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Photographing the Olympics: A Professional's Take

The Olympics are in full swing over in Sochi, Russia, and plenty of people are paying rapt attention to the events. Journalists and television stations from around the world have converged on the city, often turning up stories that have little to do with the athletics and more to do with Sochi not quite being ready for the big time. However, events like the Olympics are where some sports photographers make their names known. One such photographer is Adam Pretty from Australia. His advice includes the usual -- don't follow the crowd, try to get the best shot, don't be afraid to trek out far in order to get a unique image, know your gear, etc -- however, his gear list for would-be Olympics photographers is rather interesting. Pretty suggests the following: Now the lenses are a no-brainer. They're all fairly good lenses, some with greater zoom features than the others so that you can still see the action even when it's far away, and all have pretty fast focusing (the most commonly suggested lens speed being f/2.8), a huge necessity in fast-paced sports. Some are better for capturing the action right in front of you (such as the 24-70mm f/2.8 and then 16-35mm f/2.8 lenses) while the other two are great for when you can't get very close to the action (such as on a long ski trail or on slopes where trying to get too close might be dangerous). The monopod is also not a big head scratcher. It lets you get the camera set up comfortably for a long series of distant (or zoomed-in) shots. But kneepads is a little unique. After reading the comments in the Ars Technica section, though, they seem like a fairly practical thing to take with you. If you're going to be kneeling a lot, then having some extra padding will not only make you more comfortable (especially if you're kneeling in snow), but it can help prevent you from developing pre-patella bursitis or "house wife's knee." Other gear that might be very useful for winter sports or winter Olympics photographers would be hand warmers -- tuck these into your gloves or shoes and you can stay warm even in the most bitter-cold conditions. A good walking stick could also be very useful in helping you to keep your balance and letting you test to see how densely packed the snow is. What are some other gear you might consider essential for winter weather photography? Let us know in the comments below! -- da Bird
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