’s record-breaking time in the marquee Olympic event.

In a little over two weeks eight men will be readying themselves on the start line for the sprint final – hearts pumping. However, theirs won’t be the only high pulse rates on the night!

Depending on the AFP master plan, I’ll be looking along the start line or preparing to gamble and pan with the runners using a slow shutter speed as they accelerate along the track. Or I might be nominated to shoot from the most stressful position from beside the clock, the athletes glancing over as they speed through. Hopefully I’ll be focused on the right athlete winning as they dip to cross the finish line. Normally, I watch the big stadium screen as the starter fires his gun to see who gets out the blocks quickly. I keep watching the screen right up to the last couple of seconds when I make a decision and pick who I think is going to win and focus on them. You’ll be surprised how few frames there are to choose from of the actual moment the sprinters cross the finish line – even though our cameras shoot a high speed 14 frames-per-second. I hope there is one good picture in there and perhaps 3-4 frames in the sequence, which tell the story. But I won’t have time to look because I’m off running the bend in pursuit of the winner. The photographers’ race is seriously competitive too!

Last weekend I shot the track and field at The Anniversary Games. And I was very glad I did too! It’s always nice to re-visit The Olympic Park where I was lucky to photograph some amazing athletics during London 2012.

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My job working an athletics infield, apart from hopefully making some nice photographs, really is all about time management. Last week was a good refresher. For the photographers assigned to cover the infield it’s a case of finding a good position, usually on the grass in the centre of the track. We try and shoot all of the competitors to satisfy our clients who are looking for their countrymen and women. It’s a case of working fast before moving on to the next event and starting again. Occasionally the field events finish simultaneously and being in the right place at the right time for the victory celebration can be tricky.

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Meanwhile back at the stadium in Stratford, high-flying Frenchman Renaud Lavillenie was in action in the Men’s pole vault. When the sun shines the event can be great to photograph. Us “artists” lying on our backs pointing our wide-angle lenses into the sky to shoot a silhouette as the jumper clears the bar.

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Funnily enough it was even better on Sunday for the women’s competition when clouds wandered across the gap in the stadium roofline making the picture even more dramatic.

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When the light is good it opens up so many more opportunities for the photographer. I think the British photographers get doubly excited as often we’re shooting in grey flat conditions. When the sun is out we go mad for a silhouette.

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Anyway, Lavillenie is too good, and was almost certainly going to win in London. He typically starts jumping about an hour after some of the other competitors have begun and in some instances have fouled out and are packing up. Because the event was taking so long, it set me back on my stadium schedule and it became a rush to cover the women’s high jump at the other end of the field. Not to forget the races on the track in between.

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In some respect it’s harder covering the Diamond League because the events go back-to-back, there’s no qualifying races to work out the good angles. As soon as the hurdles are laid out, the race run and another discipline begins. Colleague Ben Stansall and I were covering the event in London. He positioned himself head-on to the finish line while I moved about the infield wary of not getting speared by a wayward javelin.


Spain’s Ruth Beitia (L) jumped a season’s best in the Women’s High Jump and Britain’s Laura Muir (R) set a national record to take victory in the Women’s 1500 metres. While Kendra Harrison of the U.S won the Women’s 100 metres hurdles final breaking a world record in the process

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For Rio2016 I’ll be part of a team of seven photographers shooting the athletics. I do have to remind myself that if I miss something I’m sure another AFP photographer has nailed it!

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But it’ll be a pleasure trackside in Brazil, despite the thumping heart and high blood pressure. The showdown between Usain Bolt and Justin Gatlin, perhaps running in their last Olympic games, I’m sure won’t disappoint. The two athletes are already squaring up in the mind games department.

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While British duo Jessica Ennis-Hill and Katarina Johnson-Thompson, nightmare names for the commentators, will go head to head in the Women’s Heptathlon. Briton Mo Farah is in terrific form and potentially can become the greatest long distance runner of all time if he secures another double. If so, my heart will be racing too!

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A Week at Wimbledon

A Week at Wimbledon

It’s week two at Wimbledon and I’m at home listening online to Roger Federer playing Marin Cilic in the Men’s quarterfinal match. I’m working on a photo of the majestic Swiss player, who happens to be fighting back in the third set. We’re trying something a little different with the AFP photo coverage this year. Normally, we’d staff the tournament with four photographers and two editors. However the last couple of months we’ve been stretched to the limits covering news and sport, particularly politics and the EU referendum. Also some staffers are covering the European football Championships in France. I chose to swap the second week at SW19 for Formula 1 racing at Silverstone. The talented Mr. Leon Neal taking my spot beside the net. Last year I covered the whole two weeks of the most famous grass court tournament, 13 days of seeing tennis balls going right to left and left to right. All before driving to Scotland for a week of walking at St. Andrews for The Open golf championship. Man, it nearly broke me! With the Olympic games looming in August we had to be conscious of not wrecking ourselves completely this summer.


Knowing I only had a one-week of tennis, or 8 days including the warm-up day. I approached the tournament differently. I made a conscious decision to stay away from the show courts.


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It’s a double-edge sword working on Centre Court. On the one hand you have the world’s best players. Images of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray along with the Williams sisters filling much of the newspapers’ back pages. On the other hand, you’re limited where you can sit and hence many of the pictures look the same. However I couldn’t avoid the main courts all the time. Eventually it was my turn and I covered 3 games in their entirety, which lasted a little short of 8 hours. And I forgot a cushion!


On Centre Court I sink into my seat, my head virtually at grass level, and sort out my equipment. I typically use 2 Canon EOS 1D-X camera bodies for tennis, although I’ve been kindly loaned a newer version the D-X MKII from my friends at Canon UK. And for the record, I like it! So two cameras and four lenses in my armoury for the day. I do most of my work on a 70-200mm and a 300mm lens which I hand hold for manoeuvrability. I keep a wide-angle zoom 24-70mm lens in my “snazzy” Wimbledon photo vest and keep a 400mm 2.8 and monopod between my feet.

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I wonder sometimes what the first rows of spectators think when a game begins. The player throws the ball to serve; camera shutters chatter a few frames. Each time the player hits a shot more clicks from the sideline seats. The sound of 20 or more cameras firing with every forehand and backhand shot – almost synchronised. It seems like we’re shooting a lot of pictures, but actually getting the ball on the strings of the racquet is actually quite tricky. Despite modern cameras shooting 12 frames per second it really is all about the photographers’ timing and the very first frame of the sequence. Glyn Kirk, AFP’s expert tennis photographer and veteran of 24 Wimbledon tournaments, refers to these as “the old fried egg” picture.

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Once you get your timing right, you then have to factor in whether the photograph is “clean”. Hopefully there’s no object merging into the frame. The line judge’s legs or the edge of the seats provide an unwelcome distraction. On Centre or Court 1 there are a few sweet spots where a player occasionally moves to where the background is “clean” or dark.


Now, if you’re lucky enough to be on court when the sun is shining in the early evening you can have some beautiful light to play with. Using different exposures coupled with those clean backgrounds, you can come up with lovely pictures. Photographers get excited when all these factors come together.

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The opposite applies when it’s dull and cloudy or there’s play when the roof is covering Centre court. The light is flat and “boring”, and you’re working at high ISO’s. But we’re still there shooting.


During the first week the English weather didn’t disappoint. Rained stopped play nearly every day of the first week, keeping the court attendants on their toes. They manage to dismantle the court and cover the playing surface in a matter of minutes. This year the rain caused considerable disruption leading to play on the middle Sunday, only the fourth time in the tournament’s 130-year history.

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And the rain was arguably a factor in the demise of 2015 Champion Novak Djokovic, who lost his 3rd round match to American Sam Querrey. Perhaps one of the greatest shocks in Wimbledon history!

When we saw this story developing, Djokovic was two sets down overnight we decided to double up on our coverage. Glyn shot the game from the pit while I took a position in the “exit box” a small dark room at the corner of the court. This spot isn’t typically good for action but I was anticipating if the reigning champion was beaten then the different perspective might pay dividends. Several rain delays and hours later Sam Querrey won the match 7-6, 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 ending Djokovic’s chance of a calendar Grand Slam. Being one of only three photographers training our lenses on Novak as he walked off the court I had high hopes of seeing my pictures in the newspapers the next day. Unfortunately most of the media went with a picture of Querrey celebrating and some used a photo of Djoko walking across the court shot from high above. Hey ho, you can’t win them all!



