Day 8


Mark Purdy’s story on “Blade Runner” (not very good) pix by me

Elliott Almond on Women’s Tennis pix by me

Mark Purdy’s story on Beach Volleyball pix by me

Two more panoramas

Inside Wimbledon

Inside Olympic Stadium

Brian Peterson and I decided to do the exact same thing today – but completely Independently of each other…

Four hours of sleep last night – waking up was a little tough.  But had to leave the room by 8:30ish – I figured out the DLR leaves from the Cyprus stop every 10 minutes – starting at :00.  So I just have to time it so that I leave my room by :05 after.

Left the room at 8:33 – got to Cyprus station at 8:37.  DLR to Canning Town, switch to DLR train to Stratford International then to Media entrance where I caught a bus to the MPC and then from the MPC changed to a stadium bus.  One hour.  Ugh

Headed to the “moat” that’s one of the photo positions ground level at the stadium.  Was going for one race for a Mark Purdy story at 10:35… The Men’s 400m qualifying… That is the race that the “Blade Runner” (another one of my favorite movies) is running in – in lane 6.  If you haven’t heard the Blade Runner is a runner who had won four Olympic gold medals – in the paraOlympics and qualified for the Olympics – read the story it’s a good one.  Brian was in the moat that faced the finish line – I was in the moat next to the finish line – I should have been in the moat Brian was in.

I thought it was really cool and he got a nice reception from the crowd.  The moat I was in was stage left – I actually probably should have been directly facing the finish line.  But as per usual here – no easy way to move around.  By the time I unpacked from the bus and got out to the most it was 10:00… I did a panorama from the position.

Blade Runner qualified – he is obviously ok with title because the announced him as such.  My mind had been too swimming oriented – the 400m in the pool means a bunch of laps? So I was thinking maybe he’ll go around a few times – but then there was a qualifying heat for the Men’s 100m and I was like – oh yea track is 400m round.

Seems like he is a good ambassador and I’m always in awe of people who have what most would consider to be a “handicap” but they certainly don’t want to do anything less or be treated any differently.

Booked to the bus to the MPC and changed to the Wimbledon bus and made it by 1 minute!  They leave every 30 minutes so timing was very good.  I was shocked to see only one other person on this bus – that meant I was either really late or really early.  Had a nice 20-25 minute power nap – bus trip was just under and hour.  Turned out I was really early, empty bus:

Because I was early I got a great clear center spot… directly across from Brian (at this point we still hadn’t spoken).  About 15 minutes before the match a bunch of photographers showed up.  I’m not really a tennis fan, but I will admit that I knew that this is a special spot – and it was pretty cool.  I think it’s probably akin to going to Augusta where the Masters is played (golf).  My spot, I think that’s Andy Murray serving during this mixed-doubles match before the Serena Williams match:

Match was super fast – had just seen Serena play in Palo Alto, right after winning at Wimbledon – she won at both places – in PA she didn’t win easily and it was basically against Stanford students… So figured this might be kinda close.  Well it wasn’t and she showed some great emotion at winning – much better than some of the swimmers who had little-to-no reaction to winning their gold medals yesterday.  Inside Wimbledon – surprisingly not elegant:

After the match I made my way over to cover the medal ceremony – found a good place though some guy hit me in the head with his lens five times – it was pretty annoying and he didn’t speak English and kept giving me “I don’t know look.”  When I got back I couldn’t find my 15mm – i had left it with my lens shade and pano head.  I checked my pocket and thought it was in there but when I got back what I thought was lens was not… So walked back to photo spot and the lens was gone :(.  But I got a flag picture I like because I happened to park myself (accidentally) right in front of where they attach the flag – it was so windy that the US flag actually blew off during the middle of the ceremony – oops!:

Hung out for a bit hoping the 15mm would show up – left my name with the photo people in case someone found it… Sucks because I have been really good about locking stuff up. The one time I leave it for 10 minutes it disappears.  If anyone sees a 15mm with “San Jose Mercury News” engraved in it – it’s the Mercs!!!  Oh yea and to top things off, I somehow bumped my camera into shooting raw – and small raw on top of it… still have no idea how that happened cause it’s not easy to change…

Interesting covered workstations – said “hello” to Brian – he wasn’t in this particular room – but another exactly like this one downstairs:

Grabbed a bus – a double decker and thought I would enjoy the view on the way – I did until I passed out and took a nice 10-15 minute power nap.  View from the top – sitting behind two unhappy Russians – cruising down the Olympic lane:

