Tag Archives: England

Tower Bridge and Olympic Rings

Tower Bridge and Olympic Rings

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia just wrapped up. I had been meaning to post this image when the games started but finally got around to it now — when the games ended. (I’ve been pretty weak on posting images so far this year.)

Working the Games of the XXX Olympiad was an incredible experience. I did not get the invitation this year but I had several friends and co-workers who did. They had nothing but good stories to share and didn’t have to break out of any bathrooms or deal with brown tap water. (On the final day one did have his iPad stolen, but he was pretty “meh” about it.)

My fingers are crossed I’ll be invited down to Rio de Janeiro for the 2016 Summer Games. If I don’t get the call I’ll be firmly planted on the couch watching the coverage. Being at The Games has given me a new respect for the athletes, the city holding the event event and my “bothers and sisters” who are involved in getting those images out.

Speaking of images, I took the above picture on the one “off day” I had while in London. The Tower Bridge, showing the Olympic Rings, is lit up in celebration of the 2012 Olympic Games.

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Boat, Tower Bridge and Olympic Rings

Several years ago I found a great couple of lines in a magazine and promptly tore it out to forever hang on my bulletin board: “Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. Travel is like an investment in yourself. It transforms you and makes you more interesting, more fun, more understanding.

Damn right.

Last week, my wife and I booked flights for Easter Island. I’m particularly excited about Easter Island because it is the first time I can remember learning about some far away land. (Far away, indeed. Easter Island is 2,182 miles (3,512km) off the coast of Chile. From Chicago it is 19-hours of fight time, excluding any layovers.)

When I was in third or fourth grade, I watched one of those slow-paced National Geographic documentaries showing the ancient and enormous monumental statues, called moai. At the time and with growing up in rural Wisconsin, it was absolutely fantastic. I filed Easter Island away in the back of my head under the category of “some day.”

That some day will be coming up before too long, and I’ve very, very excited.

In kind of a weird, roundabout way, Easter Island got me kind of thinking about the first call I received about working the Olympics. Among my co-workers and me, covering the Olympic games is kind of the holy grail for a variety of different reasons. So, after getting settled on the plane to fly to London for the Olympics, I ordered a glass of wine and made myself comfortable. I remember being really excited about where I was going and what I was doing … much like planning for our next adventure to Easter Island. The island is one of the most remote regions on earth, and also one of the most mystical.

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Olympic Rings on the Tower Bridge

Yesterday I was talking with a friend I worked the Olympics with this past summer, and we were surprised to see how quickly time has flown by. It seems like forever-ago that we were in London, and here it is only 90 days since. I realize time marches on, but with the incredible experience the 2012 Olympic Games were, it’d be nice to have held on to them and enjoyed them a little bit longer.

I guess it’s good we, as a society, take pictures when we do fun things. Cell phones now insure that we pretty much have a camera with us at all times, and those pictures help up remember events. Be it a father teaching his son how to ride a bike, to a group of friends downing a round of shots at the bar. Pictures help us remember things that we may otherwise forget.

Alternatively, if several rounds of shots have been consumed at a bar, it’s those pictures that won’t let us forget things we’d rather not remember.

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Wrestling Towards Gold

For being my first Olympic experience, there were a lot of things that I didn’t know existed until experienced first-hand. One of the strangest things was, as I liked to call them, “pieces of flare.”

Each person at the Olympics — volunteer, contractor, participant, etc. — had a nearly identical credential hanging around their neck. A small color strip on that credential, as well as the various letters signifying access, is what made each one different from the next (as well as the picture and bar code), but by and large, the general make-up was fairly identical. Each credential was worn around the neck and, according to the employees’ Welcome Handbook the credential “must be worn above the waistline with the photo facing outwards so as to be consistently visual to zone control personel.” Head spinning yet?

This credential was worn via a lanyard around the neck and contractors, employees and participants began to trade various lapel pins throughout the week to wear on their own lanyards.

Since there is no bandwagon moving too swiftly for me, I looked into buying a few lapel pins before finding the cheapest one at a mere $10US. I’m far too cheap to buy a few at that price to trade, so I didn’t bother with them. A few of my co-workers had a couple of dozen collected by the time the two-week Olympic run was over with, so I asked them where they got all the pins. Did they buy them at $10 each to trade, or did they grab some cheap ones from home and bring them? Turns out the company they were working for had them made just for the employees to trade with other people in London for the games.

It got to the point that, going through security, each person had to take off their credential and send it through the X-ray machine because there would be so much metal on some people’s lanyards that it’d make the alarm sound with the metal detector.

I probably would have joined in the lapel-trading fun if it wasn’t for the expensive cost of each pin. Should I be asked back for future Olympics I may pack my own pins, but in the meantime it was an interesting learning experience to see how much the “pieces of flare” were traded about.

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Bus Blurs By Big Ben

Before coming to London, England, I had read a few photography-themed blogs written by guys from the Associated Press, Getty Images and such about shooting the Olympics. All of them mentioned “constant shooting” and “energy bars.”

Boy, where they right.

Covering the Olympics is like the movie “Groundhogs Day.” My assignment is wrestling and I cover (on average) forty matches a day. The wrestling starts at 12:45PM and continues through 8:30PM, with just over an hour break in the middle. During that time off I crush food like Garfield the Cat eats lasagna (by shoveling it in) and then I make my way to the ExCel Centre’s Hall N2 for more wrestling. It really is a lot of wrestling, but after awhile it becomes oddly enjoyable.

I’ve enjoyed recognizing the different athletes and picking favorites throughout the day. I’ve enjoy the crowd getting into it. I’ve enjoyed the Japanese woman winning a gold medal and the ENTIRE audience singing along to their countries national anthem.

The Olympics are a lot of work, but also a lot of fun. To get through the day, my “weapon of choice” is an energy drink versus the aforementioned energy bar; having one definitely helps getting through that last twenty wrestling matches.

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Clouds Over Stonehenge

I have been asked several times if I thought Stonehenge was cool, and I’m not really sure how to answer. Am I happy I went? Absolutely. Would I ever go back? Maybe not.

I’d love to go back at sunrise or sunset one day and spend a great deal of time taking colorful pictures with the sun majestically lined up behind the famous rock formation, but I don’t have the luxury of time right now.

In London, England with a few extra hours to spare, a co-worker and I made plans to meet in the hotel’s lobby at 6AM the next morning to take the London Underground 45-minutes away to catch a two-hour bus ride to the famous stones outside of Amesbury.

On our drive there, the rain began pouring down and I was disheartened to think that my visit to Stonehenge would be marred by crappy, overcast skies and pouring rain. About a half-an-hour out the rain let out and the clouds began to clear.

The weather conditions made for great photographs, and I happily spent an hour walking around the site taking pictures from various angles.

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Blazing Sun and London’s Eye

I like this simple picture showing the sun and the London Eye Ferris Wheel.  Both are big and impressive, to me.

The weather was freezing cold on this trip, so I don’t have many outdoor pictures from London.  I am, however, going back to London this summer, so I’m looking forward to getting more images and roaming around with my camera a bit more.

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English Side Street

Wandering around London, England one evening, Alisha and I passed this small side-street.  Standing there looking at it, it reminded me of every high school musical “street scene.”

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