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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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August 19, 2008 10:25 AM

Olympics: Seeing more than medals

Posted by Rod Mar

After a week of being laser-locked in the medal pursuits of Michael Phelps, the rhythm and pace of the Olympics has definitely changed.

Sure, there are many medals yet to be decided, but in reality, many of the marquee events have come and gone.

These would include Phelps, the men's and women's gymnastics and the men's 100 meter dash.

That's not to say that basketball, volleyball, track, and the remainder of the events aren't important. They're all important (OK -- maybe all of them but trampoline -- seriously? Let me get this straight -- if you bounce up and down on your parent's bed, it's go straight to your room without any dessert. But if you do it on a trampoline you can get a gold medal?)

My point is this: Entire countries (like the USA with Phelps and China with gymnastics) won't be hanging on every result this week.

Given that, I've really tried to take a good look around at the events I'm covering. What is there besides the winners and the losers? What can I see beyond the peak action?

Here's some of what I found:

At water polo, there is an underwater viewing window. Chinese players swimming near the surface are reflected in the water above them:



(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 800, 1/1000th sec.,f2.8)

There are countless staff and volunteers at these Games. This poor young man had to sit in the dark and dank basement of the water polo venue waiting for curious photographers to show up. He's lit by the glow of the pool as he reads a book in his subterranean workspace:



(Nikon D3, 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 110mm, ISO 2000, 1/25th sec.,f4.0)

In the mixed zone (where reporters and athletes "mix" for interviews) at the rowing venue, a member of the media staff holds up a sign asking for the end of interviews so that the medal ceremonies can begin:



(Nikon D3, 24-70mm/f2.8 lens @ 24mm, ISO 800, 1/800th sec.,f5.6)

During the USA gold-medal ceremony, members of the women's eight are reflected in the waters of the Shunyi Olympic Rowing park as they stand at attention for the playing of the national anthem and the raising of the American flag:



(Nikon D3, 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 200mm, ISO 400, 1/320th sec.,f2.8)

At the Bird's Nest, a custom painted radio-controlled car is one of two being used to transport the discuses (again, is it "discii"?) from the landing area back to the discus cage:



(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.,f4.0)

On the pitch well after the USA women defeated Japan in the semifinals, USA midfielder Shannon Box plays with Riley Rampone, daughter of teammate Christie Rampone:



(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens + 1.4x extender = 840mm, ISO 3200, 1/800th sec.,f5.6)

Finally, a rose, floating in the pool at the Water Cube (left over from Michael Phelps' final medals ceremony) is gracefully picked up by a member of the Canadian synchronized swimming team that had just entered the water for practice:



(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1000, 1/320th sec.,f4.0)

Hope you enjoy these images. I have to fight not to get so locked into action images that I forget that balance is everything, even in silly pursuits like sports photography.

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