31 July, 2012

Fuc*in idiot

It's been almost two weeks now. My flatmate has been coughing all the time. Despite this, she is never going to see a doctor, never. So, I've bothered with too much noise from her.

I can clearly say that this is a kind of anti-social behaviour. I used to experienced many times when I was in Japan, this is a exactly the same phenomenon. In other word, people who don't care about this, I can say straightaway that "foolish". Nobody is happy with it obviously.

29 July, 2012

A ticket for rhythmic gymnastics groups final

I've been paying attention to the London 2012 ticketing website, I managed to get a ticket for RG groups final finally. It was obviously nothing but lucky, so now I have to keep watching the tircky website and try to get a ticket for the individuals one.

Anyway, I can go to London and watch a match to cheer team Italiano and Belarus!! I'm happy with starting study abroad last year.

27 July, 2012


Honestly, London 2012 is unreliable. 
As all you know, at a women's football match, the orgniser has hanged a South Korean national flag instead of North Korean. Needless to say, this was absolutely embarrassing fact and moreover, I think that this was insulting. National flags represent which countries they are and sort of symbols. Every game takes place amongst countries. This is as impolite as calling person's name wrongly.

And also, I'm still trying to get tickets for rhythmic gymnastics and checking ticketing website as many as I can. And then sometimes the website shows selectable search results, so I click on that to see if I can get tickets. But in fact, after requesting tickets, the website normally says 'unavailable'. They don't know their website's inconvenience and our expectation.

I've got some tickets for volleyball however, it is ridiculous to pay a lot of money for poor organising of London 2012 to be honest.

23 July, 2012

My first advance

The images of Luvob Charkashyna which I have take in Minsk has been showed on her official blog!! I have to say many thank you to Luba and Andrei.

21 July, 2012

FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Minsk 2012 - Extras -

As I mentioned a couple of times, I stayed an official hotel with gymnasts during the competition. The image is the hotel. So I was able to see many gymnasts in it quite naturally and even talk to them.

The gymnasts I had a chat were, Liubov Charkashyna, Anna Alyabyeva, Delphine Ledoux, Alina Maximenko, some gymnasts of fairly Japan POLA, Yevgenia Kanaeva and a member of team Canada. And also a coach of the team Italiano.

I asked Alina about the reason why her performance has tremendously changed after Mie 2009, in other words, after retirement of Anna Bessonova. She understood my question but her answer was that 'I can't say this in English'. That was a shame. Then I changed the way of questioning. I inquired that 'did your coach say something to you and give you pressures?' And then she said that I sometimes trouble with the coach but this is not the reason.' Unfortunately, I asked some translators to explain my question but, I could not get what I wanted.

Delphine is so lovely. She could almost understand what I said. I really respect her since she has been performing rhythmic gymnastics at her age of 27 at the moment, which is absolutely long career as a gymnast. And I asked her how long, and her answer was 20 years. Just amazing. So I questioned her again 'what is your motivation? what makes you keep performing rhythmic gymnastics such a long term?' Her answer was utterly clear. 'Olympic is my dream.' Simple and perfect answer. She is my favourite as well.

The coach of Italiano agreed with my opinion that the judges of this competitions was clearly unfair. Although team Italiano made no obvious mistakes in their performances on the other hand, team Russia made some mistakes and I noticed it. But eventually team Italiano was not able to get first place at all. According to the coach, the members of the team was crying after the competition due to the result. I totally sympathise this and hope this sort of unfair judge never happens at the Olympic Games.

Yevgenia Kanaeva was saying that she is confident in getting the second gold medal in London. She said this with her smile before leaving hotel at 2 or 3 in the morning.

A regrettable thing for me is the fact that I could not chat with Luba enough. However, it was often problematic for me to talk with gymnasts including her. Because I am just a fan and a photographer and not a proper journalist or a news agency correspondent or something like that. There were gymnasts at the hotel all the time but basically, they have own free time individually and some of them must have been trying to concentrate on themselves. So I didn't want to interrupt them. Thinking back now, I should have acted much actively.

I am wondering if I can do the same thing again. I don't want finish this brilliant experience just for one time. Hope this can be a sort of starting point.

20 July, 2012

FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Minsk 2012 - Finale -

On the day 3, after the all the competitions, I watched Gala. Normally, this is an exhibition show and a quite complementary element. So usually it happens at exactly the same venue and soon after the competitions. But, at the particular moment, it was hardly the same.

Before that, after finishing the competitions, medal ceremony, press conference, we were invited to a lunch which is for the press and visitors. The organisers served us some food, drinks and beer. This was unpredictable and amazing. I did admire their hospitality completely. (I just should have tried local stout! This is a shame!!)
And at the lunch, I met some photographers and had a chat with them. They were similarly saying that we were astonished and impressed by the hospitality of this organiser and we talked about our enthusiasm toward RG for example favourite gymnasts, countries, and the city of Minsk itself. That was absolutely an  interesting opportunity and the organiser seemed to be grad really.

A few hours later, we got to another venue, which is a sort of circus stage. And the gala takes place here. I was firstly wondering why here, because obviously I have known what regular gala is. And then, the show has begun with all the seats were full. Eventually, it was combined show of the regular gala and a circus.

So, we are able to watch not only performances by gymnasts (images above) but also human towers, animal shows, juggling, dancing, rope performances followed by live music (some of them are in a sense communistic traditions though) ! Just brilliant. I felt that I witnessed a sort of potential energy of Belarus as a whole. Therefore, it is a sort of shame that people in Belarus can not go abroad and show their cultural characteristics and at the same time people from other countries cannot visit here easily neither. Despite, it is quite interesting that they have such a theatre and ability to perform, I mean tourism must not be a capital industry in Minsk.

