I am German, and Germany has a difficult relationship with Poland, but I feel very welcome here. The people are really friendly and it’s really nice.
For the Poland v Russia game, it was really, really tense. Obviously there was some trouble outside the stadium but inside it was OK, probably because there was a police presence like I have never seen before. Five minutes before the end of the game, 400 riot police walked in and positioned themselves in front of the block where the Russian and Polish fans were next to each other. A few policemen had shotguns but, happily, nothing happened. It was a great show of force.
On the pitch, it was a hard but fair game. Some of the photographers at Reuters, including me, have EOS-1D X DSLRs on loan from Canon; this meant I could shoot the whole match on the full-frame 1D X.
The biggest difference I found with using a full-frame camera is I am able to stay on my EF400mm f/2.8L IS II USM for longer, before swapping to a wider lens. It makes a big difference to the pictures. Usually, to be safe, you shoot with a 70-200mm for the goal-mouth action to get the goal and the ‘jubo’ [jubilation/celebration]. When Russia scored and the players ran over to my position next to the corner flag, I shot my images with the EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM lens. They were nice and sharp; traditional football images, but I thought it could work better and have more impact if I could get a little closer.
For the equalizer, it was the same thing – the ‘jubo’ came into my corner, but this time I stayed on the 400mm [lens] for longer and the pictures were just incredible. It was exactly what you want when you shoot a football game. It was a 100%, bang, precise - shot, goal, guys with their arms up, shouting and running in your direction.
The 1D X with the 400mm gave me a ‘head-to-toe’ shot when he scored, and as he was running towards me. The closer he got, the image changed and I eventually ended up with a portrait of him screaming. I decided not to go to the 70-200mm and went straight for my EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM instead, and then I had wide-angle pictures when he was sliding on his knees with the rest of his team jumping over him. It was absolutely perfect.
Biography: Kai Pfaffenbach
© Kai Pfaffenbach/Reuters
Hailing from Germany Kai Pfaffenbach has worked for Reuters since 1996 and has been one of agency’s senior photographers since 2005. Kai has shot four FIFA World Cup Final tournaments, and UEFA EURO 2012TM is be the fourth European Championship Finals he has shot. As well as covering sporting events he has also shot conflicts in Iraq and the Middle East, papal funerals and the royal wedding of HRH Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011. Tom Szlukovenyi, Reuters’ Global Pictures News Editor, said of Kai: “…few can match him when it comes to shooting sports, especially soccer.”