Photographers' Blog

Robo-cams take an Olympic dive

By Wolfgang Rattay

Reuters robotic cameras will not only be hung high up at the Olympics venues but will also go underwater.

We have developed a remote-controlled “underwater photographer” that can hold its breath for the duration of the Olympic Aquatic competitions at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Let me tell you briefly about the history of Reuters underwater news photography.

In 2005, at the Montreal World Aquatic Championships, Canada chief photographer Peter Jones used the first underwater housing with the first model digital camera that could send pictures through our ftp-server installed poolside.


(Photo by Christine Muschi)

After improving our system through several European and World Aquatic Championships, we have reached the London Olympics; putting us on another level of technology that we will use to be competitive.

What an Olympian eats

By Umit Bektas

I have always wondered how athletes, who must exert incredible amounts of energy in whichever sports discipline they compete in, handle the issue of nutrition. As the London Olympics approached us, we Reuters photographers began to make our photo stories. I decided to create a photography project stemming from this curiosity of mine. I planned to interview some of the Turkish athletes preparing to compete in the Games and take pictures of what they ate. Sometimes you think a project that sounds good will also be easy to carry out and this is very exciting but when you actually become involved that euphoria is replaced by anxiety. This is exactly what happened to me.

SLIDESHOW: AN OLYMPIC DIET

The hardest part was to persuade the athletes to spare a few hours in the studio which meant taking a break from their exercise program. I wanted to take photos of six athletes but I was rejected by at least three times that number of other athletes. Some said they were training abroad, or in other cities. For others, their trainers rejected my request saying their charges would “lose their concentration”.

I had to get permission from the sports federation involved, then from the coaches or trainers of the athletes I wanted to photograph and finally from the athlete themselves.

Paralympic spirit

By Nir Elias

When the idea to photograph Israeli athletes for the London 2012 Paralympic games came to mind, the second athlete I met was Pascale Berkovitch.

Pascale, 44, lost her legs in a train accident in the suburbs of Paris when she was 17 years old. She now lives with her partner and two daughters in Tel Aviv and is part of the Israeli Paralympic staff for the 2012 games in the field of Hand Biking.

During my first meeting with Pascale, I was struck by the expression ‘sport spirit’. The more time I spent with her while training in the park, at home with her partner or while wandering around her neighborhood with her little girl, the more I felt this was an understatement.

Robo-cams go for Olympic gold

By Fabrizio Bensch

Is it possible to get 11 photographers into a box and put them in a position where you could never place a photographer? Normally, it would be absolutely impossible. But nothing is impossible when it comes to the Olympic games.

The London Olympic summer games will produce huge emotions, records and we as the Reuters photographers team will catch it from any extraordinary angle. When athletes from around the world compete against each other for the glory of an Olympic medal, hundreds of photographers try to capture the one and only moment which makes the Olympic games so unique.

On any sports event where there isn’t a place for a photographer or there is a need to freeze a moment from different perspectives we use remote technology – cameras triggered by cable wire or with a wireless transmitter. We wanted to make impossible things possible; just like the athletes at the Olympic games.

Stretching the Olympic portrait limits

By Lucas Jackson

Over the course of three days Reuters, along with several other prominent outlets, was given a space and (almost) guaranteed time with every member of Team USA that was able to attend a media summit in Dallas this past May, in order to take portraits of the team members. It was a win-win situation for all involved. The athletes were able to take care of a great deal of their media availability in one weekend and members of the media were not required to travel all over the US in order to get portraits of these elite athletes before they head off to London for the 2012 Olympics. As the photographer from Reuters assigned to this portrait marathon there was only one issue; how to take a single space along with extremely limited time with each athlete to make unique, interesting, and ideally self-explanatory images of dozens and dozens of athletes.

It was a daunting task to say the least but I started with a simple lighting setup that played off of several portrait collections I had seen, including Douglas Kirkland’s, and work that tends to appear in either men’s health or sporting magazines. I finally settled on a dual setup where my first setup would use a simple grey background and light to enhance the muscle tone of the athletes. My second setup was to use a large American flag (given to me by my brother as I arrived in Jalalabad, Afghanistan) to take photos of the athletes who were involved with sports that did not lend themselves to the flexing of muscles or shedding of clothing. I wanted to use ProFoto lights as they have a remote controller and trigger called the “Air Remote” that I could put on my camera to control the light’s power output from the controller mounted on top of the camera. This would save me precious time as I wouldn’t have to physically go to each of the four lights to change their outputs depending on whether I was shooting on the grey seamless backdrop or the flag.



FULL FOCUS GALLERY: TEAM USA

I cannot think of a single athlete who was not gracious and accommodating in the time we were given. Some of the times were shorter than others. The uber-popular yet incredibly bouncy gymnasts gave us between 30 seconds to one minute. Overall, everyone was up for whatever pose or idea that you could come up with. Some of the competitors brought the tools that accompany their sport like racquets, rifles, bows or fencing swords.

The Olympic Games: Much more than the stars

By Denis Balibouse

“The important thing in life is not victory, but the fight; the main thing is not to have won, but to have fought well.” Baron Pierre de Coubertin

I have always been addicted to sports, any kind of sports. My father was a sports reporter in Switzerland. As a child I would follow him onto soccer pitches, motocross grounds and ice hockey rinks. Whenever I travel somewhere I try to follow the local sports. I even attempted to understand cricket (I’m married to an Australian), although I have to confess, I have so far failed with this one.

