There has been a lot of stories in the media and on the web about the types of photographs, equipment and picture usage surrounding the London Olympics that start today. I have attempted to read up on these rules and give everyone the best guide I can, but Locog (the organising committee) has recently stated that the rules are slightly different depending on the venue you are going to, and ticket holders are advised to read the rules that should have been sent with your tickets.
They are stating that ‘professional’ and ‘professional looking’ equipment will not be allowed. They have, however, also admitted that this is a very unclear definition so have tried to clarify in two ways.
Firstly, the are prohibiting equipment over 30cm in length as it may hinder the view of other spectators. This rules out tripods and monopods obviously, but also long telephoto and zoom lenses.
Second they defined ‘professional looking’ equipment as any camera with interchangeable lenses. Once again they have had to admit that even many compact cameras now also feature interchangeable lenses so it is not very clear at all. They have promised a responsible and pragmatic approach but that leaves it to the view of the individual who may opt to inspect your equipment. Sadly they said it was impractical to publish a list of allowed and not-allowed equipment.
Please note that if you do decide to take some decent equipment, there is nowhere to officially store it if it is confiscated, so I wouldn’t be confident about getting it back. Only advice can be to not risk it if you are in doubt. It would seem that the rules and far more likely to imposed the most rigorously at the Olympic Park venues.
2) Picture usage and sharing
Initially Locog stated that sharing your pictures on social media sites would not be allowed, how they ever thought they’d be able to monitor and enforce this is beyond me and many other bloggers. There first stance was as follows:
“Images, video and sound recordings of the Games taken by a Ticket Holder cannot be used for any purpose other than for private and domestic purposes and a Ticket Holder may not license, broadcast or publish video and/or sound recordings, including on social networking websites and the internet more generally, and may not exploit images, video and/or sound recordings for commercial purposes under any circumstances, whether on the internet or otherwise, or make them available to third parties for commercial purposes.”
They have now backtracked on that and a spokesman for the Olympics organizing committee issued a response stating that they “are not looking to stop private individuals from posting photographs on social networks,” and that the intent is to prevent photos being used for commercial purposes.
3) Photo competitions
Many sites, organisations and manufactures have announced, or were to announce, competitions for those who want to share their Olympic pictures which could include shots of the athletes. This has become a big grey area as it begs the question whether a photo competition is ‘commercial usage’. Expect to see most comps play it understandably safe and change their emphasis to shots showing the crowds and spirit of the games etc.
On the whole I do agree with what seems to be the intent that they don’t want kit there that is too big and hinders the enjoyment of those sat around you. I also agree that you shouldn’t be able to commercially sell your images unless you are a licensed photographer. They do seem to have made a hash of communicating these two simple points though and with digital photography being so popular and ever growing, thye have run the risk of spoiling some obvious enjoyment. This is surely to be the only Olympics in London in most of our lifetimes, so of course we want some pictures to remember them….lots of pics in fact.
Please do read the rules that should have come with your tickets.
Picture taking advice
If you do look to get some shots and are only using a small compact or your Smartphone, be realistic about the shots you will get. Trying to get an even semi-decent shot of an athlete from a long way off will be virtually impossible with those lenses and sensors so you’re better off getting great shots of the people you are with and then sitting back and enjoying watching the event we’ve all had a pay a decent wedge of cash to see.
If you do have one of these new super-zoom compacts, or get your DSLR in, then you’ll have a chance but it is best to get the athletes whilst stationary as it is very unlikely you’ll get enough light into your lens for any motion shots without them being very blurred. If you can manually adjust your ISO then do so, I’d set it to at least ISO 1,000 or even higher if you can. Remember that a high ISO means the sensor will react to light more quickly so the shutter speed can be faster….and no, firing the flash from the distance of the stands will not help at all!
I’m actually very pro the whole Olympic thing in London and am looking forward to a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Lets not get too caught up in the above and stories about traffic lanes, congestion and logistics but embrace hosting the greatest spectacle there is and relish all of it – bring it on!!