There is an interesting article in The Atlantic’s online edition about the use of drones. The same unmanned beasts that are so controversial when used to spy and bomb are being used at the Sochi Winter Olympics to photograph several sports. From ski-jumping to snowboarding these worker bees of the technology world are getting into positions no human could hope to gain access to and the result is some great different angles.
Almost thirty years ago, as a student working summers as a tennis court attendant, I had the pleasure of meeting an interesting character by the name of Aussie Whiting. Aussie, yep, originally from Australia made his way to Canada where he established himself as a world-class, award-winning sports photographer.
Aussie was one of those people who, when asked how they are, actually tell you – usually at great length. Whitings photos appeared in many publications, but his actual employer was Montreal’s The Gazette. He covered local teams including the Canadiens, Expos and Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. His camera was always with him, I’d tell you what make it was, but by the time I met him it was mostly cardboard and duct tape. In those days a photographer had a deadline that necessitated him leaving most evening games before they were over to get back to the paper and develop his work for inclusion in the next day’s edition. Aussie always hoped for a good shot early in a game to give him lots of time to make his way back to his editor.
I mention Aussie in relation to the use of drones for sports photography because I wonder what his take would have been on them. He did once tell me that the easiest sport to photograph was baseball, given the pace of play. He explained that he would set up a camera on a tripod in the photographers section of the dugout, focus it on second base. When a base stealer such as Tim Raines made it to first base, Aussie would take the cable release and, as the runner broke for second base he’d hold down his thumb and get any number of images, almost guaranteeing a terrific shot.
I think Aussie would have liked these things, and not just because he had a tendency to drone on … and on … and on about his many afflictions and gripes!