Thanks to Dan Wong for making a home for my panoramas: a pretty decent amount of sleep last night – 7 hours – trying to get as much as I can before the Games actually start.  I decided to head to the gymnastics venue to do a couple of panoramas there and just to check out the venue.  It’s kinda close to the UEL – just take the DLR, Canning Town and transfer to the Jubilee to the Greenwich station.  What?  Translation – from the UEL (University of East London, where I’m staying) – I jumped on the DLR (Docklands Light Rail) to the Canning Town station where I transferred to the tube – the Jubilee line which dropped me off at the North Greenwich station. Gymnastics is being held at the North Greenwich Arena – which is actually the O2 – I guess music/arena venue.  I ran into Peter Reed Miller from Sports Illustrated in the hallway and we talked about the venue for a little bit.  Also saw Chang Lee from the NYT in the media center there.

Afterwards I jumped back on the Jubilee, transferred back at Canning Town and headed to ExCel.  ExCel is an interesting venue (don’t forget to look at the pano’s at the bottom) – basically just a huge, long space, kinda like a convention center broken up into a bunch of rooms on each side of a very long hallway.  But they are having seven events there – judo, taekwondo, wrestling, table tennis, boxing, weight lifting, and fencing.  When you walk into a room all you see is scaffolding – but then there care little entry points into the actual “field of play” as they like to call it.  The smart thing is that when they are done they just tear it down.  Instead of building a huge venue just for fencing – which would most likely not be used again.  Fencing venue:

Before I went in I ate at Fox Bar and Restaurant – it was okay – had some pasta.  They did confiscate my flash light which I forgot I had in my backpack because it also included a laser pointer … Guy was like – you can take it back to your hotel… Uh no.  So I decided to take a break in the fencing venue – which is kept quite dark.  I was seriously considering taking a nap – and was on my way when David Eulitt and Harry Walker from McLatchy walked in… We chatted for a bit.  So weird how you run into people.

They headed off for a meeting and I decided to check out downtown at least for a little bit before a party being held by Nikon.  Jumped back on the DLR to the Canning Town station and then took the Jubille down to the London Bridge station.  Wow it’s busy downtown!  I walked across the London Bridge – realizing what I really wanted to see was the Tower Bridge off in the distance… so after a short jaunt I made it down there.  I got to watch a cruise ship sail (? – float?) under the Tower Bridge – that was pretty neat – it went through backwards.

Some neat building:

Afterwards I walked a ways to the Tube – took a couple of subways to the Goodge station and then a short walk to the building the party was being held at.  Lots of Londoners reading the paper – yea:

Building Nikon party was held in:

I got there a little after 7, didn’t recognize anyone, was there for about 30 minutes and I was thinking of bailing but then started to run into some people I knew – first saw Wally Skalij from the LA Times, then Sara Moosbruger from Nikon, Elsa (from Getty – we went to college together!), Ezra, (Getty), John Leyba (Denver Post), Robert Beck (Sports Illustrated), Kojo Kinno (Becks assistant), David and Harry from earlier, gosh wow, I did see a lot of people I knew, Paul Kitagaki, Scott Mc Kiernan, John Mabanglo, Steve Dykes, Kyle Terada.  Also met a bunch of people – mostly foreigners but – Mike Powell and David Bergman seemed nice.

Why does Nikon throw a party – oh and by the way Canon had one at the same time, some people went to both.  Why do they throw a party?  I’m sure they have specific reasons, but for us, good PR for their product, gather lots of photographers together, and free schwag!  In Vancouver they had a joint Nikon/Canon party at the aquarium, which was amazing – but the schwag was a gigantic bag – and considering everyone had already lugged all of their stuff up in gigantic bags the last thing we needed was another big bag.  I gave that thing away that night.  This time Nikon had a sweet pair of binoculars and some other small stuff!  yea!  A Nikon bigwig address the crowd:

