Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 11

Karin Ott

And the winner is… Conchita Wurst a.k.a The Queen of Austria!

Somewhere on Facebook the question was asked if “Rise like a Phoenix” would have won if it had not been performed by a drag queen. Good question. There was something oddly moving about the song I hadn’t expected in advance. On the other hand I think the main reason for Austria winning was the artist.

This is the most political Eurovision Song Contest I can recall. I didn’t approve of people booing at the voting. I also know it had been attempted to tell people to focus on music rather than politics because I was present at the last dress rehearsal. I experience an ever growing dislike of Russia and a frustration that we haven’t been able to really do anything to vent our frustration. But what we could do was vote and Europe did. And Russia has added to the fun by being openly appalled.

Make love, not war!

I’ll wrap up my Eurovision special by posting a few more of my favorite images. Tomorrow I’ll be back to the usual ‘one image a day’ format.

Karin Ott

Karin Ott

Karin Ott

Karin Ott

Karin Ott

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 10

Karin Ott

To understand the venue for the European Song Contest, you have to bear in mind that a year ago B&W Hallen was just a gigantic empty shell, tall enough to cover The Round Tower, one of our famous Copenhagen land marks.

I’m obviously impressed with the stage itself but I’m also utterly fascinated with what they’ve done with the space, mostly using lighting. Above is one example and below are a few more, all from the foyer. The last one was taken before the stalls and rainbow lamps were in place showing the under belly of the seating.

Karin Ott

Karin Ott

Karin Ott

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 9

Karin Ott

I want to show some more images of the scene. This is how tall the wall of cubes is – notice the figures in the right hand corner.

Karin Ott

The floor of the scene is also a multimedia screen. The V-shaped part with the circles in it is filled with water as a tribute to the halls history as a ship yard. The circle is where flames, steam and fire works come out. The two ‘run ways’ leading from the center can be used both as part of the performance or as here, in the case of Conchita Wurst, as a screen.

Karin Ott

By the time Spain was rehearsing ‘Dancing in the rain’ in the last round of open rehearsals I think most of us thought we’d seen it all but there was an audible gasp when huge rain drops began beating down and collect at the bottom of the cubes. The song is not my personal favorite but the effect was!

Karin Ott

 

Finally one of the dreamy blue images I first created by accident and later added to my collection on purpose. Already this is history. The last rehearsal I attended was a dress rehearsal yesterday – the last one open to the press – and rather to my surprise 6000 kids had been brought in to create an authentic mood.

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 8

Karin Ott

One of the things I was really curious about when I got the accreditation was what a press center looks like from the inside. Well, here is one of my accredited colleagues.

Karin Ott

The press center has 800 work places, laptops available on request. This picture is from my very first day – Tuesday last week. Not exactly crowded… As the live transmission has come closer, obviously more people began to show. I dropped by last evening when the first semifinal was being transmitted directly.

Karin Ott

Apparently it is a tradition that the press delegation from the country of the performer on stage cheers their champion on or at least show their support. What I found very amusing was how camera crew inside of the tent would literally run from one end to the other as soon as the support group changed with the artist on stage.

Karin Ott

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 7

Karin Ott

There have been many faces to the Eurovision Song Contest. When I was a kid, it was a singer or two on a regular stage with a camera, a spot light and a live band. Pop song made its entry into the competition with Abba as did major styling. Then came the years of trying to repeat Abba’s success and write real pop songs. It never really worked. The songs had a unique knack of being either emotional ballads of a kind that you will only hear in this contest or kitchy pop-like songs that you would also only hear in the competition.

In the 80’ies at least in Denmark you were in danger of becoming a social outcast if you admitted to liking the songs and for some years we saved our money and didn’t participate. Then slowly it turned. Year by year the love for the song contest has grown as has the number of participating countries until reaching the popularity of today. The winning country has huge budgets for hosting the event, the stage shows include ice skaters and this year around 180 million people are expected to be watching.

Images in this post are all from Basim’s rehearsal today – the Danish contestant.

Karin Ott

Karin Ott

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 6

Karin OttI miss the stage – the whole space in fact. I haven’t been able to go in for two days now and I miss it. Who says there’s no such thing as magic? Look at these flames. See that small person next to them? The flames must be about 4 meters high. I felt the heat from them from where I was standing. Probably not a good idea to combine them with a wind machine, though. Singed hair smells nasty.