Anyway, back to me on my wooden bench trying to get comfortable. I employ a game repertoire, usually starting with my long lenses. Tight shots of players’ faces as they throw the ball to serve. Or simple “bat and ball” pictures hopefully with a fried egg or two! Once we get towards the end of a set, I “go loose” and shoot on a 70-200mm lens to include the player’s feet, hopefully to catch them if and when they dive or stretch for a crucial shot.

In between games I’ll review the pictures on the back of the camera, choosing and transmitting the pictures directly from the camera to an editor working in the media centre. Within a few minutes of making the photograph, the editor will have cropped and captioned the picture and validated [sent] it to our clients. Depending on who’s playing and how good the picture is, the editor has to decide whether to send it to a country or region, or all our clients worldwide. In a typical day we were sending around 300 pictures from the tournament.

At some point in my repertoire I’ll shoot a few wide-angle pictures with potential to crop into a letterbox shape. I feel it adds variety to our production. All the time trying to get the timing right when the ball hits the racquet. Then between games when I’m not editing and sending, I’ll glance over to the Royal Box and photograph the celebrities.


Once a game has finished and a victorious Serena has done her traditional twirl, I’ve barely enough time for a sandwich and a wee before the next game kicks/bats/serves off. Then my routine begins once again. As the hours pass, it can be difficult to stay focussed. Despite concentrating and looking through the camera viewfinder, photographers hold whispered conversations “How’s the new car?” “Can’t believe we voted out!” “I like your new trainers!” Similar to any colleagues standing around the water cooler its just Andy Murray is smashing a backhand a few yards away while the crowd is whooping and hollering.

If the game isn’t particularly exciting, which is often the case when you’re photographing tennis royalty Roger Federer, because he’s usually so clinical about the court. Very rarely does he react, in fact, it takes perseverance to get a frame of him hitting the ball with his eyes open! Often, I’ll try and find time to lark about with the shutter speeds. Exploring the unconventional and shooting tennis on a 1/15th second exposure and panning the lens from side to side as the Swiss genius moves about the court. Occasionally it works and makes a different picture.




So, eight hours pass and my work is done. I peel myself off the bench; massage my derriere and head back to our underground office.

People are always asking, “How many pictures do you take?” This time, I noted how many I shot on a typical day. Including two hours on the outside courts in the morning and 3 games on centre court I shot 2170 frames of which the editors sent 124 pictures. Over the course of the opening week at Wimbledon I shot 8691 frames and the editors validated 686 pictures. Unthinkable in the days of using film!

Anyway, I digress. I was saying how much I enjoyed covering the outside courts and the lesser-known players. The problem is you have more ground and players to cover. Sometimes only stopping for a couple of games and a change of end. As soon as you have a decent frame of each player you move to another court. All the while trying to find angles and hence pictures I hadn’t seen and shot before in years gone by. All the more important these days while competing for space in the next days’ newspapers with up to 200 other photographers at the Championships during the first week.

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This year I occasionally needed to be in three different places at the same time. You’re hoping the game you’re covering ends quickly and the one you’re missing drags on. Knowledge of the tunnel network that runs beneath the courts help avoids the crowds ambling from one court to another. It’s pretty frustrating when you’re in a rush to get to a game while people dilly and dally along.

So, it’s been quite a pleasure taking my “normal” days off. Guess what, I’ve been listening intently on the radio and watching a bit of tennis and football on the telly. An unusual experience for sports photographers! On reflection I’ve been pleased with my work this past week. I’ve shot a few different pictures that I hadn’t regurgitated from previous years, written a blog and feel refreshed ready to go photograph broom broomy things at Silverstone.

In the meantime here’s a few more pictures I couldn’t fit in.

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Rugby World Cup – Faces in a crowd


A rugby world cup match may last only 80 minutes, but photographers arrive early.  It’s not unusual to get to the stadium five hours before kick-off.  It’s better for the nerves to arrive before the masses to avoid the traffic.  A quick look at our positions, test our pitch side LAN cables and to have a chat with colleagues you haven’t seen for months.

Closer to kick off and confident everything works, with time on my hands I head out into the crowd.  Sometimes I carry my “big” cameras to look more the part, or often with my just my IPhone.  If the sun is shining – strangely it has been most of time so far during this tournament – I pick an area in good light where there’s a “clean” background.  A plain concrete wall or the side of a truck will suffice and I hang around. With rugby fans “flowing” past, I wait until somebody catches my eye.  The ones with painted faces are easy prey, but I’m looking for “unusual” looking people.


Once I target one, I go straight in and ask whether I can take their picture. Quickly followed by, “I’m only doing it on my phone.”  No one ever seems to mind.  It’s become quite normal these days to pose for a quick portrait.  It’s then I usually explain about my “project” my photographic collection of rugby fans. Quickly framed, and literally a few presses of the button gives me something to work with. Unlike when I’m shooting with my “proper” Canon cameras I give the subject the opportunity to help me choose the best picture.  I’m normally quite persuasive about the picture I like, but making a decision together is a way of getting the fans involved as well.  I move the basic photo through an App called Hipstamatic, cropping the picture, adding a border and making them vibrant.  It’s all done in a matter of minutes, then it’s ready to Tweet.  I don’t pressure myself to produce a certain amount but when I’m in the mood and there are lots of fans I can find 8-10 pictures relatively quickly.  Some days it doesn’t work at all. It’s dark or you don’t bump into an interesting-looking person. You can’t really force it, but generally if I can produce four or five decent pictures on game day, then I’m happy.


The French fans are spectacular!

I’m enjoying this personal project using only my IPhone. To be honest it’s easy to do.  I get to interact with fans and have a chat with people from different places. It doesn’t feel like work, I’m having fun.

The Hipstamatic App is very simple to use and the end product reminds me of photographs I shot using a Rolleiflex camera years ago. Legendary British photographer David Bailey shot lovely simple portraits in the 1960’s using one. His photos of people posing in front of a plain white background with no distractions, just the person looking into the camera. Michael Caine being one of my all-time favourites.

A portrait of a young England fan is one of my best pictures in my opinion. His unusual hair and painted face caught my eye. I like the simplicity of it, the black background, his expression.ENG-BOY


I first experimented doing these portraits at the football World Cup in Brazil. The rugby fans are fun and go that extra mile, painting their faces or wearing a crazy outfit. So far, all the people I’ve met are good-natured and fun to be around. It’s definitely not a chore to be at the Rugby World Cup.

I love shooting all sports but motorcycle racing is high on my list. I’m combining all my favourite subjects, motorcycles, photography, sport, work. Ha!

I’m really keen on athletics too – I used to compete as a teenager. And I can appreciate what the athletes are experiencing. They rely on raw talent and ability to win and it’s my job to capture that.

Shooting these IPhone portraits is a different challenge. Our industry is changing – it’s moved quickly over the past 10 years. We’re not just serving newspapers these days. I’m happy to explore “new” media such as Twitter. When I started out in the business, I used a film camera. Today I take a photo and it’s in the public domain within minutes. I consider it as a supplement to what I do for real. Ultimately, my assignment is to cover the match. But if I can get a few more people aware of AFP and our business then I’m happy to do that. Hopefully someone in the company may work out how to make revenue from it. You never know where a project like this may lead.


IMG_1764I’ve been a photographer for 25 years. I got my first job in 1989, and joined AFP 16 years ago. Photography has just accelerated away in the last 20 years since digital has developed. Almost everyone has a camera in their pocket these days.

That doesn’t mean professional photographers are going to be out of work. It’s the person behind the camera who makes a picture. You can make a “good” picture with a mobile phone or you can make a good picture with the top-of-the-line DSLR camera. If you’re a good photographer, you’re a good photographer. It doesn’t matter what you’re shooting with.


