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Photographer's Note

I’ve just rushed back from the Birds Nest stadium in Beijing to see if I can be the first to post to TrekEarth a shot from the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games tonight.

This shot was taken just after the lighting of the flame (top left) and as fireworks formed the Olympic rings in the sky. It is an 80% crop of one of a number of images I took with a 10.5mm fisheye lens.

The opening was spectacular – as everyone expected it to be – but I don’t think it surpassed the opening of the Asian Games in Doha two years ago as some people thought it might (there’s a couple of shots from that opening in my Qatar gallery). That’s not to say it wasn’t as good as Doha. They were probably on a par*. One thing the Chinese did do better than the Qataris though was transporting the 90,000 spectators and 100,000+ performers and attendants to and from the Bird’s Nest stadium – that went off like clockwork and better than any previous Games I have been to. I don’t think any country in the world can move large numbers of people as efficiently as China does.

The athletes were all well behaved except for the Italians and Australians who were giving the Chinese marshals a hard time keeping them within the white lines they were supposed to march between (some of them kept running off the track to make faces at the TV cameras).

The section where I was sitting was the next section along from where all the VIPs were. I could see George W. Bush about 20 rows away, and when the Cuban athletes marched on with a very loud cheer from the Chinese spectators, I tried to see what his reaction was – but he was a little too far away for me to see. Apart from China, the other two countries that got very loud cheers were Iran and North Korea. I bet George was grimacing by that stage! The US team got a good cheer too, but it was no louder than the Iranians (although I expect George was screaming at the top of his voice to make it so).

It was a stifling hot night in the stadium and extremely humid. Most people came out with their clothes soaked in perspiration and sticking to their skin. I pity poor old George who was sitting there in a suit and tie. He must have been roasting!

ISO for this shot was 320. Noise removed with NeatImage.

*PS added 9th Aug: A few colleagues who watched both the Doha and Beijing ceremonies on TV have told me the Beijing ceremony looked more spectacular on TV than Doha. That could well be the case as my comment above about them being on a par was based on being there as a spectator. The sheer size of the Beijing stadium made it difficult for spectators there in person to see some of the detail that you could see on TV.

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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