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Winter Sports 2018 Blog

Behind the Camera: “Careful planning required!” by Reina Kitamura

Daytime view from a hotel where Reina Kitamura shot the Opening Ceremony fireworks at the Olympic Stadium (center) on February 9, 2018. Nikon D5 | AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E FL ED VR | ISO 160 | 1/1250 | f/9 Copyright: Reina Kitamura / The Asahi Shimbun

PyeongChang, Feb 9, 2018 -- Reina Kitamura, photographer from Japanese newspaper the Asahi Shimbun: “The Opening Ceremony is the first biggest event for all press photographers covering the Olympics. For the PyeongChang Olympic, I was assigned to capture the panoramic view of the stadium, celebrated with lights and fireworks. This may sound easy, but required some preparation.

It was a year ago when my team started searching for the position to shoot and came to the rooftop of a nearly 30-story building. However the negotiation in January didn't come as expected and we were forced to search from scratch again. We climbed every high rise around, looking for a vantage point, where we have a clear view of the stadium and perhaps the ski jumping ramp in far back. It was only 2 weeks before the ceremony that we finally found the hotel where we got the shot.

On the day of the ceremony, I started my preparation 4 hours before the ceremony. Five hundred meters away from the stadium, it was impossible to see what was happening inside. My only guide was a memo with ceremony timeline, created by colleague who covered the rehearsal. With that in my left hand I stood outside observing the stadium in the freezing and windy rooftop.

According to the memo, there were 5 sessions of fireworks. All were to be set off behind the Olympic Caldron. But I remembered devices unnaturally set on the river running nearby the stadium when I took a walk earlier that day. With that in mind, I decided to capture the photo in a wide angle to include the river.

As soon as the lighting of caldron, colorful fireworks went up at the PyeongChang Olympic Stadium on February 9, 2018. Nikon D5 | AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E FL ED VR | ISO 125 | 2.5 s | f/18 Copyright: Reina Kitamura / The Asahi Shimbun

The first fireworks were set off around 8 pm. As I expected, there were fireworks going off from the river. I quickly changed to even wider angle. After 2 hours of cautiously waiting in cold air below freezing point, the caldron was lit and the final fireworks went up, celebrating the opening of the PyeongChang Games. I captured the shots with a cable release and heating pads in my hand.”