What makes a good photographer? It’s a combination of everything. The main difference between a professional and an amateur is that we’re reliable. The chances are we’ll get a decent picture on all occasions no matter where we go. We all understand composition, we “see” how the light falls and then there is the timing, the right moment to press the button.


World Athletics Championships – Beijing


 Another World Athletics championships loomed and to be honest I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it. This time I was heading back to Beijing, where I experienced perhaps one of the most amazing assignments of my career – the 2008 Olympic games.

I can’t quite nail down why I wasn’t looking forward to going; this was to be my 6th World Champs. I’ve been working the infield for 10 years. But perhaps working with tighter budgets these days doesn’t help. Nowadays, the cheapest flight will do, I was scheduled to arrive two days before the event kicks off. For those outside the photography business you might be surprised to know photographers don’t fly business class, most of us don’t even fly direct. Myself and colleague Dan Sorabji flew to Beijing via Helsinki. Eleven hours of flying, several hours sitting in airport terminals. We arrived at 6.30am local time, dropped our luggage and went to the stadium.

I’d travelled to Asia several times before. Often I’ve struggled with the time difference. Waking up at 3am and not going back to sleep is knackering, not ideal when you’re facing a long physical day. This time I made a conscious effort to stay awake. I managed the best bit of 24 hours then off to bed hopefully to adjust to the time zone.

It may seem glamorous being a sports photographer but the reality is you can spend a great deal of time away from family. Now home from China the school holidays finished, the summer all but over. My gang go on holiday without me these days! Luckily I did take a few days off before embarking on my latest job. I needed time to assemble my equipment and pack it in as smaller space as possible. I managed four Canon cameras, (thanks to Jakki Moores at Canon UK for organising loan equipment) eight lenses – three of em bigguns – mini tripods, pocket wizard remotes, computer equipment and waterproof gear into three cases and a backpack. I squeezed in 12 T-shirts, one for each day, six pairs of pants; I can turn them inside out, and a toothbrush. Somehow it all fit in!

CASES webI managed to squeeze a toothbrush into my luggage!

Once checked in at the hotel, within view of the Birds Nest stadium, although not within walking distance – there were several motorways in between. Dan and I jumped into a taxi, pointed to a small business card saying, “Take me to the stadium” in Mandarin. The taxi driver speaking loudly and us jabbering on in English. Oblivious to what each is saying, but minutes later we arrived outside the gates of the Olympic Park on our way to pick up credentials. Hand shakes and hugs with colleagues you see bi-annually once every Olympic games or World Cup. Faces with a couple more rings on the tree trunk of life! Then off to the stadium to check out my office for the next week or two.


The Infield Photographers’ desk yards away from the finish line

The day before the event begins can be the longest and quite often most frustrating. Hours are spent adjusting laptops and cameras. Configuring them so you can send pictures directly from the camera to editor. One slight error, a missing number or uppercase letter on the settings and it won’t work. It takes a while, but once all the cameras are tested it’s a huge relief. Well, for me anyway! Oh, and a few photos shot of athletes seeing the track, some of them for the first time.

 PODIUM-WEBPolish athletes jump off the podium as they pose for photograph

And we’re off and running (excuse the pun). Up at 6am, the Men’s Marathon starts early but luckily I got to dodge that bullet. I needed to be at the track early, ready to shoot the Women’s Heptathlon not to mention the Men’s 100 metres qualifying. The Championships really do get out of the blocks quickly. The return to “serious” competition for Britain’s Jess Ennis-Hill after having a baby was going to be interesting. To be an Olympic Champion in any event is an amazing achievement and even more so in a multi-event discipline. Plus the fact Ennis-Hill is one of my favourite athletes to shoot / watch. It’s been amazing to see her career progress. The first time I photographed her was in Osaka, Japan in 2007, willing her to throw the javelin that bit further. To seeing her crowned World and then Olympic Champion – I’ve been fortunate to witness. Likewise photographing a certain Mr Bolt has been terrific. Although I’ve been on the track for more than a decade I don’t really know the athletes. Strangely enough, photographers don’t tend to get invites from professional footballers, athletes or golfers. Or perhaps it’s just me?

Occasionally I offer a pat on the back or handshake but most of the time “we’re together” they’re concentrating on winning while I’m trying to concentrate getting a sharp (in focus) picture. Ideally, said picture has a “clean” background, with “nice” light at the peak of the moment. Sometimes it can happen!


US heptathlete Erica Bougard with her flying hair is a photographers’ favourite

On the first day it quickly became clear the heptathlon was going to be a close and fascinating competition. Britons Jess Ennis-Hill, with proven track record and experience, and her protégé Katarina Johnson-Thompson against perennial silver medallist Canadian Brianne Theisen-Eaton.


The first day turned into a long session it was incredibly hot and sweaty in the direct sunlight during the day. Something like an oven. Every so often I needed to cool off and down a bottle of water in the deep shadow cast from the tall stadium over the end of the track. A hat is an important piece of equipment for folically-challenged photographer. Something so obvious, but forget it at your peril. Get sunburned on the first day and things become complicated. I managed to get heat stroke in Berlin in 2009. Imodium featured on my menu for the next few days.

The lunch break came and went followed by the Opening ceremony. The evening session began, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt and American Justin Gatlin for the 100 metres qualifying races. Much has been said during the last year about doping in athletics. For the journalists this match up was “good” against “evil”.

OPENING-CEREMONY-x-web From a photographers’ point of view tonight was a practice for the 100 Metres final the following day. A chance to test the remote cameras specifically placed hours earlier. Each camera focused and composed on a certain point, the photographer predicting what might transpire in the sub 10-second race. I generally place once camera either side of the finish line. These cameras are usually put into place 5-6 hours before the race. Plenty of time for cameras to be kicked, sometimes accidentally or occasionally “accidentally on purpose!” These days most of us gaffer tape the focus and zoom rings in an attempt to cut down the chance of sabotage.

But before those remotes cameras were firing there were many other races and field events to shoot. Men’s hammer, another remote camera placed in the cage. For the eagle-eyed television viewer, you might see a photographer sitting in the background looking lazy. But we’re actually firing the cameras using a transmitter – careful not to sit too close. Years ago an athlete lost control of his 16-pound hammer and whirled the weapon of mass destruction into the cameras behind. I was showered by pieces of plastic, metal and lens. He destroyed around five cameras – mine escaped the carnage luckily. Ever since, I pay attention to where I sit or stand during the hammer throw competition.

The 100 metres final, the showpiece race of the tournament was scheduled for day 2. Predictably, Champion Usain Bolt was lining up against Justin Gatlin, who had been regularly running the fastest times over the past year. On bended knees close to the finish line we watch the big screen. Bolt with his pre-race antics in front of the TV camera – cool as a cucumber! Gatlin looking a little tenser. But it’s hard to shoot, by the time the gun goes and five seconds have passed you need to decide who to focus on, where to point your lens. If I’m honest I thought Gatlin would win but I was hoping for Bolt. As they were halfway down the track I looked away from the stadium screen, back to my viewfinder, picked up Bolt with the auto focus and pressed the shutter as he crossed the finish line.

AFP colleague and teammate Franck Fife and myself had made a plan. Franck was taking the winner, primed to run after the victor on a lap of honour as I trained my lens on whoever came second and their reaction. The story and race was difficult to predict, 1/100th of a second separating the two champion sprinters. With Bolt winning and amazing the excitable Chinese audience.

 GATLIN-100-M-A-x-webJustin Gatlin put on a brave face after the 100 metres final

After three long, action-packed days. Tuesday rolled around and we had the morning off. This was to be our only real chance of seeing anything in Beijing other than the athletics stadium. The alarm went off slightly later for me but I still managed to squeeze in a visit to the Temple of Heaven. Despite being tired I wouldn’t forgive myself if I spent 2 weeks in China and did nothing but work. A few of the AFP photo team negotiated the underground train system and walked around the impressive temple for a couple of hours before heading to the market to try our luck haggling for a new coat, watch or handbag for “her indoors” – the good lady wife at home.


I shot a few “Beijing Brides” using hipstamatic on my iPhone

Then, back to the track for a couple of hours work. Luckily for me I was assigned to the sand pit and the Men’s long jump final. Britain’s Greg Rutherford had a good chance for a medal, the pressure on him after colleagues Jess Ennis-Hill and Mo Farah already bagging a gold. It was a throwback to London 2012 and super Saturday.