On the way out we ran into Smiley Pool from the Houston Chronicle.  He was heading in after checking out the Canon party – we were thinking of going there but heard they ran out of stuff.  As we were waiting for Smiley, Larry Smith (from EPA) walked out, we were standing in a group and someone, I think Wally, said – “thanks for saying hello” – and he says “oh I know you!” and shook hands, then he pointed towards me “I don’t know you” and then after a moments pause he says “WAIT – I do know you!”  It was pretty funny.  Always nice to be remembered.  Larry is a super nice guy, great shooter and totally reminds me of the dude from the Big Libowski.  A group of us decided to head to dinner and we made our way to Smiley’s hotel… had an interesting pizza:
Around midnight Karl and I headed back – just change from the Tube to the DLR – a nice lady from Kenya helped us navigate our way in-between.  Well next up is opening ceremony – oh boy!

Tower Bridge

Gymnastics venue outside

Gymnastics venue inside I

Gymnastics venue inside II

ExCel inside

ExCel outside

Table Tennis



Apparently one of the buses heading from the MPC (Main Press Center) to the Stratford gate (our main entrance) in the evening (around 7 pm) – got lost – an Italian driver – so what would normally take 15-20 minutes took 45 minutes and they ended up coming back to the MPC – so really ended up taking over an hour!  Yikes… Lots of really pissed off people, English guy sitting across me cursed up storm even when driver slowed down for a turn.  I’m glad I didn’t get on their bus first, that would have been most annoying.  But the busses they use on the Olympic grounds are kinda cute.

Today was pretty uneventful… caught up on sleep and my blog in the morning.  The subway – the Jubilee Line – was ridiculously packed – I barely got on – I can’t imagine how bad it’s going to be once the Olympics actually start… Went to the “World Food Court” – couldn’t decide what to get – ended up thinking a burger was probably the safest.  Well I couldn’t have been more wrong, it was really quite gross.  Tasted like it was hollow or something – just had no substance – I should have just gone to McDonald’s – it would have been about a 1/4 of the price too.  Oh well – at least I’m on an expense account.

As you can see they still aren’t 100% finished with everything – here some workers finish up some stuff outside of the Aquatics Centre:

Headed out to check out the different venues and did some 360 degree panoramas (see links below!) of the swimming venue (inside and out), basketball (inside and out), velodrome and the bmx (outside), and the Olympic Park.  The Olympic Park is pretty massive takes forever – I think it took like 30 minutes to walk from the Velodrome to the Aquatics Centre.  They opened the grounds to some fans today so there were a of people milling about.

Only person I ran into today was John Leyba from Denver at the Aquatics Centre.  Other than that I was just wandering.  Stopped and had tapas for dinner – it was pretty good.  So either I took the subway home really late, or really early because it was empty at 10 p.m.  It’s 2 a.m. now and I just finished scanning – er – editing the panoramas… Tomorrow probably more of the same.  I think there is some photo meeting in the afternoon and perhaps a party that Nikon is throwing in the evening.

360 Panoramas:

Inside the Aquatics Centre

Inside the Aquatics Center Part B

Outside of the Aquatics Center

Outside of the Basketball Arena

Outside of the Basketball Arena Part B

Inside the Basketball Arena

Inside the Basketball Arena Part B

Olympic Park

In-between the Velodrome and BMX Track

In-between the Velodrome and BMX Track Part B

Outside of the Velodrome

Travels – Part B

… after arriving at Paddington the volunteer that showed me the nice luggage cart directed us through Paddington station – Elliott and Karl had to take three different subways a few days before to get to UEL (University of East London where we are staying) – so I was planning on doing that even with all my gear.. but she directed us towards some old mail tunnel in the building which fed us out to some loading dock under the building.  From there there were a bunch  of cabs there they were being used as shuttles.  Like I said in the pervious post I hadn’t researched as much as I should how i was going to get all of my stuff from Heathrow to UEL and was even thinking of cabbing it the whole way – that would have been super expensive – like $150 us… So instead I paid $0 (you’re welcome faceless bean counters!).  For the Olympics we were given a free Oyster card – basically a card to ride all of the subways and buses.  Anyway, long story short, I got in a cab just like this one:

