February 16, 2013

The London Zoo

Today I had a really fun and exhausting day at the London Zoo. I brought all of my camera gear and made sure I had something to keep it dry in case it rained, since this is London after-all. I got to the zoo at about 10am and stayed until it closed at 5pm. I never considered how long I would be carrying all my gear or how much I would be walking - bad idea.

It was pretty cloudy today in London even though these pictures don't show that one bit. I was lucky enough to get some good shots in the very short times that the sun peaked out of the clouds, the second image excluded as it was under artificial lighting in the Reptile House.

I spent the early hours at the zoo looking around to get a feel for what it was like and what I could expect from the animals. I took some photos but they didn't match up with what I got once the sun started coming out later in the day. Later in the day I met up with my friend Armando and led him through the highlights of the zoo, starting with the gorillas. He was nice enough to take a picture of me in front of the Reptile House which is where they filmed one scene for Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. I should probably say Philosopher instead since I'm in England..

Since I came away with some great photos today, it was hard to pick my favorite moment. But it has to be when was when I was near the flamingos. I already took a lot of pictures earlier in the day so I was mostly watching while Armando was taking some photos of his own, but then the sun came out and hit one of the flamingos perfectly so I had to start taking some pictures. The first photo below is the first frame I made after triple checking my exposure. I kept my eye on this flamingo and kept taking shots for about the next 2 and a half minutes. In the corner of my eye something caught my attention; it was two birds fighting. I quickly swung my 400mm towards them and just held down the shutter and followed them, these guys were really going at it. It was only 5 seconds from my first and last frame of them, I made a composite of some of the highlights.

Here are some of my favorite photos from the day. (Click for a larger slideshow)

February 10, 2013

Kung Hei Fat Choi (Happy New Year)

This was another event that I knew I had to go to well in advance. The Chinese New Year celebrations in London is the largest outside of London, so I was obligated to go.

It was a very rainy and cold day today in London as you can see in the second to last photo. By the time I left my hands were in a lot of pain, I should probably start putting gloves in my bag. Luckily during the parade the rain wasn't too bad so I was able to use both my cameras (1D Mark III and 5D Mark II), but once it picked up I had to put the 5D in my Think Tank Shapeshifter bag.

Once the parade was over they began entertainment at the main stage. Unfortunately I wasn't able to be near the stage and the only guaranteed line of sight was near the media tent, which I was allowed through. I'm glad I brought my 1.4x teleconverter for the extra reach, as you can actually compare the difference between the 16-35mm f/2.8 and the 70-200 f/2.8 +1.4x teleconverter.

I'm not sure what else to talk about today, but I hurried back to my dorm to watch the POYi Sports Action judging. Below are some images.


February 9, 2013


I would have posted this earlier except I have been a little addicted to watching the POYi judging, and boy has some of it has been depressing. I even have had this post up, pictures put in with captions, ready to type out how my day at Wembley went but I never did it. Right now the judges are having lunch so I will take advantage of it so here I go with my post. It's a bit lengthy but it was a really fun night. You can skip to the end for a one sentence summary if you would prefer.

Months before I left for London, I have been looking forward to this day. I knew Brazil will be playing England and I had to be near the match. I would have been extremely excited if I would have gotten credentialed for the game, it would have been the most exciting thing for me to shoot. But that day will have to wait.

I got to the Wembley Park tube station at about 5pm. I walked down Olympic Way towards the stadium, which was a very familiar sight after seeing so many photos from the Olympics. The crowd was pretty thin, as you can see in the first photo, and it was pretty difficult to find interesting personalities.

Once I got up to the stadium, everyone was crowding around a memorial statue of Robert Moore who is one of the best English footballers in history. The crowd started to pick up and made it very difficult to make a wide angle photo of the statue in front of the stadium. It was busy enough to prevent me from making the photo I wanted but not busy enough to turn it into another photo.

I heard some drums that were coming from the tube station so I headed back that way and got a good glimpse of how many people were coming in for the  match. The drums were from a group of Samba Dancers and they created a frenzy of photographers and fans coming up to take photos. There were a few video cameras that had LED lights and I tried to play around with them for some fun lighting. The one photo I included is when I attempted some slow shutter speeds as they passed me.

I went looking for a pub after the dancers got to the stadium and found one called First Class Sports Bar. They have all sorts of memorabilia of football history and lots of signed jerseys. The bar staff was extremely close to each other and their regulars, I might go back just for a story on them.