After I got off the bus stepped outside and Brian was standing there.  No idea he was on the bus… but we walked over to the bus to the beach volleyball venue.  Had my first meal of the day (7:00 pm) there, well besides a Cliff Bar.  Dinner was pretty bad – but I was so hungry I didn’t care, lasagna, some stew and sausage (actually the sausage wasn’t too bad).  It was a very quick match – which was nice.  Brian getting directions from a nice helper – though the walk was a good 10-15 minute walk to the media center:

Afterwards just jumped on the Tube to the DLR to another DLR to the dorms.  Edited in the room.  16 hour day, not too bad.  But now I have nothing to eat and for some reason the campus store that was open until 4 am is no longer open at all… oh well!

footnote – thanks to Karl and neighbor John (who shoots for USA Gymnastics) – I had a beer (from Karl) and ramen noodles (from John) – or else my dinner would have been pringles and a chocolate croissant…




Elliott Almond story on swimming – pix by me

USA Women’s basketball (no story)

Inside the Velodrome

Outside the Velodrome

Pictures from the Velodrome (no story)

“Hello Cleveland!” – i hope you recognize that from the Rob Reiner movie Spinal Tap – one of my all time favorite movies – today I had a total Spinal Tap moment. Had lunch with Paul Kitagaki and Scott McKiernan (from Zuma) and John at the MPC… Had some pretty decent beef stew in the cafeteria… After that we figured it would be faster to walk to the Velodrome then take the bus — I think it was faster only took about 15 minutes. I had never photographed inside the Velodrome and always wanted too. Here is Paul – sort of having fun – oh yea and it was pretty hot in there – apparently they have to keep it at a certain temperature so that the tires remain at a certain temperature:

It was neat and all – but I was a bit confused – for example – one of the races went eight laps – but some dude on an electric bike was “pacing” them for like the first 5 1/2 laps – so they really only raced the last 2 1/2 laps – ? It was interesting. The venue is cool looking from the outside and kinda small on the inside – and everything looked kinda of the same. After we were done shooting we started to head back to the media center – but none of the helpers knew where we were supposed to go – they kept directing us to different places – the arrows would be pointed one way and they would point us in the opposite direction.

Heres the Spinal Tap moment. – we were following the signs and one sign pointed directly to a dead end glass wall / “Hello Cleveland” – Really?!?

Today was a little frustrating… everything that I want to cover is at the SAME time! Swimming starts a 7:30 – but I’m in the A spot so I need to be there early – probably by 5:30. What else would I like to cover – Volleyball – 8:00, water polo – 7:40, swimming – 7:30, I would kinda like to shoot fencing final – 6:45. Can only cover one of those events.

I could have gone to judo but that’s at Excel – near my dorms which is about a 50 minute commute from the MPC and I needed to go to the MPC because I needed to get a swim ticket from Bill Hancock. So I didn’t really want to go up to the MPC get the swim ticket and then back down to Excel – but probably should have. After I picked up the ticket from Bill and chatted a little bit with him and then met Paul, Scott and John for lunch… As of now the only other events that will be ticketed are Men’s basketball and closing ceremonies!

After the Velodrome we all headed to swimming – yea the last day of swimming!!! – at least for me – there is one more day but I won’t be covering it. I sat in the front row of A cause I got there about an hour and a half early. The US did great tonight – three golds, a couple silvers and a bronze. That’s Missy Franklin from Colorado posing for photographers with her gold medal:

Headed to Women’s basketball after that. It was nice – few photographers – ran into SI’s John Beiver – super nice and talented of course, and another guy from SI named Mark (I think his assistant?). Smiley popped in while I was shooting – we both just shot the first half – then headed out.

One of the good things about being in a place that is off the beaten path, the UEL (University of East London), is that the train station has not been busy. Apparently there was a mega long line to get into the Tube to go downtown – where many photographers are staying. Anyway long day for me tomorrow so signing off!

Day Six

Lot’s of links today:
Men’s USA Water Polo team beats Great Britain (some wire pix at the end because I could only stay for the first half)

And two more panoramas!

