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  • Paralympics 2016 – “What an amazing experience”: Behind the Camera by Bob Martin

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    Last month, multi-award winning photographer and Nikon UK Ambassador: Bob Martin covered the behind the camera story for Rio 2016. Here, we invited him again to do the same for the Paralympics. As his images and words show, the Paralympics 2016 has left a lasting impression for Bob as well as all of us here at Nikon.

     

    “Looking back at Rio, I have to say it was really hard work. Transport was terrible, absolutely not as good as it should have been. Food was awful in the restaurants. Technology i.e. accessing the internet was challenging and unreliable. All this made our daily grind more difficult and when you are working 16 hour days for 16 days, well one can do the math.

     

    The Paralympics, however, has been an amazing experience! I have to admit, I was really not looking forward to going through the “Rio” experience again so soon after the Olympics, much to my relief, the fantastic performance of Paralympic athletes made up for the difficulty.

     

    For the Paralympics, I was working for the IOC (Olympic Information Services) to help publicise the games. The IOC is responsible for the News Service for the Winter and Summer Olympics and Paralympics. This was the second time I have been in this role, the first was for the Youth Olympics in Lillehammer. We had a small team of four photographers and three support staff which was enough to cover the games.

     

    There were many highlights throughout the Paralympics, perhaps too many to mention, and I was very impressed by the athletes. Here, in no particular order, I share my favourite pictures and moments of the games:

     

    The simplicity of this winner’s shot 

    This shot, I felt stood out to me because of the logo in the background and the simplicity of his pose, which also helps the composition. Here, (AUS) wins the Gold Medal against Andy Lapthorne GBR in the Quad Singles Gold Medal Match. Shame the Australian beat the Brit, however he was great and deserved to win.

     

    Dylan Alcott AUS wins the Gold Medal against Andy Lapthorne GBR in the Quad Singles Gold Medal Match. Wheelchair Tennis at the Olympic Tennis Centre. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday 14th September 2016. Photo: Bob Martin for OIS. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 600mm f4 1/1600th f4 | 3200asa.
    Dylan Alcott (AUS) wins the Gold Medal against Andy Lapthorne (GBR) in the Quad Singles Gold Medal Match. Wheelchair Tennis at the Olympic Tennis Centre. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday 14th September 2016. Picture © Bob Martin for OIS.

     

     

    The red in this shot

    Liankang Zou CHN competing in the Men’s 50m Backstroke. I love the red lane markers and the water coming off the withered arm – a great Paralympic picture.

     

    Liankang Zou CHN competing in the Men's 50m Backstroke - S2 Heat 2. Swimming at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 600mm F4 + 1.4 conv, 1-1250th f5.6 | 4000asa. Liankang Zou CHN competing in the Men’s 50m Backstroke – S2 Heat 2. Swimming at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday 15th September 2016. Photo © Bob Martin for OIS.

     

     

    The right background for a star 

    Tatyana McFadden USA celebrates winning the Women’s 5000m Wheelchair Race One of the stars of the Rio Games, she finished the Games with four gold medals and two silvers! To capture this shot well, I used a 600mm to try to kill off the ugly background with the limited depth of field.

     

    Paralympics, Tatyana McFadden USA celebrates winning the Women's 5000m - T54 Final at the Olympic Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 600mm F4 1-1600th f4 1600asa.
    Tatyana McFadden USA celebrates winning the Women’s 5000m – T54 Final at the Olympic Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday 15th September 2016. Photo © Bob Martin for OIS/IOC.

     

     

    The precision of this shot

    Alvaro Galvis Becerra COL competing in the final of the  Men’s C1-2-3 1000m Time Trial.  You needed to be completely and precisely head on for this picture to work. I used a 400mm and a 1.4 convertor would of been better off with my 600mm however you can only carry so much each day.

     

    Paralympics, Alvaro Galvis Becerra COL competing in the final of the Men's C1-2-3 1000m Time Trial in the Rio Olympic Velodrome. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 400mm f2.8e + 1.4 conv 1/1250th f4 2500asa
    Alvaro Galvis Becerra (COL) competing in the final of the Men’s C1-2-3 1000m Time Trial in the Rio Olympic Velodrome. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday 10th September 2016. Photo © Bob Martin for OIS.

     

     

    The right exposure

    Mohamed Lahna MAR (left) and Stephane Bahier FRA are aided out of the water during the Men’s PT2 Triathlon competition at Fort Copacabana.

    The scene was fiercely backlit so I had to make a very, very careful exposure choice here – if it was too light, the water would have no detail; too dark, the skin tone would not be good. I always shoot RAW files as in these sort of circumstances, it helps so much to have more latitude.

