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

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August 31, 2008 12:29 AM

Olympics: Closing Ceremonies, A Look Back.

Posted by Rod Mar

Has it only been a week since the Closing Ceremonies?

It seems like months ago.

The Closing was no match for the Opening Ceremonies. It wasn't designed to be -- the closing ceremonies are supposed to have more of a party feel than a ceremony feel. The entire event took just longer than two hours, and the weather was nicely bearable.

For the Opening Ceremonies, I shot from position "K", which was in the front row of seats on the second deck of the Bird's Nest. For the Closing, I was shooting from a specially designed riser at the end of the track that while used mostly for the track events, was ideal for the Closing Ceremonies. As the athletes would be mingling on the infield, the slightly lower and closer vantage point made it easier to pick out faces.

The Closing Ceremonies began with drums, echoing the start of the Opening Ceremonies.

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 125mm, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.f2.8)

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 78mm, ISO 2000, 1/640th sec.,f2.8)

Elaborately costumed and lighted dancers flitted around the infield:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/250th sec.,f4.0)

When the costume wasn't enough, some performers were spray-painted:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/250th sec.,f4.0)

Cyclists on bikes with oversized wheels spun through the throng. Changing to a slower shutter speed in the dark was challeging, and I didn't execute this very well at all as you can see "jittery" movement. Of course, panning with a 600mm lens while shooting in the dark is a pretty good challenge:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/6th sec.,f20)

As in the Opening Ceremonies, performers "flew" around the Bird's Nest on tethers, adding height and depth to the visuals:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens, ISO 1600, 1/500th sec.,f4.0)

Unlike the Opening ceremonies, at the Closing, athletes don't enter by country, they enter en masse, and are encouraged to mingle with each other in a party atmosphere. Of course the USA contingent was on the opposite end of the stadium from most of the photographers, but when I saw a tall blonde frolicking on the shoulders of a Australian teammate, I knew it was Seattle Storm player Lauren Jackson. She looked MUCH happier than she had the day before after losing in the gold medal basketball game. There was very little light falling on the athletes, so I had to jack up the ISO, lower the shutter speed and then be very steady as I released the shutter. At 840mm, shooting at 1/160th second is a recipe for movement or shakiness in the image:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens + 1.4x extender = 840mm, ISO 3200, 1/160th sec.,f5.6)

No shrinking Violet, Jackson found her way to Chinese superstar Yao Ming, and asked him to take a photo with her:

(Nikon D3, VR 600mm/f4.0 lens + 1.4x extender = 840mm, ISO 3200, 1/160th sec.,f5.6)

During the handover part of the ceremony, London's 2012 Games made its first appearance, via a double-decker bus:

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 70mm, ISO 2000, 1/800th sec.f2.8)

The bus "unpeeled", revealing a stage where singer Leona Lewis performed with Led Zepplin guitarist Jimmy Page. On the opposite side of the bus, legendary soccer player David Beckham "sang" and kicked a soccer ball (I couldn't see it so you'll have to take my word for it -- I am told it's fortunate I couldn't hear him sing either -- you'll have to take my word for that, too).

(Nikon D3, VR 200-400mm/f4.0 lens @ 400mm, ISO 2000, 1/100th sec, f4.0)

As the ceremonies came to a close, the Olympic torch was extinguished and replaced by a "memory torch" comprised of hundreds of human figures, took its place on the floor of the stadium. I exposed for maximum depth of field, but it doesn't make much of a difference, at least looking at the image on the web:

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 75mm, ISO 2000, 1/40th sec.f16)

Banners were unvelied and raised from the center of the memory torch towards the roof of the Bird's Nest as acrobats danced along the banners:

(Nikon D3, VR 70-200mm/f2.8 lens @ 105mm, ISO 2000, 1/200th sec.f2.8)

Following tradition, fireworks brought the proceedings to an end in a stunning finale that combined the athletes in the infield, the human torch, the banners rising towards the roof and the fireworks lighting the sky. (As some of you have noticed, some frames I've shot on Canon equipment -- the short answer is that while I predominantly shot Nikon, I did use Canon equipment for some remotes -- more on that in a future post, I promise):

(Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 15mm/f2.8 lens, ISO 100, 2 sec.,f16)

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