We are smack dab in the middle of Olympics season, which means you’ve likely seen skiing, hockey, snowboarding, and ice skating talk flood your news/media platforms. Epic shot after epic shot continues to surface of our favorite athletes as they vie for the gold medal in PyeongChang, shots which capture the athletes’ talent while they move at break-neck speed in a way that’s both clean and elegant. Photographers, it seems, compete in their own sort of competition, each one attempting to capture an image that the world will see, showcasing these monumental moments of Olympic history being made.
One of these images has recently surfaced, captured by Getty Images Photographer Dean Mouhtaropoulos, featuring USA Figure Skater Adam Rippon as he twirls in a blurry whirlwind during one of his many captivating performances.
The photo, which was taken during Rippon’s Men’s Single Free Skating event, is distinctly unique, differing greatly from the traditional shots depicting athletes in action; that’s because it was shot in long exposure.
Sports photographers often opt for intense shutter speeds, the likes of 1/4000th per second, so they can capture crystal clear shots of athletes even in the midst of rapid action. This fast of a shutter speed allows for the shutter to stay open so briefly that just a microscopic bit of light is taken in the making the photo, allowing these images to capture a mere split-second of movement.
With this epic shot of Rippon, Mouhtaropoulos likely used a shutter speed of about 1/60th per second which allowed him to capture the ice skater in the midst of a remarkable twirl. Much more had to have gone into the epic shot than just a well-thought out shutter speed; Mouhtaropoulos would have had to use a tripod to keep the camera leveled, or he has an impressively steady hand. The result is a shot that captures Rippon’s grace and precision, as opposed to those 1/4000th shutter speed shots that depict the skaters as frozen and rigid.
The same method was used to capture the now recognizable image of Usain Bolt at the 2016 Olympics, so the practice isn’t necessarily revolutionary; but Moutaropoulos succeeds in immortalizing the lovable Rippon’s elegance.