16/08/2012 16:14 BST | Updated 15/10/2012 06:12 BST


The world's athletes and dignatories, the volunteers and media have all gone home.

The world's athletes and dignatories, the volunteers and media have all gone home.

Some sporting participants have taken with them precious medals. Even those who weren't blessed with sufficient luck or talent to claim a place on the podium leave the London Olympics with a wealth of memories.

They are not alone.

Whether we took part, took our places at one of the magnificent venues or merely took up the sofa for some or all of the 17 days of competition, we will have our favourite recollections of the events and the ceremonies.

In years to come, our brains will dull, reshape and add colour or detail to the rememberances which we have filed away.

The same will not be true of the record amassed by still and video cameras.

It may not come as a surprise, therefore, that while the battle to best rival teams was eagerly contested, attempts to produce the defining images of the Games was keenly fought too.

The world's premier publications assigned the best sports photographers to the task.

Camera manufacturers were also determined to try and ensure that the most jaw-dropping pictures were taken using their equipment. They were motivated not only by a desire to contribute to sporting history but to prompt post-Games sales from amateur enthusiasts wanting to try and match the workmanship of the pros.

Even though sport photography is a different discipline to the work I do, I appreciate it as an art in its own right. Critics will scoff that in today's world of hi-tech remote triggers, ever more powerful digital cameras and image processing software, getting the shot is just about being in the right place at the right time.

Yet over the two weeks of the Games, we saw countless incredible examples of how creative sports photography can be. More than seeing people kicking a ball into a net or dipping for the finishing line, I have been struck by the use of equipment and composition to generate genuinely poignant, dramatic and dynamic results.

I have marvelled at scenes of gymnastic contortion, of athletic power and of very raw emotion.

One thing which I do share with sports photographers is the pressure of time. We are all trying to capture the very briefest of moments.

To portray the personality and strength of a horse, I will use a shutter speed of 1/800th of a second. In the most explosive of Olympic sports, some photographers will have used speeds several times that fast.

Whereas I am able to take another image to create a specific and dramatic effect, sports photographers can't ask Usain Bolt to re-run his sprints because their memory cards were full or their autofocus wasn't working.

Yet both our photographic disciplines produce images with a capacity all of their own to move viewers to almost the same degree as the scene which we have recorded.

I have taken great pleasure in wading through huge piles of newsprint every morning and being stopped in my tracks by an image in one of the national newspapers which simply made me gasp "Wow".

Even with my many years behind the lens, during Olympic fortnight, I have been frequently reminded why I became hooked on photography.

Like athletes bested on the track, in the pool or on the bike, competing publications will see how they can match their rivals' efforts next time around.

On the evidence of London 2012, the photographic game has certainly been stepped up.