Water Polo Arena outside

Water Polo Arena inside

Cough was pretty bad this the morning – but luckily that was it…  The rest of the day didn’t cough much at all.  Ya – realizing having swimming in the morning was so much better – there are so many different medally (is that a word) things going on in the evening.  Really hate to chose.  Big medal stories at gymnastics and swimming and judo and rowing – although if I had planned a bit better might have been able to do two of them.  Robert Beck went to rowing in the morning – said it took an hour and 15 minutes to get there – two and half to get back!  ack

Considering what I did today – I was a bit lazy this morning.  Had lunch with John in the mall – a Brazilian BBQ place – it was pretty good.  Nice to have regular people food, instead of venue sandwich’s every once-in-a-while.  From there I walked over to water polo – much faster than taking the bus – John took the bus cause he was going to basketball… I was only able to stay for the first half because I had to jet over to swimming – which, despite being right next door – it’s not easy to get too.  Here’s a map – I’m sure you can find a better one online – but here’s an iPhone pix of one:
close up:

I’ll tell you – from the MPC, which, in the top picture is the small unmarked rectangular building in the very bottom center of the map – it takes about 20-25 minutes to walk from there to the Olympic Stadium.

Saw Steve Dykes and he was nice enough to show me around – he was a photo manager in Vancouver and now is a full fledged venue manager, really nice guy.  Did a panorama inside and outside of the venue.  I Shot the last half of the Hungary vs Romania game and then the first half of the US vs Great Britain.

At halftime I skipped over to swimming (not literally) – I got to my position about 15 minutes before the first race.  Normally I wouldn’t dare show up that late but the ticket I had was different from the B ticket (which is deck-level but I needed to be there at least an hour and half beforehand to make sure I had a decent spot), I’ve had that the last few days.  I was in an assigned seat – up in the stands – first level.  Angle was ok.  US did great tonight I think three golds and a bunch of other stuff… Pictures weren’t so great cause no one really freaked out… Phelps didn’t do much at all, I, along with every one else, was hoping he’d show a lot of emotion… oh well.  My spot today -the B spot I was talking about is on the opposite side of the pool – in the picture -it’s on the top right:

Afterwards did a little editing said hello to Ezra and Robert and then headed over to basketball with John.  I only shot a quarter and a half of the US game versus Nigeria.  They have different rules so the game goes faster – shorter quarters and less fouls I guess.  I haven’t shot an NBA game in over five years.  Seemed super unfair… I only shot a quarter and half of that because the game started after 10 pm and I still had a ton of stuff to edit.  Nice loungers at basketball though!:
By the time we left and got to the MPC it was around midnight – grabbed the only thing open (unless we a wanted sandwich) – a few quarter pounders and fries and a beer.  Then headed to the Stratford International station.  Ran into Larry Smith from EPA on the bus back to the Stratford International Station – he was telling me he’s covering six basketball games a day!  That’s pretty brutal!

Day V

Putting these links first:

Story by Elliott Almond about local diver – pix by me

Swim story by Elliott Almond – pix by me

Today was a pretty cool day I must say.  I got to hang out with Heinz Kluetmeier, left, from SI and David Burnett, right.  Both are very cool and legendary photographers.  Wow those guys are funny too… here they are joking around once they saw me taking their picture:

I could have either done Gymnastics and Beach Volleyball like the other night or else Diving and Swimming.  We settled on Diving and Swimming – one of the divers is from the Bay Area – so that was cool.  Diving started at 3 which meant I needed to be there around 1 – so doing another event beforehand would have been tough (logistically).

So I decided to take care of a bunch of stuff.  Swung by the USOC to get a ticket for swimming for tonight and tomorrow.  Ran into Robert Gauthier again in his office next to the USOC office.  He was nice enough to tell me about an underwater viewing area for diving.  Also said he was going to go to swimming as well but was doing boxing before swimming – and then was going to head to Women’s Basketball.  I thought that sounded like fun…

After that I stopped by the Associated Press (AP) room on the second floor to see a couple of friends who are picture editors there – Jim Collins, who I worked with when I was at The Virginian-Pilot and Doug Benc, who was one of our interns at the Pilot.  So that was cool to catch up with them and see their very large set-up.

Ran to the pharmacy to pick up some cough pills – which they didn’t have – but they did have sore throat ones so I tried that.  Didn’t really work.  Then went to the bank to get some more money because I am out!  Amazing how fast it goes – the US dollar doesn’t go very far!  I came in with $400 in cash and spent that in about a week.  oh well.

