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Best Seat in the House

Photography, sports and life as seen through the lens of Seattle Times photographer Rod Mar.

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April 12, 2008 10:36 PM

Another Day, Another Dalai

Posted by Rod Mar

Same Dalai, actually.

The Dalai Lama, head of state and spiritual leader of Tibet.

Day Two was at Qwest Field, home of the Seattle Seahawks.

Unlike Friday's event, where we were further from the stage than we were told we would be, on Saturday I was at right about 150 feet, which was mentioned in the press briefings. Alan Berner and I were shooting together again, and he was at a riser a bit further away, but more centered than I was (Alan is at the far right of the riser as you look at it)



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 90mm, ISO 100, 1/500th sec.,f5.0)

Still, there were problems (yes, photographers like to bitch...a lot.). The main problem, believe it or not, was the weather. It was a summer-like 70 degrees, and the stage was under a canopy. However, because of a children's choir seated behind, the stage was open in the back, not closed with a backdrop.

With the bright sun falling everywhere but on the stage, it was hard to shoot clean images. The background behind the Dalai Lama was two stops brighter than where he was standing, so in order to get correct exposure on him, you had to overexpose (or "blow out") the backgrounds, making them harsh and bright. (Note to organzers -- this wasn't very photogenic. And if it was hard for us to see, I can only imagine how difficult it was for people sitting in the stands).



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 70mm, ISO 400, 1/320th sec.,f2.8)

The event started with a "Meditation Movement Performance", which was kind of a circular, whirling modern dance. I chose to pan, to get a sense of the motion and the colors:



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 170mm, ISO 100, 1/8th sec.,f32)

This was followed by the "Procession of Cultures", in which different cultural groups entered from different corners of the field. The harsh light helped me backlight a photo of the Tibetan flag being carried in:



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 200mm, ISO 100, 1/2000th sec.,f2.8)

When the Dalai Lama took the stage, I managed to make a nice simple photo of him bowing and greeting the audience. You can see what I mean about the blown-out backgrounds:



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender, ISO 320, 1/200th sec.,f7.1)

Washington governor Christine Gregoire joined His Holiness on the stage:



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender, ISO 320, 1/200th sec.,f5.6)

A friend of mine mentioned how photogenic he is, and it's true. Peace and compassion do seem to radiate from his face:



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 300mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender, ISO 400, 1/320th sec.,f4.0)

Searching for different angles, I sought to use the hearts in the Seeds of Compassion logo to match how and where Gregoire and the Dalai Lama were sitting. In order to do this effectively and get the proper angle, I had to come down off my riser and lay on the ground.

If you read this blog regularly, you'll note it's not the first time I've laid flat on the turf.



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 400, 1/640th sec.,f3.5)

I don't know these gentlemen and security wouldn't let me get their names, but I'm guessing jet lag, not boredom, drove these men to sleep during the event:



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 400, 1/320th sec.,f3.5)

After the Dalai Lama finished his speech and answered some questions, there was a reading about compassion that asked all audience members to rise and put their hands in the air. Some parts of the stadium were full and it made a decent frame:



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender, ISO 400, 1/1250th sec.,f4.0)

Some parts of the stadium were empty and that also made a decent frame:



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 400mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender, ISO 400, 1/250th sec./f4.0)

The last order of the day was for audience members to tie "compassion bracelets" around their neighbors. I chose to shoot this as a detail frame, thinking it would complement all the other looser photos that I was sure would be part of our coverage.



(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200mm/f2.8 lens + EF 1.4x extender at 230mm, ISO 400, 1/320th sec.,f4.0)

Not many things amaze me in this job any more. Sure, I get to witness lots of great history, and some outstanding performaces. But being in the presence of the Dalai Lama was pretty special, and something I'm excited to tell my kids about.

So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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