Perfect Landings: A New Angle on the Long Jump

Pawel Kopczynski—Reuters
Pawel Kopczynski—Reuters
Brittney Reese of the U.S. competes during the women's long jump final at the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, August 28, 2011.

Photographer and picture editor Pawel Kopczynski of Reuters explains how a combination of astute planning and specially developed remote camera technology produced a compelling series of photographs from the World Athletics Championships in Seoul, South Korea.

Photographers and photo editors are always on the lookout for new and exciting angles on stories. Something that has never been done before. Is this possible in a day and age where technology allows you to put a camera almost anywhere?

It is not an easy job since organizers of events typically limit access to the unusual spots photographers request to place a camera for a variety of reasons, ranging from the obvious safety issues to simply the lack of physical space.

High profile sporting events like the World Athletics Championships or Olympics are the perfect place for us to try something new. For example, high angle pictures are well published because it gives the viewer a perspective of a competing athlete that is far different from the traditional shot taken on the field of play. Unfortunately not all stadiums provide roof access for us to install these high angle cameras.

In a perfect world, a stadium would have a catwalk that allows a photographer the ability to walk around and photograph the action on the field. The organizers usually don’t allow photographers to walk the roof during competitions for the safety of the photographer, athlete and spectators as the consequences of a dropped piece of equipment are very high.

It is not uncommon for us to be allowed to place a camera in a fixed position on a roof but it has limited scope as it is aimed at one specific target. In the old days we had to wait until the competition was finished before we were allowed to return to the camera and pick up the disc. With online deadlines this is not good, so with this in mind, I developed a remote controlled camera system allowing me to rotate, pan, tilt, zoom and focus a camera.

After a technical visit to the Daegu Stadium in March this year, I decided that we should use our remote camera technology which was developed in our Reuters Berlin office and has been successfully used for a while at the Frankfurt stock exchange.

For this event we are using a Canon Mark IV camera with a 70-200 mm zoom lens. The camera can be released by the remote operator from any location or by a photographer at the stadium using a wireless transmitter. Pictures are transfered instantly to the Reuters editing system. In Daegu we have installed two cameras, one on each side of the stadium that covers the full field of play. We can easily photograph the long jump or high jump pits with one camera as well as the finish line and the shot putt area with the other.

Pawel Kopczynski joined Reuters in Warsaw in 1994 as a photographer. Since 2005 he has been based in Berlin and is responsible for the Reuters Pictures operations in Central and Eastern Europe—organizing and running Reuters’ coverage of events like the Athletics meetings, and European and World soccer championships.

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