Grabbed the bus down to the Aquatics center where both swimming and diving are at.  Asked about the underwater viewing area and was surprised only a few people had signed up… because space is super limited.  Just needed to be there an hour and half beforehand.  So ran up stairs and got a quick sandwich and met a photo manager who took another guy and me down there.  After a short elevator ride we were under the swim venue.  It’s cool that they make these viewing windows for those of us who cannot – or do not know how – to put down underwater remotes.  Here is someone putting a remote on the floor of the pool:

As I was shooting Heinz Kluetmeier walks up – I met him once briefly in Greece (see Greece blog: – anyway we shared the underwater window for a bit.  And later David Burnett comes walking in with his Speed Graphic (I think – or cool old camera).  They were joking around – Burnett was saying he didn’t think he could do a pike (as in diving) and Kluetmeier says “oh I could, it would just take me 10 hours to get out of it.”  ha.  Burnett gave me the key to a long life as well “keep breathing.”  Very sage advice for sure.  It was really, really hot down there and Kluetmeier, right, was able to find the one cool spot – taking a break:

Back to work taking some cell phone pix:

Look at the sweet pix David Burnett sent me!:

It was cool.  Shot practice for about an hour and then I shot the first round (there were six) of the diving competition downstairs – it was Men’s Synchronized 3m Springboard (spelled synchronised in British) Diving.  Said goodbye to them and headed up to an overhead shot.  My favorite pic from down there:

After the comp was over I ran down to shoot the athletes with their medals – ran into Donald Miralle – another really nice, super talented photographer – he’s there for Newsweek – he’s got a blog too:  As I was leaving Robert Beck (SI) and his assistant Kojo say hello:

 After diving did some scanning, otherwise known as editing, and then headed out for swimming.  Sat next to Smiley Pool – great shooter from the Houston Chronicle and talked about a bunch of different stuff.  John Leyba was nice enough to send me this pic:

Swimming went late – was planning on going to basketball but decided against it.  Finally starting to feel much better.  Only cough periodically instead of all of the time.

This is pretty neat – on the Time website thanks to Zuma:

Day Four

Today ended up being a pretty easy day – at least for work.  My painful cough woke me up after only three hours of sleep and was pretty nasty for quite some time.  But I will say that tonight it’s finally starting to feel better.  I guess the antibiotics are working and I’m ready to crash soon!

I had the best meal of the trip so far – went to a place called Wagamama next to the North Greenwich Arena – a Japanese restaurant – with John Leyba.  I had some chicken teriyaki meal that was quite tasty – John said the same about his steak teriyaki.

Today was Women’s gymnastics team finals – just like the Men, the Women led the prelims – so I was hoping that they’d do well.  We had the gymnastic trials in San Jose his past month – that’s the competition where they decide who will go to the Olympics.  I was only able to shoot one day of that but I do really like covering gymnastics.  The last few Olympics I’ve had to cover it from an elevated photo location because the being on the floor was ticketed.  But both Men and Women were not ticketed.  Got down to the floor an hour early and was surprised to see that it was empty:

It did fill up – but no where near what I thought it would.  Typically the Women’s comp is more popular than the men… tonight was the opposite, perhaps a lot of people were at swimming for Phelps.  Typically swimming prelims are in the morning and finals are in the evening.  In Beijing NBC decided they wanted prelims in the evening and have the finals in the morning – so that it would be prime-time for the States.  And I actually liked that – we’d shoot swimming in the morning and then have the evening to shoot whatever we wanted.  We could easily cover three to four events.  But with swimming in the evening now we have to chose what to cover a lot more carefully.  But it did make for super long days because we’d be at swimming super early and have assignments late.  Today gymnastics was at 4:30 – so I got to the arena around 1:30.  There was a morning fencing assignment but Karl was able to do that so I figured I should use the time to rest.  Gymnastics ended around 6:30 – but then there was the medal ceremony and stuff like that that ended up another 30+ minutes.  Most of the other events started around 7:30, there were no late starts like last nights beach volleyball which started late at 11:20 (was supposed to start at 11).  I could have jammed out of there right afterwards but instead decided to edit and then find a decent place for dinner (which we found).  So a short day – like 9 hours – almost normal hours.

There were (and overall there actually are) a handful of US newspaper photographers out here.  Pretty sad – was going through the papers with Brian Peterson (from Minneapolis Star Tribune) – who would normally be here but were not.  Don’t want to out them… but lets just say there were a lot.

