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Paralympic Opening Ceremony

David Cooper - Chief Photographer

The Paralympics is underway in Vancouver and Whistler. After and very long and late day covering the opening ceremonies we were up at  5:30 am to drive two hours to Whistler for the downhill. It's been about 30 years for me between major skiing event. Most of the hard part is just getting there with your gear, not breaking it and keeping dry. Warm is not so much of an issue at Whistler. 

The new Canon Mark IV continue to impress me today, but last night is when they really shone. BC Place is a gigantic inflated dome and aside from needing to walk 3/4 of the way around the outside ring to get to my spot from the filing area it was pretty good venue to work in.

I used 3 lenses. 500mm f/4, 70-200mm f/2.8 and the 16-35mm f/2.8 and the 1.4 extender of the 500mm which makes it a 700mm f/5.6. The pictures I captured could not have been taken by a mark III.

3200 iso produces amazing quality. Because we were in Vancouver, three time zones west, we were right up against the deadline to file. The main picture had to be of the Canadian team as they walked in.... LAST as is the custom for the host nation. 

Only photographers could complain at such an uplifting even. There were two issues to deal with shooting the long shot of the teams. One the flag bearer for Canada walked right behind the Canada sign carrier as they can into the stadium, making a clean shot difficult. Also there was a boom camera swinging into the shot and two guys with a hand held camera going up to the athletes as they crossed the floor. The 500mm let me get the picture before and between all these. It was 7 pm when I shot it or 10 pm in Toronto which is very late to make the paper but it got in because they were waiting for it and had the shape (horizontal) drawn on the page. 

Sledge hockey captain Jean Labonté carries the flag for Canada at the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games in Vancouver Friday evening at BC Place.  

After that I shot and filed from a seat in the Tribune area. This gave me a desk and internet so that I could shoot and file individual pictures as soon as I shot them. The highlight of the evening for me was Betty and Rolly Fox carrying in the Paralympic torch. I photographed Terry Fox several times during his run and afterward in Thunder Bay when he cancer forced him to abandon the Marathon of Hope.

The shot was done with the 500mm for one end to almost the other end,  A 200th of a second wide open at f/4 at 3200 ISO which was cropped to probably less than a quarter of the frame. Amazing quality for such an extreme blowup.

Betty and Rolly Fox, parents of Terry Fox, carry the flame into the stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games. 

The last major even of the night was lighting the Cauldron. For this I added the 1.4x converter making the 500mm into a 700mm to shoot the young paralympic athlete who was chosen to do the honours.

With the extender the 500 loses a stop to f/5.6 at a  200th of a second,  The images were actually a little over exposed, after the flame was lit things got a lot brighter. You need to stay on manual so that the aperature doesn't shut down too much and lose the people to shadows. At that point I grabbed the 70-200mm and made the wider cauldrom picture.


Fifteen year-old Zach Beaumont a snowboarder lit the Paralympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.

Fifteen year-old Zach Beaumont a snowboarder lights the Paralympic Cauldron 

Fifteen year-old Zach Beaumont a snowboarder lit the Paralympic Cauldron during the opening ceremony

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Thanks for all of these great tips - I am really enjoying this.

I enjoyed my trip around the world. Best news of the day that pictures are worth a thousand words. Thanks for also sharing the Paralympic athletesin action.

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