And then after the show, we were taken to a banquet at a club. We were served food, wine, vodka, together with some entertainment. Unfortunately, I didn't take any images as it was quite dark and I was so tired but this was still pity.
And finally we got back to the hotel and I spent more time with a professional photographer, filmmaker, some gymnasts and its supporters until midnight. I can say it repeatedly Minsk is a wonderland. And this 3days were such a great experience for me.

FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Minsk 2012 - Part three -

In Belarus, handling money is extremely confusing. The reasons are following.
1. Too many zeros. Firstly, the image shows that a 10,000 note. But this is not the biggest one. When I exchanged my money from Euros to Belarusian Rubles, I received lots of 50,000 Belarusian Rubles. I haven't see but the largest note is 200,000. Consequently, when I did shopping, it was so perplexing.

2. No coins. There are no coins in Belarus at all. So a pocket of my wallet was completely pointless. And notes spaces of my wallet was easy to be packed. Mine is bended wallet and when it is full, it cannot be bended.

3. Value. As I said you can see lots of zeros on the notes but actually, 10,000 Belarusian Ruble is equivalent to  1 Euro or 100 yens or less than 1 UK pound. Seemingly prices are expensive but in fact, quite cheap. I have got 10, 20, 50 Belarusian Rubles but they are just pieces of paper.

Minsk and Belarus was a sort of wonderland to me. In terms of the money as I mentioned and people. Probably, for Belarusian people Asians are rare. Because when I was walking on the street, people stared at me all the time. I didn't really care about it and quite interesting. 
Before get there, I saw website or information which provides negative images. But in reality, not at all. Certainly, staffs of hotels or shops are sometimes seem to be cold but elsewhere, I have never seen. People were spending their time and lives so quietly, peacefully and calmly.

And on the Day 3, the competition continues. Individuals and team apparatus.



Judges are not fair as usual. They always give extra points to Russians.
As to photographing, taking images of groups is much difficult than individuals since I tend to take 5 people in one frame. In this case, the results would indicate big space and small gymnasts. I don't hate this composition (because it is not conventional sports photography), but they are clearly lack of dynamism. On the other hand, taking 2 or 3 of all the members, the images cannot depict enough contexts in other words, what they are doing.

Competitions has been finished. Yet, whole the events haven't.

19 July, 2012

FIG Rhythmic Gymnastics World Cup in Minsk 2012 - Part two -

Literally at the official hotel, there were lots of famous gymnasts and teams as well. We had breakfast  at the same restaurant so I could see them quite naturally. As a fun, I wanted be much more childish and have some picture taken or so on. Yet on the other hand, as a photographer, it was difficult to carry on them as obviously it is not cool.

Day 2, in a sense the most significant day for me because it was individual all-round competition day. But before that, let's have a look at the images above. The pictures show peripheral area of the venue and the hotel I stayed. As you can see, buildings are equally square and large. And there are a few people walking on the street. And advertisements on the buildings are somehow patriotic. Actually, I was able to see such ads at many places. This might accelerate notorious rumours of Belarus. However in reality, the city is quite calm and clean. As dustman whose dustpan is pointless cleaning up the street, its environment is so tidy.

OK, during the competition, I could take picture at the press seat. When I have arrived at the venue, there were already many photographers in the zone. Unfortunately, there were no chairs that I could sit on therefore I was obliged to stand and take photos. TV Asahi, KBS, SBS, some of broadcasting stations from Asian countries were there and covering the match. When we recognise each other as Asians, it's always awkward as we don't know where the opponent from.

To be honest, I didn't feel like take numbers of images of gymnasts. I had some reasons.

a. No chairs. Even when I photograph as a spectator from the spectator's seats, I used to do it sitting on a seat. Since it is stable and not easy to be tired. But in this time as I said, there were no vacancy to sit on. Completely occupied.

b. Lens. When I take sporting images, I use my own super convenient zoom lens however, I dropped off this lens at Pesaro by mistake. And zoom ring doesn't move smoothly, which might mean optically inaccurate. It still works but I guess this is not the best performance. In addition, my lens is not suitable for indoor sports as its f number is big.

c. Cheering. I could reach to press zone but, still a big RG fan and wanted to watch the competition. I have never ever watched this from that distance even as a spectator. Hence I was so much confused that which element I should have priority as a photographer or a spectator.

After the half time, I decided to concentrate on my shooting with the super zoom lens I hate. Otherwise I should have missed this precious chance.

I have already noticed that other photographers have so expensive equipments with mono-pods which are very much appropriate for indoor sports. And their shutter sounded quite fast and synchronised, which means they all take exactly the same moments.
Their style and mine is different. I don't pursue photographic quantity but quality. You can press the shutter button and capture the moments consecutively as many as you want to and the expensive equipments enable it. This might be a recording. Therefore composition is quite significant for me to make differences.  The images above are not a hundred percent with my ideal. I need think more and practice more.

On this day, I came across a newspaper writer in Minsk who runs Lubov Charkashyna's blog as a deputy.


He is so kind to me as before I got there I had commented that I will go to Minsk. So for him, virtual world became the real. According to Liubov, he was thinking that I was a girl from my name, which is a funny story. But, this is a very interesting as well. Because a writer met a supporter who commented on the blog written in English alone surrounded by Russian and finally he got acquainted with the supporter, which is me!

After the day 1, He and I talked for a long time about many things. I can't remember properly, I suppose about Minsk and RG and some other sports. He is not good at speaking English but he tried to understand what I was talking to him. I do appreciate his attitude.