it took about an hour to drive from Padding Station to UEL – had to drop off some guy I shared the cab with but it was considered a shuttle so it was free.  Luckily Linda K, our telecoms guru, provisioned my iPhone for data so I could figure out where I was during the trip – I also downloaded the subway – or Tube rather – map-ap.  I was struck at how short London was – I mean buildings – there aren’t that many tall buildings, well at least the route we took.

After I got to the UEL nobody really knew where I was supposed to go.  A nice lady directed me to an office in a building at UEL… and I waited, and waited, and waited, for an hour for someone to help me.  It was a little frustrating to be steps from my hotel room and not be able to get inside.  I was hoping to take a quick nap and shower but that wasn’t going to happen… well I did take a quick shower but not a quick nap.

Here’s the building we’re staying at and check out the video Elliott did of the rooms – reminds me of being on a cruise ship – except smaller!: I have a nice view of the water and London City Airport.  Planes start to take off at 6:30 am.  But actually that doesn’t bother me at all since I live kinda close to the San Jose airport so I’m used to hearing plane noise.

Needed food and needed to meet Elliott and Karl to go and buy some local phones for talking.  I’ll talk about the logistics in another post – but long story short – this Olympics is going to be logistically very difficult.  We are intermingling with the public A LOT.  Which I don’t like, especially when carrying around expensive gear, kinda freaks me out.  It takes two subways to get to the main Olympic complex and then after that we have to wade through the largest mall in Europe to get to yet another bus that will take us to the MPC (Main Press Center) or Olympic Stadium, etc…  ridiculously busy mall traffic – 4 p.m. on a Monday!:

One of my favorite foods is Mediterranean food, especially gyros, so I figured since we were half-way to Greece the gyros must be good in London, even the mall, looked decent… ended up being the worst gyro I ever had – it was so gross.  And I was starving and I couldn’t finish it… Met Elliott and Karl and we walked over to get some local cellphones.  Also picked up a towel (the one towel we are given feels like sandpaper) and soap.  For Linda:  Elliott watches guy writing hand-written receipt for phones and sim cards – haha:

Afterwards we walked back through the mall to get to a bus which would take us to the MPC (Main Press Center) – there I ran in to a few familiar faces – funny enough Elliott and I were riding the elevator up and the door opened and my friend Jed Jacobsohn, a great bay area sports photographer, was standing outside waiting to get in!  We were heading up to the USOC (US Olympic Committee) office and he was heading up to the New York Times office (for whom he is working the Olympics for).  Also ran into Julie Jacobson (yes spellings are correct), from AP, Ronald Martinez (Getty), legendary Terry Schmidt (UPI), Stephanie Mullen (AP) and John Leyba (Denver Post).  While I was there I got my Olympic photo vest (required to wear), internet access ($250 US for the whole time), locker, and a few other things.

Afterwards Karl and I decided to walk over to the Olympic Stadium, not an easy feat – but we did it… took about 15-20 minutes.  I did a few 360 panoramas:

Afterwards I walked back to the mall and Karl went to the MPC – I relaxed at the mall for about an hour and waited for them for dinner.  We went to the World Food Court in the mall and I had some pretty darn good Indian food – but I was starving so maybe it wasn’t so good… but I thought it was:

Finally headed back to the room – took a few subways and we were back… I had to do a little bit of work, about an hour or so, but after 31 hours I passed out around 12:30, but then woke up at 2:30, then passed out, and then woke up at 5:30… and finally fell asleep until 9.  Gonna take it quite a bit easier today… hopefully check out a few venues and do some more panorama’s.

