Training Camp – Surrey Sports Park

Away from the hustle of downtown London and the excitement of the Olympic Village the USA Triathlon Team has their pre-race residence camp in Guildford, at the Surrey Sports Park, part of the University of Surrey.  In addition to their 50 meter pool, there is a testing lab, soccer I mean football fields and an assortment of squash courts, rock climbing and other facilities.

The flags in the window represent the nations of the athletes training here. No one is actually representing the Nation of Starbucks, but it is great to have it here.

This gives the USA Triathletes an opportunity to work with their individual coaches and get some rest in a very relaxed atmosphere. In addition to having great meals, the team masseuse and chiropractor are also here to provide some TLC.

This morning started with a 7:00 swim where we were joined by an ABC News crew.

Having raced in Hamburg, Matt Chrabot came into Guildford as the Men’s Team alternate.
Both Gwen and Manny started their day in wetsuits, just in case their is cold water on race day.

Gwen was filmed for an upcoming ABC News feature.

Jeffery Kofman from ABC News interviewed Gwen.

Hunter passed on the early morning swim, headed for the Surrey Performance Lab for his workout.

The results of Hunter’s effort is seen by the sweat dripping from his top tube.

You have to look closely, if you want to see Hunter’s feet.

Manny and his training partner, Costa Rican Olympian Leonardo Chacon, did a mid afternoon trail run.

Upon returning from their run, an Olympic Broadcast Services crew had arrived for a planned interview.

Although the Team will be here a few more days, I will head back to London after tomorrow’s morning workout.   We are working on getting access to a few things that you will likely never see on TV – Hopefully we will have some exciting images do share!

Cheers from Guildford.

London Calling

Over the last two years I have been in London for the ITU pre-Olympic events and have loved it, so I was eager to get back into the more central area, particularly to see the Tower Bridge with the Olympic Rings suspended.

It was really a quick trip into London from the Olympic Park, just a couple of changes on the DLR and I was at the Tower Hill Gateway station.

I was walking around and saw a couple with an Ironman Logo on their backpack.

Although Nick had recently done Ironman Switzerland, he did not fare as well as Rebecca who qualified for Kona at Ironman UK.

As it turns out Rebecca is Rebecca Romero two-time Olympic Medalist. Rebecca was a Silver Medalist at the 2004 Athens Olympics in Rowing and a Gold Medalist at the 2008 Beijing Olympics in Pursuit Track Cycling. All in all, not a bad background for an Age Group Triathlete!

With the farewell of  See you in Kona, I headed to find a Starbucks.  Near the end of the day, I ran into Rebecca and Nick one more time and chatted a bit more. Rebecca asked if I had ever seen a Gold Medal, and although I had, I would love to see her’s if she had it with her. As it turns out, Rebecca had made several media stops during the day and did have her medals with her.

Where do you keep your Olympic Gold Medal? Well in your Team GB sock that you wore when you won, of course!

The evening light on the Tower Bridge is truly spectacular, first with a French tall ship in the foreground, certainly gives an idea of a much earlier time.

At a bit later (after an amazing dinner, sitting along the Thames) closer to sunset, I tried a few shots using HDR. I hope you like it.

Although I don’t often use HDR, it is great fun when the right situation presents itself.

Here is another new building, still under construction that to me begged for a moderate HDR effect.

This afternoon I will be heading out to Guildford to re-connect with the team at their training camp away from the distraction of the Olympic Village and pressure of the media.

More soon!


My Day Off – I think I Will Take a Few Photos

Friday night was late for everyone for those who attended the Opening Ceremonies it was even later. While I spend my evening watching the telly (am I sounding British yet?) with the staff at the University of East London, many photographers ended up working at the Main Press Center until 3:00 AM and then slept of the floor of the workroom for a few hours until it was time to go again.

The Team also had a late night, slept in and then traveled to Guilford, which will be their training base for the next few days, away from the distractions of the Olympic Park and the pressure of the media.

While they were traveling, I had the day off! What better time to go tour the Olympic Park and head in to London.

The London Olympics set up a great system to get the media around to the venues, but mostly to the back entrances. Since I am only credentialed for common areas and the Triathlon, I am unable to go through the stadium to get to the park. I was able to find my way through via the entrance to the Aquatic center.

Although I arrived early, I was still somehow surprised by the size of the crowds. Many moving from one ticketed venue to another; but many just out enjoying the beautiful day and the fabulous venues.

Here is the view of the Park from the Aquatic Center.

There are waterways, running throughout the park, here between the Stadium and the Aquatic Center.

Substantial park and flower gardens.

Inspire a Generation is the theme of the London Olympics and is prevalent throughout the park, here at the Velodrome.

