Remote Dangers

October 7, 2014

Incheon, South Korea

By Rob Dawson

To receive messages saying, “Police detained me” and “Running a bit late. Broke my nose,” is not something I expected when editing the Asian Games. With some 10,000 athletes taking part in the 16-day multi-sport competition it was always going to be a challenge to cover such a sporting spectacular, but this was out of the ordinary.

South Korea's Jung celebrates beating Uzbekistan's Turdiev in their Men's Greco-Roman 71 kg gold medal wrestling match during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon

As a picture editor, I was based in the Main Press Centre, sitting alongside colleagues from text and TV. I was often the central point of contact for the six photographers covering the event alongside my main responsibility for picture editing.

I received those two unusual messages when Japan’s Chief Photographer Issei Kato, and  Asia Editor-in-Charge Tim Wimborne were setting up and retrieving their remote cameras.

Iran's Reza Yazdani lays his national flag in the centre of the mat after defeating Kyrgyzstan's Magomed Musaev in their men's 97kg freestyle gold medal wrestling match at Dowon Gymnasium during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon

Remotes give us the opportunity to provide an extra angle of coverage, something different from the positions photographers are allowed to shoot from during the games. They allow us to capture pictures from places that would be logistically impossible or unsafe to have a photographer. A favourite spot for remotes is a high viewpoint looking down on the action, directly above the gymnastics floor for example.

Uzbekistan's Valeriya Davidova performs with the ribbon in the individual rhythmic gymnastics qualification and team final at the Namdong Gymnasium Club during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon

With a remote, it’s almost as if we have an extra person covering the event, this also means extra pressure for the photographer. As Olivia Harris found out, in her first time using remotes, you have to think like two photographers and remember to trigger the camera when it will make a strong picture from that angle. This won’t always be the same moment as you’re shooting at ground level.

The Macau team performs during their Synchronised Swimming Free Combination routine during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon

The locations where we are allowed to set-up remotes are often very difficult to access with many obstacles in the way. In a rush to retrieve his remote before the start of the swimming competition, Tim failed to notice a steel beam just below head height. The result was a broken nose. Luckily medics were on hand to patch him up and he soldiered on and covered the swimming finals that evening.

South Korea's Kim Seong-yeon competes with Japan's Chizuru Arai in their women's -70kg gold medal judo match during the 17th Asian Games in Incheon

Remotes can be triggered wirelessly using radio signals sent from a transmitter to a receiver attached to the camera. The unexpected detention of Kato occurred when police at the Judo venue decided they didn’t like the look of the communication devices and thought they might be used for something underhand. Thankfully a volunteer came to the rescue and explained their legitimate use and Kato was released in time to cover the judo finals that night.

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