     

    Paralympic, Mohamed Lahna MAR (left) and Stephane Bahier FRA are aided out of the water during the Men's PT2 Triathlon competition at Fort Copacabana. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 24-70mm @ 70mm 1/2000th F5.6 200asa
    Mohamed Lahna (MAR) [left] and Stephane Bahier (FRA) are aided out of the water during the Men’s PT2 Triathlon competition at Fort Copacabana. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday 10th September 2016. Photo © Bob Martin for OIS/IOC.
     

     

     

    Finally a Brit

    Richard Whitehead GBR sets a new Paralympic Record and wins the Gold Medal in the Men’s 200m – T42 Final and I finally got to have a picture of a Brit in my favourites! I used my 400mm lens wide open on f2.8 for this shot.

     

    Paralympic, Richard Whitehead GBR sets a new Paralympic Record and wins the Gold Medal in the Men's 200m - T42 Final in the Olympic Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday 11th September 2016
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 300mm f2.8 1/2000th f2.8 2500asa
    Richard Whitehead (GBR) sets a new Paralympic Record and wins the Gold Medal in the Men’s 200m – T42 Final in the Olympic Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Sunday 11th September 2016. Photo © Bob Martin for OIS.

     

     

    Difficult shot to nail

    Reinhold Bötzel (GER) competes in the Men’s High Jump – T47 Final. Perhaps this is my favourite shot. When covering high jumps, you have to keep moving to watch how each high jumper crosses the bar, then chose the optimal angle that has a good back drop difficult with so many empty seats and ugly stands! Very difficult to nail it in such a short space of time.

     

    Reinhold Bštzel GER competes in the Men's High Jump - T47 Final. Athletics in the Olympic Stadium. Athletics in the Olympic Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 300mm 1/1600th F2.8 3200asa
    Reinhold Bštzel (GER) competes in the Men’s High Jump – T47 Final. Athletics in the Olympic Stadium. Athletics in the Olympic Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday 16th September 2016. Photo © Bob Martin for OIS/IOC.

     

     

    The blue background

    Rudy Garcia-Tolson USA competes in Heat 1 of the Men’s 100m Butterfly – S8 at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. Shot from up in the stands during the heats by shooting down against the blue water – it simplifies the shot and makes the subject stand out.

     

    Rudy Garcia-Tolson USA competes in Heat 1 of the Men's 100m Butterfly - S8 at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday 9th September 2016. Photo: Bob Martin for OIS/IOC.
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 300mm f2.8 1/200th F2.8 3200asa
    Rudy Garcia-Tolson (USA) competes in Heat 1 of the Men’s 100m Butterfly – S8 at the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Friday 9th September 2016. Photo: Bob Martin for OIS/IOC.

     

     

    Skilled and tough

    This game used to be called “Murder Ball” before becoming a Paralympic Sport and with reason! Here, Christophe Salegui (FRA) is seen during the Wheelchair Rugby – such a wild sport, players run into each other and crash frequently. They are so skilled yet so really rough.

     

    Christophe Salegui FRA in the scoring zone. Mixed - Pool Phase Group B, Match 021. Wheelchair Rugby at the Carioca Arena 1. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday 14th September 2016. Photo: Bob Martin for OIS. Handout image supplied by OIS/IOC
    Nikon + NIKKOR D5 70mm-200mm at 200mm 1/1600th F2.8 2500asa
    Christophe Salegui (FRA) in the scoring zone. Mixed – Pool Phase Group B, Match 021. Wheelchair Rugby at the Carioca Arena 1. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Wednesday 14th September 2016. Photo © Bob Martin for OIS.

     

    Brazillian star of the Paralympics

    Daniel Dias (BRA) competing in the Men’s 100m Freestyle S5. This was shot on a new prototype robotic camera, built by Nikon, inside a D5 and a 16-35mm. The clever thing is underwater for 10 days! Completely remote control pan tilt roll focus – I can even change the colour balance! Daniel was the star of the Paralympics and the Brazilian the crowd was louder than at the Olympics for Phelps!

    Daniel Dias BRA competing in the Men's 100m Freestyle S5. Swimming in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil,
    Nikon D5 + NIKKOR 16-35mm F4 1/2000th F4 3200asa in Nikon Robotic underwater housing.
    Daniel Dias BRA competing in the Men’s 100m Freestyle S5. Swimming in the Olympic Aquatics Stadium. The Paralympic Games, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Saturday 17th September 2016. Photo © Bob Martin for OIS.

     

    The Paralympics for me was a fantastic experience the Athletes are totally amazing. Photographing disabled athletes is a whole new experience, the great competition and the sheer drive and dedication of these amazing the athletes is truly unforgettable!”