Atletica Helvetica

It’s official. On November 16, my first sports book will appear. Joint with my agency athletix.ch I will issue a book on the Swiss athletics season 2019. During the past months we were busy putting the content together. At the moment, we are ready for the print run.

The purpose of the book is to allow any fan to look back at and re-live the 2019 season. An ever-lasting dream of humans is to preserve emotions. Social media have no memory. Books have. This is why we decided to produce a book. We will produce 144 pages. The book will contain articles that have been written by professional journalists.

A special feature about Switzerland is that we have four official languages. Three of them will enter the book. Articles about athletes from the German speaking part will be in German, articles about athletes from the Italian speaking part in Italian and articles about athletes from the French speaking part in French.

We will re-visit all the major events of the season, starting with the European Indoor Championships in Glasgow and ending with the World Championships in Doha. Readers will enjoy looking back at the six Swiss gold medals at the Junior Europeans in Sweden, the Gold medal for Lea Sprunger at the Indoor Europeans, and, of course, Mujinga Kambundji’s historic sprint medal at the Worlds in Doha.

Online purchases are possible under http://atletica-helvetica.ch.

On copyright and upload filters

This might be my most controversial blog entry ever. Maybe you are one of the readers that will tell me that I have no idea of the modern internet. Let me start with a real case. Last year in Bellinzona I shot this press picture of the Swiss sprinter Mujinga Kambundji.

Mujinga Kambundji at Gala dei Castelli 2018 Bellinzona  July-18, 2018

Mujinga Kambundji at Gala dei Castelli 2018 Bellinzona July-18, 2018

I uploaded this picture to my agency, and one of our main clients, the Swiss Athletics Federation, used it for this article. The picture has never been sold to any other client. Recently, I met my picture again, namely, here:

Screenshot 2019-03-26 at 18.42.26

A YouTuber, called Nuffin’ Long Athletics, used it as cover photo for a video about Mujinga. I have no doubt that the video itself is a completely legal production. However, the use of the cover picture is illegal. It is my picture. I have never been contacted. Neither has my agency.

This is theft.

Today, the EU parliament passed a reform of the copyright legislation. This reform has been extremely controversial. Some of the main opponents were: Google (the owner of YouTube), a political party called the ‘Pirates’, many bloggers, YouTubers, etc.

The name of the political party is their program. Piracy is almost as old as the internet. Once, it almost destroyed the music industry. Since then, things have changed. Old players disappeard and were replaced by new players. One of the most important ones is

… YouTube.

To see this, go back to the case of my stolen picture. My interest would have been to sell to Nuffin’ Long Athletics. The reason? If I can’t cover my expenses, I have to stop my activities, sell my equipment, and do something else. Ask any artist, photographer, video producer, text author. They all have the same problem. Once the intellectual property is accessible, there is nothing that prevents pirates from copying it. This happens on each day, a million times. No wonder so many creative people change their jobs.

Who profits from piracy? To answer this, click on the video. YouTube starts with an advertising video and earns money (sometimes the YouTuber profits with a tiny amount, but Nuffin’ Long Athletics is too small; they get nothing). So the winner from the piracy is

… YouTube.

In theory, the law is on my side. However, will Nuffin’ Long Athletics respond to an invoice? Most likely not. Can I sue them? In theory, yes. Can I pay all the necessary legal fees from a damage payment? Obviously not. The economic value of an online picture is far too low. Can I sue Youtube? No. I have no contractual relationship with YouTube.

Let us come back to the EU copyright directive. The very controversial Article 13 (Article 17 in the revised version) states that that anyone sharing copyrighted content must get permission from rights owners (or at least have made the best possible effort to get permission). In particular it forces all online platforms like YouTube to police and prevent the uploading of copyrighted content, or make people seek the correct licenses to post that content. In plain words, YouTube will be held responsible.

What a game changer.

Obviously, YouTube doesn’t like this. Why? It’s expensive to improve their upload filters. Moreover, taking away illegal content from YouTube reduces revenue. Bloggers, YouTubers, and users of online platforms don’t like it either. Why? Users get less illegal content for free. They don’t care. And producers like Nuffin’ Long Athletics have to make sure they have proper licenses. This requires effort and costs money.

Now it’s your turn.

  • Feel free to explain why the EU is censoring Nuffin’ Long Athletics.  
  • Feel free to explain why the freedom of speech on the internet has died.

But please, answer these two questions and relate to my case. I’m not interested in Bla Bla on other things.

 

On photo gear 2019

Leichtathletik Weltklasse Zuerich, 2018

Another nerdy blog entry… which camera should I/you buy?

While home cycling in our basement, I watched a few YouTube videos. Each year the same: it’s the end of the year, everybody has time, and the YouTube family thinks about market trends.

Orientierungslauf Florian Schneider Lobhorn Bern 2018 July-29, 2018

I’ll be straight. (If you want to have a full hour of entertainment on this question go elsewhere.) Buy ANY modern camera of the serious manufacturers, like Canon, Fuji, Nikon, Sony (in alphabetical order), and this camera will be excellent. Period.

It follows that if you buy a completely new system, the best thing is to go to a shop. Hold several models in your hands, and do some test shots of different subjects (if they let you). If you find the handling intuitive and the price is OK, buy the camera. If you have to guess how to find the right buttons, buy another one.

