The lighting of the cauldron is the most anticipated moment in the opening ceremonies of all Olympics and Asian Games. The opening of the Barcelona Olympic Games in 1992 set a new standard of ‘daringness’ when the crowd held their breath as an archer shot a flaming arrow 80 metres from the floor of the stadium to light the cauldron.
How the cauldron is to be lit is now the most tightly held secret before every Olympic Games. The same was the case for the opening ceremony of the Asian Games in Doha last Friday. The flame was passed between four athletes as it was carried into the stadium and then to the son of the Emir of Doha, Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamad bin Kalifa Al-Thani, who appeared on a stage that was raised from an underground cavern in the middle of the stadium. He was mounted on a pure-bred Arab gelding. Apart from being the Emir’s son, Shiekh Mohammed is also captain of the Qatar equestrian team.
Everyone thought the Shiekh was going to ride to the bottom of the steps leading up to the cauldron and then light something like a channel of oil which would take the flame up the side of the steps (which are marked by the blue fluorescent light) to the cauldron.
But to everyone’s surprise, Sheikh Mohammed and his horse started to climb the steep steps – at a gallop – to a great cheer. Then a few steps from the top they faltered. The stadium went quiet as - just like in Barcelona 14 years before - everyone held their breath. But the Sheikh and his horse recovered and made it to the top. Another great cheer, the cauldron was lit, and the pyrotechnics began.
For these Games, the cauldron was constructed in the shape of a gold astrolabe – you can see it in the middle of the semi-circular LED screen, which as I mentioned in my last note is the largest ever constructed in the world.
In the middle of the stadium are over 6,000 athletes who had just completed the traditional athlete’s parade (I could only get just half of them in, even with a 12 mm wide angle lens). The men standing around the stadium in white thobes and maroon waistcoats are the marshals – there were 928 of them (no I didn’t count them – it was in the programme).
About halfway up the stairs leading to the cauldron you may just be able to make out some people in black jackets on two levels – that is the symphony orchestra that accompanied the singers like Jose Carreras.
A photograph can never convey the atmosphere of an event like this, but I hope this shot at least gives you an idea.
This was handheld at 1/40th, ISO400, noise removed and sharpened with NeatImage.
Critiques | Translate
berseph (1758) 2006-12-04 16:55
QUite a festive shot. A bit busy, but you get the feel of excitement from the image. You managed to capture the lighting well, and its a great overall image of the stadium, and everything going on within it.
thea0211 (1365) 2006-12-04 17:05
impressive shot indeed - of an impressive event.
thanks for sharing!
Jeppe (18654) 2006-12-04 17:18
Wow - a very impressive view you present here - the dimension made clear by the sight of all those "small" people - thanks for sharing this with us. A fine documentary.
pboehringer (770) 2006-12-04 19:28
You are so right, a photograph never can convey the atmosphere of such an event and still I think that you got a pretty good wide-angle view and captured magnificiently the boiling and gripping mood. Perfect decisive moment with the pyrotechniques just being lit!
Best Regards, Peter
izmirli (3989) 2006-12-04 20:29
merhaba dear david
wonderful colourfull picture.beautiful composition and very good note.well done.
vinicio (23423) 2006-12-06 5:40
Beautiful and excellent image David, full of colours and with great POV, and over all at the best moment of the event, compliments.
aloyho (6798) 2006-12-06 19:36
Very lovely and graceful curves here to add to the rhythm of the celebration. Indeed it is hard to get the real feel of the atosphere but the good timing of the shot does invoke the excitement of the moment. A well taken hand held shot. Very impressive!! Thanks and an exciting day ahead.
cunejo200 (7281) 2006-12-07 16:04
I do remember the Asian Games in the 80s to be a third rate sporting event. Times have really changed especially if the host country is rich. This a superb capture of the ceremony. Great perspective, good sharpness, lighting and colors. Best wishes. Danilo
AiresSantos (56155) 2006-12-08 4:27
Excellent note for this magnificent composition.
I like the fire effect, how you framed the picture and managed the light.
Superb sharpness and very good colours.
TFS and greetings,
sabyasachi1212 (19779) 2006-12-08 14:01
What are you doing at the Asiad? Part of the Malysian team? This one is good enough to deserve a newspaper space. Beautiful capture of the opening ceremony which I hear was even more spectacular than than the Sydney Olympics.