With my remote cameras placed and focused a few hours before, I took a chance and put a camera somewhere different. Placed at the feet of one of the umpires but in a position where it’d be covered in sand as the jumpers land. I used two pieces of cheap but vital equipment. A shower cap pinched from my hotel bathroom to cover the camera and a small lens brush to wipe the sticky sand from the front element of the 24mm wide-angle. I keep the old lens in my bag for such occasions; it often ends up behind a goal in the line of fire of Premiership footballers.


I have worn the shower cap myself once or twice whilst crouching beside the water jump during the steeplechase races. It usually has other photographers laughing as we work, but I had to resist the comedy this time since I appeared on television looking bedraggled apart from my bald head neatly dressed in plastic hat. In Beijing however, we were stunned when poor Panamanian athlete, Rolanda Bell missed the barrier and went head first into the water. Despite have a face-full of water from the previous runners splashing through, I managed to keep shooting – the first frames slightly tilted too high but I managed to recover and get a frame I like of her leg poking from the waters’ surface.

A Xinhua photographer made a brilliant photo. He had the presence of mind to place a GoPro camera beneath the hurdle. His photograph is top-drawer!

STEEPLECHASE-1-x-web Panamanian Rolanda Bell would have scored well at a diving competition!

Anyway, back to Greg Rutherford in his pursuit of a World title. Of course he didn’t disappoint. Well perhaps me a little! He nailed a season-best jump of 8.41 metres with his fourth attempt and skipped his last two leaps. So a big celebration never really happened. But congratulations to Greg for becoming only the fifth Briton to hold Olympic, World, European and Commonwealth titles at the same time. Despite several pundits describing him as lucky, we can declare, “he’s half-decent!”


A circular stadium always provides an opportunity to play with a fish-eye lens

Following on from Usain Bolt’s victory in the 100 metres, he was up for the sprint double in his favoured 200 metres race. As expected, Bolt cruised to victory beating nemesis Gatlin and proceeded on his victory lap. I got to him pretty rapidly, running after him cameras bouncing off my sides. He celebrated, gesturing straight into my lens holding his Puma spikes. Then as always Bolt completed his repertoire – flag waving, performing his now famous archer pose and “high-fiving” trackside fans. It seemed to go on for a while. During which an unfortunate colleague went head over arse tripping over some timing equipment while jogging backwards. Never good for the ego in front of 50,000 people! Finally, we were back at the home straight and the infield photographers have to finish their pursuit. Bolt disappeared into the crowd for more adulation. By this stage I was busily editing the hundreds of pictures on my camera, deleting my rubbish while walking back to my computer. Little did I know, the picture of the night, perhaps the whole championships was about to happen. A television cameraman riding a Segway lost control and accelerated into the Jamaican superstar knocking his feet from under him, flipping Bolt through the air! I was blissfully unaware until AFP team leader Pedro Ugarte crossed the track to ask if I’d seen what’d happened. Once I saw the replay I realized the action and celebration pictures from the whole night were now to be defunct and superseded by a bigger story. Luckily for the cameraman and I expect the broadcasters or at least their insurance brokers, Bolt was un-injured and took it all in good spirits. He’s truly a remarkable athlete.


Usain Bolt wins the 100 Metres final by 1/100th second over Justin Gatlin




Jamaica’s Usain Bolt – fantastic athlete and showman

During Day 7 the Brits were treated to another good competition in the sand pit when the Women’s long jump came down to the wire. Shara Proctor nailed a British national record with her jump of 7.07 metres only for American Tianna Bartoletta to wrestle her gold medal away with the final jump of the night. I was trailing Proctor around the runway waiting for her reaction and celebration as a new World Champion only for it to turn to disappointment in the blink of an eye.


I placed a camera close to the pit – it needed a clean every few jumps


Tianna Bartoletta with a little flag waving after pinching the gold medal and the World title

By the time Day 9 rolled around I was busy trying to work out how to get the bulk of my equipment from the stadium back to the hotel. Luckily for me we’d befriended a tuk-tuk driver he’d wait outside the stadium gate to drive us home. Quite a relief seeing as most taxi drivers weren’t keen on stopping at 11pm to drive us the short distance. More than once we’d get into a cab, only to be ushered out because the fare wasn’t lucrative enough. However, it was actually pleasant being driven back in the cool of the night sitting in the back of an electric three-wheeler. Even though the driver quite often went against the traffic on the highway. But rest assured he beeped his horn to warn oncoming Mercedes drivers speeding past.

 TAXI-WEBMy “cool” ride home most nights


Italy’s Marco Tamberi reacts to failing an attempt during the high jump


Mo Farah leading the field in the 5000 metres – shot using a slow shutter speed


Mo flies the flag after winning yet another gold – he’s got the triple double now!

The competition closes with the 4×400 metre relays. Never without incident but very difficult to photograph from the infield position. By this stage we hand the baton over so to speak to the finish line photographers. The straightforward runner crossing the line and celebrating with their teammates is hard to better. A few team photos of runners draped in their respective flags and it’s off to the races for us. A true test of speed of how quickly you can count all your equipment back into the corresponding places in your Pelican hard case. Away with your laptop and off the track in double fast time before being asked to photograph the closing ceremony. Never a popular assignment! I was packed and ready to leave within 30 minutes of the last race. I needed to find my favourite chauffeur, get back to the hotel to pack properly. I’m leaving for the airport and “Back to Blighty” in less than 8 hours.

“Full of Shite”

“Welcome to Hell”

I squeezed through the hole in the middle of the road on Whitehall Place and descended. Near the bottom of the ladder 7-metres underground I struggled to get my boot through the “goo” and onto the last rung before stepping off backward into a waist-deep “porridge”. I thought to myself, “What am I doing…. this sewer is full of shit.” My harness unhooked, sewer technician Tim Henderson whispered, “Welcome to hell!”

Along with two AFP colleagues, video journalist Helen and the usually dapper Robin from text, we were invited by Thames Water to see for ourselves the consequences of pouring fat and cooking oil down the sink. And the problem gets worse at Christmas, an estimated two extra Olympic-sized swimming pools of turkey fat is flushed down the drains.


I had arrived early and met with born-and-bred Londoner Vince Minney, a sewer supervisor of 24 years for Thames Water. He removed a thick red rubber glove to accept my handshake. We stood around in the middle Whitehall Place, an upmarket part of London, a stone throw from Downing Street and Trafalgar Square. After exchanging niceties for a few minutes only yards from a 5-star hotel along with a top-hatted concierge looking on from his top step. Vince escorted us to his lorry where we spent 30 minutes changing into disposable overalls, thigh-length waders, harness and helmet. The standard issue rubber gloves, like Vinces’, were giving me a problem adjusting settings on my camera. Luckily one of the lads offered some latex gloves – like a surgeon would wear.

After a safety briefing, we were led back to the middle of a road and pointed to an open manhole cover. With taxis trundling by, I looked into a circular hole not more than 2ft wide and our entrance to the Regent sewer – the location of our interview. I must admit standing on ground level staring down the hole is a weird perspective, a strange sort of vertigo. Good job this assignment was pre-Christmas. I squeezed through the hole and onto the top rung, arms out resting on the tarmac. A few wiggles and I slipped into the darkness, cameras knocking against the metal rungs as I descended. All the time thinking, Helen isn’t going to like this! PD_AD_1765

PD_AD_1736Within a few seconds my gloves had “stuff” all over them, which was transferred onto my cameras. It was hard not to brush against the walls on the way down. At this point I should divulge that unfortunately/fortunately I don’t have a sense of smell, the old hooter doesn’t work! A piece of information I mentioned several times that helped win this “plum” assignment. But joking apart, I’ve read a couple of books about London and have wanted to see for myself the underground rivers and sewers. But as I waded through the thick gloop it wasn’t quite how I’d imagined. There weren’t any walkways along the side, no handrails to hold. Nothing like they portray the sewers in James Bond movies where they’re chasing a baddie through a gleaming aluminium pipeline.

