Photography

Tokyo Field Notes: Running in the Rain

Photo of men's hurdle race in the rain during Rio 2016 Summer Olympics.

Rio de Janeiro. 8/15/16. Hurdles. 800mm lens, D5. Rain.

The life of a photographer is just odd, sometimes. I love the reach of the 800, I hate trying to drag it onto an Olympic bus. Toting that thing around, about halfway through the day, I start channeling quotes from Forest Gump. “Are you crazy, or just plain stupid?”

Wouldn’t have given a thought to history repeating itself here in Tokyo. I set out to find a spot where I could effectively shoot the 400m hurdles, and still grab the high jump, and saw a nice angle on the staggered hurdles, which lent itself to the compression of that lens. I settled in.

Sydney McLaughlin and Anna Ryzhykova in the women’s 400m hurdles semi-final 2 during Tokyo 2020 – ZUMA PRESS

Tokyo. 8/02/21. Hurdles. 800mm lens. D6. Rain.

Unparalleled hurdler Sydney McLaughlin was up in the heats, and I waited on her to take to the air, during what was a pretty light rainfall that had started.

But then Anna Cockrell came round, another preeminent American runner, and it started raining heavier. And then it lightened again. I have tremendous respect for these athletes and how hard it is to do what they do. I wanted everything to go well for the runners out there on the track, who couldn’t have appreciated the conditions. But, I have to admit, I was rooting for heavy rain. Photographers. We’re perverse, at least occasionally. I ask forgiveness for all of us. Anyway, I got my wish. Hard rain, charging runners.

Photo of Team USA's Anna Cockrell in the women's 400m hurdle semi-finals (in a rain storm) during the Tokyo 2020 Olympics at the Olympic Stadium in Tokyo, Japan.
Women’s 400m hurdle semi-finals during Tokyo 2020 – ZUMA PRESS

Using a small group of AF points here, to slide the focus past the lead runner, Sara Slott Petersen of Denmark. (Remarkable runner, sadly, she got tripped up in the rain and did not finish.)

All was not smooth for me at camera. I goofed big time on a run I should have had. I had teed up fine on Dalilah Muhammad and was pairing with her nicely, but the lens, monopod based, got away from me. Too much momentum left to right and I got ahead of the runner and couldn’t recover. My bad.

Nicely framed, huh?

More tk….

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