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  • RIO 2016 blog – Behind the Camera: “The Superpeople of Copacabana” by Leon Neal

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    NIKON RIO 3
    Spectators watch the men’s beach volleyball qualifying match between the Netherlands and Russia as the sun sets over Copacabana’s Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 6, 2016, during the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Nikon D5 – AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f2.8 @16mm – 1600th/sec – f4 – 1250ISO Copyright: Leon NEAL / AFP

     

    Leon Neal, AFP staff photographer and Nikon UK ambassador: “My assignment for Rio 2016 was to cover the beach volleyball in the fantastic custom-built arena on Copacabana beach. Never having shot the sport before, my only reference point was that in London 2012, the team would leave before anyone else and return after we’d had dinner, only to be rarely spotted stumbling around the hotel corridors like ‘Walking Dead’ extras. Working with the 12 match-per-day schedule for the last six days, I can now thoroughly understand why there were looking so drained.

    One of the shots every photographer is looking for is the classic Superhero dive through the air, with no ground contact, which is remarkably hard to get, mainly due to having to photograph through the other three players on the court. Nearly every time it happens, someone runs in front of you, or the player dives behind the net support. Thankfully, the venue gives photographers the chance to work from nearly any position so the options are there to move around as you hunt for the elusive dive.

    Now, just over half way through the beach volleyball tournament, I have a serious amount of respect for the moves these men and women pull off at incredible speed in the Brazilian heat. Personally, I think I’ll stick to just laying on the sand with a cocktail, thanks.”

    NIKON RIO 1
    Christiaan Varenhorst of the Netherlands (R) spikes the ball in front of Russia’s Konstantin Semenov during the men’s beach volleyball qualifying match at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Nikon D5 – AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm F4.0 VRII @260mm – 2500th/sec – f4 – 200ISO Copyright: Leon NEAL / AFP

     

    NIKON RIO 2
    Canada’s Heather Bansley gestures to her teammate during the women’s beach volleyball qualifying match between Canada and the Netherlands at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 7, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Nikon D5 – AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm F4.0 VRII @400mm – 200th/sec – f4 – 400ISO   Copyright: Leon NEAL / AFP

     

    NIKON RIO 4
    USA’s Brooke Sweat dives for the ball during the women’s beach volleyball qualifying match between the USA and Russia at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 11, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Nikon D5 – AF-S 200-400mm F4.0 VRII @220mm – 2000th/sec – f4 – 200ISO  Copyright: Leon NEAL / AFP

     

    NIKON RIO 5
    Jantine van der Vlist of the Netherlands plays a shot during the women’s beach volleyball qualifying match between Germany and the Netherlands at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 9, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Nikon D5 – AF-S 200-400mm F4.0 VRII @220mm – 1250th/sec – f4 – 3200ISO Copyright: Leon NEAL / AFP

     

    NIKON RIO 6
    Brazil’s Bruno Oscar Schmidt serves the ball during the men’s beach volleyball qualifying match between Brazil and Austria at the Beach Volley Arena in Rio de Janeiro on August 8, 2016, for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. Nikon D5 – AF-S 200-400mm F4.0 VRII @350mm – 2000th/sec – f4 – 500ISO  Copyright: Leon NEAL / AFP