Once steady, I craned my neck to look back up from where I came and my helmet fell off and plopped into the….. for lack of a better word lava. Tim kindly sent it back up on the end of a rope for a clean and polish.

PD_AD_1281I turned to look at Vince leaning on his shovel, waist deep in the….. lava. He was relishing answering questions, telling me about the brickwork and the shape of the sewer pipes. For the record, the Regent sewer is egg-shaped. I tried to shoot a picture or two but my lens had steamed up. I used a piece of cloth to wipe the front element, it gave me a few seconds before the mist developed again as I looked through the viewfinder. Hmmm, this is going to be a problem. I kept wiping and shooting, careful not to drop my cloth. Each time tucking it into the top of my wader. Not paying much attention to the air I was breathing. After a while I gave up and stopped to take in my surroundings. As a photographer I’m sometimes so distracted taking the pictures I’m not 100% aware of what I’m actually doing. In this instance – a good thing. Years ago I found myself photographing rock climbers, and I had scrambled up to a ledge to photograph them as they came past. After making a few nice pictures I realized how high I was and couldn’t get down. Fail!

PD_AD_1670I put my camera down, I say down – it was hanging from my neck. You wouldn’t want to put anything down in here. The walls were strewn with what looked like toilet paper but was actually decomposing wet wipes. One of the major offenders that cause blockages. Like prayer flags in the Himalayas, they hung from anything they caught hold of. I gave up with the pictures for a while, waiting for my cameras to acclimatise to the warm, sticky atmosphere. I looked around to see fungi growing on the top of the waist-deep excrement. Worms slithering on the surface too. Upon closer inspection, tampon applicators, sweet wrappers, drinks cartons, plastic bags, pens and sanitary towels.Later, Tim collected more unsavoury items on his spade, a hypodermic needle, a light bulb and some condoms. He said, you really have to watch out for the condoms – especially the “fully loaded” ones. They can go off in your face. I couldn’t help but grimace at the thought and instinctively covered my face. But I did have to smile to myself when Vince, who was good for a quote or two said, “getting splashed with anything in the sewers is no fun, it never gets to taste any better!” Helen, asking questions while filming paused awkwardly. She admitted later she had a little bit of sick in her mouth.

PD_AD_1569PD_AD_1623 After half-an-hour the cameras and journalists acclimatised, a monitor intermittently beeping checked oxygen and gas levels. The sound of water being pumped into the sewer further up the line or a tube train passing underground close by made up the ambient noise. The hum of the traffic from above. Tim waded his way into a smaller tunnel to return seconds later with a typical “fatberg”. He holds the heavy rugby ball sized clump at his waist. Condoms and wet wipes enveloped by the fatty substance.

PD_AD_1352 The fat sticks to condoms, baby wipes and anything else non-biodegradable, forming fat boulders. These set hard and grow into fatbergs that have to be broken by hand using a spade or sometimes a high-pressure water hose. There are 80,000 fatberg blockages a year, costing Thames Water customers around £1 million a month to tackle.

A good sense of humour and plenty of dedication is required to work down the sewers; you could tell there was good dose of camaraderie amongst the gang – the sewer flushers. “It is unique being able to go down certain parts of London that other people don’t get to see,” Tim said. “When you look at the size of the sewer system, there’s a London under London. It’s a real feat of engineering. Some of the sewers are really beautiful. The brickwork is just amazing.”

The harness line was dropped down the ladder shaft. The boys on top were fishing. They shouted down, it’s been 2 hours! Surprisingly time went by quickly. It was a challenge shooting pictures and tiring. I shot everything on my wide-angle lens using only the helmet torches and LED light from Helens’ video camera. By now my cameras were pretty soiled. The gloop, the lava, the crap stuck in the grip, straps and buttons of my Canon.

After climbing back to the surface, an epic cleaning session followed. Beforehand, a couple of group photos of the intrepid reporters from AFP dressed in our slightly less whiter than white outfits. Vince rolled onto his back ready for Tim to pull off his waders. Proclaiming he had a hole in his boot, proving it by wringing his sock in the gutter and leaving footprints across the pavement. Business people passed by, quizzically looking in our direction. Some acknowledging the problem of “fatbergs”.PD_AD_1779

PD_AD_1799PD_AD_1814Walking back to my motorcycle to begin the journey home I needed to eat something. Despite washing my hands three times I negotiated a packet of crisps by tipping the packet into my mouth afraid of touching anything edible. Once home my wife’s’ sense of humour evident again as she produced a bowl of chilli-con-carne for my tea. For some reason, it didn’t taste quite how it usually does.

Brawl in the Hall

The Brawl in the Hall, Bethnal Green – London

I’d been keeping track of an email exchange from colleagues about amateur boxing – my interest was piqued. Following a long week perched on the sidelines of various rugby, football and tennis matches, I picked up the “Brawl in the Hall” assignment in Bethnal Green late on a Thursday night. It was potentially an interesting feature/sport story about white-collar boxers – City workers who trade their suit and tie for boxing gloves in the evening. After a month or so training, they get to fight an opponent for three two-minute rounds. It doesn’t sound like a long time, but just going a couple of rounds with a heavy punchbag can be exhausting never mind getting hit about the head to add to the confusion and fatigue.

I arrived early for an evening at York Hall, the fabled London venue whose creaking floorboards have hosted fight fans for more than 85 years. I was early enough to stash my belongings underneath the boxing ring itself. Now unpacked, each shoulder carried a Canon EOS-1D-X camera, with a 70-200mm lens, the other wearing a 24-70mm. I kept a 50mm f1.4 in a pouch just in case of extreme darkness. I made the decision I wasn’t going to use flash, mainly because I think it spoils the “atmosphere” and also because I wanted to move about unobtrusively. I prefer working this way – just trying to capture moments. I like seeing people as they are, not posing for a picture.


Most of my assignments involve shooting and editing either at the same time or immediately after the event. Tonight I didn’t need to worry. The story was going out on the “wire” the following week. Oh joy!

 There wasn’t a great deal of light to work with as the fighters were lit by tungsten lighting directly overhead. The light fell off quite dramatically from the edge of the boxing ring, the spectators sitting in semi-darkness. But if you pointed your lens a certain way, the backgrounds went to black. Nice!

I considered changing the colour temperature settings but I knew I’d forget as I constantly moved between the fluorescent-lit dressing rooms and ringside. And hence I relied on the Auto White Balance.

I dialled in what I consider pretty high ISO speeds. I started at 2000 ASA but soon increased it to enable me to work at reasonable shutter speeds. Most of the time, sports photographers use their lenses wide open and tonight was no different. I think I’m a bit “old-school”, always trying to keep my ISOs as low as possible for better quality. But after editing and reviewing this job I won’t hesitate to take these Canon cameras to “infinity and beyond”.


Before the fighting started I used my time to talk to the venue manager to ensure I could move about freely. He kindly left the door unchained to the balcony giving me another option to shoot down on the ring. From here, I had a feeling of “déjà vu” as I observed from the balcony less than 20 feet from the ropes.


I’d shot a boxing match here before, alongside a fedora-wearing journalist friend, Julian Guyer. I later checked the archive – it was more than 12 years ago.

As time ticked on, ever closer to hearing the announcer elongate the names of the fighters, I spent a few minutes showing my face to the boxers in the dressing rooms – no objections here, they were oblivious to me wandering around. It became evident I had complete freedom to work. Quite unlike a normal day at the office where there are many rules where you can sit or go at sporting venues.




I’m not fussed about what level of sport I’m watching. I can get more hyped up and excited watching a youth football team I help train compared to watching a typical Premiership football match. Sometimes we’re all guilty of getting sucked into the hype. Watching grassroots sport can be really good and a hell of a lot cheaper.

 Punters began to arrive and had time to down a few pints. I busied myself peeking around doors of tiny dressing rooms lurking in the shadows, watching the boxers warming up with their hands wrapped, and shadow boxing.

The bell rang, the announcer made his introductions. Nine matches on the card. The fighters, a solicitor, a banker and an IT consultant, were of differing shapes and sizes but mostly a bit soft around the middle. But as it turned out every one of them was brave and committed.


