Something a bit different

Yesterday was a day for something a little bit different.
In the afternoon I shot some of the guys at the beach on their skimboards. These are, basically, an almost flat board which they use to skim across the edge of the beach where the surf meets the sand. To make it more interesting, this took place on a 'red-flag' day, where some of the waves were in the 4-6ft region and all inflatables were banned from entering the water - in fact, swimmers were only allowed about 30 metres from the beach (I had been for a swim in it earlier and the force of the waves was incredible!). There were also a couple of kite-surfers who wanted some action shots too, so I had some fun shooting these new (for me) sports. Shutter speeds of up to 1/1250 sec at f5.6 let me freeze the riders and keep the depth of field to a minimum and the long end of my 70-200 L lens (giving the equivalent of 320mm on the cropped body of my 7D) helped compress the perspective of the shot and bring the waves 'closer' to the riders.
In the evening, I was asked to take and supply photos for the very first Bulgarian Street Fitness competition. This involves competitors performing a variety of exercises and routines on the monkey-bar systems which every school over here still has in the playground. These areas can be - and are - used daily by anyone who wants to keep themselves fit.
With some guys simply displaying how many pull-ups and dips they can do and others putting together some elaborate routines whilst pulling off some intense acrobatic manoeuvres it was a great display of what can be achieved with basic equipment and some determination.
After speaking to the organisers and a few of the competitors it quickly became obvious that these guys are keen to promote this new form of exercise as much as possible. In the UK, we are currently seeing an increase in 'Bootcamp' style classes, where participants take part in classes using minimal equipment and often just their own body weight and it was great to see the similarities in the mindsets between the two nations. "What are the options? Eat crap, get drunk and get fat? Not for us!" was one competitors view.
Photographically, the challenges included keeping up with the speed of the exercises (and trying to anticipate what was coming next) as well as ensuring fast enough shutter speeds to freeze the action. As the light dropped rapidly (bear in mind, this was in the school playground of a built up area and started around 7pm), I found myself bumping the EOS 7D's ISO up to 6400 and, eventually, to the maximum 12,800 to let me get 1/250 sec. at f4 (earlier I had managed 1/400 at ISO 800) Thankfully, as the sun set, it backlit some of the competitors beautifully on the pull-up and dip bars, so I knew I would get some great black & white shots to show off their physiques.
The shots here have been edited in Photoshop Express for the iPad. As I've mentioned before, the amount of control and actions available are nowhere near those of the Mac/PC version, but I don't usually find this much of an issue as I try to get my shots as good as possible in-camera (just like we used to in the days of film) so these have only been converted into b&w and had the contrast boosted a bit.


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