Photographers' Blog

Prayers and cheers in Vettelheim

Heppenheim, southwestern Germany

By Kai Pfaffenbach

To watch a car race on television from a comfortable couch is fun, but to cover a Formula One Grand Prix as a photographer at the track is always thrilling. It is fast, exiting and produces nice pictures (most of the time). As I have covered quite a lot F1 races across Europe over the past 17 years with Reuters, I would never have imagined that my most exciting experience as a photographer in connection with F1 would be the public viewing of the last race of this season.

Germany’s Sebastian Vettel was leading the driver’s ranking 13 points ahead of his Spanish rival Fernando Alonso when the starting lights went green on the Interlagos circuit for the Grand Prix of Brazil in Sao Paulo. More than 2000 people were waiting for that moment in Heppenheim, the hometown of Red Bull driver Vettel, who has won the last two driver championships. The inhabitants of Heppenheim, also fondly known as Vettelheim, were in an easy mood when Vettel got ready in the fourth position on the starting grid, while Alonso started in eighth. Just a few seconds later emotions were turned upside down.

The German got off to a poor start and to make matters worse was in a collision with Brazilian Bruno Senna’s Williams that left him facing the wrong way with a damaged car. The cheering turned into praying…

Even the greatest optimists started to loose confidence. Everybody had simply expected just a big party to celebrate Vettel’s third consecutive Championship. As Red Bull team principal Christian Horner informed Sebastian via their radio that “There is visible damage, it is not the front wing, we cannot fix it,” some of the Vettel fans almost fainted!

Members of Vettel’s supporter’s club were holding hands, others closed their eyes – it seemed that his car would last only a few more rounds. Yet four laps later after being assured by the Red Bull technical head the data looked good, he drove faster and faster. Confidence gained. The public viewing room swelled with expectation and relief and the cheering went up again.

The moment Jeter fell

By Mike Segar

Firstly, let me say I am most definitely NOT a New York Yankees fan. I grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and have been a devoted Boston Red Sox fan my entire life. The Yankees are our sworn enemies as Red Sox fans and that never changes.

However, in my job as a photographer for Reuters I have covered the Yankees in the MLB playoffs since 1996, when I covered my first New York Yankees World Series championship.

That season a young rookie shortstop named Derek Jeter made his postseason debut as the Yankees went on to win the first of five World Series titles through 2009 (losing two more World Series in 2001 and 2003 along the way). I have seen a lot of playoff baseball games and experienced countless exciting and memorable moments as the Yankees and Jeter proved their greatness time and again.

Old people and their parents

By Andy Clark

Arriving outside the main gates I couldn’t help but notice there were no crowds of spectators milling around or scalpers shouting their prime seat tickets for sale, in fact all was very quiet. It was roughly 7:45am and besides a couple of birds singing in the trees and a dog barking somewhere out of sight it appeared I was completely alone. My sudden fears of the wrong day and or wrong place were soon quelled as I entered the gates and walked down a small path. There before me was the field of play and scattered across it were the players warming up and preparing for the first day of competition at the fifth annual Pacific Cup Croquet Tournament.

Yes that is correct folks, I said croquet. Several months ago I was searching for a website totally unrelated and for reasons only Google knows, up came a page with a detailed list of the 2012 croquet tournaments across North America. Before I could click the page away, I remembered seeing some interesting images from a tournament at least 25 years ago and thought, I wonder. Sure enough listed halfway down the page was the Vancouver Croquet Club’s fifth annual Pacific Cup.

Like many people, the only croquet I know is what one may have played in their backyard as a child, known as Golf Croquet. The croquet I was about to witness was nothing like that. The game played during the tournament was the full international version known as Association Croquet. I can report that even after it was explained to me on several occasions combined with watching it for three days, all I know is that it involves two players and each match runs just over two hours. In fact my ignorance of the sport became clear on the first day of competition. I had settled down on a bench along the sidelines to watch a couple of players warming up, hoping to get any idea of what to expect once play began. After about 40 minutes I thought this was an unusually long warm up. I approached an elderly fellow nearby and asked when the game might get underway. With a look of disbelief the gentleman replied “they have been playing for 30 minutes”.

Hanging ten on Lake Michigan

By Sara Stathas

As a photographer, I am inspired to make work about people who have an extreme passion and enthusiasm for something near and dear to them. I seek out the quirky interests that Americans, in particular, have intense love for and use that as inspiration for making photos. I moved back to Wisconsin, the place that I grew up, after being away for a decade, and I’m rediscovering and seeking out some of the passions unique to Midwesterners.