Anyway, there were actually fewer photographers than yesterday for the Men’s comp, so it was pretty easy to move around.  The only issue was TV – of course – around the uneven bars I counted 17 television cameras!  That’s pretty insane – that doesn’t count the overhead video cameras either.  Pretty amazing.  But the US started super strong on the vault and never looked back – read the story by Mark Purdy and see pictures by me here:

Women’s Gymnastics Team Finals

Here is Wally Skalij from the LA Times checking out the balance beam shooting spot.  The photo marshal would not allow us to put our hands on the ledge!  (?)  As you can see Wally is breaking the rules:

It was really cool to see them win gold – after the vault it never really seemed like it was close.  And then Russia didn’t do to well on the final event – the floor exercise – so that pretty much clinched things.  But jube – aka jubilation – was difficult not only a ton of TV cameras but also a ton of still cameras (they were “pool” members – which meant they get special access).  I decided to go to a position where most people weren’t and hope I could get something.  I missed the initial reaction to the gymnast finishing because of all of the TV and still cameras but was able to get some reaction once their final score was announced – about five minutes later.  Here is the media work room:

Afterwards heard that Phelps won a couple more medals to make him the most successful medalist in Olympic history – would have been cool to see that but that’s okay – can’t be in two places at once – and I think I shot 8 or 9 of those 19 medals he has won.  Pretty amazing though.

Once we were done transmitting and so forth it was close to 10 – lucky for us the restaurant stays open until 11 so we were able to grab some filling, good food.  I headed back to my room and go in at a respectable time of 11:30.  Hope to be asleep by 1.

Day #3

Got up at 8 – not on purpose but because of my cough (went to bed at 3). I’ve had a cough for a few weeks now and I’m sure that standing in cold rain yesterday didn’t help.  A friend encouraged me to see a Dr.  They have one at the MPC… So walked in and after 10 minutes saw someone from the medical staff.  He said I have a minor chest infection – but I have a history of pneumonia – I’ve had it three times I think.  So he prescribed me some antibiotics.  So hopefully I’ll get better.

Afterwards headed up to the USOC to pick up a swim ticket for tomorrow and as I was leaving I saw Robert Gauthier in the LA Times office right next door to the USOC – he invited me in – swanky office… look at the nice view they have!:

As I was walking to the bus to head to gymnastics I ran into John Leyba – he had to run into the MPC – when I got to the bus stop I told him he had 25 minutes – and asked him if he could pick me up something to eat – he did – so nice.  Back to getting to events ridiculously early – got there 2 1/2 hours early – but there were already a ton of people there.  Set up computer and figured out where the shooting spots were at (that’s Leyba’s thumb – not mine) – headed out about an hour and 15 minutes ahead of time.  We were early:

Lots of US photographers there today for the Men’s Gymnastics team final.  Arena was packed – so that was cool to see.  But it was painful to watch… it seemed like they started out really flat – maybe nerves – kinda sucks that they were ahead in prelims but then everyone starts at zero for the finals.  Not sure they could have beat China but they could easily have medaled – but a couple dudes kinda screwed up on the first three events and then they kinda gave up… but then the last two events they did awesome and only lost out to a medal by like two points.  Brian Peterson and Smily Pool chatting beforehand:

I’ve only shot gymnastics a few times and every time in the past I shot it from the stands… I think cause it was ticketed – this time it wasn’t so I shot it from the ground.  It’s kinda a little dance because there were four groups competing – two countries per group.  So the US was pair with Russia, China was paired with Japan and the UK was paired with France.  So when they changed apparatuses all of the journalists covering those countries would jockey to new positions in front of the apparatus their country was at.  For the US it was floor, pommel horse, rings, vault, parallel bars and then high bar.  It was a little dicy down there and tomorrow night will be much worse with the Women – but we could move around OK… some areas were a little narrow – following Brian through a narrow area behind one of the shooting areas – he is tall.  :

Like I said, saw lots of US photographers there – it was kinda funny cause I saw Andrew Gombert – from EPA and he said he read my blog!  Hi Andrew – ha!  I think I forgot to mention seeing him and his wife at the Nikon party – well I did.

