The photo of Usain Bolt smiling as he zoomed past his rivals in the men’s 100-meter semifinals on Sunday is likely to be the most memorable image taken from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. At the very least, it’s the signature photo from the first week of competition.

Whether Bolt was smiling at the fellow runners he was leaving behind or at the well of photographers situated beside the track, the amazing thing is that the moment was captured on film. Getting that shot took incredible timing, skill and luck. And maybe some good fortune of being in the right place at the right time, in position to take such a picture. So just how did Getty Images photographer Cameron Stewart capture that photo?

As you might expect, lens and shutter speed were significant factors. As Stewart explained to Mashable’s Tim Chester, the shutter speed was 1/40 of a second and that allowed him to follow Bolt while also creating the blurring effect that made the seven-time gold medalist stand out from his closest pursuit.

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RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - AUGUST 14: Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men's 100 meter semifinal on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – AUGUST 14: Usain Bolt of Jamaica competes in the Men’s 100 meter semifinal on Day 9 of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on August 14, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

More intriguing is that Spencer benefited from not being officially assigned to cover Bolt during the 100-meter race. As a result, he wasn’t among the crush of photographers working the event. So he basically swooped in after covering the high jump to get that iconic shot from a vantage point that his colleagues had no access to. His fellow photographers must be thrilled to hear that.

But because it wasn’t his job to photograph Bolt on Sunday, he could also afford to be more experimental with his technique. Obviously, that paid off magnificently. Spencer told The Hollywood Reporter‘s Ryan Parker that the photo will be submitted for Pulitzer Prize consideration, and that Getty may try to get a print to Bolt.

However, Spencer’s brilliant photo can’t just be chalked up to luck and the right camera. He was familiar with Bolt, having photographed him many times over the years, and knew that he tends to run straight. Yet Spencer ultimately has Bolt to thank for flashing that smile at exactly the right moment.

There are plenty of other technical details on the camera Spencer used, in addition to the setup that he had at the stadium which allowed the image to hit the wires so quickly, included in that Mashable piece. Be sure to click over, especially if you’re a photography buff and hoping to someday score a shot as memorable as Spencer’s.

[Mashable]

About Ian Casselberry

Ian is a writer, editor, and podcaster. You can find his work at Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He's written for Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, MLive, Bleacher Report, and SB Nation.