Fitness For Wildlife Photographers
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- If you’re anything like me, you always end up with a heavier pack than you intended.
- Every time I prepare for a long hike through the mountains, I tell myself I will pack lighter this time.
- Each time, despite removing stuff I may not need, my bag is at least as heavy as the last time. It’s just not possible to make it any lighter than thirty pounds, and thirty pounds is a killer on three to five hour hikes up steep slopes.
- One of the biggest issues is my lens. I have the Sigma 120-300mm F2.8 and it weighs about eight pounds.
- For now, my best option is to improve my fitness level.
- I thought I was a decently fit guy. I’m fairly thin and walk several miles every week. It turns out I’m not as fit as I originally believed.
- I went on a hike in Risnjak National Park recently and discovered I’m not so great at hiking mountains with a thirty-pound backpack on. The three-hour hike involved quite a few “water” breaks.
- After that hike, I decided to start working out.
- Before, I was walking several miles around the cities I was visiting and eating decently well. But, it turns out, that is not at all enough.
- I bought a kettlebell and pull-up bar. There are a million opinions on working out, and I will not pretend to be an expert, but a kettlebell and pull-up bar is all I personally need to stay moderately fit.
- Update Oct 15, 2020: I have since changed this plan and I now just use a yoga mat and online instructional videos from Alo Moves. It's much easier and lighter than bringing around a pullup bar and kettlebell while traveling, and I really enjoy the yoga.
- You can look up videos by gurus, such as Pavel Tsatsouline, for more of the particulars. Even bodyweight exercises are perfectly fine and require no monetary investment.
- For wildlife photographers, we are often carrying heavy packs up steep ground. Thus, I decided it was best to focus on leg muscles (squats) and cardio. I also do core workouts, like kettlebell swings.
- Not long ago I went on a hike to Hajducka Vrata in Blidinje National Park, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
- It was even more strenuous than the Risnjak National Park hike I mentioned before. My pack was just as heavy and the slopes were longer and steeper.
- Even though I had been working out for a month, it was still more difficult than the previous hike before I had been exercising.
- If I had not been working out, I may have had to turn around.
- The effort I put into improving my fitness is what allowed me to persevere and capture the landscape shot you see at the top of this post.
- Maintain a higher level of fitness than your peers and you will capture better photographs than they do.
- There is more to being a wildlife photographer than holding a camera with big lens. As we all know, it takes patience and perseverance. But it also takes fitness.
- Keep yourself fit and get the shot.
- What does your fitness routine look like? Let me know so we can learn from each other.