Nice sky while leaving gymnastics (at the North Greenwich Arena – usually known as the O2):

Needed to head to the Horse Guards Parade complex where beach volleyball is being held.  Left right after gymnastics – since the US didn’t medal I skipped the medal ceremony – grabbed a bus with Wally back to the MPC.  I should have taken the subway.  So I get to the stop where the bus is supposed to pick up and I ask two different “helpers” if I’m at the right place – they say yes just wait.  So I wait – like 30 minutes – no bus.  Then finally some nice guy comes up and says – oh yea that bus stops running once the competition starts!  What?  Really?  Whoever set this bus system up obviously does not know how journalists work.  There were like five matches going on – different countries in each match – the US is in the last one – so most journalists would show up for the country they are covering – not for the hole thing.  oh well  So ended up taking a bus to a stop kinda nearby – and from there a 10 minute walk to the Tube and three stops later got off at Picadelly Circle stop.  From there another 15 minute walk to the gate.

Smiley said he has given up on buses and will just takes the Tube.  I had a good experience yesterday with the buses – but not so much today.

Figured out where I was going via the iPhone… gps is a wonderful thing… I keep getting behind really stinky people and there is no reason for it because it is not hot.  Though sometimes I keep sniffing myself wondering if that is me – but I’m pretty sure it’s not.  It was a nice a cool 60ish degrees today so people shouldn’t be sweating.

Public service announcement:  while I was at the pharmacy I saw an energy bar – thought I’d try it.  It was the most vile, gross thing I have ever, ever tasted in my life – do – not – buy – I took a nibble and the after taste, the horrible after taste, stayed with me for like an hour:

Beach volleyball is really the weirdest venue – people are all dancing and they have music almost constantly blaring.  They have two announcers – apparently one is famous – Jed was telling me – maybe an X-Factor winner (which I have never watched)

 Afterwards Jed Jacobsohn and I walked out (he’s got a blog: ) Got on a Tube – a nice lady with a large group of dudes saw my badge and we chatted about the Olympics for bit – she was from Atlanta – helped me figure out what Tube I was on.

I had to be very conscious of time because the Tube/DLR stops running around 2 am – and I don’t want to be caught out again… I cut it a little close – only two trains left!

Gymnastics story by Elliott Almond with my pix

Pano of beach volley ball – I wanted to do one from the top cause you can see cool old buildings in background – but due to the bus mishaps I got there and it was too dark… so just did one from the ground.

There is supposed to be a story with beach volleyball – but I can’t find it… here are a couple of my favorite pix from tonight – actually just one:

Day II addendum

Oh regarding the Women’s Road Race winner… this was the frame I sent in:

And just to provide evidence that I was leaning over a lot to be able to see past the guy leaning over in front of me with his giant yellow poncho – here is the original, uncropped version – shot with a Nikon D4 with a 70-200 f2.8 with a 1.4x converter (so shot at f4) ISO 2000 at 1/1600:

I do enjoy covering cycling because I swear if my Mom was growing up in these times she would be a champion cyclist!

Day II

I think it might be colder than the Vancouver Olympics!

Got six hours of sleep – pretty good – went to women’s road race – cycling in the morning.  Left at about 10, met Elliott in front of our dorms and headed over there together.  We got there via the DLR to the Jubilee line then a walk through the park – Green Park.  Luckily I have my iPhone with gps or we wouldn’t have known where to go 🙂 – because the Olympic “helpers” didn’t know where we were supposed to go either.  Elliott on the Jubilee line:

Today was not a good day for my brain – I typically get to events obscenely early and today was no exception – today I should have been there by 10 at the super latest, two hours before the event – but I got there at 11 – and of course everyone was already out.  The closest best spot was in front of buckingham palace – but I needed an escort.  When i got there they said i was too late.  But I went out anyways – by the time I found everyone they were all camped out in the middle of the course near the start/finish line and there was a small stage set up where each team was being introduced – right as I got there the US team was introduced – lucky timing on my part because we had one racer that was from Gilroy.  There were four of them on the team and even though I didn’t know which one was the one I needed I was able to get a picture of everyone – not good pictures – but something because I knew it’d be insanely difficult to pick out one specific rider in a group of 60+ riders flying down the street.  Neat building on the way:

At 11:30 a photo helper named Alex directed us down the course – literally – at 11:30 – we walked about a 1/4 of a mile down to a small photo position in front of buckingham palace.  Fans cheer us on:

Then it started to rain.  Not too bad but it was kinda chilly.  I started out with a low angle then tried a high one and then settled on the low angle.  The riders went by in a matter of seconds so who know if it was the right choice – clouds were kinda cool so I thought I’d try and get some of them in there.