The draw of the largest freshwater surfing event in the country, the Dairyland Surf Classic, held in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, sounded right up my alley as a photo opportunity.

I headed up to Sheboygan on Saturday of the Labor Day weekend, the busiest day of surf and paddling competitions, according to their schedule. I rolled into sleepy downtown Sheboygan at about 8:30am, noticing a Honda Camry with a surfboard strapped to the roof following me east towards Lake Michigan. I parked along the bluff at Deland Park, near a group of dudes peeling off their wet suits after their early morning surf session.

Learning the ropes of Olympic sailing

By Pascal Lauener

When Switzerland suddenly became a sailing nation after Alinghi won the 2003 America’s Cup for the first time and then had to defend the Cup in Valencia, I had the chance to cover sailing. Since a young boy, I have been attracted to boats, more so to container vessels rather then sailing ships. However after covering the America’s Cup in Valencia, I became fascinated by sailing. Challenged by the elements (wind, weather and water) and on a shaking rib (boat) it’s not so easy to get a good shoot of the action. But with the help of my Spanish colleagues and some old sailing photography professionals I made my way to the Olympic sailing in Quindao followed by another America’s Cup and now to the sailing event at the London 2012 Olympic Games.

Benoit Tessier, a Reuters photographer from Paris, and I arrived in Weymouth on July 23 and started our coverage of the games with press conferences and training sessions of the different sailing classes. Every morning on our way to the ribs (boats for the media) with our heavy Peli cases, mentally checking that you have packed everything for a day out at sea, the sun cream and the oil gear for the sea spray and rain, you hope you will return with some cool frames.

On board the rib the first thing I do is to get my underwaterhousing and my cameras ready for action. I put the underwaterhousing on the floor of the rib so it’s ready whenever we have the chance to come as close as possible to a sailor. I also have the two cameras one on a 500mm and the other on a 28-300mm lens back in the Pelicase. On the way out of the port you make your plans together with the captain of the rib and your colleagues on board. But as they are also your competitors you need to find a way so that everyone gets the things they need as there is no place for dispute on a moving rib.

It’s a dirty job

By Jessica Rinaldi

Imagine a mountain, the type of thing that you might go skiing on in the winter. Now picture yourself running up and down said mountain for nine miles and just for kicks why don’t you throw in some really sadistic obstacles? Things like fire and mud and just to make it more fun why not throw in some live wires? Yeah, live wires. You know just string them over that mud pit there so that you’ll get zapped as you’re trying to get across to the other side. We’ll call it the electric eel. What’s that you say? You’d like a dumpster full of ice cubes to jump into as well? Done. Congratulations you’ve just entered the world of the Tough Mudder, an event so intense that in order to compete you must sign a waiver releasing the planners from liability should you happen to die somewhere along the course.

SLIDESHOW: ONE TOUGH MUDDER

Let me be clear, this event is a sports photographer’s paradise. The mud alone would be enough to combat every extra inning baseball game you’ve ever shot (what’s that you say, 17 innings and not a single good picture?) but then throw in the ice cubes, the fire, the electrified wires, and a bunch of contestants so focused on getting through the thing that they have no idea you’re even there and well… you get the point.

You might assume that a photographer on her way to cover such an event would think to bring some sort of suitable covering for her equipment. I would love to tell you that I busted out the expensive rain covers for my cameras and wrapped them up lovingly, keeping a microfiber cleaning cloth in my pocket to quickly wipe away any debris that got on my lens. But that would be a lie. I carried three cameras with me and threw caution to the muddy, muddy wind.

Roger and out: Wimbledon 2012

By Toby Melville

After two weeks of rainy, cold and windy tennis, somehow kept on schedule courtesy of early starts, late finishes and a much used Centre Court roof, the traditional tournament highlight of the Men’s Singles Final took place on Sunday.

For the first time in 75 years a Briton would contest the match. The only obstacle in Scot Andy Murray’s path to glory was the huge boulder in the shape of sixteen grand slam winner and six time Wimbledon victor, Switzerland’s Roger Federer.

I was lucky enough to have my name pulled out of the hat for the East Pit photographer’s position at ground level, with Reuters colleague Dylan Martinez shooting the game from one end, near the coaches, and where players often react to provide strong images.

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.

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.

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…

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