Outdoor fitness shots are somewhat of a hot commodity these days. It’s something that we always strive to do, but end up doing very little of. With so many people wanting to lose weight and get in shape, naturally tons of marketers and advertisers are always looking for nice outdoor fitness imagery. I know that my stock portfolio is lacking such photos, so I’ve decided to mend this pitfall and do an outdoor fitness themed shoot.
I have recently shot an indoor gym session with quite a few models, so I have cherry-picked two of them, who are in a great shape and who would be able to run and jump for several hours. In fact, our female model is a personal trainer and gave us some consulting on proper workout routines during the shoot.
This session was mainly geared towards showing “the best possible” outcome of routine exercise, but as soon as it gets warmer here in NY I am also planning to do more of a casual fitness shoot, where I would like to capture “average” looking people just getting into the habit of exercising.
We also got really lucky with the weather that day. The shoot was planned a couple of weeks in advance and it was already getting chilly. But on the day of the shoot we had an abnormally warm front coming through and thus were able shoot in light clothing and even managed to get some male topless shots.
I wanted to capture genuine motion in some of my shots, so my main challenge was to frame the shots correctly with the model moving quickly through it. I had to compose my shots with the jogger “running into the frame” meaning that there had to be more free space where the person is facing then at his/her back. This gives it a feeling of struggle and adversary. In my opinion, it doesn’t look quite right when the jogger is already “leaving” the frame.
I was shooting exclusively with prime lenses, so using zoom and “following” the subject was not an option. To get the feel of movement and the shaky hair I had to run together with models, thus running backwards and trying to get the focus and composition just right was also a challenge. I was shooting in a burst mode and had to stop for a bit every time my camera’s buffer was full. During those moments I reflected on the fact that my Canon 5D mark II is aging and maybe I need to consider upgrading. But overall, this wasn’t such a large issue and I think I’ll hold off and see what Canon, Nikon and Sony announce this year.
And the final challenge was the sky. It wasn’t completely overcast and it wasn’t exactly clear either. Nor did we have any nice looking clouds that day. Instead we had something looking more like a haze with sun getting through some of the lighter areas on occasions. So whenever the sun would come out I would shoot against it with either a diffuser reflecting sun onto my models or just good old Speedlite with a warm gel on it. This allowed me to get some sun flare in my images and capture that feel of authenticity and feel-good atmosphere. When the sun was mostly in the haze I opted for shooting into the direction where it shined. The original images came out with completely washed out sky. But because I shoot in RAW, I was able to pull a lot of detail from sky in post-processing and after adding a bit of saturation I was actually able to make something of it.
I used Canon 5D mark II as the main body with 35mm f/1.4L, 50mm f/1.2L and 85mm f/1.2L Canon lenses. I was able to get good shots at f/7.1 aperture and 1/160s shutter speed on the initial shots. But later on I went wider to f/4 and 1/500s. Once I started doing more portraits I was able to go to f/2.2 at 1/500s with the help of some of my B+W Neutral Density filters. For supplemental light modifiers we used 1 or 2 Speedlites with warm filters and a large 42” gold reflector.