Now that the Euro Championship is over, my attention will turn to the “road slaves” of the Tour de France, which, in my eyes, is the toughest sporting event in the world. And then there’s the Olympic Games in London, regarded by many athletes as the pinnacle of physical prowess.

Taste of England

By Suzanne Plunkett

Jellied eels. Toad in the hole. Bangers and mash. The Full English. An Eton mess. Trifle. Crumble. Yorkshire pudding. Scotch eggs. A menu of oddly named and sometimes oddly tasting traditional British dishes awaits adventurous diners visiting London for the Olympic Games this summer.

To an American like me, the names of English foods take some getting used to. Take the term “pudding”. In the States, a pudding is specifically a runny, milk-based desert. In England it refers to anything sweet served after the main course– unless it is from Yorkshire, and then it is savory, resembles a popover, and is served with roast beef. The closest thing the English have to American pudding is custard — a luminous yellow sweet sauce which they insist on drowning their deserts in. They consider it a comfort food but I find it revolting, even when my English husband tries to pass it off under the exotic French title of “crème anglais”.

I discovered my favorite English desert after I had been touring the country on a bus for four days. My taste buds had been numbed by a steady diet of egg salad sandwiches and salt and vinegar crisps (or chips, as we Americans call them) so the first time I tried an Eton mess, I swooned. The simple combination of crumbled meringue, vanilla ice cream, strawberries and whipped cream was heavenly. The name of the desert refers to Eton college, a posh school in Queen Elizabeth’s hometown. I imagine mess comes from the appearance of the dish. Recently I made one with my three-year-old daughter and she now shares my passion and nightly begs me to “make the mess again”. I admit, my taste buds might not be the most sophisticated.

It’s as British as fish and chips

By Eddie Keogh

It’s been our national dish for over a 100 years now and although it’s seen some strong opposition from lasagne and chicken tikka masala, it’s as popular now as it ever was. As a young boy, I have fond memories of Dad rushing in the door with parcels of fish and chips wrapped up in last weeks newspaper. Crispy battered fish with chips covered in salt and vinegar – comfort food at it’s best.

I’ve just spent three days traveling around London’s high streets and back streets looking for Fish and Chip shops. From The Codfather in Northolt to The Rock and Sole Plaice in Covent Garden. I’ve met every nationality working behind the counter and queuing in front of the counter, which confirms it’s broad appeal. Back in 1995, British people were demolishing an incredible 300 million portions of fish and chips every year!

The birth of fish and chips has an interesting international story. We hadn’t even clapped eyes on a potato until they were bought back from South America by the conquistadors in the 17th century. It was the French who invented the chip and the Jews who brought deep fried fish to Britain. There are differing opinions but it’s claimed that the first combined fish and chip shop was opened by a Jewish immigrant, Joseph Malin, within the sound of Bow Bells in East London around 1860. The importance of this national dish was never clearer than during World War II when the British government made sure fish and chips were one of the few foods that was never rationed.

At home with Hercules

By Peter Andrews

When asked which Polish athlete has a chance at the London Olympics I immediately thought of the shot put champion Tomasz Majewski.

For those who have never seen Tomasz in real life, it can be a bit intimidating. I have always considered myself tall at 192cm (6 feet, 3 inches), but when I first met Tomasz I suddenly felt very small. With a height of 2.4 meters (7 feet 10 inches) and weighing 140 kg (308 pounds), Tomasz is overpowering. He reminded me of Hercules with his long dark hair up in a pony tail. He also has a nice warm smile he puts on easily, so being around him is relaxed and easy right from the first handshake.

I wanted to photograph Tomasz training for the Olympics and he was kind enough to let me just be around him during his daily training and routines. So for the next few weeks I was watching him shot putting, running, jumping, lifting weights and preparing for the biggest sporting event, held every four years. With just one arm he lifted more than I could bench press with all my strength.

Ghosts of Olympics past

By Toby Melville

The United Kingdom, London in particular, is cranking up the momentum with just over two months to go until the 2012 Summer Olympics begin. In the last few months myriads of sporting, political and business photocalls have taken place around the gleaming and glittering new venues in east London with many test events being held therein.

The last time London hosted the Olympics was in 1948, three years after the Second World War and because of that global conflict, it was the first Olympics in 12 years, since Berlin in 1936. The competition was labelled the Austerity Games, because of the post-war rationing and the economic climate of the time. With the 2012 Games also set against a backdrop of global financial and economic crisis, comparisons with the previous time London played host are easy to make.

In 2012, over nine billion pounds sterling (approximately US$13billion) has so far been channeled into building brand new stadia, with a whole new Olympic Park complex in east London. But in 1948, only existing venues and facilities were used, nor was there an athletes village. The total cost of the games then was £760 000 (approx £131 million, $210 million, in 2012). In 1948, British athletes had to buy their own kit and make their own way to events by public transport. Some of the venues used in 1948 are still in existence, so I thought it would make an interesting journey to track down and photograph them nearly 65 years later…