Travels – Part A

So this is going to be a long post cause the day, er few days, were super long – I was up 31 hours – with a small restless one hour nap on the flight over.  Flight was about 9 1/2 hours, direct from SFO – but had to take a shuttle from my house.

The shuttle driver showed up 20 minutes early so luckily I had pretty much everything packed up kinda had to jam a little bit – I have three check-ons and when he found out he said I’d have to pay for the third, $5, that was fine… I went back and got the third bag that was sitting on my porch.  If you know me then you know that sometimes I get kinda paranoid about forgetting things – cause I do forget things periodically… so I asked the driver “I gave you the third bag right?” and he says – “oh yea”.   Then we make one stop at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Laboratory to pick up a passenger and the driver gets out to load the dudes bag and says to me “Hey there are only two bags back here?”  So of course I start to freak out and I say “seriously” and start thinking about how I’m gonna get back down to San Jose, blah blah and then he goes “just kidding man.”  hilarious.  He pronounced Michael Phelps name Fills… He’s like “Fills is going to be at the Olympics again right?”  haha nice guy though.

I was all freaked out about my carry-on because on all of my previous international flights they have weighed the carry-on and the airline I was taking Virgin Atlantic had super strict weight – 13lbs!  Considering my Think Tank Rollar bag which I would normal take on as a carry-on weighs about 9.5 lbs then that didn’t leave me much weight.  So I took my TT backpack and stuffed it with stuff, and stuffed my pockets with stuff so that the backpack weighed 13 lbs.  I wanted to carry on at least two camera bodies and a few lenses in case a bag got lost.  Anyways, long story short, they didn’t weigh it at all… oh well!

I watched three movies on the way there 21 Jump St (that’s the only time I slept – about an hour during that movie), Tower Heist and Hunger Games.  They were all alright.  Also watched a two Showtime TV shows and the Office.

I sat in an aisle seat next to a very chatty guy from Wales… he turned 21 years-old on July 4th, had spent the last three weeks touring the US by car.  A kinda stocky guy, amateur rugby player, with a super raspy voice… his favorite city in the US – St. Louis – favorite spot – Niagara Falls.

After arriving in Heathrow took a long walk to baggage – and then I got my credential laminated.  We were given our credential a while ago but it was a piece of paper – so once we got to the airport we had to officially check in – didn’t take more than a few minutes, then went through customs, which was easy – they had an Olympics line.  Along the way there were a ton of volunteers to help direct and answer questions.  After grabbing my gear I made it to the Heathrow Express – which is connected to the airport.  It was a decent jaunt over but worth it.  I hadn’t been very good about doing research on how to get from the airport to the place I’m staying.  Luckily Elliott Almond (the Olympics reporter) and Karl Mondon (video/photographer) filled me in on how to get to UEL (University of East London) where we are all staying.

Very nice subway – we arrived in Paddington Station – super cool building – I think Harry Potter, among other movies, was filmed there?

Once there a nice volunteer directed me towards some Olympic luggage carts.  Since I had three rolling bags and a backpack it had been a little bit of a pain…

That was the easy part… on to part B…

July 2012!

This is a picture of Gabby Douglas (as we referred to her in the Mercury News) from a remote camera during the USA Gymnastics team trials at HP Pavilion.  I was shooting from the ground level with a Nikon D4 while triggering the remote camera with a Pocket Wizard at the same time – which was a Canon Mark IV with a 70-200 f2.8 lens in the catwalks.  You can see the rest of pictures from that day HERE. It was a nice surprise that this ended up on Time’s website – thanks to James Tensuan for letting me know cause I had no idea.  I think Cindi Christi was the photo editor that night up in Walnut Creek and she submitted the image to the Mclatchy Tribune wire service and Time in turn picked up up from there (at least I think that is what happened).  The trials were in town for about a week but I was only able to cover Sunday’s competition because I was in the middle of Mosaic – a two week high school journalism workshop.  It was great fun to be the director of photography for that –