Monday, August 25, 2008


(please see below for behind the scenes pics)

The Olympics are a frantic frenzy of buses, walking, cameras, lenses, photographs, sweat, bumping & shoving, running, jubilation, action and then all of the sudden it comes to a screeching stop. I think I might have POD - Post-Olympics Disorder, not sure what to do with myself.

The last thing my best friend from high school Eric Fowles said to me via email was "rock china" - well I tried my hardest and China certainly rocked me but it's been a great experience. It's certainly not an original analogy, but the Olympics is definitely like a marathon. Okay, so I've never run a marathon, but I know someone who did (Jessica) and it's one of those things that might not be fun all the time but the greatest reward is making it to the finish line in one piece. Had lots of fun shooting the events, the hard work was the logistical stuff.

I definitely have mixed emotions about these Olympics. Wonderful experience and so thankful I was able to come here. The sad thing is looking ahead to London's Olympics - unless there is a cataclysmic change in newspapers and the economy I can really only see a handful - like 5-10 newspapers in the US sending people to London. Will newspapers even be around in four years. New York Times, Dallas Morning News, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, USA Today will send people, beyond those papers everyone else is highly in doubt.

The cool thing is that Athens and Beijing are the two Olympics I wanted to go to, Athens for the historical nature and China for the, well historical nature - but in much different terms.

I just wanted to say some Thank You's to several people, I'm not using last names in case those people don't want to be found:
First a huge thank you to Rachel W - our bureau chief - if it wasn't for her MediaNews proposal to have a bureau at the Olympics I would not have been there (neither would a lot of the other people). Second thank you to my boss Geri M. for having faith in me and asking me to go a couple of years ago (I guess I didn't f-up the first one too badly). Third another big thank you to Elly O., Josie L., and my bro Nol for watching my boy (cat) Whitie while I was gone and giving him lots of needed attention. Thanks to all the picture editor's and designers who used my images, Michael Malone, Jami S., Josie, Ashley, et al. Thanks to columnists Ann Killion and Mark Purdy and reporter-extradinaire Elliott Almond. Thank you to my Mom and stepdad David for their endless support and love. Thanks to my friends for their support and emails. I'm excited to play in the San Francisco Press Photographers Association Golf Tourny with Pat and Sean. A big thanks to our telecommuncations guru Linda K. for setting me up in the 11th hour with the near-life saving blackberry so that I could keep in constant touch with reality via email and internet. And thank you to Brad Mangin for posting parts of these on Sportsshooter.

There are a ton of people who did Olympic blogs and I look forward to finding them and reading them... some people that I know have blogs out there about the Olympics (just google them): Rod Mar, Chris Detrick, Vincent La Foret, Sol Neelman, Kevin German, Zach Honig, David Burnett, Dan Powers and others...

It was really great making some new friends out there Robert Gauthier, Michael Goulding, Mark Reis, Chris Detrick, Helen Richardson, Erich Schlegel and others, and seeing old friends like David Eulitt, Paul Kitakagi, Eric Seals, Michael Macor, Sean Haffey, Wally Skalij, Smiley Pool, Scott Strazannte, Rod Mar... Met a bunch of people briefly whom I didn't get a chance to talk with too much but seemed really cool, John Biever, Kevin German, David McIntyre, Jeff Shaw (I think?), Kirby Yao, Edward Ornelas... Barely ever saw some of my other friends, Jed Jacobsohn, Lucy Nicholson, Robert Hanashiro, John Mabanglo, Harry Walker, George Bridges, Vincent La Foret, etc... Awesome to work along side (or in the same venue with so many great photographers)... the SI dudes Robert Beck, Bill Frakes, John Biever, Al Tielemans, Bob Rosato (there were a couple more whom I haven't met before)... If I forgot anyone don't be offended :)

For all you gear-heads this is what I brought with me. And I will not be the first to proclaim this, but the Nikon 200-400 f4 is the perfect lens for covering the Olympics. That lens was awesome! I used it all but two days and those two days I wished I had had it. Most of the time when we are covering events we can move around. The files are so nice that ISO is irrelevant, I often shot at 2500 an the files looked sweet and tack sharp with that 200-400. Love that lens! During the Olympics most of the time you pick a spot and that's where you sat for the duration. The 200-400 f4 gave me latitude to get images I would have been unable to get with a fixed 400 or a fixed 300.

On a daily basis I rolled the Thinktankphoto airport international 2.0 which I could fit two bodies and five lenses in, including my lovely 200-400 and I carried my laptop in a Pacsafe backpack.

3 - Canon Mark III's
2 - Nikon D3's
1- Casio Exlim camera
1- Canon G9
1- Canon SD790 (point and shoot)

Canon lenses:
1 - 400mm f2.8
2 - 70-200mm f2.8
2 - 16-35mm f2.8
1 - 24-70mm f2.8
1 - 24mm tilt shift lens
2 - 1.4x converters
1 - 2x converter

Nikon lenses:
1 - 200-400mm f4 (awesome lens)
1 - 70-200mm f2.8
1 - 24-70mm f2.8
1 - 14-24mm f2.8
1 - 16mm f2.8 fisheye (yes Mom and David the same lens from college!!!) - used it to make the panoramas

Other gear:
1- Powerbook G4
2 - small harddrives
2 - Canon 580 strobes
1- floor plate
1- magic arm
1- ball head
3 - pocket wizards
* - a bunch of other misc stuff like monopods, clothes, energy bars, etc.

And all that stuff fit into:
1 - Thinktankphoto International Airport bag (carry-on)
1 - Pelican case
1 - Lowe pro case
1 - Samsonite hardcase
1 - Pacsafe backpack

It was kinda crazy - I have five DSLR (digital cameras) with me, two of them, Nikon D3's, I'd only used a couple of times before I left. I also brought a Casio that I'd only used once. A Canon sd790 which I hadn't used before at all. I ended up using the Nikon's the majority of the time mostly due to the 200-400 f4.

What didn't I bring over that I thought I was going to?
-Canon 300 f2.8 - no need to with the Nikon 200-400
-Canon 100-400 - see above, plus the Canon lens is no where near as sharp as the 200-400
-Sony video camera - i have the G9 that does video


mad dog medinger said...

how come you didn't mention your goggles? you wore them every day right? seriously tho, congrats on the huge accomplishment nm. you should be very proud!!

TomG said...

Nhat, I enjoyed reading your blog. The panos were cool, and your perspective on the whole spectacle was entertaining. Great pictures too. Hope you're wrong about newspapers not being able to send photogs to London. Hope there are still newspapers then!

btw, if you want to save yourself some googling, here are a whole bunch of links to Olympic photo blogs:

TomG said...

Nhat, whole link didn't make it. Probably some HTML way to create link right here, but I don't know how. So, just combine these three lines - without spaces- in your browser. cheers, TomG