I needed a variety of pictures. I started at ringside for some tight action before moving upstairs for a different angle and general view. The crowd cheered their mates from the office. The atmosphere was buzzing! Moving about the crowd you have to keep your wits about you. It can be quite unpredictable when alcohol and fighting are in close proximity. Last time I was here all those years ago, the best fight I saw took place in the crowd. Which is why there’s plenty of big burly bouncers prowling the scene. But I was still careful not to knock into anyone.


As the fights progressed a mental checklist was developing in my mind. I have the warm-up stuff, tight action and the wide angle. I trained my lens on the crowd for a few rounds. Men whistling and cheering their mates, women shielding their faces as their colleagues were getting knocked about the place. It’s a good feeling going to work and enjoying yourself. Especially when you’re making pictures you like. As I “worked” the crowd, the decibel levels rose just that bit more. I could tell a fight was lop-sided. I needed to concentrate back on the ring. A blue-corner boxer took a punch flush on the nose. He tried to continue, his face bloodied, but the referee sensibly called an end to the fight. I quickly moved back to the empty dressing room to await his arrival. He walked straight to the sink to inspect his reflection and look at his broken nose in the mirror. Just me and him. I shot a couple of frames despite wanting to “hammer” the motordrive. An amazing scene. You’d never been allowed to photograph that on the professional circuit.



PD_AD21096 After nine fights I’d shot nearly 700 frames. It was past midnight when I made it home, the edit was going to be long, and would have to wait until tomorrow. Still, more features like these please!



Winter Olympics, Sochi

The Winter Olympics, Sochi

Configure Yourself

At home! Well, not exactly. After a long day travelling to Sochi and checking in for the Winter Olympic Games the next morning was consumed configuring laptops and cameras. A good few hours were spent alongside AFP technicians – they input new server details to my cameras and laptop; technology rules these days! My cameras were ready, now I need to shoot some photographs and give them a good test! It’s always a little bit worrying whether they are actually going to work when dispatched to my venue, but also because I know I’m going to have to change them all back to my original settings when I return to London. The technicians earn their money when they come to a big event like an Olympic Games.


Off to the Iceberg Skating Palace – the arena where I’ll spend most of my time. Figure and Speed Skating are on my menu at these Olympics… new territory for me! Previously I’ve shot the Snowboard and “Extreme Sports” at the Winter Games… so it’ll be a different experience. On the one hand, I can’t help but be a little disappointed not to be working with sunlight. The upshot is I won’t be covered by snow while freezing on a mountainside!

1 blog pic 3a Opening Night

Friday night found me at the Opening Ceremony. Meandering through the spectators I had a ticket for a high position… although lugging the assorted Canon goodies up several flights of stairs is never fun! Despite being a fan of using the minimal amount of equipment, I chose to take four camera bodies. One I clamped to a rail and triggered with a PocketWizard. The others I juggled around in no particular order. I didn’t see the rehearsal, but I’ve done opening ceremonies before. Anything involving the Olympic Rings or the Olympic torch and flame is pretty important. My position was good, pretty central to the action, although me and two colleagues were located on a stairwell. I couldn’t count how many times I was nudged in the back, but everybody was in good spirit. No frayed tempers yet… even seen a few laughing policemen! So far, so good for me.

2 blog A2 blog C

2 blog B

Once again into the breach…

With my late night at the Opening Ceremony, then blogging, I didn’t feel the feathers in my pillow until way past 2am. Once again into the breach, but I warn you… I’m beginning to see rings! Dispatched to curling… my fault for getting caught reading e-mail. An amateur mistake – I should’ve known better. But I’m due to shoot curling and now I’m one up on my colleagues… I know how to get in the building! An hour to explore, shoot some frames and, as luck would have it, the British team were practicing. Now, like figure skating, I’ve never shot it before. I bite the bullet and find someone in the know…


On this occasion a fine chap with the Canadian team was on hand to ask a million and one questions. I just start with the basic, “how do you play this game?” and “who’s gonna win?”. If they’re still willing to engage me in conversation, and have stopped laughing, I just continue – until they walk away. Then back to the Iceberg [Skating Palace] for more figure skating. I’m done with the questions, I get it! It’s tough; not so much the shooting, it’s the four minutes you have to scroll through 100 to 300 frames. A split-second decision whether to send the picture… and in the flash of a LAN cable light the picture is on it’s way to an editor and into the system. Thank you and good night!

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The Joker!

I was the joker today! Forgive me if I talk in riddles! I may be getting my ch@r@cters mixed up? Anyway, ‘the joker’ is the man who moves about and reinforces other teams. I had an early start with a couple of press conferences. I listened to the usual “stock” answers from athletes while trying to crop out the well-known fizzy drink bottle. Product placement is everywhere! Then it was my first foray into speed skating… it was pretty cool. Imagine an ice rink as long as a rugby field. Or if you don’t play rugby, it’s big. No pressure on me; I went to the quiet bend… only a handful of photographers were there and I wracked my shutter speeds down. You can shoot ridiculously low these days with the image stabilisation built in to the lenses. I started with 1/4th of a second to see what occurred. I liked it, but I worked my way through the range of lenses and settled on panning with a Canon 400mm f/2.8.

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Then a mad dash back to the figure skating for another evening “at the office”. To complicate matters the President came too… I’m not joking!

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The Dutch are Schmokin!

On paper my Monday wasn’t going to be particularly hard. Speed Skating is on the agenda. But the most important thing to remember is… call my Mum and wish her Happy 85th Birthday. It’s all very well gallivanting around the world covering these sporting events but you do tend to miss out on a few milestones in life!

So, off to Short Track Speed Skating at the Adler Arena to see the Dutch take a clean sweep of the medals with Michel Mulder sprinting to gold in the Men’s 500 metres race. There’s nothing clever about the picture, they only race one lap. And hence once chance as they go by. It’s a classic 1/2000th of a second, wide open on a 400mm f/2.8… and hope it’s sharp.

5 blog C5 blog BNow, remind me to wish my wife a Happy Valentine’s Day on Friday will ya!

Spaghetti Western

Now you may raise an eyebrow when you read my ‘day whatever it is’ blog. But I’ll tell it like it is. Another day, another dollar. Spaghetti for breakfast; I’m talking food now – it was actually quite tasty but odd eating dinner in the morning. But, hey, you gotta eat and once you get going at the Olympic Park there’s no stopping. We have to keep concentrating, and be creative, and we eat when we can. Once you’re at a venue the options are nuts! Literally… although there are hotdogs and a bit of chocolate about. While at the Figure Skating, a colleague tips peanuts over the table and throws a packet of M&M’s on top for good measure. In between each skater a few disappear. It gets you through the evening! Oh yeah, I forgot to say, I shot a bit of Curling today, then Figure Skating. Ate a few nuts!blog 6 a

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Romance is dead!

Valentine’s Day has arrived, and not one of you reminded me! Well, that’s not entirely true, a French colleague did invite me on a date to help cover the early morning curling session. After a 15-hour day shooting yesterday, I declined his generous offer. Anyway, I’m not looking my best – all unshaven!


I did the triple yesterday. A quick tot up and the conclusion is I shot just over 3,300 frames. I started with Curling to see the British women squeak a victory. Followed by Short Track Speed Skating, where British medal hope Elise Christie crashed and was controversially disqualified. My night finished with the Men’s Figure Skating where Russian skating legend Yevgeny Plushenko called it a night on his career and bid farewell to his adoring public. He injured himself during the warm-up, and later described the pain as “like a knife in my back”. Good job really because Japanese teenager Yuzuru Hanyu would have provided the bladed article when he went on to a world record score of 101.45 to lead after the Short Programme.


From a photography point of view, it wasn’t a very pleasing day at the office. Photographers can torture themselves… today might be the day to shoot an unbelievable frame. Despite being at an amazing event I didn’t come away with anything I felt was particularly good. Maybe I’ll take another look – when I get a few hours spare!


A gift for his country!

After a world record score on Thursday, Japanese figure skater Yuzuru Hanyu was up against Canadian veteran Patrick Chan in the Men’s Figure Skating. Despite falling twice in his final performance Hanyu, became the youngest skater for 66 years and the the first Japanese man to win Olympic Figure Skating gold.


