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|| News Item: Posted 2012-08-27

2012 Summer Olympics - Peter Read Miller
En garde, engarde, en garde en …

By Peter Read Miller

Photo by Peter Read Miller / Sports Illustrated

Photo by Peter Read Miller / Sports Illustrated

Peter Read Miller used the Canon 1Dx multiple exposure function to create this image at a fencing competition at the 2012 Olympics.
When I received my first EOS 1D x from Canon I was wowed by many of the improved features-the AF, file size, high ISO performance and of course it was a Full Frame! Camera! Aside from my having to unlearn 10 years of lens selection for crop cameras I was thrilled with the camera-and I still am.

One of the features of the X that took me a while to discover was the ability to shoot in-camera multiple exposures. I played with this feature at the USA gymnastics Olympic trials, but with little success. Then I sort of forgot abut the feature until one day at gymnastics in London when Mike Blake of Reuters showed me a multiple exposure image on the back of his camera. It looked pretty good and I thought –why not steal from the best (and Mike is one of the Best)- so I tried a few shots at gymnastics. Nothing much looked good and I was deleting the images as I shot them.

I was learning the obvious that a dark background is essential and I also discovered that setting your exposure about 1 stop darker really helped make the image work. As I was playing and deleting while waiting for a US gymnast to come up on the High Bar, my assistant/tech came up and whispered in my ear “the Royals-William and Harry are here in the stands at the other end of the arena near the Rings-go shoot them!”

Off I went to the other end. I flipped down the built in extender down on my Canon 200-400 and spent the next boring 20 minutes at 560mm watching the two young gents support Team GB’s fight for a medal in the Men’s Team event. William made a sincere effort to look interested-I even got him clapping over his head. Andy, on the other hand looked like he had an epic hangover-bless his heart-I’m hope he did.

Event ends, Team GB medals, the Royal lads zip off in their armored Land Rovers and I send in my cards. The next morning I check SI’s Live in London iPad app (a great selection of the daily work of SI’s shooters and something that made most of our hard work worthwhile on a daily basis) and low and behold there is a rather mediocre multiple exposure on a German gymnast going over the high bar-a frame that I’d meant to erase. So it goes.

Fast forward a few days in time, a dozen or so more events on the Olympic schedule and a hundred or so bus rides and I’m at Fencing. I hadn’t shot fencing since Seoul in 1988 and I though I’d try to get it right this time. Fencing was one of those cool venues when there were plenty of places to shoot from and the venue photo people were actually helpful and glad to have you-a nice change.

After shooting long with the 200-400 from the open end for a while I moved into a close side angle spot. OK, so the fencers are mainly in white, the background is dark and there is a nice little fence in front of the photo bench to rest the camera on. Perfect! Set the camera to multiple exposure, stop down about 1 stop hold the camera still resting on the fence and wait for a nice bit of linier motion. That is, you need the subjects to move in a direction rather than moving around a central point, as in that case the images tend to pile up and not resolve clearly.

I shot about 20 frames. Fortunately the fencers had a couple of moments of good lateral motion and it helped that the red and green contact lights were visible through their masks. Of course I heard nothing more about the shot and the iPad app ran a so-so action photo.

It was only several days later when the print magazine came out that one of our writers buttonholed me in the hall of the MPC and said “did you shoot that fencing picture in Sports Illustrated’s Leading Off?” I nodded. “Awesome!” he replied.

My Olympic moment.

Peter Read Miller covered the London Summer Olympic Games for Sports Illustrated. You can see work at his Sports Shooter member page:

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