On my last day of shooting the London Olympics I would be assigned to cover the Men’s Race Walk that began at 9am. Following a long day and late night at Taekwondo I was not exactly thrilled about the shoot.

With it being my last day of work in London I arrived at the venue about thirty minutes prior to the start and gave the photo positions and available angles a quick glance.

“I can work with this,” is what I would say to myself in my head.

Doesn’t matter that race walking makes as much sense as a who can whisper the loudest contest. I wanted my last day of the Olympics to be filled with cool photos.

And I was gonna make it happen!

The position I would set up in for the start would give me a nice wide angle view of the competitors going past one of Londons most famous tourist destinations. Buckingham Palace.

Since I had arrived so late to the spot it would be packed with photographers. I was stuck with a second row spot behind all the smart people who arrived early.

Good thing I am good at holding the camera up over my head for a hail mary view!

Below, the field of walkers waddle their way past the Queen Victoria Memorial Statue (left) and Buckingham Palace during the men’s 50km race walk in the London 2012 Olympic Games at The Mall.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/1600th, Manual

Buckingham Palace was one of the main things you think of when you come to London. Prior to this shoot I hadn’t even seen the palace, let alone take a photo of it. I would do my best to incorporate the palace into several shots during this race.

Race walkers go past the front gates of Buckingham Palace during the men’s 50km race walk

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 25iso, f8, 1/125th, Aperture Priority

The early morning light was nice in some spots but pretty flat and bad when shooting into the sun.

This shot is an example of bad light as the runners are shaded with the sun at their back, however, by shooting the photo with a wide angle lens I am able to include their shadows which adds a cool element to a boring shot.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, 200iso, f5.6, 1/2000th, Manual

The race would be 31 miles long and the walkers would do 25 laps around the scenic track.

I would stay in the same spot for about six laps to really try and get a variety.

In this frame I put a four stop neutral density filter on my 24-70mm so I could get rid of as much light as possible to attempt a super slow shutter speed to blur the walkers as they went past the palace. This was the result.

Nikon D4, 24-70mm, 160iso, f5, 1/10th, Manual with 4 stop Neutral Density Filter

I tried the same setup but instead of holding the camera still I would pan with a few walkers. The resulting photo made them look much faster than they were in reality.

Nikon D4, 24-70mm, 160iso, f5, 1/10th, Manual

Another iconic London sight I never saw until this shoot was one of the famous Buckingham Palace Guards in their red suits and furry black hats.

From the same position all the above photos were shot from I would spot a guard behind the palace gates standing watch. By borrowing a 200-400mm lens from my buddy Kirby Lee and putting a tele converter on the lens I was able to get the below frame which I kind of liked.

Nikon D800, 200-400mm with 1.4 converter (550mm), 800iso, f5.6, 1/1250th, Aperture Priority

I would spot young spectator waving a British flag on his fathers shoulders along the track across the street from Buckingham Palace. By using a wide angle lens and holding the camera up over my head close to the flag it helped fill out my frame and give a Great Britain feel to the photo.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, 400iso, f9, 1/1000th, Manual

One stretch of the track featured trees going over the road and producing some cool light pockets.

You know my obsession with those!

Spectators are bathed in pockets of sunlight as they cheer on Dominic King (GBR) during the men’s 50km race walk.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 800iso, f5.6, 1/800th, Aperture Priority

Here is a wide view from along the track as spectators watch the race.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, 400iso, f5, 1/1000th, Manual

The most common question I think people have about this sport is whats to stop the competitors from running?

Below, a race walking judge (check out the cool armband!) holds a clipboard with all the competitors names and bob numbers. There are multiple judges all along the track. If a judge sees a competitor with both feet off the ground at any time they essentially issue them a strike. The same judge can only give an athlete one strike. If three different judges issue a competitor a strike then they are disqualified from the race.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 800iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Aperture Priority

I would find a spot along the track where the athletes would be handed bottles of water. While some would actually drink the water, most would instead dump it on their heads.

Below, Ihor Hlavan (UKR) would be lit by some nice light as he poured water on his head during the men’s 50km race walk. What made such a nice dark background for this shot? How about a few port-a-johns that were in the shade. Im not kidding!

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 800iso, f6.3, 1/5000th, Manual

Nearly four hours after the race would start we would have our winner.

Sergey Kirdyapkin (RUS) celebrates as he crosses the finish line to win the gold medal in the men’s 50km race walk in the London 2012 Olympic Games at The Mall. When I shot the finish I was impressed to see that an old man had beat all the young athletes to win the gold. Only a day later did I find out that the “old man” who had won is actually younger than me!

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 800iso, f4, 1/1600th, Aperture Priority

Not everyone would be celebrating following the event.

On my way to the media room to transmit images I came across Robert Heffernan of Ireland sobbing into his hands as a coach consoled him. I thought maybe he had been disqualified and thats why he was so emotional. Turned out he had finished fourth and was sad to barely miss out on a medal.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 800iso, f4, 1/640th, Aperture Priority

That wraps up my time in London. To all the new people who found my blog during the Olympics I hope you enjoyed my view from the games and please continue visiting my site to see all the other sports and events I cover.

To all my long time supporters I really appreciate you guys following along as I did my best to prove I can shoot more than just race car crashes!


I have a Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to “like” the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!

Posted in 10 Spot, Olympics, Sports   4 Comments

4 responses to “10 Spot / Olympics Aug. 11”

  1. jack schmiecher says:

    Thanks again Mark for some outstanding photos, Wish I knew the Camera like you. Looked over your intire site and was truely amazed at your Photography. Your the BEST!!!’
    jack Schmiecher
    7712 S. Hamilton AVE
    Burr Ridge, ILl

    P.S. Go to see my Daughter in Awautukee and would love to meet you should yo be in town, my next visit.

  2. jack schmiecher says:


    I have traveled often to Scotland and other places in Europe as my Wife comes from Ansthruther, fife Scotland. I have reels of film (slides) taken and are in boxes. Such a job to gather up slides and put on DVD’s and upload on computer (mac pro) any suggestions as to what to do with them that would be easy to do?


  3. Really enjoyed your view on Olympics! Thank you very much for sharing! Also great to see you shooting and (more importantly) posting blog post with sports other than racing! Great job!

  4. Rick Samsal says:

    Really excellent set of photos of an event that doesn’t really produce much in the way of exciting action shots. great use of lighting and subject positioning in the frames…

Leave a Reply

Check out my Facebook page devoted my photography where I routinely share my favorite photos from each shoot as well as favorite photos from the past. Click the below banner to check it out. Be sure to "like" the page so you can be kept up to date on all the events I am doing!