Photo Anatomy: why Dan Chung used a tilt-shift lens to capture Usain Bolt

Photo Anatomy: why Dan Chung used a tilt-shift lens to capture Usain Bolt's 100m win

In our Photo Anatomy series on Digital Camera World we select pictures by famous photographers and explain point by point what makes them work.

In our latest instalment award-winning press photographer Dan Chung reveals how he captured Usain Bolt’s 100m final victory at the Beijing Olympics using innovative tilt-shift lens effects.

Photo Anatomy: why Dan Chung used a tilt-shift lens to capture Usain Bolt's 100m win

Freezing the action
“I handheld my Nikon D3, which was fitted with a Nikon PC-E Micro-Nikkor 85mm lens,” Dan says. “I used an exposure of 1/500 sec at f/2.8 with the ISO set to 800.”

‘Toytown’ effect
Dan used his tilt-shift lens to create a narrow depth of field, making the runners stand out from the blurred background as if they were a group of miniature-scale models.

Decisive moment
This frame was captured just after the runners had crossed the finish line, and Bolt’s holding out his arms in celebration. The display board shows his record-breaking time.

Alternative viewpoint
“I’m always looking for a different perspective on an event,” says Dan. “This photo was part of a series of tilt-shift images I took during the Games.”

Press ethics
As a press photographer, Dan had to create this effect entirely in-camera. “I was shooting for The Guardian and wouldn’t have been allowed to use software to simulate it,” he says.

We Say
“Tilt-shift lenses have a variety of technical and creative uses and are great fun to experiment with, but they’re expensive. 
As an alternative, the miniature-like appearance shown here can be created at the post-capture stage.
Chris Rutter, Technique editor

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