For a handheld shot @ 400 ISO, the sharpness and clarity is pretty good.
With Greetings from India
plimrn (21344) 2006-12-09 8:56
WOW!!! The scope of this shot is magnificent; together with your gripping note, I am filled with awe. Awe for both the event and the difficulty of capturing this moment so perfectly. I can almost hear the fireworks exploding. I really appreciate this opportunity to experience this event through your eyes, thank you.
PJE (20758) 2006-12-09 14:23
Well David this is absolutely incredible just as your note describes. Wonderful lighting and amazing lighted presentation. I am sure you were impressed just as your wide angle reach inside this building has captured so well.
GLEM (3004) 2006-12-11 7:20
tout à fait génial, les feux d'artifices sont pris juste à temps.
Quelle ambiance restituée, vraiment très bon.
ktanska (29421) 2006-12-11 8:25
This one shows well the size of the arena, all the upper structures and the full stadium. Your wide angle lens is really on a good use. Perfect timing with the fireworks. What a great happening it must have been.
plamn (632) 2006-12-11 8:28
The photo is lavish and so are the notes and I really enjoyed both. Being quite busy, I have seen only a part of the ceremony on TV but have visited the place several times during the construction and the preparation for the opening. Now, after seeing your photo and after reading your notes, I have the impression that I was there. Thank you!
P.S. Let me express my admiration for the number of countries you've visited and images you've brought to us!
devimeuxbe (58557) 2006-12-11 10:39
Nice report but also nice picture with a great light and sharpness. I didn't know that the Qatar was also an asian olympic country.
Regards from Yangoon
vagabondtravels (6511) 2006-12-13 1:38
Nice image. Very well captured and sharp. Great job keeping a still hand. (why doesn't nikon make a faster wide angle?!?!) That must have been a great event to witness. Good work.
batalay (40521) 2006-12-16 18:18
An excellent photo accompanied by your usual fascinating and detailed note. As much as I travel, I feel vicarious satisfaction of seeing some astonishing sites through your eyes and your camera. Many thanks,
elmec (12210) 2006-12-17 13:34
Such an amazing view!
I like the full of lights and colours composition with interesting scene!
coco (30439) 2006-12-21 5:30
Spectacular moment and also good capture. The lights become even more impressive this place.
jafadabret (56501) 2006-12-25 3:38
Une belle photo pour traduire cette ambiance de fête. J'aime les belles lumières et les courbes au sol et en hauteur. Du beau travail !
Joyeuses fêtes !
Photo65Net (43120) 2006-12-26 12:20
An impressive night stadium shot.
I like these colors, and the wide angle perspective is very pleasant.
feather (51130) 2006-12-27 11:23
This must have been an amazing experience. Although as you say a photograph can't compare with actually being there, you have given us a wonderful flavour of the event, both with the photo and your excellent notes. The way you hae captured the firworks just starting is memerising.
colinbrenchley (6431) 2006-12-29 12:06
Another superb capture with your wise angle lens that certainly adds plenty of impact to this shot. Exposure has been well handled.
Lix (0) 2007-01-16 9:27
Great shot! This is a great stadium...good lighting
andreng (265) 2007-01-20 23:44
I saw the opening ceremony and the lighting of the cauldron (on TV, Lucky you:-)). It was certainly a taxing task for the horse. I almost thought that they could not make it to the top. On this shot I would say you had a excellent all round exposure. There was hardly any overexposed areas and those in the shadows came out nicely. Did you by any chance have a panaromic view of the stadium? Maybe you can stitch a couple of shots together. TFS Andre
Rinie_Hoff (9340) 2007-02-18 5:26
Hi David, I see that you have just been in the Middle East. Still for work or just pleasure?
Very colourful picture of the stadium, and the shuttertime gives a nice effect on the fireworks. This one reminds me a bit of the one you shot in Korea, with those masses of soldiers marching. Must be quite an event that you attended. It seems like no money was spared to give it a good start.
cimcim (3712) 2007-03-17 4:18
Wooowww great photo!
Perfect subject and perfect POV!
Very sharp and wellseen details.
- Copyright: David Astley (banyanman) (7789)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Color
- Date Taken: 2006-12-01
- Categories: Event
- Camera: Nikon D100, Nikkor AF-S 12-24mm f/4G ED
- Exposure: f/4, 1/40 seconds
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2006-12-04 16:52
- Favorites: 1 [view]