Olympic Photography

Five ways photographers are changing the way we see the London 2012 Olympic Games

Capturing the sport of this year’s Olympics is a corps of skilled photographers. Though the iPhone has proven an impressive tool for following the action, these lensmen and women transcend the everyday spectator’s capabilities with some unconventional techniques, from live-streaming underwater cameras and 3 billion-pixel images to a vintage field camera with 100-year-old lens. Here, five examples of innovations in Olympic photography that have us riveted to the spirit of the games.


Multiple Exposures

Taking advantage of built-in capabilities in the latest generation of DSLRs, photo journalists have moved beyond single shots to multiple exposures. Mimicking the effect produced from taking several images with a single frame of film, the technology creates a composite image that shows the complexity of every single Olympic moment.


Robotic Arms

The robotics gurus at Britain’s Mark Roberts Motion Control collaborated with AFP to produce a dozen robotic arms to control Nikon D4 cameras. The controls have the ability to pan, tilt and zoom and can even roll from landscape to portrait. The video shows technicians hard at work hand-machining each component to create these highly specialized robots. The final product resembles a high-tech weapon as the shutter rapid-fires from a whizzing body.



425 photos taken in a grid pattern of 25×17 provide the building blocks for Gigapan, a composite photo created by photographer David Bergman. Made up of 3 billion pixels, the shot was taken over the course of an hour as athletes entered the stadium. The image, accessible online, can be zoomed in remarkably close on attendees, and there is even an option to tag friends and family through Facebook.


Associated Press

The Associated Press offers a straightforward and interesting overview of their latest advancements in robotic camera systems. Covering everything from underwater-mounted cameras now able to directly transfer images in real time—versus diving down and retrieving SD cards after the race—to the development of joystick-operated cameras, the informational video illustrates the engineering behind some of the more impressive rigs in place this year.


Vintage Portraits

To capture the ageless spirit of the Olympics, Los Angelas Times photographer Jay L. Clendenin shot a series of athlete portraits using both his Canon 5D Mark II and, more impressively, a 4×5 inch field camera with a more-than-100-year-old Petzval lens. Displayed side by side, both the black and white field camera shots and the vivid digital images contrast beautifully to evoke a unique feeling of patriotism.