The Olympic Basketball Arena can only be captured with a fish-eye lens.

An ocean away, I met a family from the Minneapolis area here to enjoy the games and support Team USA.

This Austrian couple came to support their athletes!

Unless you are sitting at home in front of your telly, you cannot possibly see all that you would like to see. British Airways helps solve the problem by having an outdoor viewing area that can be seen from both sides of the River Walk area.

Corporate Sponsors have major presence at teams from Coca Cola are out entertaining the crowds, doing dance and rap routines – all with a recycling theme!

Coca Cola also has sculptured building that combines design and music.

Before heading into London, I stopped at the MPC for a while to watch the end of the Men’s Road Race, and then on to the DLR.

Media Day for USA Triathlon

Although I am still not really sure what day it is, other than Olympic Opening day, I know that it was USAT Media Day.
After checking into the Main Press Center and receiving the final packet of materials and my photo vest, I met Hunter Kemper on the Olympic Village set of NBC’s Today Show. Hunter laughed when they sent him to Hair & Make Up.

He was relaxed and everyone on the set had a great time, while he was demonstrating to Natalie Morales and Savannah Guthrie how they should cheer for him at the Olympic Triathlon on August 7th.

A quick unguided tour of the International Broadcast Center proved that even the broadcast guys like to have there photo taken.

Next I headed up to the Canon Professional Services area to have my fish-eye lens checked.

“Well it seems to work up close, but the distance seems to be a tad off – we will fix it overnight and have it for you in the morning”

Now it is time for the Press Conference with Gwen Jorgensen and Manny Huerta, both were delightful and individually fielded questions and told stories for 45 minutes.

I made a new friend on the way back to my lodging!

Tonight I have a fabulous view of the Opening Ceremonies (on TV) watching with the UEL staff.
Tomorrow I will be exploring a bit of London and checking all of the places that I can find Olympic Rings.  Sunday, I head out to the Guildford Training camp to rejoin the team.

Follow me on Twitter @CompImagePhoto for photo updates.


On the Ground in London

The adventure has finally begun!  Easy overnight flight to London and I was even to get a few hours of sleep.

As we arrived in London and heading toward Customer, there was a table of Olympic Staff there to validate our credentials and answer any questions, as well as directing us to a Games Only lane at Passport Control.  Wow rank does have its privileges!

My new favorite passport stamp:

From there I headed to the Heathrow Express, again courtesy of the Games. Easy Peasey, in fact it was a little too easy. Now the work begins as I go from Paddington Station to the Tower Hill Station, to the Tower Gateway, to DLR (Docklands Light Rail), change at Canning Town and finally to Cyprus, across the street from the University of East London (UEL) USOC housing.

As you have seen from my prior posts, I do not travel light. Upon arriving at UEL to my 3rd floor walk-up dorm room, I sat town and thought that the most physically demanding part of my Olympics is probably over!

A quick shower and then over the meet members of the US Triathlon Team while the when through their initial processing. Jonathan Hall, Hunter Kemper, Gwen Jorgensen, Manny Huerta and Andy Schmitz are ready to begin.

Hunter selecting his 4th Olympic ring.

Manny sitting on just some of his Olympic apparel that he needs to try on, here wearing his Podium uniform.

Final Packing for London – Remotes, Rain Gear and Cables

Today is the day, I am checked in, almost all packed and in general have my life together, well as much as it is ever really together. I do feel that I am prepared for a three-week trip.   I once received some travel advice to Take half the clothes and twice the money, while  that is really solid advice, I do take a limited amount of clothes but for me, I do have a tendency to take a lot of gear. Having said that, it is a fraction of what the guys from SI take.  I will only be setting up 1 or maybe two remotes and controlling them myself.

This morning I want to highlight some gear that I hope I don’t get to use on my trip, but then it has been known to rain in both London and Copenhagen.  If I need it, I will get a shot or two of what it looks like in action and how to use it, but for now here it is.

Once again from the great folks at Think Tank Photo we have several versions of the Hydrophobia. I have covers for my 70-200, (with and without a flash), as well as my 300. Both of which have seen too much use this spring in Minnesota.  I also have the add on to cover my remote. I hope I have brought too much rain gear, but I am sticking with the theory The more I bring, the less I will need.

This morning, I am also finalizing packing all of my card readers, cable, jump drives and other stuff that I need. Again, I am relying on my Think Tank Cable Management System.

I particularly like the clear front panel so I can immediately see which bag I need.

