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Tokyo Field Notes: Still Listening to Jimmy Colton

Jimmy Colton was our editor when a team from Newsweek headed to Poland to cover Pope John Paul II’s second and historically significant visit to his native Poland. It was 1983, and a time of unrest, martial law, and Solidarity. The massive attendance at his masses and sermons turned the tide. A month after his visit, martial law was lifted. For me, it was my first big international news assignment, as part of a team.

In Tokyo now, shooting with zumapress, and Jimmy is still my editor. I’m trying different stuff, taking some chances, failing, and occasionally delivering pictures that would not be called classic event coverage.

I emailed him, and asked him how I was doing, and he, true to form, was encouraging, despite the fact some pix I’ve sent him are less than successful. From Colton:

Yup, always good to be playful…different…give us something that everyone else doesn’t do. 🙂 
I’ve always told shooters, play during the heats, unimportant rounds, make art, blurs, geometry, color…(That’s the jelly) then when an important match comes up, do the tight action and traditional coverage (That’s the bread and butter) 🙂 

And this one worked out, playing with a zoom lens during a 3000m race. (Which gives you the time to do that!)

So, occasionally use too big a lens, and frame super tight. Or go for the odd moment.

But then, when Sunisa Lee goes for gold, no zooms or blurs. Use glass that is appropriate to the activity. Bear down, shoot tight, get it done. Bread and butter.

But yesterday was the opening of athletics, and super prelim heats. Time to mess around – f/16 at 1/20th.

Or observe a magnificent runner, and shoot that, but then follow on with perhaps a detail, showing her power and strength. Blessing Okagbare of Nigeria won her 100m heat by about a half second, which is really hard to do when in the mix of other world-class runners. Her physical presence is astonishing.

A quieter, non competitive moment above. Simple, probably will never be published apart from this blog, but the kind of pic I try to look for. Off the track. What does this feel like?

The odd slice of a routine….

Or a light-hearted moment amongst competitors….

Here’s to Jimmy, jelly, and bread and butter.

Tech Notes: We live in an amazing time, photographically. The technology is off the charts. I used a traditional 200-400 for the first week, but now changed it up to the Nikkor 180-400mm with a flip the switch tele-extender. Simply one of the smoothest, most amazing pieces of glass I’ve ever used. The zooms were shot around 300-350mm, and I jam my foot against the monopod, pushing it against the stadium railing for additional stability. Shooting at 1/30th or so, I’ll take all the stability I can get my hands on.

More tk….

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