10 Spot / Olympics Aug. 10

With two days left of shooting at the Olympics I was hopeful for some really cool assignments, like BMX or Womens Gymnastics. Instead I would get assigned for an up to 15 hour day at the Excel Center covering Taekwondo. I have never shot the sport nor do I know anything about it. But hey, before Olympics I told management I wanted to cover as many different sports as possible. Guess I should be careful what I ask for!

There were two Americans I was there to cover. First one would be Steven Lopez, a two time Olympic Gold Medalist. The other was first time Olympian Paige McPherson.

As long as they were in competition I would stay there.

First fight I needed to shoot would be Steven Lopez at 9:15am.

After a 7:15am wakeup I would catch the 8am media shuttle bus from Russell Square to the Excel Centre, about 30 minutes away by bus.

Since I had never shot the sport before I shot the first fight before his fight to get an idea for the sport.

The good parts were the nice dark backgrounds. By kneeling down a bit lower you could produce black backgrounds if you shot just a bit underexposed.

The bad parts where the blue and red helmets and vests they wore. Even worse I would soon find out is the referee was always getting in the way!

Below, Seham Elsawalhy, left, and Elin Johansson show some insane balance as they kick at each other.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

The Steven Lopez fight would be next. Didn’t really get any amazing photos of that fight but the below one tells the story of that fight as the three time Olympic medalist leaves the mat as a first round loser.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

So one of my two subjects was out in the first round. In this sport though even if you lose you can get back into the competition to battle for a bronze medal if the person you lose to goes on to make the Gold Medal final. So I would have to wait till Ramin Azizov competed in the next round to know for sure. (Azizov would lose in the next round thus eliminating Lopez from the Olympics.)

While waiting for the next USA fight at 10:30am I would head from the media room literally a quarter mile away (indoors) from the Taekwondo arena to shoot the fight leading up to the one I needed.

Below, Nicolas Garcia Hemme (right) battles against Yousef Karami.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

Here is a wide view of my second USA subject, Paige McPherson as she fights Nur Tatar. This photo was actually in the second round at 3:30pm (she won her first round). As you can see, the light on the mat is nice and bright which naturally makes the unlit backgrounds black. That is what every photographer loves. Clean backgrounds!

Nikon D4, 24-70mm, 2000iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

Here is a full frame view as Paige McPherson (USA), left, reacts to a kick to the face by Nur Tatar (TUR) in the women’s 67kg semi finals during the London 2012 Olympic Games at ExCeL – South Arena 1.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

Paige would end up losing to Tatar. With both of my subjects out I would now have the potential to be off for the rest of the day if Tatar lost her next fight at 5pm.

Nikon D4, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

While killing two hours before the fight that could be my ticket back to the hotel I noticed the below taekwondo competitor taking a nap on a bench just below the entrance to the media room. I wish I had found that spot first!

Nikon D4, 24-70mm, 3200iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

So as I knew it would happen, Nur Tatar would advance to the gold medal round thus putting McPherson back into the competiton.

She would win her first round matchup at 8pm in the bronze medal repechage. (basically a mini tournament to determine the two bronze medalists) She would win that one which put her into one of the two bronze medal rounds at 9pm.

If she lost this fight I would be back to my hotel by 10pm.

Below, I would get a cool closeup shot showing just the eye of Paige McPherson (USA), right, as she battled Franka Anic in the women’s 67kg bronze medal final.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/1000th, Manual

Paige would go on to defeat Anic. She was a happy girl as she ran around the mat proudly displaying the American flag.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 3200iso, f4, 1/800th, Manual

With the bronze medal winning performance I would have to stick around for the 11pm medal ceremony.

While waiting for the medal ceremony I would shoot the women’s gold medal final between Nur Tatar and Kyung Seon Hwang.

Here is the view standing back a ways from the photo position to show you the benches they had around three of the four sides of the mat for media. Photographically speaking it was great photo position placement. But in all honesty it wasn’t really a sport I was into.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm, 1600iso, f2.8, 1/1000th, Manual

By the time I would get back to my hotel room it would almost be 1am.

After the 15 hour work day you would think I’d be sleeping in the next morning, right?


At the Olympics you know you will not be given much of a break for the next day. My schedule would be a 7 am wakeup call to go cover Men’s Race Walking that began at 9!

Yep, its essentially the Summer Olympics version of Curling…. a sport that very few people view as a sport.

Should be an interesting experience!

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!

2 Responses to “10 Spot / Olympics Aug. 10”

  1. David Joseph says:

    Love your image! Sounds like you worked your tail off. I have a Nikon D7000 and I’m considering a new camera like yours and trading in the D7000. I main shoot weddings & family portraits, but enjoy sports too! Do you notice any quality differences in your images between the two cameras? ( My largest print size I usually do is no larger than 24X36 )
    Keep up the great work !

    Take care :)

  2. jack schmiecher says:

    Some nice picutures as usual enjoyed!!

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