Niederhorn    July-11, 2018

If you have special needs, there is a little more to say. For instance, I shoot something like 3’000 frames on one single event. I need fast cameras with fast writing and reading capabilities. The autofocus must be excellent too. There are two manufacturers that provide this: Canon and Nikon. The full frame versions are the 1DXii for Canon and the D5 for Nikon (the predecessors will be excellent too). The corresponding APSC versions are the 7Dii by Canon and the D500 by Nikon. By construction the APSCs have poorer low light capabilities, but for outdoor sports my 7Dii is absolutely sufficient.

The only reason I shoot Canon, not Nikon, is that I bought a Canon some 10 years ago. Hence, I am stuck to the system. Would I be happier with Nikon? I don’t know, but I guess not. From what I know about Sony (I have friends with Sony) the reading and writing capabilities are inferior to Canon and Nikon. I have no information about Fuji, as I have never seen a colleague with Fuji in an arena.

UCI Cyclo-Cross Weltcup Bern  2018

What are the future trends?

  • Mobile phones will take over the market for snapshots and even landscape. The electronic capabilities of these cameras are incredible. Their main disadvantage is the missing tele lens. Nevertheless, all classic manufacturers will have big, big problems. Not risky to predict that some of them will die. If you have no special needs (like wildlife or sports), but just want a camera for your family photos: invest some 1’000 or more stones and buy a high end smartphone.
  • For the rest of the market, mirrorless cameras will replace DSLRs, but this will take some time. Manufacturers need that time to build the new lenses. The new standard will be F2 zoom lenses that will replace the current F2.8 zoom lenses. A lot of negative things have been said about Canon, but notice that Canon is the only manufacturer so far that has a completely new F2 zoom lens.

 

2018: check

It’s the quiet time of the year. Time to look back. Enjoy some of my best pictures

Sm’Aesch smashes VC Oudegem

I visited the re-match between Sm’Aesch-Pfeffingen (SUI) and VC Oudegem (BEL). The Belgian club had won the first match 3-1, but even before the start you could sense that everyone at the Sm’Aesch crew was determined to win. After a concentrated play and a brilliant 3-0, the match entered the Golden Set. Oudegem started strong, but as Sm’Aesch gathered a small lead, the Belgians lost confidence and Sm’Aesch took a sweet victory. Sm’Aesch played without their regular setter, Taylor Tashima, who suffers from a concussion. The 16 year-old Annalea Maeder replaced her well and became the secret hero of the match.

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#SCFBMG

After a short break I was back to Freiburg. The guests were Borussia Mönchengladbach, second in the league. Freiburg won 3-1. They deserved the victory because of their good defense in the second half. I didn’t get as much out of the game as I was hoping, because I speculated to see attack after attack by Gladbach. However, Freiburg didn’t give Gladbach many opportunities. Thus, I waited at the wrong goal. As a sports photographer you sometimes win, and you sometimes lose.

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It clicked

How I became a sports photographer

One day it clicked. And I don’t mean my camera. 

30 international photographers gathered at the media briefing. The announcement was: “Three photographers will have exclusive access to the track: Keystone, AFP and Ulf Schiller”. What was going on here? Let me tell step by step.

UCI Hour Record Attempt Sep 18, 2014

For long, I loved shooting sports. My friends, hobby athletes, were my usual victims. However, professional sport has always been my love. So I took a camera to the stands and shot pictures from there. There weren’t many reactions. “Yes I saw this in TV too”, was a typical one.

I desperately needed change. Thus, I started talking to event organizers. I wanted to get close to the athletes and shoot something unusual.

The Tissotvelodrome Grenchen accepted me. So I started shooting track cycling races. A niche sport. Maybe that’s why I made myself a name so quickly. After a few races, every elite track cyclist in Switzerland knew my name.

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Then, a big day was ahead… Jens Voigt, the extremely popular German cycling star, 17-times Tour de France participant, Yellow Jersey holder, permanent attacker in the peloton (quote: «Shut up legs and do what I tell you») planned to retire from professional cycling after a final attack on the official “UCI Hour Record”. Eurosport would broadcast live. The worldwide press would be there. Social media was buzzing. The Tissotvelodrome, my childs’ room, had turned into an arena of world sports. My guts were aching. I wanted to be part of the game.

I used my old trick, and asked the organizer directly. So I wrote an email to Jens’ team, Trek Factory Racing. I introduced myself as photographer of the Tissotvelodrome, asked if I could work for them, and included some of my pictures as reference. The answer was quick and polite. A rejection.

So I submitted an accreditation through the official way. Being one of very many, was the least thing I was hoping for.

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On the race day, Peter (CEO of the Tissotvelodrome) asked me to contact Trek Factory Racing’s media officer. “Is your offer still valid?”, he asked. I was more than surprised: Yes, sure, was the answer. “Good, we saw your pictures in the Tissotvelodrome. You have talent, you know what you are doing. Please deliver the pictures one hour after the race.”

Bang! I didn’t expect that! I came straight from work. That was the only reason I had my laptop with me. What a luck on an evening that I had already written off from a photographic point of view. 

When I came home late at night, my wife was waiting. She hugged me. She had seen me on the TV. And, more importantly, she showed me my pictures. They were all over the Internet! From Australia to California. I had water in my eyes. I didn’t sleep that night. 

It clicked! 

This was what I wanted! During that sleepless night, I decided to become a sports photographer.

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