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|| News Item: Posted 2000-06-28

Flash: "Dream Team" III Strobe Controversy
By Tim Clayton, The Sydney Morning Herald

An interesting debate surfaced over the past week during one of the final test events for the 2000 Olympic Games, the "Slam Down Under" basketball tournament, featuring four international teams including the host nation of course.

A few of us here have a real concern about the use of strobes during the Olympics.

The debate goes like this:

Everybody understand: there is a pecking order of priority when photo positions and ticketing is allocated from each sport and venue. Pool positions for the major agencies and host media get well looked after, followed by nations competing, size of publication, etc. right down to the little guy from the Botswana Bugle.

We all accept that some system has to come into play in the organization and running of photographers at the Olympics and a great deal of planning and indeed soul searching is done by the Olympic press organizers to create a system that is as fair as possible to everyone.

Imagine "The Moment": 40 photographers are crammed behind the basket the USA "Dream Team" is attacking. A USA player jumps to take a high pass but the defender in front lowers his back and the USA player's momentum over the top of the defender causes him to complete a 360 in the air, his boots nearly touching the rim of the basket before he falls to the ground. Thirty-seven motordrives whirl and three strobes fire off.

Thirty-five guys, capture 'The Moment'. Two of the three strobe photographers capture "The Moment', (one of the strobe guy's misses "The Moment" and wishes he was shooting with a new Canon EOS1-V at 10 frames a second). And two photographers, including the guy from the Botswana Bugle, are unlucky enough to capture the precise instant the strobes go off and their frame of 'The Moment' is ruined!

Surely it is fundamentally wrong, and totally against the Olympic ideal of fair play to have your picture ruined by somebody else's strobe going off at the precise moment you fire. Strobes have not been requested at any other venue.

However strobes have been requested by FIBA for use at the basketball!

If one photographer's 'The Moment' picture is ruined at the expense of another, even if it is the guy from the Botswana Bugle, this to me is totally unacceptable.

I can understand photographers wanting quality, but is it fair that this is at somebody else's expense?

At the test event one set of strobes were used at either end by two photographers. A dozen of us shot available light (800 @ f/2.8 @ 800 ASA). As the debate raged my colleague from News Limited, shooting digital and doing a twenty minute send from the men's final just happened to have one of his better frames blown to the heavens by the strobe!

Please, If anybody has strong feelings either way in this argument email me ASAP so we gauge the depth of feeling and pass on the emails to Gary Kemper at SOCOG.

(Tim Clayton covers sports for the Sydney Morning Herald. He can be reached via email at:

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