The Photographer's Mail - - Column - PETER BUSH

Rio — and the leg­endary Olympic Games — re­cently held the sport­ing world in awe and now has passed into his­tory. The event be­came en­ter­tain­ment supreme, as su­perb TV cov­er­age took us up-close and clear — in and out of the sta­di­ums, to the oceans, the roads, and the many other venues that show­cased the best in world sport.

An es­ti­mated 25,000 me­dia de­scended on the city of 20 mil­lion to pro­vide the mul­ti­me­dia cov­er­age. Two of my much younger and tal­ented pho­tog­ra­pher friends, Marty Melville and John Cow­plan, cov­ered the games for Photosport.

A night­mare start for Marty’s Olympic cov­er­age be­gan on ar­rival at Rio’s Galeão Air­port, when he found out that while his checked per­sonal lug­gage had ar­rived, his cam­era bag was nowhere to be seen. Af­ter a long silent wait un­til the last of the bag­gage had been col­lected, he took his New Zealand lug­gage tag to the desk. Fol­low­ing some lan­guage dif­fi­cul­ties, a quick check found that his cam­era gear was now safely in Gis­borne — a long way from Rio.

The sim­ple-but-dra­matic ex­pla­na­tion was that the code for Rio is ‘GIG’ while that for Gis­borne is ‘GIS’ — a sim­ple slip-up that would see his gear travel through New Zealand, over to Syd­ney, then across the Pa­cific to San­ti­ago, be­fore, fi­nally, 10 days later, ar­riv­ing in Rio de Janeiro. But all was not lost — Marty went to the Nikon de­pot in the games cen­tre, and, af­ter much mirth, the team was glad to equip him with a se­lec­tion of brand-new gear, rang­ing from D5 bod­ies to a pris­tine 500mm telephoto lens. Only the two gi­ants of the cam­era world — Canon and Nikon — were present to loan and ser­vice equip­ment at the games.

Among the many 22 sports the two vet­er­ans cov­ered, rang­ing from the rugby sevens through to syn­chro­nized div­ing — there was plenty of va­ri­ety for the big lenses. John was of­ten away cov­er­ing golf, with Ly­dia Ko on deck, while Marty di­vided his time be­tween ath­let­ics and yacht­ing.

Marty felt his best pic is of woman ca­noeist, Luuka Jones, cel­e­brat­ing her sil­ver-medal win with fel­low ca­noeists be­sieg­ing her ca­noe. One of his spe­cial mem­o­ries is his cov­er­age of pol­e­vault­ing star El­iza Mc­Cartney, show­ing her de­light at her bronze-medal win in the thrilling fi­nal. Marty’s ef­fort in se­cur­ing the iconic im­age of the New Zealand flag draped around her shoul­ders was a ma­jor coup for the lone shooter (he had car­ried the flag in tow for such an oc­ca­sion).

On the ques­tion of se­cu­rity — a topic widely re­ported by the world’s me­dia — Marty ex­plained that while the pres­ence of po­lice and mil­i­tary was to­tal, se­cu­rity slip-ups did oc­cur. Once a woman with­out any se­cu­rity clear­ance marched off with a 500mm telephoto lens from an Ir­ish agency, while French agency Agence France-Presse (AFP) lost en­tire kits from the me­dia cen­tre. “It was a case of even tak­ing your gear to the toi­let with you,” Marty said.

Getty, As­so­ci­ated Press, AFP, Reuters, and other top agen­cies had green bibs that im­parted pri­or­ity sta­tus in any of the sta­di­ums, which meant Marty had to stand in line for much of the day, par­tic­u­larly for medal award cer­e­monies.

Just one of many agen­cies cov­er­ing the games, Getty had a team of 120 peo­ple on the ground — in­clud­ing 40 spe­cial­ist sports pho­tog­ra­phers and 20 photo ed­i­tors and other tech­ni­cians. The staff worked 18-hour days dur­ing the games to de­liver up-to-date pho­tos across the world.

With the aim of up­load­ing iconic Olympic images at the fastest pos­si­ble speed, Getty had in­stalled over 100km of fi­bre-op­tic net­work ca­bles to en­able the con­nec­tion of its pho­tog­ra­phers’ cam­eras from the key photo po­si­tions in­side all the Olympic venues to their in-house ed­i­tors.

Images raced from cam­era to cus­tomer in as lit­tle as 59 sec­onds, mak­ing the Rio 2016 event the most visual Olympic Games yet.

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