There is an underwater photography drone patrolling the pool at the Olympics

An underwater robot is helping one pro shooter get awesome Olympic pool shots


With so many photo agencies and photographers hitting the Rio Olympics, the pressure’s on to get the best shots day in day out during the course of the 16-day competition.

Having already worked at numerous summer and winter Games, Getty Images photographer Al Bello certainly has plenty of experience under his belt, though this time around he’s trying something a little different in that never-ending quest for the perfect shot.

Submerged

Bello revealed to CNN this week how he’s been getting some standout shots from inside the Olympic pool. No, he’s not floating around the bottom in a wetsuit and pair of flippers with a camera slung around his neck. Instead, he’s gone down the robotic route, using a remotely operated camera placed inside the pool to shoot swimmers as they pass overhead.

It’s not the first time for remotely controlled underwater camera gear to be used at an Olympics, with Reuters having already tried them out at the London Games four years ago. But it is the first time for Bello to use them at the global sporting extravaganza.

“In the past, with a traditional submerged static remote camera, you’d have to visualize the photos you wanted ahead of time and think about what race and stroke you want to capture,” Bello told CNN, adding that you had to pretty much guess when the swimmer was in the frame. Of course, this meant part of a swimmer’s body might end up slightly out of shot, ruining what might otherwise have been a great image.

getty underwater camera
Al Bello setting up the remotely controlled camera and its robotic housing. Getty

Getty’s latest underwater camera setup, which you can see in an explanatory video here, has changed everything, giving Bello his best chance yet of grabbing the money shot. In every race.

Importantly, the submerged robotic camera – a Canon 1DX Mark II placed inside a watertight housing – offers Bello a live view of what’s happening under the surface. Even better, he’s able to adjust the frame by controlling not only the lens’s focal length, but also the camera’s position via the remote adjustment of the base on which it sits. Located poolside with a computer screen showing everything the camera sees, Bello hits the shutter when the swimmer fills the frame in the way that he wants.

The work style is certainly different to what you might expect for a typical sports photographer, with the shooter not even handling a camera during the workday.

Instead, there’s a lot more preparation and maintenance involved, with daily checks made on the camera and its housing, as well as the power cables that run alongside the pool and beyond.

As for the idea that robots may one day make human photographers obsolete, Bello’s having none of it.

“The robots are just another tool for me to get better photos,” he said, adding, “A robot doesn’t think on its own or come up with ideas. But it can help us get photos more efficiently than ever before.”

News

Canary home security company sued over $10 monitoring fee

A class-action lawsuit claims home security startup Canary offered free monitoring features to entice people to purchase their cameras, then started charging a monthly fee to continue using them.
Gaming

Have a spooky dance party at an abandoned mansion with Fortnite's new challenges

The Fortnite season 7, week 2 challenges have arrived in Battle Royale. From searching for chests to dancing off at an abandoned mansion, here's how to do them and the rewards you get for completing them.
Photography

From DSLRs to mirrorless, these are the best cameras you can buy right now

From entry-level models to full-frame flagships, many cameras take great photos and video. The best digital cameras, however, push the industry forward with innovative sensors and improved usability, among other things. Here are our…
Movies & TV

Sit down and watch some of the best stand-up comedy on Netflix

Feeling a little funny? There are hundreds of hilarious comedy specials out there, and you can't be expected to comb through them all. Lucky for you, we've compiled a list of the best stand-up specials on Netflix.
Photography

Canon holiday sale features the Rebel T6 2-lens kit for just $449

If you have a budding photographer in your life in need of a real camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T6 could make the perfect gift. Canon is currently offering the camera in a two-lens bundle for just $449 through December 29.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Mobile

Leave the laptop at home, the iPad Pro is the travel buddy to take on vacay

The iPad Pro is a powerful tablet that's perfect for creatives and professionals. How does it fare when traveling with it as a laptop replacement? We took it on a two week trek in Japan to find out.
Social Media

Instagram’s 2018 year in review shines a light on where our hearts are

What did Instagram users share the most in 2018? A lot of heart emojis, heart face filters, and heart GIFs. The platform recently shared the year's top trends, including hashtags like #fortnite and #metoo along with a few surprises.
Deals

Want a fun, affordable instant camera? The Fujifilm Instax Mini 7S is just $49

Instant cameras have had a surprising resurgence of late, and no brand is better recognized in the instant photo space today than Fujifilm Instax. Walmart is currently offering the Instax Mini 7S for just $49.
Photography

Not just for Lightroom anymore, Loupedeck+ now works with Photoshop

Loupedeck+ can now help photographers edit in Photoshop too, thanks to physical controls for swapping tools, running actions, and more. The photo-editing console expanded to include Photoshop in the list of compatible editing programs.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Computing

Need a monitor for professional photo-editing? These are the very best

Looking for the best monitor for photo editing? You'll need to factor in brightness, color accuracy, color gamut support and more. Fortunately, we've rounded up the best ones for you, to help you make an educated purchase.
Photography

2018 was a terrific year for new cameras. Here are our favorites

This year, we saw the unveiling of several exciting new cameras. We look back at our favorite models -- each delivering something unique, yet all are powerful and feature-rich. Camera fans, rejoice!
Photography

Grit and gear: How Chris Hershman went from retail clerk to music video director

How did Chris Hershman go from working a music retail job to working with bands like NEEDTOBREATHE and Switchfoot? The music video director and filmmaker talks to us about video, tech, and Nikon's new mirrorless.