The highlight of the game was Joe Hart stopping Ronaldinho's penalty and follow up shot. I happened to be sitting right next to a Brazillian supporter and he was absolutely shocked. Later in the match when it was 2-1 and running to an end, the owner started having some fun with one of the regulars and pulled out a replica World Cup.

The evening ended with going to the bridge near the tube station to take photos of the crowd leaving, as recommended by someone at the pub. Luckily I met another student that goes to the London College of Communication and he let me use his tripod while I froze my fingers off to take some photos. I will be uploading a time lapse sometime this coming week of part of it. I just checked and 40 minutes will have elapsed during the time lapse, no wonder my hand was stuck thinking it was holding the camera.

I went to Wembley, found a statue, saw dancing women, Joe Hart saved England, silly bar owners, and lots of people left Wembley.

The sun sets 2 hours before England and Brazil play in an international friendly at Wembley Stadium in London on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

A statue of England's Robert Moore who is regarded as one of the greatest players of all time stands at Wembley Stadium in London on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

Spectators walk down Olympic Way to Wembley Stadium for the England vs Brazil international friendly in London on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

Brazilian Samba Dancers walk down Olympic Way on their way to Wembley Stadium before Brazil play England in an international friendly in London on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

A Brazillian supporter reacts after English goalkeeper Joe Hart stops Ronaldinho's penalty, at First Class Sports Bar in London on Wednesday 6 February 2013.
The owner of First Class Sports Bar holds up a replica World Cup trophy near the end of the match while at his bar near Wembley Stadium in London on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

Wembley stadium empties as people walk down Olympic Way on their way to the Wembley Park tube station after England's 2-1 win over Brazil in an international friendly in London on Wednesday 6 February 2013.

February 3, 2013

Clowning Around

I wouldn't normally post twice in two days, but I should have a busy week and will have too much I would want to post.

I was lucky that a friend told me about a church service that clowns attend on the first Sunday in February. After doing some research, I find out that the service is an annual tradition at Holy Trinity Church in memory of the most celebrated English clown, Joseph Grimaldi.

In one article I read they state, "Arrive early as press photographers come out in force and take up a large section of the church." They weren't kidding, there were at least 20 photographers during the service, but I'm not sure how many were official press.

When I arrived at the church, there were only maybe 4 photographers outside and the clowns were slowly making their way in. There were two vans that were parked just outside that belonged to some of the clowns, which they had to keep going into to get some additional props for themselves or for other clowns.

During the final preparations before the service began, all the photographers were addressed on etiquette to practice during the service. They had us positioned in the front of the church and wanted us to stay away from the middle aisle. For the most part everyone respected that, other than photographers who scurried across to switch sides. I stayed on the same side the entire time, and was happy with what I got.

Below are a few of my favorites.

February 2, 2013

No Blood, No Tears, Just Sweat.

When I got the assignment to cover The London Throwdown, I had absolutely no idea how to approach it. I have never been to anything like it and wasn't sure what to even expect.

Once I got the all clear to be inside the competition area, I had to watch for one round just to get an idea of what they do. Once I started shooting, I was a bit hesitant with how close I got to the athletes, but after one round I figured out there really is no limit as long as you don't get in their way. There are a few photos that didn't make the cut where I was right up in their face and I was no more than 2 feet away.

This was a very mentally and physically exhausting shoot. Because there were two areas where athletes competed simultaneously, my head was on a swivel to find the best moments and facial expressions. Then there was the responsibility of making sure I was always out of the way of every single athlete. Sometimes I stood in the space that an athlete would be coming to very soon and I had to know when I needed to move as I always put it to the last second.

One of the first things I started paying attention to were the bodies of the athletes. Many had their shirts off with their muscles on display and were pretty impressive, as you can see in the photo below. My favorite part of the entire competition was the handstand pushups, the facial expressions were absolutely amazing (see the last photo).

Here are a collection of photos from the event.

Mads Yacobson chalks up his hands at the London Throwdown in London on Sunday 27 January 2013.
A judge signals a completed rep during the London Throwdown in London on Sunday 27 January 2013.

Gerd Corvers falls to his knees as he struggles to lift the weights at the London Throwdown in London on Sunday 27 January 2013.

Gerd Corvers struggles to lift weights at the London Throwdown in London on Sunday 27 January 2013.

Competitors begin the final wod, where the winner will receive £1,000, at the London Throwdown in London on Sunday 27 January 2013.

Robert Manlove pulls himself up on the rings at the London Throwdown in London on Sunday 27 January 2013.

Gareth Doody holds himself steady while doing handstand pushups at the London Throwdown in London on Sunday 27 January 2013.