One Year / by Bill Frakes


One year ago, I made this image.

It's that point in time yearly when I spend a few minutes thinking about where I've been, what I've seen, and what I've done.

When art director extraordinaire Gen Umei asked me to shoot one of the ads for the international release of the Nikon D4 I was thrilled. The chance to work with Gen is a photographer's dream. Not only he is the best at what he does, he's a cherished friend.

To be one of the first photographers in the world to use the latest of a long line of Nikon imaging machines is another dream. I leapt at the chance.

One of the things Gen wanted me to demonstrate was the high ISO capability of the camera, and the superb autofocus functions.

So, what subject matter to select? It wasn't hard to figure out.

2012 was an Olympic year. I love track and field. Laura is a Florida Gator. And we wanted to do part of the shoot at home in Jacksonville.

How do these things work together?

Christian Taylor. Florida Gator. World Champion and soon to be Olympic Champion was happy to jump for us.

Joel Lamp in an act of superb kindness made Jacksonville University's track and field facilities available.

The natural temptation was to shoot the image in beautiful light. Either late afternoon direct sun, or some filtered artificial light. But that would defeat the purpose. We had to show the jump in low, flat light in order to demonstrate just what this camera could do.

We set up and waited. The sun crept lower, and lower in the sky. When it hit the horizon, we started to shoot.

I was shooting with a Nikkor 600 f4 head on with a D4 set at 12,800 ISO. Laura was slightly to my left side and closer to the pit shooting with a Nikkor 400 f 2.8. Andy Hancock was just to my right and was shooting a little looser with a Nikkor 300 f 2.8. We had our bases covered.

Christian was extremely gracious. I expected him to jump a half a dozen times. He did a dozen and would have kept going if I needed him to.

But 12 leaps was more than enough. We had plenty of options. The camera did it's job. We did ours. And Nikon had their ad.

A few hundred thousand air miles later we were in London fully devoted to covering Track and Field for Sports Illustrated.

We had a remote camera high above the triple jump pit. Laura was firing it with specially configured Pocket Wizards.

Christian Taylor jumped brilliantly claiming the gold with a performance of 17.81m, .19 meters better than his fellow teammate Will Claye who finished with a bronze.

I was at the finish line head-on moat, across the stadium from Christian, but I was watching the video streaming. When he won I couldn't help a small exclamation, and a quick text to Gen at home in Tokyo.

Christian and Florida Gator teammate Will Claye took a lap of honor, and when Christian saw me he came over and put out his hand.

An excellent memory for sure.