Photography and Staying Fit

Perfect Pushups

Let’s face it – most photographers that I know aren’t exactly what you would call fitness junkies or health nuts.  As artists, we are drawn to all things creative and this includes good food and drink.  Am I right?  Couple that with the fact that when we’re not out shooting we’re usually in front of a computer – either editing, blogging, tweeting, or building our businesses.  It’s what we do.

It adds up to a lot of time spending being fairly sedentary.  Even if a photographer has the occasional 5-mile hike to reach a location she is shooting at, there is still a large quantity of time spent in front of the computer or at a desk.  And lets not forget the photographers who are constantly traveling while on assignment.  Those guys and gals hardly have time to sleep sometimes, let alone maintain some sort of fitness regimen.  So how do we combat this?  How do we keep ourselves healthy?

Dyna-Flex Powerball - Shot 2

Personally, I use a couple of pretty handy devices that I can take with me very easily.  The first shot above is of the Perfect Pushup Mobile Unit, which folds down flat and fits into a handy travel case that’s easy to pack in my bag.  The handles come off and the bottom plates face each other, then the handles are attached to the sides to form one piece, nice and flat.

Second, I use that funky-looking ball thingy (technical term) that you see just above.  It’s called the Powerball Pro and it’s made by a company called Dyna-Flex.  It uses a gyro to create resistance and it is designed to help work on grip and arm strength.  It’s a lot of fun to use and wears you out in about 10 minutes.  I can tell you without a doubt that my grip strength has most definitely improved since using it and it’s gives my a therapeutic effect that I truly enjoy.

I chose to use both of the devices above because they are easy to use, easy to travel with, and very effective.  I can’t depend on having a gym everywhere I go and I don’t want to come home from a long day at work and then go to the gym.  I’d rather spend that time at home with my family.  So I usually get my workouts in while I’m catching up on a show with my wife in the evening.  The workouts are short and effective, which is the way I prefer them to be.

Photography Stuff

You didn’t think I was only going to talk about fitness stuff, right?  Good.  I took the shots above in the studio, using some black seamless paper and black granite tile.  I used a flash with a gel on the background for the color and in the case of the Powerball, I snooted it too.

Dyna-Flex Powerball - Shot 1

This was the first shot that I took of the Powerball and I didn’t like it because it really didn’t do much to add shape and dimension to the ball.  It sort of fell off into the background and so I had to do something different.

Dyna-Flex Powerball - Setup 1

This was the setup shot for my first shot of the Powerball (just above).  Since nearly the whole object is round, shiny, and reflective, I had to do something to try and minimize that as best I could.  So I feathered the softbox from behind and used a couple of fill cards to help light the ball.  I still wound up with a specular highlight but I put it in a place where it seemed the least distracting to me.

Dyna-Flex Powerball - Setup 2

For my second go-around I added another speedlight with the fresnel zoomed to 105mm and used it at 1/128th power (big advantage of using speedlights in product setups) to bring back the shape to the ball and separate it from the background.  I was much happier with the result and that was why I showed that image of the Powerball first.

Perfect Pushups - Setup

Here’s the setup shot of the Perfect Pushups.  I brought my key light in from above and at an angle and then used a speedlight with the dome diffuser at 1/64th power to provide separation.  The reason I put the dome diffuser on for this shot was so that I would really soften any shadows and prevent the light from being too harsh.

I hope you enjoyed the images and the setups – as well as my advice for staying fit.  I’m not going to preach to anyone and I don’t believe in forcing one’s beliefs on people either.  But I do think it’s an important thing and so I thought I would share what I do to try and stay healthy and keep myself in decent shape.  I say “decent” because I’m no bodybuilder either! 🙂

Enjoy your weekend and I hope you have the opportunity to get out and shoot!  It looks like I might have something cool lined up for Sunday.  If it pans out, you can bet I’ll post in on the blog next week!  Take care and happy shooting!


2 thoughts on “Photography and Staying Fit

  1. What I like best about these shots Stephen is that you are willing to be risky (since when has conservative become a virtue for Americans?). I like the fact that you’re trying this stuff and are willing to show folks that it’s okay to work through this and take some constructive “abuse.” Big kudos for that alone.

    I do a lot of this and I would have taken 40 shots in about three minutes before I got close for the client. Being your most critical critic is the best advice I can give you about product photos. I’ve added various coments and notes to the individual photos.

    My main complaint Stephen is all of the dust. You really need to clean that crap out of there. I use Rockets, air canisters, anti-static cleansers, brushes etc to defeat the dust and even cloning out the last bits I missed.

    • Thanks Rich – I really do appreciate the criticism as it helps immensely. Not sure when Americans became afraid to hold back and not take risks, but as a photographer I constantly have to push myself creatively to improve.

      I e-mailed you a photo of the tile itself so that you can see what the face of the tile looks like. It’s not actually dust in the photos, but rather reflections from the particles in the tile. It’s not a pure, solid-black tile. I am currently researching other materials that will give me a more desirable result that don’t cost an arm and a leg.

      As an update to everyone, there were more than just three shots taken. I took quite a few until I got what I wanted. That 40 number is pretty close to where I was for each of the setups.

      Thanks again for your advice (abuse) – I am sincerely thankful for it. 🙂


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