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The toughest Olympic sport to shoot? It just might be badminton

Steve Russell - Staff Photographer - @RussellPhotos

I think I might have put the bad in badminton. Pictures, that is!


I know I might not have believed it myself.

I felt fairly confident going into it, I had covered events in the past on courts that look similar to a badminton court, tennis and table tennis come to mind.

But I was to humbled by a sport.

Our pair of Michele Li and Bruce, who the crowd  chanted "Bruce Li" for, benefitted from the disqualification of four pair teams for throwing matches.

Our team found themselves in a semi final game. A win and they play for no worse than silver and a loss puts them in the bronze medal game.

I got to the stadium and sat down courtside for a men's game and quickly realized that this was not going to be easy. 

This was not the game we played in backyards or a cottages.

The shuttlecock, the thing that most of us grew up simply calling a birdie, can move and do strange things.

It can move quickly and deaccelerate just as quick, that seems to the the issue in covering the event.

It seems to be the supreme test for auto focus.

The players set themselves and don't move, then suddenly and quickly react to the flight of the shuttlecock at the last possible moment.

This is the one game that all autofocus systems should be tested on.

The other thing that makes it tough to cover is the heat.

The Air Conditioning is turned off in the stadium so that it does not interfere with the shuttlecock. Add a full stadium over the course of the day and the stadium is roasting. Feeling in over my head I went from courtside to the upper photo position.

Shooting with a long lens from upstairs allowed me to keep focus a little easier and watch the game to look for a flow and develop some timing for the event.

I also used a feature on the camera that was introduced on the Canon 1DX.

I made some crude multiple exposures so that I could look and get a sense of timing, so could get a picture.

I was watching singles, the vent we needed was doubles so I shot the first set from upstairs and braved the downstairs for the last two sets.

Michele Li dives for the shuttlecock as Alex Bruce tries to get out of the way as they lose to a doubles pair from Japan  in the semi final 2 sets to 1.  I headed upstairs to learn the game.

I also used the multiple exposure feature on the camera to help me see where my timing was off. Looking at my standard three frame burst helped me understand a players timing.

The Air Conditioning is off in the arena, making it venure very warm. Players use some chalk to keep grip on the racket.

Shooting from upstairs makes it a lot easier to keep the shuttlecock in the picture!

Michele Li lays on the court after missing a return. 

If the venue is light properly you can also use a long exposure to learn where the point of impact is, helping you understand timing.

Alex Bruce smashes the shuttlecock. 

Thankfully there was judo!

Michele Li misses the shuttlecock on match point. Canada would go onto lose the bronze medal match.

My favourites from the past day,

Zachary Bell competes in the men's Omnium 4000 individual pursuit at the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Velodrome.

Kim Smith and Alisha Tatham go after a loose ball as Canada plays Australia  in the women's basketball tournament.

Shona Thorburn gets an arm to the face from Austraila's Kristi Harrower as Canada loses to Australia in the women's basketball tournament .

Kim Smith celebrates a big score as Canada.

Judges score the women's three metre springboard.

Jennifer Abel would finish sixth.

Jennifer Abel  makes her second of five dives.

Bronze medalist Laura Sanchez Soto wets herself down after every dive.

Emilie Heymans dives off the three metre springboard, she would finish in twelfth.

Tailing and out of the medals Jennifer Abel readies herself for her fourth dive.




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Wow!! 50K images and still counting. The days of film pale into insignificance when one sees the number of digital images captured. Your Olympic images are inspiring mate. Congrats Steve on a photojournalist's visual feast.

What is jubo? That was in one of the captions. Thank you.

"Thankfully there was jubo!"

Those are great badminton pictures do you have more

I love the shot with the flex in the racquet!

this year Olympics made me really proud
it was the first time i watched the whole thing and enjoyed every hour

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