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Since I had the night shift tonight, that left my entire day open to hit the streets of Beijing with just a fanny pack and my Canon G9. My mode of transportation was the excellent subway system. It's air conditioned, easy to figure out, and free if you have a media pass for the Olympics (note mine hanging around my neck in the shot above.)

My plan was basic. Take the subway somewhere, get off and wander the streets, then get back on the subway to somewhere else. I found some interesting alleys along the way, and was able to work without drawing a lot of attention to myself thanks to the G9.

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I also climbed up a few overpasses for a bird's eye look at the world below.

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Then, to end my day, I took a stroll through the park surrounding the Temple of Heaven. There I came upon this talented lady twirling a long colorful flag. But that was all I had time for. So, back on the subway to my hotel for a quick shower before reporting to work at the MPC

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Photos by Derrick Story, captured with a Canon G9 compact camera in Raw mode.

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Inside the Main Press Center, Beijing

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The Main Press Center, known as the MPC, is where I go to work everyday in Beijing. In the Kodak Digital Photography workroom, we have more than 200 workstations (Mac and PC) and a variety of services for photographers. The MPC is a world unto itself, complete with a food court, banking, dry cleaning, basic goods, and just about anything you'd need while working here.

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The one thing you don't have in the MPC is a place to sleep. The days are incredibly long, and we have to ride buses back to our hotels, which can take as long as 45 minutes each way depending on you luck. So photographers often don't go back to their rooms until they absolutely have to. And sometimes they just run out of gas before getting there.

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We have terrific volunteers who are Beijing locals and help with just about every aspect of running our little city. Many of them have an interest in photography and are learning the tools of the trade during the Olympics. The Kodak and Apple staff members have been enthusiastic about showing these upcoming photographers best practices for their craft. Here they are processing their images in Aperture on an Apple 30" Cinema Display.

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It's the Olympic Games, however, that has brought us together here. And in the lobby there is a giant Panasonic HD display that features the hot event of the moment. At times, such as this overtime basketball contest between China and Spain, people will gather around and cheer for their country. Unfortunately for many of the volunteers watching this game, Spain prevailed over China. But there's always tomorrow and a new slate of events.

Photos by Derrick Story, captured with a Canon 5D with Canon 16-35mm f/2.8 and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lenses.


Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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I had this morning off, so I got up early and caught a cab to the gates of the Forbidden City here in Beijing. Since I was there before tickets went on sale, I had an opportunity to photograph the workers as they rode in on their bicycles. So here's a sampling of the two-wheeled devices I saw.

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Many bikes were converted into work vehicles that could carry an amazing amount of goods.

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I'm not even sure what this contraption does. But I do know it would be much more unwieldily without the wheels.

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Ride sharing is also popular here in Beijing.

Photos by Derrick Story captured with a Canon 5D, 70-200mm L zoom with 1.4X tele extender.

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I found a spot on the Olympic Commons where locals like to pose for pictures in front of the Bird Nest. As with many of my other wanderings in Beijing, I've noticed the excitement among the Chinese to have the world at their doorstep.

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One aspect of this that I know other photographers will appreciate is the willingness here to be photographed. Many times, it feels like I've honored them by pointing my camera in their direction and asking for permission. I'm not sure if it's because I have a Kodak media pass, or just the general nature of this Olympic community. But it sure is making my work enjoyable.

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Other times, however, it's hard to beat the traditional grab shot, capturing life as it strolls by in all of its colorful glory.

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With so much attention focused on the venues and capturing sport as it happens, I seem to be in the minority in terms of my interest in making portraits of those who watch the games. I'm working primarily with a 70-200mm Canon L zoom. By photographer standards here, that's a pea-shooter. But it's working just fine for me.

Photographs by Derrick Story captured with a Canon 5D and Canon 70-200mm f/4 L zoom lens.


Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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The weather in Beijing has been hot during my entire stay, but today was the first time I spent hours working in the afternoon sun. And I have to tell you, it's hot and humid, very humid.

The temperature was over 90 degrees today, and it felt like the humidity was about the same. I would find patches of shade to camp out beneath when I felt my core begin to simmer. And once I finished my shooting, I went into an air conditioned building an hour before I was to report for work so I could arrive cool and composed.

But as hot as it is, I'm going out shooting every chance I get. There are just too many opportunities, and I don't want to pass them up because of a little perspiration... OK, maybe a lot of perspiration.

Photo of overheated visitor to the Olympic Commons by Derrick Story. Canon 5D with 70-200mm f/4 L lens.


Now Available! The Digital Photography Companion. The official guide for The Digital Story Virtual Camera Club.

