london 2012

Worth a thousand words—and counting

At the London Summer Games last year, we moved more than 45,000 photos to members and customers, capturing those moments of astonishing accomplishment that make the games so compelling. A lot goes into getting just the right shot, and AP photographers were resourceful in finding the best angles, the best locations and the best technology to nail the best images.

The big shot

Crowded around the perimeter of the women’s gymnastics competition with more than 150 other photographers, Greg Bull chose his position with great care, as he describes in this interview. It paid off. Bull got the defining image of the London Olympics: Gabby Douglas soaring high above the balance beam, en route to the gold medal in the women’s all-around.

A brave new world of photography

To shoot from unexpected perspectives during the London Games, our photo team sought out the expertise of former NASA engineers to help build AP’s first robotic camera systems. Developing, fine-tuning, installing and operating the cameras was a challenge, as the team tells it.

The pay-off

Of the more than 45,000 photos that AP took at the London Games, here are 28 of the best—including an underwater photo of U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps and an overhead photo of British boxer Nicola Adams, both shot with AP’s robotic camera system.

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    The Olympic rings light up the stadium during the opening ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, July 27, 2012, in London.

    AP Photo / Morry Gash

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    United States' Michael Phelps, left, touches the wall as South Africa's Chad le Clos closes in for second place during the men's 100-meter butterfly final at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012.

    AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill

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    U.S. gymnast Gabrielle Douglas performs on the balance beam during the artistic gymnastics women's individual all-around competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.

    AP Photo / Gregory Bull

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    Runners pass by the Olympics flame on the first day of athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 3, 2012.

    AP Photo / Daniel Ochoa De Olza

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    Jamaica's Usain Bolt crosses the finish line to win gold in the men's 100-meter final in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

    AP Photo / David J. Phillip

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    China's Ren Cancan, red, is knocked down by Great Britain's Nicola Adams, blue, during their women's final flyweight 51-kg boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 9, 2012. The photo was taken using AP’s innovative robotic camera system.

    AP Photo / Hassan Ammar

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    Samantha Arevalo Salinas of Ecuador starts in a women's 800-meter freestyle swimming heat at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics, Thursday, Aug. 2, 2012.

    AP Photo / David J. Phillip

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    United States' Conor Dwyer, left, Michael Phelps, center, Ryan Lochte, second right, and Ricky Berens, right, pose with their gold medals after their win in the men's 4x200-meter freestyle relay at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

    AP Photo / Daniel Ochoa De Olza

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    South Africa's Oscar Pistorius starts in the men's 400-meter semifinal in Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012.

    AP Photo / Anja Niedringhaus

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    Austria's Rosemary Little, center, competes in a women's 100m T34 race at the 2012 Paralympics in London, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012.

    AP Photo / Emilio Morenatti

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    In this photo made using a fisheye lens, Jaime Azcarraga, of Mexico, rides his horse Gangster, in the equestrian show jumping team competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 5, 2012, in London.

    AP Photo / David Goldman

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    Australia's Elizabeth Cambage jams her finger into the eye of Russia's Natalya Vodopyanova while defending a drive to the basket during the women's bronze medal basketball game at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 11, 2012.

    AP Photo / Charles Krupa

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    United States' Misty May-Treanor, left, and Kerri Walsh Jennings celebrate after defeating China in their semifinal women's beach volleyball match, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012, at the 2012 Summer Olympics.

    AP Photo / Petr David Josek

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    Jamaica's Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, right, powers ahead to win gold in the women's 100-meter final in Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012.

    AP Photo / Daniel Ochoa De Olza

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    United States' Brittney Reese competes in the women's long jump final to win gold in Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Wednesday, Aug. 8, 2012.

    AP Photo / Matt Dunham

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    In this multiple exposure photo, Annie Moniqui of Canada competes during the women's 58-kg, group B, weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, July 30, 2012.

    AP Photo / Hassan Ammar

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    United States' Morgan Uceny reacts after falling during the women's 1500-meter final in Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.

    AP Photo / Matt Slocum

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    Switzerland's Nicola Spirig, middle, Sweden's Lisa Norden, right, and Australia's Erin Densham react after finishing the triathlon at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, Aug. 4, 2012. Spirig won the gold medal, Norden took the silver and Densham the bronze.

    AP Photo / Charlie Riedel

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    In this multiple exposure photo, Dirk Schrade, of Germany, rides King Artus in the show jumping phase of the equestrian eventing competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

    AP Photo / Charlie Riedel

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    The sky turns black as Germany's Hannes Aigner competes in the heats of the K-1 men's canoe slalom at Lee Valley Whitewater Center at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, July 29, 2012.

    AP Photo / Kirsty Wigglesworth

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    United States' Brooke Crain (32) passes Alise Post, also of the U.S., who crashed in a BMX cycling women's semifinal run during the 2012 Summer Olympics, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.

    AP Photo / Christophe Ena

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    Lithuania's Edgaras Venckaitis (in red) is lifted off the mat by Kazakhstan's Darkhan Bayakhmetov (in blue) during their match in 66-kg Greco-Roman wrestling competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012.

    AP Photo / Paul Sancya

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    Matthias Steiner of Germany gets hit by the weights while failing to make a successful lift in the men's over 105-kg, group A, weightlifting competition at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012.

    AP Photo / Ng Han Guan

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    Jamel Herring of the United States reacts after being defeated by Kazakhstan's Daniyar Yelessinov in their men's light welter 64-kg boxing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, July 31, 2012.

    AP Photo / Ivan Sekretarev

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    Italy's Valentina Vezzali, right, reacts after defeating South Korea's Nam Hyun-hee during the bronze medal fencing match at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Saturday, July 28, 2012, in London.

    AP Photo / Ng Han Guan

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    Natalia Ischenko and Svetlana Romanshina of Russia compete during the women's duet synchronized swimming preliminary round at the Aquatics Centre in Olympic Park during the 2012 Summer Olympics, Monday, Aug. 6, 2012.

    AP Photo / Mark J. Terrill

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    China's Liu Xiang, second left, falls as Hungary's Balazs Baji, Poland's Artur Noga, Barbados' Shane Brathwaite and Senegal's Moussa Dembele react during a men's 110-meter hurdles heat during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Tuesday, Aug. 7, 2012.

    AP Photo / Daniel Ochoa De Olza

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    In this photo taken with a fisheye lens, pyrotechnics light up the sky above the Olympic Stadium during the closing ceremony at the 2012 Summer Olympics, Sunday, Aug. 12, 2012.

    AP Photo / Julio Cortez

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