I had the great honour to spend the last 3 days as a volunteer photographer for the BC Winter Games, held in my hometown, beautiful Mission, BC, along with venues in Whistler, Hemlock, Abbotsford, and Langley. Myself and 40 other photographers were in charge of documenting the games, and, under the management of Jean Konda-Witte, a fantastic photographer of over 25 years experience, did an amazing job.
A few thoughts about the whole experience after it’s had a bit of time to sink in, and the last of my images are filed (fancy newspaper speak for “uploaded”):
By The Numbers
For me the numbers from the games are as follows:
- Total photos taken: 4,524
- Total photos uploaded to the BC Games Flickr site: 323
- Total sports shot: 3
- Total events shot: 5
- Hours shooting, editing, helping and travelling in 3 days: 32
- Front Page shots: 1
- Medical emergencies witnessed: 1
- Beard compliments: 2
- Long-winded speeches by politicians: too many to count
- Long-winded speeches by politicians mentioning how no one wants to listen to long-winded speeches by politicians: 2
Photographic Lessons Learned
The following are the three principles that were ground into the photographic team:
- Must have the face visible
- Must have the “object of desire” (i.e.: the ball) visible
- Must show action or conflict
(I watched this kid play all game, he was, and there are no other words for it, a fucking animal on the court… inspiring to watch. Then at the athletes dance he was dancing with three girls at a time.)
Additionally while shooting, I figure some things out.
- Fill the frame. This is and oldie but a goodie, no matter how cool that distant shot with the young athlete dwarfed by the size of the stadium seems, the reality is the shot of their head and torso isn’t a “newspaper” shot (i.e.: it’s not going to get published).
- It’s ok to push the ISO or use auto-ISO. A grainy picture is easier to fix than a blurry one.
- Anticipate, anticipate, anticipate. Even if it’s as simple as “don’t put your camera away after the medals are given out because there’s probably going to be some parents and kids hugging it out in the aisles.
- My Pentax has a custom menu setting where you can prioritize auto-focus accuracy over maintaining FPS when in the AF-C (auto-focus continuous) focusing mode. This increases your focusing accuracy but decreases the FPS from 7 down to 2 or 3. Sometimes it’s better to leave it in AF-S (auto-focus single shot) mode and have the high FPS to catch the peak of the action of a skater in a jump (where the plane of focus isn’t going to change much).
- Schmooze lots. I hope I shook enough hands and talked to enough politicians, businessmen, and important people that fame, fortune, and riches will be forthcoming. Also having them know your name for the next time you shoot them means that much better access and easier photos.
Workflow Lessons Learned
In addition to the photo taking lessons learned, the following was fairly quickly apparent in dealing with the pictures produced (all 4500 of them):
- Take less images. Downloading, waiting for previews to generate, and then sorting through say, 1400 shots of figure skating, in which 100 were actually used takes way too long. Shoot less, anticipate the moment, and learn the sport being shot to figure out when to shoot.
- Having a good workflow helps. Lightroom helps a lot as well, but you still have to know how to go through.
- Sometimes it’s ok to hit auto-tone and sync your white balance across 100 images.
Here are some more of my favourites from throughout the games.
The opening ceremonies torch.
Basketball players going hard.
A bit of Joe McNally inspired “shake the camera and take a picture with flash” at the athletes dance.
A coach gives a bit of pre-floor routine inspiration to a young gymnast.
And a bit of encouragement to a skater who didn’t do as well as he’d hoped he would.
One of my favourites of Jenny Stevens handing out a gold medal to the Wheelchair Basketball winners.
And finally, from the closing ceremonies, the flag is handed over to Nanaimo, for the 2014 BC Summer games.