A final comment, since I had snaps of all of my camera bodies, I used my Canon G1X to shot the photos. This is a sweet little point and shoot, that you can shoot Raw, HD video and use in Manual, and Shutter or Aperture priority.  While not small enough to fit in my pocket, it fits nicely into a Think Tank pouch that I have on the shoulder strap of my Street Walker backpack.

Next post from London!


Follow me on Twitter @CompImagePhoto for daily shots from London!

Packing for London

It is now two days until I leave for London and the Olympics. Typically, I pack before the day before I head out to a race, but this time – it is my first Olympics and I want to make sure I have all of the right stuff, and just the right stuff and as such I have been working on this for a couple days.

Not only do I have to carry everything with me at the race, but it is almost more complicated to get it from Minneapolis to London with as little as stress as possible.

There are a couple of major differences between what I am bringing to London versus other events, instead of bringing my 400 mm f/2.8, I recently added a 300 mm f/2.8. Both the 400 and the 300 are fabulous lens, but the good news is the 300 travels much easier than it’s big brother.  It is substantially smaller and has about half of the weight.  I am also bringing 4 camera bodies instead of 2 and a couple of extra lens.

Here is the challenge:

For the last 7 years I have used Think Tank Photo gear. Its well made, really well thought out and it is always there when I need it.

Usually I use an Airport International and my Shape Shifter on the plane and then packed the Glass Taxi in my luggage. On site, I use my modular set / belt system and my glass taxi.  I started using my Airport international, when I went to China to shoot the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup Soccer Tournament.  My rough guess is that it has logged about 250,000 miles. It is served me well, but gee, I want to look good at the Olympics!

Although I have never visited the Think Tank facility, my guess that they sit around saying wouldn’t it be cool if we had a product that did _____?  And, then they make it.

A few of the cool things they have come up with are the Street Walker Pro, an updated Airport International 2.0, with a low divider set so a laptop can be included and then there is the entire Retrospective product line.

WOW – it all fits!

Now with the Artificial Intelligence Laptop bag on top for my Mac & iPad.

Zipped and ready to go!

Heading to the race venue I will add my Modular Pack and belt, which will be all that I use during the event, with the 300mm carried over my shoulder.  My lap top and cases will be parked in the Photo Workroom at the Venue. (Oh yea, the guy on the moto photo on the Modular Set box is me).

The Street Walker Pro is great, holds a lot and is comfortable to carry, but what about when you just want to ramble around and take a few happy snaps.  Sometimes there is fine line between locations scouting and sightseeing. When I ramble around, I generally carry 1 camera, 1 lens and take 1 shot at a time. I love to carry the 5D because of its size and it doesn’t really look like a Pro body. Here is my Retrospective 7, which also easily holds my iPad.

Rambling in London, I think will require more than one lens!

Here I am in the Arabian Desert with my Retrospective 10, I am still trying to vacuum the sand out of it!

Gearing Up for London

A sports photographer seldom needs any excuse to get a new piece of equipment. Somehow in the back of most sports photographers’ minds is the lingering thought, if I only had that lens, if I only had a faster frame rate, if I only had the newer (insert current item of lust here); think of the shots that I could get!

Part of this of course is the curse of being able to visualize the effect of the new piece of equipment can do, particularly when dealing with a new lens!

I admit it; I have some great equipment. I have been lucky and been able to upgrade along the way, while still making use of my prior gear. Although many have asked for my hand-me-downs, they are most often residing in Chicago with my son Jonathan, although my original Canon 1D is now solely a museum piece.

I am just like the rest, I love the new gear, I rationalize it by saying it’s not really me, but my clients demand the highest quality images! There is that and also shooting endurance sports you have a tendency to beat the crap out of your equipment, not even thinking about when mine got bounced off the hood of an SUV and on to the pavement (yup, with me still attached to it all).

Here is my current excuse for new gear! Next week I leave for the 2012 London Olympics. I will be working for USA Triathlon both the shoot the Men’s and Women’s races but also to work with the team on a behind the scenes basis, to tell the story and to allow people to get to know these five amazing individuals that will be racing for the US.

When the new Canon flagship 1Dx was announced, I called my local dealer, National Camera Exchange to get on the list! Trust me, I called as soon as they were open and I was already number three on the list.

With the vagaries of delivery by Canon, in June I purchased the new Canon 5D Mark III.

It is an amazing upgrade compared to the 5D Mk II, which I thought was pretty fabulous. I have only been using it for a couple of weeks, but of the many things I love about it are:

  • 61 point focusing;
  • 6 fps frame rate; and
  • Shooting multiple images in stealth mode.

And of course, there is the amazing image quality.

Naturally a week after receiving the 5D MK III, I got a call from my friend Julie at National Camera and WOW, the 1Dx had arrived! I picked it up on July 5th.

