Rio Opening Ceremonies, Michael Phelps, and Sleep Deprivation


If you are following me on social media, you know that I tried to write a blog post last night and promptly fell fast asleep about 2 minutes into it. Either my own writing bores me to tears or that my body finally said enough.
When people say the Olympics are rough, they aren't kidding as I have been averaging about 2 hours a night since the opening ceremonies. This being said, the Olympics are one of the few things, that I'd give up my precious sleep for. :)
Opening Ceremonies - This was my first to cover and it was pretty amazing once we finally got started.  These Olympics are in three big clusters - Copacabana, Barre, and Deodoro and throw in Maracana for some soccer and opening and closing ceremonies.
Well I am staying "at the Copa" (Yes, Barry Manilow has been stuck in my head the whole time.) While Copacabana is beautiful with lots of great  food and restaurants, the media transportation is severely lacking. In fact, we left our hotel at 10am to wait for the bus to the stadium for the opening ceremonies and we waited for over an over before finally giving up and catching another bus that went through the media center first. All in all it was four hours before we set forth on the stadium grounds.
All of the major agencies wired several positions in the stadium and my spot was off to the center about middle ways up. Even though we have a cable in those spots, there is no guarantee at these things as it pretty much a first come first serve thing. Once we were allowed up to our spots at 4pm, the mad dash to secure a spot ensued. Luckily we were early but had to wait another 4 hours in our spots before the ceremony actually started.
Once it did start, it was quite the spectacle! Here are a few of mine...(I was so hoping Pele would light the flame, but oh well.)
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 LOTS of fireworks at this thing!
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 Did I mention fireworks?
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Technology is amazing these days!
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Some guy on a boat. :)
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Tom Brady's wife Gisele walks the stadium runway as the girl from Ipanema.
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Great moment as Michael Phelps is the flag bearer for TEAM USA.
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 Brazilian marathoner Vanderlei De Lima lights the flame...
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And I am still trying to figure out what this is...
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Once the ceremonies were over, we went outside to catch the media bus heading back to Copacabana and guess what? Yep, it never came after we waited about an hour.  So, we decided to risk our lives in one of the craziest cab rides ever from Maracana (Which is sketchy at best) back to Copacabana. Want proof, check out my video of a part of our cab ride. We did get back in world record time though  :)

We get our assignments about 2 days in advance and contrary to what it looks like on tv, you can only do 1 sport or maybe two per day here. (Especially since they are so spread apart.) Shooting a lot of these sports are brand new to me, but I am treating them like everything else...good action, good light, clean background as much as possible, and emotion for sure!
Ok so my first event was road cycling and I had previously signed up to take a van after the start of the race to go to a very scenic part of the course where I could make some pretty pics. Well, they misplaced my reservation somehow and I was stuck going to another spot which was not that pretty....well except for the side AWAY from the racers! Smh. Since I had a 2 hour wait for the racers to show up, I got to take some breathtaking photos of Rio below me, so it wasn't a total loss.
Check out this gorgeous view from the wrong side of my road cycling spot...
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Next up was rowing bright and early the next morning. I was super excited as it looked like some cool pictures could be made with the awesome mountains in the background! I had to attend a 6:30am photo meeting with the venue's photo chief (yes, each venue has a photo chief to enforce rules and help out photographers) before the races were to start at 8:30am.
After the meeting, I was all set at the start line when they decided that the winds were too rough and they would cancel the day. Dang! At least I got this cool warmup shot early that morning. I'll be back there soon, so hopefully we will get some racing in.
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Since my day was cut short, I got asked to go up and cover weightlifting. This was another first for me and I simply loved all the emotion that the competitors show. Added to that, I got to capture a world record being set by China's Quinquan Long! Here are a few of my faves...
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After weightlifting, I saw legendary British photographer Bob Martin waiting for the same bus and so we hung out and waited over an hour for it to arrive. The volunteers told us that there was some sort of protest and they had no idea when a bus would come.  Well, about 5 minutes later, a media bus pulls up.  Once we were on it, something just did not feel right as the driver took us the wrong direction and into a super shady town about half hour away from our route. The bus filled with journalists from all over the world were all yelling and screaming as everyone thought that we might be getting kidnapped.(I even phoned in to USA Today to give them a head's up in case.) Well, it turns out the bus driver just got seriously lost. When we finally got back to the media center(where I still needed to catch another 1 hour bus ride back to Copacabana), people about lost there mind yelling at the driver. I'm finding out from speaking to a lot of people, that this is a pretty normal occurrence.)  Here is a quick snap of Bob and me once we realize that the driver was just lost...whew!
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I got back to the hotel about 3am and had to be out the door at 5am to get to the equestrian venue. I took a one hour power nap and a shower to wake me up. This along with power bars and Rice Krispie treats have been my staples. :)
Once again, equestrian was a total new sport to shoot for me, but I quickly picked it up and by the end, I was enjoying the jumping and almost had a couple riders fall off which would have been horrible for them , but great for me.  Here is also a behind the scenes setup for how we put up remote cameras.  Another cool thing about working this event is that most folks speak ENGLISH!  That was soooo nice as I didn't have to use my Google Translate App once!  Here are a few of my faves...
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And this horse wanted no part of jumping!
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Yesterday,  I started off early with Beach Volleyball all day. This is a fun venue and a lot more chill than equestrian for sure. :)
I started at 10am and went to the top to try to get some cool shadows before coming back down to get some reaction and action.
Here are a few from my first beach volleyball game including a cool sunset shot.  Oh and for some reason, I really don't mind photographing these women's games. :)
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How about this culture difference between Italy and Egypt.
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Now for the highlight of the night which almost didn't happen! I was scheduled to help shoot swimming in Barre and the traffic between Copacobana and there was absolutely ridiculous and I ended up spending like 2.5 hours trying to get there! Well, when I finally got to the aquatics center, my job was to gets shots using the Canon 600mm lens with a 1.4 converter from head on the opposite side of the finish.
I have watched swimming events all my life but this was actually the first time to photograph it, and only at the world's biggest stage!! Not to mention getting to photograph Michael Phelps going for two more gold medals! (No pressure!) Here are few...
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It's funny as I haven't really even looked at the photos I have been taking as we are sending our take from each venue directly to the press center where editors are working on and posting the images for the world to receive.  I think I may do a behind the scenes look at that soon as well as it's fascinating technology!  USA TODAY even has robotic arm cameras that we are using!
Feel free to ask any questions or leave any comments as at least the buses have wifi for those long trips back!  Now I am off to women's field hockey for another challenge...