A European photographer came up to me and asked jokingly if I specialized in photographing synchronized swimming. He was kidding around because during the first week of the FINA World Swimming Championships, I had been shooting a lot of synchronized swimming. As you could probably tell by my last post, I wasn’t that thrilled to be shooting solo synchronized swimming. However, as the week went on, I have to admit that I started to enjoy being at the synchro.
For one of the team finals, I went up to the catwalk to get a different angle. As great as the stadium looks on the outside, I can tell you that they didn’t really go all out to make the catwalk very secure. Before I headed up a small ladder, I put on a climbing harness that was supplied by the organizers, and when I got up on the catwalk, I was happy to be strapped in.
The catwalk swayed back and forth as me and a few other photographers made our away across the walkway that was about 75 feet above the pool. Once we reached our spot, I made sure that my harness was secured to the flimsy railing. It was very difficult to get the proper angle on the teams competing because I had to shoot either through the medal grated walkway or over the small railing – plus I was sweating so much that I had to take my glasses off to make sure that they didn’t fall over the side. With all the difficulties, I was happy with a few of the pictures that I got from the catwalk, and I was even happier to get back to solid ground.
I had one more day of shooting diving before it ended and I wanted to try something a little different. We had just gotten an 800mm lens flown in to Shanghai from London for the swimming races that were going to start in a few days. I decided to take the 800mm lens over to the diving and see what I could do. The men’s 3 meter springboard preliminaries were on during the morning and there was over 50 competitors doing six dives each, which gave me about four hours to figure something out.
I set myself up on the pool deck across from the diving board and waited for the first athlete to go. With the extreme telephoto lens, I wanted to try to get some close ups of the divers’ faces as they dove in to the pool. After the first diver went, I realized it was going to be more difficult to key in on the diver’s faces then I thought it would be. They were jumping and turning so much it was hard to stay focused on their face. However, after about two hours of trying, I started to get the hang of it, and as you can see by the pictures, the outcome was pretty funny.
The swimming competition started during the second week of the Championships. The day before the swimming started, I had a few free hours and set out to look for the best Xiaolongbao (soup dumplings) that I could find. After doing a quick google search, I decided to try to find a place called Din Tai Fung. I walked through a few different neighborhoods on my way to the restaurant from my hotel and thought I was about to discovery a great hidden dumpling house in the middle of nowhere. However, as I got close to the restaurant, I realized that I wouldn’t be dining at a hidden gem, but instead I would be eating at a fancy shopping mall.
As I walked past a Starbucks and a Coffee Bean, I tried to avoid the throngs of tourists going in every direction. I had my mind set on soup dumplings and even though this place wasn’t tucked away on a side street, I figured it would still have good food. I finally found the restaurant on the second floor of the mall. The food did not disappoint. I ordered 10 soup dumplings – half pork and half pork mixed with crab meat. They were so good, that I ordered another five before I finished. I talked them up so much after I got back to the pool that I took all the photographers back to the same place the following night. This time there were four of us, and I think we finished about 50 dumplings.
Tonight I am heading back over to the pool, where Michael Phelps will be swimming in his first individual final. His first few days at the swimming definitely didn’t go as well as his first few days had gone in Beijing. The USA relay team that he was a part of finished in third place, and he only qualified in fifth place for tonight’s 200 meter freestyle final. Hopefully, he will start winning a few races, and hopefully we will have time to go back to have a few more dumplings.