So while I’m waiting to go back in tomorrow – or out? Perhaps it’s a portal 🙂 Let me share with you a few more glimpses of the technical equipment that makes the wonders come alive.

Karin Ott

This is not a particularly great shot but it shows the control center in front of the stage as well as people watching the performers. If you can’t make out the array of television cameras on rails, don’t worry. I have second one.

Karin Ott

This part of the control center is halfway up the seating area. The two different backgounds (cubes and back wall) have been programmed for 37 different performances.

Karin Ott

Another view of the television cameras right in front of the stage. By default the space is dark blue. It makes it possible to create some dreamy, surreal images, this being one of them. And here’s another slightly surreal techy image to end today’s post.

Karin Ott

 

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 5

Karin Ott

My reason for going to the venue today was to capture an image of this young man, Basim. He is representing Denmark with a very catchy pop song that most of us can sing along to by now. I have no doubt the people in charge of the National Danish Radio hopes he doesn’t win. It is horribly expensive to host the international event – a task that falls to the winning nation.

The press was not allowed inside the hall today but I have a few images from the other days I want to share. I found myself immensely fascinated with all the heavy equipment around the stage. This is what it looks like in front rather than on the stage during rehearsals.

Karin Ott

And if you look at the stage but not at the singers, you might see this sight…

Karin Ott

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 4

Karin Ott

My posts are longer than my usual ‘one photo a day’ during the Eurovision Song Contest as I am in this unique position. I hope you’ll either bear with me or enjoy it 🙂

The EU Song Contest is not meant to be taken too serious. It’s grand show with glittering dresses, eomotional ballads, colourful pop songs – all perfect for bringing out your inner diva. Humour – voluntary or not – is large part of the tradition too as well as plenty of space for people who are a little out of the ordinary.

Above is the Polish entry. Yes, that is an overblown cleavage in the background. You should see what the young women are doing to the laundry and the butter churner. I must say they are very thorough.

Karin Ott

Karin Ott

The Austrian entry calls for different emotions. But there’s a bit more to it than just a diva dress. Conchita Wurst wears the dress with long hair as well as a well trimmed beard.

Karin Ott

Not your average song contest…

A little tech stuff at the end. I always like to read the ‘what’s in the bag’ section on photographers websites. So what’s in mine for this event?

Karin Ott

Wel, certainly not this lens! I have very little to work with. This is part convenience and part economy. Okay, muscle strength as well…

I’m a ‘one camera, one lens’ kind of gal. I have a Nikon D5100 (a midrange DX) and I take most of these images with a 50 mm 1.8 prime lens. That’s it. I do plan to experiment with my 55-200 mm next time but the prime is a better lens and the zoom needs more light – not readily available. I combine my preferred lens with 2500 ISO and a single focus point.

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 3

Karin Ott

Today was the first day the press was allowed inside the venue hall during the rehearsals. The stage as well as the 10,000 seats have been built especially for this year’s Eurovision Song Contest.

The site once housed a shipyard and the hall is gigantic but it doesn’t feel huge. It feels magical. I have never seen a space this amazing with so many dimensions to light and colour. I tried my best and I’ll keep trying but it’s impossible to capture.

First image is the Armenian contestant, Aram MP3 (not kidding).

Karin Ott

Also from the Armenian rehearsal, discussing some of the details.

Karin Ott

Latvia, Aarzemnieki, rehearsing.

Eurovision Song Contest 2014 – 2

Karin Ott

I feel very privileged in having press accreditation to the Eurovision Song Contest. The only taker for my photos (and words for a change) is a small, monthly local paper. So I can do what I want – no agenda. Which brings me back to why I applied in the first case. I love stories!

10,000 people with accreditation. 1,600 press people from 80 countries. 90,000 people attending 9 shows, 180 mill. watching on television… Every single part of me was itching to get to experience, and document, this huge event from the inside. To go where I would not normally be able to go and take pictures. My idea is to show what goes on behind the actual show though of course it is impossible for me to resist great lines and colour. Todays image fulfill both these desires. The pavilion is part of the press area and the large building looming in the background contains the stage. Tomorrow I get to go in.