Wow – what a game!
After contemplating life after the last few dour games, today made up for it. It was an exciting contest and it was great to photograph.
Before the game, I suffer one of my worst nightmares. No, my house is not on fire, but the agency server housing the AMA image library and connected to the world wide web appears to be down. Well it is down. No one can connect and when I try in Brazil I too get no response. Trying not to panic, two kind souls try to get in contact with the support staff in the UK. I don’t want to waste tens of pounds calling expensive numbers back home. The conclusion is that it is rebooted and it trickles into action.
I neglect to document the colourful Brazil fans outside the stadium, there are more pressing matters to deal with. Another hour is spent checking the server and all appears well. I feel like a Grand Prix mechanic giving the thumbs up that the racing car is OK to race. I keep my fingers crossed that it holds up until the end of the tournament when we will release our new server to the world written in the delightful language of Django. The harsh realities of life are that without clients accessing our pictures, its kind of pointless being here!
After a great chat with Graham Smith from Canon UK, I went into the Cauldron to shoot the Round of 16 game in very challenging light. Normally photographers love the sun, we need light to enable us to work, but the sun is so high in the sky, it takes quite a while to master these unusual circumstances. As ever, lots of other people are having difficulties so once again that is good to hear for the soul and all aspects of “is it me” can be erased from the negative mind.
Canon offer great support to photographers at the FIFA World Cup. From cleaning lenses and camera bodies to letting you try out different lenses, I have been using them to tweak my workhorses back into shape and borrow £10,000 lenses which I would only use from time to time. Anyway although these lovely big lenses fit into the boot of my car nicely when I drive off to European destinations, on this occasion they would not fit into my suitcase. First rule of the World Cup – travel light!
There are so many football managers I have got to know down the years who are superstitious or do things by routine to try to ensure victory. In some ways, I am kind of the same. I always do bad at Anfield. Always get great pictures at Galatasaray or in Germany and France and especially Asia..
I have so many great pictures of certain players and hardly any of others. Since Beckham and Michael Owen retired, I am still trying to find my new Holy Grail. Perhaps it will be Neymar, so far it has been Messi.
As mentioned in this blog before, there is only one place where I work well in Brazil… Belo Horizonte. Today is no exception. Well it’s not me, it’s just that the game is more than half decent and both teams give it their all to try to win the football match.
After the struggle in Sao Paulo and the in the epic Maracana to get half decent football action pictures, today is just like being at Aston Villa again – the only issue I have is choosing which pictures to send out.
Brazil score early on – but up the other end. Though it does not matter, the goalkeeper Cesar provides me with good material.
Equalisers are not winning goals though in knock out games. It is stalemate again. It is all about getting the winning goal now.
The 90 minutes and extra time at the end of the day mean nothing. Amusing images of the likes of Neymar can wait for now.
I leave my spot from behind the goal and sprint around the side of the pitch once English referee Howard Webb has pointed to which end the action will take place at. I position myself on the side of the pitch, about 16 yds up.
We all fear the return of the protests again. At the FIFA Confederations Cup, there were millions on the street showing their distaste for the Brazil government on how they have managed their money in staging this tournament. Quite rightly complaining about the transport structure and equally we fear the return of bus and airline strikes.
However, if Brazil keep winning, then the spirits of the nation remain high.
They can protest and riot all they like once we have been done with the semi-finals or at least when we are back in Rio!
I just don’t fancy hitchhiking 300 miles.
Positioning myself on the side of the pitch, I find the story of the shootout mostly lies with the goalkeepers. After Cesar makes two great saves, luck is on my side, as the ball hits the post and Chile are out.
The only annoying aspect of the shoot out is that the kick by kick scores are not displayed on the huge screens in the stadium. Beforehand, I think I know which nation will win the game from the calculations in my head, but one amazing hell of a roar from the near 60,000 fans in the area confirm that Brazil have progressed as the ball fails to cross the white line.
For once I go wow. Football has got exciting again. In my world, The FIFA World Cup has had one almighty jump-start. The pulse is back – it’s a shame it is impossible for me to get to Fortaleza to cover Netherlands v Mexico. A 41 hour drive is out of the question. Travel logistics make it impossible. It is the equivalent of getting to Istanbul from London. The size of Brazil means it is a lesser distance to fly from Sweden to Egypt.
The paracetamols have finally kicked in. We have most probably over dosed, but at least I have my voice back and have stopped coughing up green chewy golf balls. The air con will most probably get me again, but I am now prepared to battle!
I would love to relax with a drink or two of Caipirinha – a sugar cane hard liquor – but my body is craving for the Vitamins of the fruit juices back in the local store in Rio.
More pressing matters.. I need to charge my camera batteries again.
I just hope the first semi-final that takes place in ten days time is as spectacular.