Camera Gear

Fitness Fitness Superman

After a few years of Batman running high in pop culture, this year is going to belong to Superman. In a few weeks Man of Steel is going to appear on our screens and make us all believe again – as happened in 1978 – that a man can fly, move faster than a speeding bullet and check out ladies underwear through their jeans or shirt. Ok, maybe not the latter but I'm sure it will go a long way towards creating a new generation of believers. In any case, it wouldn't look great to have a fat Superman and a person I've been working with a lot recently is doing everything he can to help the personal fitness market by writing eBooks about every training regime out there, and with some aplomb too! Our first shoot together was a towards the last quarter of 2012 and it was one of his first books where he was talking about general weight loss, giving readers advice, tips and, the part where I came in as a photographer, exercises to follow and progressions. We must have taken some 200 images in that session and it was this particular shoot that whet my apetite for the control and intricacies of studio and flash photography.

One of the great things about spending time with Ash is his enviable enthusiasm to constantly create new WORK. We've now worked together on either photoshoots for different books and it has given me the opportunity to develop my understanding of controlling and manipulating light in my images.

And this is where we get to the crunch point in the blog post.

It's been so important to the early stages of my development that I could create work with someone who not only had the patience to work along side my 'experiments' but was comfortable spending time, collaborating with trusted.

Our last shoot, which was focusing on how to train your legs, generated some of the best fitness and sports style images I've shot to date and showed some of the insane superhuman strength that the exercises can develop.

One Legged Squat - Ashley Kalym
One Legged Squat - Ashley Kalym

Fitness shoots I feel definitely lend themselves to controlled lighting conditions and by pushing myself not only to improve and understand this style but to do it to help create what is becoming a library of fitness eBooks is very fulfilling. They say that inspiration doesn't find you, you have to go looking for it with an axe and I think it's often overlooked by many who are trying to start up a creative business that you do actually, at some point, have to grab hold of some inspiration and create something. Sharing that inspiration with someone and creating as a team has definitely helped me develop and continue to develop lighting setups, skills and techniques to push further and along that road I will get to a stage where I can pull some strings and make some of my creative photoshoots happen.

What came first... being creative or creating work.

I'll leave you with one of the first images I shot for Ash, and then one of the last. I'm excited where my skills can move to and I'll see you at the next Olympics when I've photographed the Olympic Team GB portraits! :)

Hold it!
Hold it!

If you want to check out Ashley's catalogue of work, you can check out his Amazon author page at this link to find all his books and I can thoroughly recommend each and every one if you're interested in fitness or are a bit of a gym buff.

You can also follow his blog at Train, Sleep, Eat, Repeat to really keep in touch with any upcoming news or eBooks.

Enjoy Superman - Man of Steel when it comes out, and remember, if you're struggling to create or find your inspiration, try finding someone to share it with!

70 300 Out, 80 200 In.

Lenses can be particularly expensive and seeing as I dislike spending large chunks of money it made sense for me to 'free up' some of my current lens slots. The first which had to go was easy. Unfortunately, although I've been impressed with the eventual image quality of the Sigma 70-300 f/4-f/5.6 DG OS, there are some user issues which plague this lens while I've been using it. 

Nadal @ O2
Rafael Nadal preparing for a forehand at the O2 Masters of 2012

It does have the capacity to produce some great images, as you can see above, the low aperture makes it difficult at times and makes it very difficult to shoot at low ISO values at the full focal length. It's clear to visualise the size that a fully open aperture would be in this image.

Predominately photographing sports, and in particular tennis, I have no time to wait for lenses to autofocus either. Even though this Sigma lens has internal focusing motors, it's accuracy and speed of focusing is still too slow for the speed which I need to capture fast moving dynamic images. You can regularly challenge the accuracy of it's focus point, once images are back imported into Lightroom which can get frustrating when faces, rackets or even bodies or just out of focus; a shame, especially shooting at f/5.6.

Strengths and applications

So this was the first lens in my collection to be moved on for the reasons I've always listed, but what could this lens be used for?

Its focal length combined with a crop sensor body makes for a great wildlife lens. On a 1.5x crop sensor like my D90, or the brilliant D300s, turns this lens into a 450mm monster telephoto. The low aperture shouldn't be as much of an issue as you would mostly be shooting outside in good light and the optical stabilisation helps too.This is actually very good, easily allowing you to drop the shutter speed a stop or two.

I would think this lens would also make for a great motorsport lens, panning and following cars on track. Again the 450mm on a crop sensor body gives you good reach.

It's just not great for sports where you need to be challenging your shutter speed to freeze motion and focus sharply and with a wide variety of distances.

The replacement...?

For me, this is an easy option. I've rented the lens a number of times already for a number of tennis tournaments and it has performed flawlessly. It's lack of optical stabilisation really makes no difference with the high shutter speeds I'm shooting sports at and the autofocus is so lightning fast I'm sure it could follow Nadal's frantic scramblings across the baseline with ease or even, if I ever get the chance, the fast carving of a downhill skier.

Shot with the Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 AF-D at a tennis tournament I shot last year

Anyway.. it's the Nikon AF-D 80-200 f/2.8, the lens I have used and written about on here a number of times at tennis tournaments. Thoroughly looking forward to ordering it and I will record a full review as soon as I have it in my possession...

... it will be mine! Oh yes, it will be mine!

The Nikkor AF 80-200mm f/2.8 D

Thanks for reading, and this lens will be going to Wimbledon in a few weeks. I'll give you a full run down of it's performance at that tournament, if not before.

If you have any questions or comments please leave them below and I will see you anon.