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Shots behind the shots: Alongside an Olympic photographer

Shots behind the shots: Alongside an Olympic photographer

Los Angeles Times staff photographers Robert Gauthier and Wally Skalij are in Vancouver, Canada, covering the 2010 Winter Olympics for the newspaper and other Tribune outlets. They are among hundreds of photographers from around the world shooting the Games. Skalij has shot three Summer Olympics and two Winter Games. For Gauthier, it is his first Winter Olympics, but he has covered two Summer Games. Because of the distance between the various venues, they have divided the events. Skalij mainly covers those in the mountains while Gauthier concentrates on events in the city and nearby. Here is a first-person account from Wednesday by Gauthier on what he went through before and after getting the shots. -- Bryan Chan / Los Angeles Times


 Robert Gauthier:

8:04 a.m. - Here's a view from my hotel room at Vancouver's Best Western Sands, on Davie Street. It's two floors above the karaoke bar Checkers. The sounds of bad singing float upward two floors until 2 a.m.

9:25 a.m. - Getty Images photographer Bruce Bennett sets up a remote camera behind the net at Canada Hockey Place. He has three remote cameras placed throughout the arena. They are triggered by a radio remote attached to the camera he holds during the game. Dozens of photographers are here hours ahead of game time to set up cameras. I'm here this early to secure a position near the ice for the noon USA-Switzerland game. No remote for me today, I have to leave the arena quickly to get a spot at the short-track speedskating event tonight, where, no doubt, there are photographers already lining up for positions.

10:04 a.m. - Hurry up and wait. Two hours before they drop the puck. Now I wait. It gives me time to reflect on some of the amazing moments I've been allowed to witness this week. Shaun White soaring, Team USA men's hockey silencing an ear-splittingly loud Canadian crowd and the stunningly emotional performance by figure skater Joannie Rochette. I imagine there are a few more moments to come.

10:55 a.m. - Meet Marilyn McPherson, a volunteer from Port Alberni, Canada, who lords over Section 109. She's a big reason I can leave my spot to use the restroom. She keeps an eye on thousands of dollars worth of my gear. She's one of thousands of volunteers working these Olympic Games. I haven't met a mean one yet.

11:54 a.m. - Jeff Kimbell, left, of Washington, D.C., is just one of hundreds of crazies who come to hockey games. Last game I had a Russian guy chanting, "Rrrrrroooooseeeeaaa" with a beautiful roll of his r's followed by a shrill whistle. I'm on the right in the photo.

1:34 p.m. - In this picture is Kevork Djansezian of Getty Images, me and Jean Levac of Canwest News Service in between periods. Kevork's images go directly from his camera to an editor in Getty's office. (Photo by Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times)

2:06 p.m. - Leaving Canada Hockey Place and the U.S-Switzerland game midway through the third period to catch a taxi for the Pacific Coliseum to secure a good shooting spot for the women's short-track relay race. There are always a lot of spills at this event, so it should be fun for me.

2:57 p.m. - I'm at Pacific Coliseum and I have the spot I wanted assigned to me for tonight's short-track speedskating. Time to eat dinner -- a $6 sandwich -- and edit my hockey photos. There was a story in the Vancouver Sun about how many of the venue food services didn't pass health inspections. My stomach is full and my fingers are crossed.

3:38 p.m. - The buzz is building in the photo work area as more photographers arrive for tonight's races. You can tell what countries have a chance to medal in an event by the preponderance of nationalities in attendance.

3:54 p.m. - It was a good day for me at hockey. Here's a picture of Bobby Ryan getting flipped onto the ice. It happens so quickly, these are pictures that are not often seen from most NHL games.

4:59 p.m. - Short-track relays start soon. These are the cones the skaters knock around when they crash.

5:14 p.m. - When given the choice of taking pictures from the sidelines at eye level or shooting from the bleachers, I would always rather be below. It makes for a much more intimate point of view and makes you feel like you are part of the moment.

6:36 p.m. - Upstairs, it's a different story. Not necessarily worse, just different. I moved from my floor spot tonight, for many reasons that really aren't important, and photographed a sport I barely knew.

6:39 p.m. - I found the beauty of symmetry and grace. Something I was missing up close.

9:44 p.m. - This is the earliest I've boarded the shuttle bus back to the Best Western. I still have a good three hours of work, managing thousands of pictures on my computer. I need contact-lens solution. I have to buy air time for my local cellphone, and, oh yes, I'd like to eat something.

12:30 a.m. - This is my office. I'm finishing what has turned out to be an early day. I'll be in bed by 1 a.m. and waking up at 5 a.m. to catch a taxi to the Pacific Coliseum to get a place in line for a good position to photograph the women's figure-skating final, which won't end until 9 p.m. Would you believe me if I said I was having a blast? You should.

More photos from the Gauthier and Skalij

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