Semi-hysterical Japanese women rushed to the front to throw flowers onto the ice, standing rink-side last night I scored a couple of assists nodding a few bouquets on their way. FYI: the stems leave a mark! But, you know, women throwing flowers at me on Valentine’s Day… happens all the time!


To justify my existence, I photographed a bit of Short Track Speed Skating training earlier in the day. I didn’t have to, but I wanted to try a multiple-exposure. It’s all the rage these days. It seems everybody is doing them here. I pinched an idea from an AP colleague who was shooting multiple exposures at Figure Skating. “There’s no original photograph you know,” an old photographer friend Joe Walles used to tell me. Always take it as a compliment when another photographer copies your idea. His words echoed in my head as I fiddled with the settings, firing between seven to nine exposures onto the same frame using a low-speed motor drive setting.


Inside Out!


I woke early and realised I’ve worn all my socks… I’ve turned them inside out, round and round! It’s official! I need to do laundry! So, from sweaty socks to Women’s Curling. The action is “heating up” at the Ice Cube. The ladies are yelling “harder” just that bit louder. It’s beginning to mean something in the 11th session! The Brits needed a win this morning to ease their nerves and likely progress to the Ladies’ semi-finals. The British team losing would provide column inches in the papers – they would smell blood! Considering the fact that Britain has lavished £5 million of government and lottery funding on its curlers, making them full-time athletes and providing sports psychologists in a bid to secure gold medals.


I started “working” the arena up high, amongst the fans – using the circles on the ice for symmetry. Before moving downstairs for a closer inspection and a few “action” shots of the players throwing a stone. I managed a “trademark” pan shot, considering there’s not a lot of movement in this game I gave myself a pat on the back and a biscuit. I could do with a proper cup of tea, at Figure Skating yesterday we needed caffeine, instant coffee with tepid water was the only option – but welcome.


Room at the Inn?

When asked about my room in Sochi, I said: “I’d like to report the mini bar was empty and the hairdryer was useless.” Now of course, my associates know I don’t drink. 😉


But indeed, I needed a stiff drink after last nights’ Ice Dance final. I was assigned a “special” position, room at the inn for only two… photographers. Positioned at the gate where the skaters leave the ice, hug their coach, before sitting to get their score. Needless to say it was tight! Three TV cameramen trailed by their “cable guy” getting the up-the-nose shot. After years of doing this job, I’m afraid to say, lil’ ‘ol photographers never win a battle against TV. Especially when they’re working for behemoths like NBC who have gobbled up the broadcast rights for $millions. So, I shuffled around picking off the scraps.


I personally danced a samba with my Canon EOS-1D X and 400mm f/2.8 lens, picking the couples off when they skated through a “clean” background. Before I waltzed around with my wide angle in front of the kiss-and-cry bench. No time to edit before the next couple. Imagine that dance 24 times in a row. Ah, yes, I forgot to say, I needed to transmit the pictures – the poor AFP picture editor needed a stiff drink. She received in excess of 1000 frames from me. No kisses for me! Just a bit of crying.

How slow can you go?

Hello blog, I’ve missed you the last couple of days. I’m at the stage of extreme fatigue. I’m in “slow” mode. Not just me, but my shutter speeds too. After Curling, but before Short Track I made it to the Adler Arena for Speed Skating. The heats of the team relays. No medals were at stake, so I had licence to play.

It’s been a learning curve in Sochi! Listening to photographers chat, I’ve picked up a few new techniques. Multiple exposures last week, now I’m using a custom setting on the EOS-1D X that allows me to choose between two exposures at the press of a button. A “normal” exposure to freeze the action at 1/2000th of a second at f/4, ISO 2000. The other set to ¼ of a second at f/14, ISO 200. I can swap between the two at the touch of a button. Very clever these cameras you know.SPEED SKATING

Stabilizer on, the skaters looped the impressive arena and I had six laps to play with. I panned with them, seeing how slow I could go; firing bursts when the three skaters appeared symmetrical or when they passed a white background. If you’re going have a go… make sure your CCD sensor is clean or you’ll be seeing spots!


Good Games, Good Games

I intended to blog while waiting at Sochi Airport. Alas, I fell asleep in my chair, head falling to my shoulders from time-to-time. I’m home now, laundry bin brimming, after a long day transiting through airports. No sooner had I sat on the plane in Sochi than I was asleep, only to wake two hours later to find we hadn’t taken off. After shooting the closing ceremony and team dinner, I had an hour to pack before leaving. No bed for me! My colleagues took pleasure photographing me semi-unconscious. Oh, they laughed! I didn’t laugh when I realised I had missed my next Frankfurt flight.

Which leads me to my favourite photograph from the Games. I like my picture of Germany’s Nelli Zhiganshina and Alexander Gazsi during the Figure Skating Team Ice Dance. Several colleagues sent me messages and my 10-year-old daughter, Daisy, laughed too. Apparently quite a lot! So, in the heat of the battle of competition, the competitors and photographers, if I can make you smile then that makes me happy too.

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One final note; while flying home the Russian air steward served us dinner. Delivered in broken English, in a very deep voice, he asked: “fish or chicken?” A Canadian athlete enquired: “What kind of fish?”… “Fish from the sea,” was the reply. Thank you and good night!

IAAF World Athletics Championships, Moscow

IAAF World Athletics Championships, Moscow

Learning Curve – the day before it begins!

The days before the opening of the World Championships in Moscow are about learning. “Where is the hotel breakfast room? What does prune porridge taste like?” To more practical, the bus ride to the stadium takes an hour; there’s got to be a better way! Then more complicated issues, setting up VLAN cables in the stadium, configuring my laptop, positioning remote cameras. I’ve spent all day learning the stadium. Walking the in-field several times, hopefully trying to notice a different angle. The layout of the track is slightly different. The pole vault is on the “finish line” end of the field while the cage at the far end. It’s stressful when there’s one lap to go in the 10,000 metres and I’m not where I should be! I need to be at the finish, hopefully photographing Mo Farah with his arms outstretched. But before that there’s five other events I need to shoot. Working on the athletics in-field you have to manage your time properly. It’s very tempting to keep shooting – you know there’s a good picture coming but often you have to get up and move on to the next event. Once the session starts, it’s non-stop. Hopefully everything will work, I’m in the right place at the right time and not dodging a discus running back to the finish line at the sound of the bell!

Slow Shutters and Fisheyes

The day began with Decathlon and the preliminary rounds of the Men’s 100 metres; good practice ahead of the Men’s Final tomorrow. With my remote cameras in place early, I had time to think about shooting something arty. I took advantage of the CPS service and borrowed a fisheye lens. I’m sure it’ll be over-worked considering the stadium is circular. However, the picture I envisioned didn’t quite work. Decathletes don’t tend to get high enough to be ‘clean’ against the sky and secondly there’s a huge floating space station suspended in the middle of the arena. I’m hoping it’ll disappear after the Opening Ceremony and I’ll try doing the photo again with the Men’s long jumpers. The day pretty much went to plan, I had time to ‘play’ with the 10,000 metres race. Over the years I’ve become quite partial to shooting sport using slow shutter speeds. The 25 laps gave me plenty of opportunities to experiment. But then it was to the finish line for the obligatory flag-waving by Mo Farah, followed by Usain Bolt cruising over the line to win his heat.

The “main” day is over!

The “main” day is over! The day featuring the Men’s 100 metres Final is the day everybody remembers from any athletics meeting. From a photographer’s point of view we’re all competing to make a special image from the day. In the run up to to the main race I worked around the far end of the track. My colleague Franck Fife worked the finish line today. I covered a lot of discus today and, admittedly, it’s not the most glamorous part of shooting athletics but it’s work that needs to be done working for a wire service. I put the fisheye lens to good use once again while sitting beneath the pole vault. Although I paid the price when an athlete knocked the bar off which landed on top of my head. Never good in front of the several thousand people. I kept a stiff upper lip and pretended it didn’t hurt! I had visions, luckily not double visions, of being carted off by Russian medics. Dangerous this athletics you know! On to the Women’s long jump final… a bit of inside knowledge came in handy with Russian jumper Darya Klishina. She always lands in the pit to her right and flicks the sand. It tough to get a “sharp” frame when the sand flies. But after several attempts I made a frame I liked. The evening culminated in pouring rain, ahead of the 100m. Usain Bolt delivered in style again – as usual!




