Olivier Morin Captures Sensational Image of Usain Bolt in Moscow

August 13, 2013 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | Photographers | 2 Comments |
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Veteran AFP photographer Olivier Morin has managed to capture Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt crossing the finish line at the same time as a lightning bolt illuminated the sky during the IAAF World Championships in Moscow. Photographing lightnings alone isn't terribly complicated - you set your camera to the lowest ISO, choose an f-stop that allows you to use a several-seconds-long exposure, trip the shutter and repeat until you get a usable picture - but capturing a lightning bolt with the kind of fast shutter speed that's necessary to "freeze" a world-class sprinter takes an extreme amount of luck, even if you are a seasoned professional photographer who has made every necessary step well in advance to take a stunning image. Apparently, luck does come to those who are prepared, after all. Morin commented: “In 25 years of career, I have never had an outside, uncontrollable element make the shot. And I think that if I tried for another 50 years, it would never happen again. I really can only take 1% credit for this photo.”

AFP Press Release

OLIVIER MORIN, THE AFP PHOTOGRAPHER WHO TOOK THIS EXCEPTIONAL PHOTO, MANAGED TO CAPTURE THE CHAMPION USAIN BOLT CROSSING THE FINISH LINE AT THE SAME TIME AS A LIGHTNING BOLT ILLUMINATED THE MOSCOW SKY.

The photo was taken with the final remote control camera out of five set up on the edge of the field, this one back behind the finish line. Olivier Morin was counting on getting a shot of the winner coming through, arms in the air, with the stadium as the background. That was the idea. Usain Bolt won the race, crossing the finish line with no visible display of emotion. Olivier Morin tells the story: “I nevertheless pressed the remote control button to set off the cameras’ triggers.” Olivier reviewed his shots without seeing anything exceptional. “At first I didn’t see the lightning, because the image was so small on the preview panel.” He noticed four shots with lightning; two were useable, as the cloud was lit up and the bolt was perfectly clear. “I realised then that I might have something pretty good, and with a bit of luck, it would be the right photo. But I completely underestimated the media storm that this image would generate.” He added, “In 25 years of career, I have never had an outside, uncontrollable element make the shot. And I think that if I tried for another 50 years, it would never happen again. I really can only take 1% credit for this photo.”

The photo went viral across the social networks, particularly Twitter where it has been retweeted more than 12,000 times. It has also already achieved great international media acclaim. The Daily Mail thinks this shot could become one of the greatest sport photographs of all time. Eurosport called Olivier Morin’s image “careerdefining” for Usain Bolt. Other sites emphasised the once in a lifetime nature of this photo and its author’s talent, such as News.com (Australia), Daily Relay (US), Slate.fr (France), Bigbrowser.blog. lemonde.fr (France), 20minutes.fr (France), PureMedias (France), Rue89.com (France), Tempsreel.nouvelobs.com (France), Sport24.com (France), La province.be (Belgium), Nordeclair.be (Belgium), among others.

Olivier Morin, 47 years old, an AFP photojournalist since the age of 20, is currently based out of Milan and is one of the agency’s sport specialists. Boasting a network of some 500 photographers who often win the most prestigious international awards, AFP releases more than 3,000 photos every day, and is known for its expert photo coverage. AFP’s image bank includes 40 partners who enrich its offer, with more than 23 million images.



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#1 KP Burgess

Wow. Proof that photographers make their own luck. Framing is perfect, and the exposure is good enough considering you've two Bolts in the shot.

2:58 pm - Wednesday, August 14, 2013

#2 OrionsLine

Beautiful capture! I love the spacing between bolt and the Moscow 2013 sign (and obviously the lightning bolt). Looks like it was intentional the whole time. Very cool!

6:55 pm - Wednesday, August 14, 2013