The most amazing sports show on earth has temporarily come to a close, ready to start all over again with the Paralympics in only a few weeks time. In the brief respite I thought I would share my favourite images from the London 2012 Olympics. I have tried to steer away from the obvious shots and have chosen ones that may have slipped past your radar.
I’m not normally a fan of the tilt-shift effect as it is poorly used and normally just a blur applied to a normal shot. When done properly though the ‘toy town’ look can be remarkable as in the show jumping image by Alex Livesey above.
The long look – the compressing effect of a telephoto lens is put to great effect here by crunching 110 metres into a few inches. The runner is in a good position but it is a pity that the head isn’t cleanly framed.
I love the detail in this shot and the large exposure range. I tried something similar at a moto-cross rally and ended up with either blurry but well lit riders or dark, sharp riders. Shooting towards the sky is tricky and I can only assume the photographer used off camera flash to get this image.
There will be more on fish eye lenses later but I felt that this shot was an ideal place to use one. I would love to see the contact sheet for this series, I bet that dozens were taken but only one ended up perfectly framed with a splash on the lens. The curve caused by the extremely wide angle lens adds to the sense of nausea. At first I hated the bubble in the top left of the frame but it serves as a visual counterbalance for the boat in the bottom right.
I think that it is the extreme angle of the basketball player that makes this image leap out at me from the pack. The use of negative space really serves to isolate the player and the brightness of his uniform and diagonal lines bring life to the image.
Colour contrast and positioning make this image work for me. The leading lines of the court, racquet and even the player’s body draws the eye into the frame. You can’t see the player’s face but the stance and clenched fists clearly show that this was a victory. Shots like this take prior preparation, I can’t imagine you are allowed to hover above the playing field whilst a match is in progress.
A very strange image and one that I haven’t seen replicated elsewhere whilst I researched this article. This is midway through a hurdles races. There are plenty of images where the runners are pin sharp and the background blurred. This image struck me as odd because the background lines were so straight. When you look at the strange pink shapes in the bottom left of the shot you can see distorted hurdles. I’m guessing this was taken with a fish eye lens and then the shot was straightened in Photoshop afterwards. Strange but effective. (Image copyright Sports Illustrated/Getty).
For me this shot perfectly captures what it means to be a successful athlete at the Games. Mo Farah won two gold medals and was the centre of attention amongst the British contingent during the closing ceremony. It looks like Mo is getting his picture taken close up by a camera phone with a bright fill light. The pro photographer further away from the scene has been able to use this light to frame Mo and put him squarely in the centre of attention. The only bit I find distracting is the young man to the left of frame by Mo, perhaps a decrease in exposure would have enhanced the effect. (Image copyright Sports Illustrated/Getty)
I promised more fish eye action and here it is. I was watching the steeple chase as it unfolded on TV. The majority of the photographers positioned their cameras by the large water jump in the hope of getting a shot of someone falling over. I don’t think anyone fell but this image was definitely worth the wait. The image is full of drama and life and I can almost hear the water splashing as I look at it.
The speed of cycling is captured perfectly in this image. Everything is ‘wrong’ about this picture – the horizon is crooked, the image blurry and the cyclist is in the wrong side of the frame (he has no where to ‘cycle’ to). But none of that matters for me as the loneliness and speed of the pursuit races is caught here.
I think it is the growing love I have for candid documentary photography that draws me to this picture. Technically I think this is a brilliant capture; the depth of field is spot on, colours vivid and exposure perfect. It is the lighting on the heart being made by the boxer that really pulls this shot from good to great. The stereotype of burly boxer and the associated macho image is blown away by the simple heart shape he makes to the crowd. His face is lit just enough to show his joy and I find this shot really moving.