Coming to Tokyo, I knew I’d be shooting DSLR (D6) and lots of long glass. There’s certainly a role for wide glass at the Olympics, but for action and reach, if you are not a pool shooter and on the field of play, it’s pretty much telephoto city. I brought wide lenses with me, and for weight purposes, they are my (relatively) newly acquired Z lenses, for the Z 6 and Z 7II cameras. All good. “Pool” photographers, by the way, generally work for the larger agencies and newspapers, such as Getty, AFP, AP, or the NY Times. They have priority, given the huge audiences they serve and reach.
Almost as an afterthought, I brought the DSLR 8-15 zoom, which is a lens that when announced, caused me to scratch my head as in “Why?” But I’ve come to love it, on a selective basis, and was happy to have it in Tokyo. I shot the banner pic of the opening ceremonies with it, as a remote camera, while I worked long glass for the actors and dancers on the ground. Tech notes on below…monopod, 200-400mm, f4, 1/100th of a second.
The 8-15 was handy for an establishing pic at the Velodrome.
And, at volleyball, typical me, I got caught short. Didn’t bring my Z cameras with me, only D6. Which left me one option for wide–the 8-15.
When the Swiss team won bronze, and the Americans, April Ross and Alex Klineman won gold, there was jubilation galore, and a typical photo gaggle around the winners. Somebody once said the best lens you can use is the one you got, so I plunged into the press melee locked into an atypical point of view.
When they turned around, I went tighter, which admittedly, ain’t all that tight.
Which actually worked out ok. When Team Switzerland (Joana Heidrich and Anouk Verge-Depre) finished their celebration and started to walk back onto the sand, all of the press backed up (it was mandated we stay distant from the athletes) and I found myself with very little backpedal room. I made myself as small as possible, and kept shooting, albeit with the camera down by my chest, not looking through the lens.
AFC to the rescue! All I did was shrink and turn and try not to fall.
Even though I looked like a creature out of Dune, I was not allowed to go on the sand. They estimate the temp out there was in the +110 degree range.
The cameras got hot to touch. Everything was blasted by the sun. Tip of the hat to the athletes who played magnificently through it all.
Check out more Tokyo Field Notes!
Don Risi says
I have been watching carefully all of your posts about the Tokyo Olympics. I am, as I always am with all of your work, extremely impressed. I do believe you are one of the all time great photographers. You are certainly far and away #1 in my book.
One of the things I find truly amazing is that you see the world with such fresh eyes — all the time. Different angles, different techniques, odd little slices of things, all stuff that 90% of the photographers in the world would never see, you see. To be able to look at a situation, and think, “Oh, I could try . . .” and then do it. Just having that presence of mind, to realize there is a way that will turn a decent photo into a great photo.
What sets you even further apart is that you have the artistic and technical knowledge necessary to capture what you’re seeing in your mind’s eye. I’m more than a little jealous of that, too.
You are, and continue to be, a huge inspiration. I have learned more from your how-to videos, your discussions (and that one class of yours I took when you came to OKC 4 or 5 years ago), and just from looking at your images.
Thank you, for being my (“I didn’t know I was your . . .”) mentor. Awesome.
PS: You’re a pretty darn good writer, too. Something else that sets you apart.
Gary Schwartz says
Hi Joe, amazing shots as always and love your insight. I was wondering with all the glass and gear you have to take with you do you have any assistants to help you, it sounds like a lot of kit. My guess is you didn’t.
Take care and hope you are getting some rest because I can’t imagine you had much time to sleep.
Gerald Beetham says
Nice to know that someone like Joe McNally got “caught short.” I always thought it only happened to me. Wrong camera, wrong lens….it happened more than I care to admit. The true pro finds a way to make it work. Thanks for sharing, Joe.
Joe McNally says
Not much sleep, for sure. And no assistant. One person operation, planning, shooting, dowload, backup, tone, and ship. But fun to be able to witness a very singular Games. Many thanks, Gary!
Joe McNally says
Hey Don….your words are so very appreciated. I’m glad to have had some measure of a positive presence in this nutty business of ours. I struggle, along with all photogs, seeking difference, seeking something that has just a touch of unique. We’re all in the same boat in that regard. I’m tremendously humbled by your words. All the Best, Joe
Lori Ryerson says
You’re right; we are all in the same boat, but some boats ride a little higher than others. Yours is one of those. As I’ve said before, I have always loved the joy and thoughtful measures you bring to sport photography. You show the rest of us your considerable experience, and never hesitate to apply principles that aren’t specific to humans or sport, which just adds an extra McNally punch to the field. I LOVE the images you post from the Olympics, they always stop me in my tracks, and teach me something more. I had a buddy working down in the broadcast centre all the way through and he got a good chuckle from your posts, too, completely appreciating what you were going through. Thank you for your wonderful compositions and commentary. Safe journey home!
Vahan Moosekian says
Your insights into how and why you shot things the way you shot them is truly inspirational as well as educational. I already know, from the years I’ve followed you and taken your classes on line (when are you coming to Los Angeles?) that you are a remarkable shooter with an authentic eye, But the little details you shared in your “notes”, even down to what you had to eat and how you prepared in light of the limitations put upon you, give so much great insight to what the “job” is really like. You brought it down to earth, as they say, especially for those of us who will never get the opportunity to shoot an Olympics. I truly loved following your posts and even though I have taken your masterclasses, I felt this was maybe even more important. Thank you for sharing. P.S. Love the sense of humor as much as the photos,