High Intensity, Stunning Results

I want to mix up my photography posts from showcasing my favorite images of a particular shoot, to imparting some of the wisdom that, hopefully, I am gaining while undertaking new challenges along the way.

I had the opportunity to shoot a training session at Koda CrossFit in Norman, OK with a close friend of mine, Karen Feiner, as she prepared, along with her teammates, Tessie Taleu and Jimmie Hannah, for Wodapalooza 2019. This would be my first foray into shooting indoor action, which is intimidating as this requires your shutter speed, ISO, and focus to be on point due to the challenging lighting situations. I also brought a speedlight and umbrella, which barely fit into my carry-on, to help with the structured shots that I am more comfortable with.

Right off the bat, I was put at ease by how warm and welcoming the women were and how comfortable they seemed with me as I ran around, shooting odd angles, and requesting workout repetitions and poses. They started with an outdoor warmup of “wall-balls,” hinting at the fun that would be just around the corner when the training really kicked into gear.

Previously, I have avoided revealing my gear, primarily because I haven’t wanted my images prejudged based on equipment. That being said, there are important lessons that can be learned based on the type of camera and lenses used. Therefore, to be transparent, I shoot with a Sony A7RII mirrorless camera and a 20mm Sigma, 50mm Sony and 85mm G-Master prime lenses,. With prime lenses, you lose the flexibility of being able to go wide one moment, then zoom in the next and I found myself missing potential shots. With that in mind, I am telling myself this as much as other photographers, it’s ok to ask people to freeze and hold a pose or move a little here or there to get a better background for a shot. Being polite, yet confident, helps improve the quality of the images and, as a bonus, adds to the fun of the shoot.

Inside is where prime lenses and their wide apertures really shine! Shooting with close-to-wide open and fully wide-open apertures allow for higher shutter speeds, which can help avoid blurring of your subjects’ actions. Additionally, larger apertures create bokeh that can separate your subject from a busy background and keep your ISO levels reasonable for reduced noise in your picture.

It took just a few minutes to be utterly impressed as the athletes started their relatively “mild” workout. In fact, they were kind enough to throw in this extra workout, for the photoshoot, on top of their already grueling training schedule.

About halfway through the workout, I remembered listening to some great advice about shooting sporting events from Jared Polin. He mentioned the importance of finding the emotion of the event, not just the action. It was at that point that I started to focus on those who were recovering as they watched their teammates work, resulting in a few unexpected gems!

During the shoot, it was important for me to swap lenses regularly, chase as many unique angles as possible, and try to capture the sheer intensity of this team.

At the end of the shoot, I was able to get into my comfort zone with the flash. Using flash allows for more control over the lighting: using shutter speed and flash strength to control foreground and background exposure. This is possible even with just a single speedlight and simple umbrella setup.

Thanks for taking the time to read through this post and feel free to ask any questions. Many thanks to Karen, Tessie, and Jimmie for being amazing models and stunning athletes!

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