  • 25 handy and informative tables for quick reference.
  • Metadata listings for every photo in the book
  • Dedicated chapter on making printing easy.
  • Photo management software guide.
  • Many, many inside tips gleaned from years of experience.
  • Comprehensive (214 pages), yet fits easily in camera bag.

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The hours leading up to the opening ceremonies at the Beijing Olympics could best be described as patient happy anticipation. I was allowed access all the way up to the stadium ticket entrance. At first, this might sound disappointing to not have admission inside. But you needed a special pass even for the common area outside the stadium. The rings of security here in Olympic Village are many and substantial. I didn't get my common area authorization until the last minute.

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But it was worth the wait. I saw the buses of athletes driving by one by one in an endless stream that never seemed to end. Many of the opening ceremony participants were congregating in the common area interacting with visitors, posing for pictures, and making last minute preparations. Everywhere I turned there was something colorful and compelling to photograph.

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Once the event began, there was still plenty of activity outside. The battalions of athletes began to form, slowly marching forward to receive their nation's flag as they entered the stadium. Crowds would line up along the human barricades formed by Chinese volunteers holding hands to create a barrier that seemed to stretch as far as the Great Wall itself. The nice thing about this approach, is that you could see everything going on, yet the athletes were protected.

Then there were the fireworks, so loud and intense that they shook the buildings. I got back to my room after midnight, edited some pictures, and fell asleep twice at the computer. Finally, I gave in and went to bed, knowing that hours later I would be back at work in the Olympic Village.

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Photos by Derrick Story, captured with a Canon 5D with 16-35mm f/2.8 L II and Sigma 50mm f/1.4 lenses. ISO 1600.

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As I post this now, it's 8:30 am in Beijing. Tonight the Opening Ceremonies begin, and I suppose that everything is going to change around here.

I captured this image of the Bird's Nest Stadium last night while walking in Beijing. It was one of those magical moments in the city when we were all out strolling along the perimeter of Olympic Village. People were waving little flags, taking pictures, and enjoying being out en masse with their friends and family.

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We were about the only Americans I saw on this walk, which made it even more enjoyable. I felt like I was immersed in what it feels like the moment before the world comes to your doorstep. More to report soon.

Photos by Derrick Story, captured with a Canon 5D and 16-35mm L II lens. ISO 1600.

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I've been depending almost exclusively on the Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM Lens during my first few days in Beijing. In part, as I anticipated, it's because I'm working indoors as we prepare for the launch of the Olympics. My standard procedure everywhere I go is to carry the Canon 5D over my shoulder with the Sigma 50mm mounted. It's relatively compact, very fast at f/1.4, and has transformed even the most mundane shots into something pretty to look at.

Other photographers have been curious about it too. They've admired its handsome looks and have had fun testing it to see how it performs. Speaking of which, I'm very happy with the autofocus speed in real life shooting. As with my Canon lenses, I just don't think about it much. I compose the shot and the Sigma takes care of its business by the time I'm ready to shoot. It's also very quiet as it focuses never drawing attention to me as I try to grab the shot.

The images are quite beautiful. The color balance is accurate along with the sharpness of where I focus. The thing to keep in mind with a wide aperture lens, is that the focus falloff is fairly steep wide open. So if you're not used to shooting with this kind of glass, it can catch you off guard at first. But in the end, I love the look. It feels very artistic to me.

Everyday that I shoot with the Sigma 50mm, I like it more. And for the moment, it's my go-to lens. Of course that will change when I get out to the events...

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Nikon Center

If you're an official photographer at the Olympics, you have to show the correct credentials, and you'll need your Kodak photography vest. Each vest has an ID number on the front and on the back. So at any time on location, photographers can be identified from a distance.

In general, the shooters aren't crazy about this system. Many of them would prefer not to wear a vest at all. But like many things at the Olympics, there is a system in place to help keep things running smoothly.

Shown here is the Nikon booth within the Kodak Image Center. Since the events haven't really started yet, the shooters are coming in to get last-minute equipment adjustments and to get organized for the busy period ahead. Canon has a similar set up at the other end of the room.

As for me, well it's fairly quiet today at the workstations. We have more than 50 Macs set up with Aperture, Photoshop, Transmit, and Photo Mechanic. During my shifts in the Center, I try to help photographers get their work done. I'll enjoy the casual pace now, because after Friday, everything will change.

Photo of the Nikon booth by Derrick Story.

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Have you wondered if the new DNG Profile Editor might be a useful tool for your photography? It would be easier to figure that out if you knew more about what it really did and the thinking behind its inception.

Fortunately for all of us, John Nack just published an interview with Eric Chan, a computer scientist on the Adobe Camera Raw team. He sheds considerable light on the DNG Profile Editor. Eric is also a photographer, so he knows how to talk to us. It's a good read.

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