Calm after the Storm

I thought I’d be on the ball and tap out my blog during Monday’s extended lunchtime. I spent most of the morning at the high jump with the Women’s Heptathlon. Most of us are looking for a “clean” background to isolate the athletes. To the non-photographer it’s hard to understand that a matter of one metre in either direction can be the difference between a good shot and an average one. Quite often the in-field photographers will be huddled together because there are so many objects in the background – scoreboards, advertising boards, officials, the list goes on… – that can spoil the picture. Add the restrictions about where you’re physically allowed to sit, then a small patch of ideal ground close to the mat comes at a premium. A combination of fast shutter speeds, wide open apertures and a nice mottled background of spectators is always the best.


Fast & Frenetic

After a calm morning, work exploded into a fast and frenetic pace yesterday evening. The Men’s Hammer and Women’s Shot Put could potentially finish together, but I never predicted all of the events finishing back-to-back. In-field photographers always “do the run around” as the winners take a lap of honour. Briton Christine Ohuruogu came from behind to snatch victory. I followed her, walking backwards, as she took her applause. Normally I’d edit my pictures on the back of my camera, tagging the good and deleting the bad, before ingesting the CF card. The photos are transferred to an editor high in the stadium. No chance to edit on this occasion… the Shot Put was ending. I sent 50 to 60 frames, double what I’d normally pass to the editor.

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I rushed back in time for Valerie Adams to celebrate her latest World Title in the Women’s Shot Put. Back to the laptop; no edit; more pictures to the over-worked editors. Within minutes, the hurdlers were in the blocks. Back to the finish line to see David Oliver go crazy for gold in the Men’s 110 metres Hurdles Final. I might have shot over 100 frames on the race and celebrations. The adrenalin was pumping, and that was just me! And guess what? French pole vaulter Renaud Lavillenie was making his last attempt to snatch victory from Raphael Holzdeppe, all this minutes before the marquee event of the night… the Women’s 100 metres Final. A brilliant night at the track, but spare a thought for the picture editor!


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The German and the Pole…… Vaulter

Last night belonged to the veterans of athletics. Germany’s discus thrower Robert Harting picked up his third World Championship gold, to go with his London 2012 Olympic title. And the patriotic crowd roared their approval when the poster girl of Russian athletics Yelena Isinbayeva, the greatest female pole vaulter of all time, took potentially her last victory.

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I started with the discus. I predicted the competition was between two arch-rivals: Robert Harting and Piotr Malachowski. You’re limited to only a couple of different angles because of the throwing cage. I used a remote camera with a 16-35mm zoom lens for the “meat and potatoes” picture, while I stood down-field with a Canon 500mm lens. Here you need to stay alert; during the Olympics a discus was misthrown and buried itself in the turf five metres away. No sitting down; a constant crouch is required for a quick get-away. The competition went as predicted, although what Harting decides to do is completely random. Upon winning he roared to the crowd like The Hulk, ran one way then the other, scattering pursuing photographers before the obligatory ripping of his shirt – Incredible! And then I went to train my lens on Isinbayeva, along with every other camera in the stadium.



The Long Jump & Mental Gymnastics

After last night’s hugely anticipated evening it’s Wednesday and the mid-way point of the Championships. I had an easy day at the track this morning. Good job too because I’m short on sleep and clean socks. As much as this job can be glamorous I’ll be washing my “smalls” in the sink shortly. I spent the morning shooting Women’s Hammer qualifying followed by Men’s Long Jump qualifying. The tricky part here is there are two sand pits and hence the athletes jump simultaneously. And if they “nail it” they’ll only jump once. I set up a fisheye lens on a remote camera, once again in an attempt to isolate the athletes against the clear sky.


I stationed myself at the end of the sand pit. There were also a few jumpers I needed to shoot in the other pit but, due to laying in front of the television camera, it wasn’t possible to get up each time. So, guess what? It’s another remote camera. This time with a 16-35mm lens pointing slightly back down the runway. It’s mental gymnastics watching for the long jumper coming your way, deleting out of focus pictures and waving the Pocket Wizard (remote trigger) in the air while another athlete commences his jump. There’s a wizard for each remote, shutter button, deleting button, AF button. It’s like playing the piano. I’m playing all the right notes – but not necessarily in the right order!



Getting to the Pointy End!

The Men’s Javelin is on the menu today. Thirty-five athletes have a maximum of three throws as they compete across two heats. A colleague sometimes refers to working the “factory floor”. Potentially you can qualify for the final with your first throw. Personally I shoot the basic “front on” picture first, ensuring I have every competitor. Then I get a bit more adventurous, either panning on a slow shutter or “going in super tight”.

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There were no remotes involved for me this morning; just a simple combination of two Canon EOS-1D X cameras, one wearing a 500mm lens the other a 70-200mm zoom. With the latest cameras the autofocus is even more reliable. I challenge myself to see how tight in I dare go. In days gone by autofocus used to start searching when something distracting came through the frame or got too big in the viewfinder. I experiment with different AF (autofocus) Case settings to see which works best. I tried Case 5 today, which gave me a pretty good hit rate considering the throwers are running straight toward you.

Chocks Away

Tonight was an interesting night on the in-field for remote cameras. I’ve counted them all out; I’m hoping they’ll return safely. It always plays in the back of mind when you spread cameras and lenses about the place, quite often out of my view. But I arrived at the stadium two and a half hours before kick-off to place a camera in the throwing cage for the Hammer, and others beside the Shot Put and Long Jump finals. Focus and zooms rings were taped so that nothing could move.


There is a camaraderie amongst most photographers but unfortunately sabotage does happen. Sports photography is a competitive world and occasionally people take it to another level. It’s incredibly frustrating to have “gone the extra mile” for an unusual angle, only to find pictures out-of-focus or the transmitter channel changed. I even had a battery taken from a camera – something I discovered only 10 minutes before a 200 metres final. Luckily, another photographer tossed me a spare and I had the camera up and running just in time. Tonight, luckily everything returned home safely and no funny business to boot!


Crash, Bang Wallop – Oh, what a picture!

A leisurely morning was had by all – photographers that is. Most of them were on the hunt for Russian dolls at the market. I’ve been on assignment in Moscow once before, hence my wife is getting a pair of cashmere socks! She’s one lucky lady! The evening session started easily, the setting sun created a nice highlight on the spectators. I couldn’t resist to “do” the obligatory silhouette of the Women’s High Jump Final. Luckily all of the field events finished on cue and we got in position for the Men’s 200 metres Final. True to form, Jamaica’s Usain Bolt blew past his rivals and won the race in sub-20 seconds. It was my turn tonight to follow the speed-merchant on his victory lap. He even took a few pictures of us before heading off to celebrate with the crowd on the back straight.usain celeb blog


Keeping up Appearances!

The last session came and went. Usain Bolt kept up appearances and won yet another gold medal, blasting through the finish line – this time to secure 4x100m Relay gold for Jamaica to conclude the Championships.

I began the day with the Women’s Javelin. Showing my bravado I was shooting the athletes on a straight Canon 500mm lens. If I can I try to shoot differently from my “opposition”. If I have to sit beside another photographer I may go extremely tight or use a completely different exposure. When I can I’ll sit somewhere different, be the odd one out. Luckily I have “free-rein” with Agence France-Presse (AFP); the boss doesn’t tell me what to get. Admittedly sometimes it doesn’t work. But I’m stubborn like that. Midway through I moved to the Triple Jump, crawling beneath the TV camera and cooking my achy knees on the hot surface of the track. Frenchman Teddy Tamgho did the business. I forewent his last jump and positioned myself in front of his coach, wide angle lens at the ready. I spent the next 10 minutes going from pillar-to-post chasing him and his tricolour before he decided to take it easy and take a rest underneath the scoreboard.ATHLETICS-WORLD-2013-4X100M