Afterwards a photo marshal (guy) attempted to take us back to the workroom – but he got lost a few times.  The photo marshals have been interesting, typically they have been younger in the past but most of the photo marshals here have been middle aged – and the majority of the photo marshals, which were very nice and helpful here were middle aged women.  So that’s cool.  Once the race gets going there really is nothing to do until they come back.  So I went and did a panorama.  The media room is so small that every seat was taken, including the one I had put all my stuff on – it had been moved and someone was sitting there.  I found one other seat… at some point I went to the bathroom came back and my chair was gone – what the heck – vultures!  This is why I always lock everything up!

I went back out and got in position to shoot finish line, it had been awhile since I shot a finish line pic – but there weren’t really many options anyways.  I settled on a spot – an hour and half before they were scheduled to show up.  I chatted with Andy (crap forgetting his last name) – from USA Today – perviously with the Dallas Morning News… interesting things are going on there – but too much to get into…

After a while it started to rain, and rain and rain.  Another example of not using my brain – I didn’t check the weather – I knew it was supposed to rain at some point – I didn’t bother to check before I left the room – and it was a cold rain and I didn’t have a jacket, a long sleeve shirt or any protection for the cameras.  Ooops!  Well the Nikon rep Sara will be happy to know that I sheltered the cameras with my body so they did not get wet, but I got soaked.  I wasn’t the only one who didn’t remember to bring anything – but there weren’t many of us.  The leaders came in and a guy in front of me wearing a bright yellow poncho leaned over the railing – I had to lean too and just barely caught the winner crossing the finish line – someone from the Netherlands.  So the US didn’t win there was no point in me staying for the medal ceremony – cause I had to get to swimming.

And yet another example of being brainless – I forgot to check to see if I had my swim ticket (we have to get a special ticket which assigns us to a specific photo position) – I realized this when I got to the bus to go back to the MPC that I had left swim ticket in room.  What happened was I went and picked up “welcome kit” which also included a backpack.  Then I went up to get swim ticket from USOC’s Bill Hancock – and put it in the new backpack – I think u can see where this is going.  Yes left this morning and left new backpack in room of course.  Though I the help desk is partly (small part) to blame because it was the fourth of fifth time I stopped by to get my welcome kit that they actually had one available!

Now is where my brain finally kicked in.  After I got on the first bus I figured I had a few options – go back to the USOC and beg for another ticket (super doubtful), go to the venue and see if I could get in (this wouldn’t have worked for sure because they checked my ticket before even entering the aquatics venue, usually credential is enough), ditch swimming altogether, or bite the bullet and just go.  So I figured once I got back to the MPC I could take the bus to the DLR… but when I got the MPC I asked someone if there was a bus to the ExCel building – the first person I asked could barely speak English and said “no” – so luckily I was able to find someone who did and she pointed me to a bus that had just turned on its engine a few hundred feet away, so I ran over and jumped on.  That saved me about 30 minutes then if I had gone back to the DLR.  I was able to catch the DLR at ExCel (there were a ton of people but they were all going the opposite way).  Then three DLR stops back to my room.  I was able to go to the room get the ticket and a few other things and run back to the DLR stop in less than 10 minutes to catch the next DLR back to Stratford International – with one transfer at Canning Town.

Amazingly got to my photo spot at the Aquatics Centre around 6:15.  I had left cycling at 4:00 – so I think that was record time.  Plus the transportation Gods were with me because I never had to wait more than a couple minutes at each transfer!  And the dedicated Olympic lanes worked well.  Shot swimming – US won a few medals including a silver in the Men’s 4x100m freestyle relay with Phelps – the announcer pronounced his name as “Fills.”  Saw Dana Vollmer break a world record (went brainless and shot the wrong lane for most of the race – oops).  Saw Jed Jacobsohn and Kyle Terada in the B section were I was at.  Paul Kitagaki waves to me:

Afterwards edited images and then went for a cheeseburger and beer with John Leyba, unfortunately at 11 pm the only thing open near us was McDonald’s and there is absolutely nothing near my dorm.  Today was only about 14 hours.