I thought about including images of the camera bodies & lens, but you can see those on the web with better lighting than I am willing to set up today. Instead, here are 3 images shot with the 1Dx and the 300, and a final image shot with the 5D Mark III and a 24 to 70mm.

I have been shooting as much as I can with both bodies and they are indeed all they I was lead to believe. I am still trying to understand the intricacies of the new (and amazing) auto focus system (there is a 48 page manual on the auto focus alone, as well as about a dozen short videos). The results have been fabulous.

It is also so cool to be shooting full frame again!

As a long-time soccer photographer, I have a 400mm f/2.8 lens. It is the go to lens on the field of play. Particularly great if you get to sit down to use it and shoot from a fixed position, which during a triathlon I do not! I have opted for the new 300mm f2.8 IS II. Fabulous glass, great images, fast and by my standards a lightweight.

Just one more new lens for the trip – I have borrowed the 8 to 15mm f/4.0 zoom from Canon a couple of times and found it to be a fabulous artistic tool.  I am particularly excited about using this lens at some of the new Olympic structures in London.

Rounding out my kit will be:

  • Canon 1D Mark IV;
  • Canon 1D Mark III;
  • Canon Powershot G1x;
  • Canon 70-200 f/2.8 IS II
  • Canon 16-35 f2.8;
  • Canon 24-70 f2.8;
  • Canon 24-105 f4.0;
  • 2 Canon 580 EXII flash;
  • Tripod;
  • Monopod;
  • 280 gig of Cards;
  • 4 Pocket Wizards & cables; and
  • Mounting brackets for remotes.

There are cameras and lens that I will be leaving at home as well. There is absolutely no need to bring everything I own, it is really a matter for determining what you are going to need, how you are going to deploy it and how much can you carry and handle on race day.

Remember just because you can, it doesn’t mean you should.

The next blog will be how I am packing all of the gear in my Think Tank Photo bags for the travel to London and what I am going to use to carry it around while I am there.

My New Favorite Cover!


Although there are five smiling faces, this was shot at 7:00 in the morning, the day after the San Diego ITU race.

On Wednesday, July 25th we all start our adventure to London. I will be with these amazing athletes, not only to shoot the races on August 4th and 7th, but to show you  some of the behind the scenes environment as well.


I will be trying to do a blog post with at least a photo of two!


Lifetime Fitness Minneapolis Triathlon 2012

The second weekend in July has become a favorite and it certainly isn’t because of the weather.  It can be hot and steamy, like it has been this year or cold and rainy! July in Minnesota is unpredictable.

No matter what the weather, it is the weekend of the Lifetime Fitness Minneapolis Triathlon.  This is the weekend when some of the top pros come to Minneapolis to race on an incredibly scenic and technical course. What a lucky guy I am to be able to shoot a great race, having slept in my own bed and ride my scooter to the start.

It is not often you can have a world-class event take place in the neighborhood. In addition, it was at the 2002 first Lifetime Fitness Triathlon in 2002, that I had my first nationally published photos, the most well known where Barb Lindquist collapsed at the finish in the rain to win the Equalizer and $50,000. You can vaguely see Becky Lavelle in the background, followed closely by Craig Walton.

I have ridden the bike course hundreds of times over the years, and now my morning walk with my dogs is along the bike course.

I also get to see many of my friends that come to Minneapolis for the race and take a few race shots.

In the last 11 years, I have seen the race change from having the biggest cash prize in the country world to becoming part of the Race to the Toyota Cup. What has not changed is the fabulous course and the quality of the field.

Also special to me is that I know the course, every curve, every pot hole, not only have I ridden it, run it, and lived next to it, but there are portions of the course that are shared with the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon, Get in Gear 10K and a dozen other events that I have shot over the years.

In 2011, Lifetime Fitness brought back the Equalizer, where women get a head start (10:34 this year) and the first person across the line wins. While in the early years, it was a huge payday, this year it was a $5,000 prime. (Hey, $5,000 is still $5,000!).

Enough said, how about a few happy snaps?

Similar to 2002, the Equalizer was nearly a photo finish. This time Hunter Kemper was just a few seconds behind Sarah Haskins, both having to set course records in the process!

Just as a side note, not only was it a great day of shooting, but I got to try some new gear in a race situation. I will be leaving for London on July 25 and taking with me, along with an assortment of other things, the new Canon 1Dx, Canon 5D Mark III and Canon 300mm f/2.8!

Check out my full race photo gallery for Triathlete Magazine.

Follow (@CompImagePhoto) my adventures over the next month as I head to the Olympics with the USA Triathlon Team and then on to Copenhagen for the Challenge race!