Pano from the finish line (would have loved to have riders in it but impossible to have done without another person)

Day 1

Well like I said in the last post – went to bed about 4:30 and got up around 6:45 – left room a little after 7.  It was a bit painful to get up.  I accidentally got on the DLR that I needed to be on – Stratford International – that was a nice surprise.
Today was all about swimming.  It was going to be Natalie Coughlin’s one and only race -the 4×100 Freestyle Relay.  It was possible they wouldn’t make it out of the prelims so I had to go in the morning just in case.  Went straight from Stratford International DLR stop to bus to MPC to changed to another bus to swimming venue – called the Aquatics Centre.  Arrived early cause the morning session is first come first served – so I got a nice spot on platform B – which is close to the finish line:
The prelims too several hours.  Saw Phelps just barely qualify, Coughlin breezed through and Her Majesty the Queen stopped by… Checked out he souvenir shot – the “mega store” and they were already running out of stuff!  Swung by the MPC and after the fifth time I finally got my welcome kit!  Every time I stopped by they had run out!  It’s a nice small backpack.
Afterwards headed to lunch with John, Paul and Rob at the mall (hey that almost sounds like the Beattles – haha) – some place – it was decent – a little pricy.
Then we all walked back to the swimming venue.  I ran into Brian Peterson from the Minneapolis Star Tribune – good to see him.  Super nice guy and great shooter.  Got to chat with him for a while while waiting for swimming to start – that was cool.  Also ran into Sports Illustrated Robert Beck – he’s a funny guy.  Anyway this is gonna be a short post cause I’m mega tired… here are some links (my slideshow from finals are attached to them):
Different Gallery – pictures from the prelims:
Afterward swimming was over we scanned had beer and McDonald’s with Steve, Paul, and John.  Well beer at bar at MPC and we just brought McDonald’s over – which is next to the MPC.  Anyway goodnight!  More later – tomorrow is Women’s cycling and then swimming again!

Opening Ceremonies

In case you were wondering… here is my room – no AC and no TV!  Two things I cherish in life – haha – but I’m surviving – it really is like a little cruise-ship cabin:
Ah slept in – probably last time… The great thing about staying at UEL is that it is literally right off of the DLR (Dockland Light Rail) line.  It takes about minutes to walk down from my room to the stop.  You can see the stop when you leave UEL – unfortunately I saw the train leave… looked kinda like this (this is the light rail going the opposite direction – but you get the idea):
I figured out that if I exit at the prince regent stop I can catch a dlr right to the entrance of the media check-in – what we had been doing in the past is going taking the dlr to canning town then transferring to the jubilee tube which would take us directly to the Stratford station – but then we’d have another 15 minute walk though a congested mall.  This method – I exited on prince regent – and waited 6 minutes for the Stratford international station DLR – and voila I end up literally in front of the media entrance… from there I have to take a bus to get to the MPC – in total it takes about 50 minutes.
I love public transport – subways in NYC are pretty awesome.  And I like taking a subway for the first time – kinda like a little adventure to try and figure out where to go.  Yesterday was like that – had never been there and was just trying to figure it out.
I’m pretty sure that they – whoever – forgot that opening ceremonies were tonight because there were no buses!  Had to wait for like 10 for one to even show up – by that time the line had doubled.  Went with John Leyba and Paul Kitagaki:
Sitting at the very top in-between section 246-247 – it wasn’t a great view – actually sitting kinda behind to the left of what is considered to be the “front” of the show – I was in section F – which was originally supposed to be ground level but during rehearsals they figured out that that position was blocked – so instead was sent to the very top:
Sat next to a nice hip Frenchman from AFP and Ronald Martinez from Getty – from Texas…
Amazing that seat to my left and right were open AND the row in front of me was nearly empty.  Usually I’m completely squashed in there.  The best thing was that I had a ledge behind me that I could store a bunch of crap on.
Opening was okay it started out really cool – a cool country scene with farm animals and everything – then on to a super cool industrial era type of scene.  Then it became just kinda like a big dance number / usually the stage was pretty empty.
Then of course there is the painful parade of athletes – which took – I think two hours.  This time I was smart brought my laptop and scanned in a bunch of images.  I was completely done by the time they were on the ‘N’ countries.  This is Paul Kitagaki, John Leyba (and his kids) and my Opening Ceremony tickets:
 After it was over i stayed in my seat to edit images – I couldn’t transmit because i had no Internet access.  After a bit we got kicked out cause they had to clean.  The workroom is located downstairs – not the easiest place to get too.
Headed back to MPC – it was at least a 1/4 mile walk to the bus – that was nearly 2:30 am – and that’s when I found out that 2:30 is when the DLR stops running.  The help desk was of little help – basically said that I was on my own.
So by the time we got back to MPC it was about 2:45.  Got in line for a cab around 3:30 – there were about 40 people in front of me but cabs were running pretty quick – got back to hotel a little after 4… Asleep a little after 4:30… Back up at 6:45!