Yes, that’s me in the picture taken yesterday on my 52nd birthday. I been into bodybuilding for over 30 years and since I got into photography I take a picture of myself in the same pose each year on my birthday. The idea is to document changes like hairline, greying, getting too fat or out of shape. Also, the way I train, typically in 90 days cycles, I always train so I peak at or around my birthday so I can feel good about myself. Although I like to stay strong and workout regularly about 2 years ago my weight peaked at nearly 225 pounds, I’m 5’10”. This was heavier than I want to be and I said, ‘enough is enough’ and worked to lose the extra weight. Progress was slow but it was progress. Then in the past year I got into hiking and camping for my photo treks to get the stuff few others have. I needed to get in peak condition for those long and difficult mountain hikes while carrying my photo gear. So I made a change in the way I trained, going from heavy weights to something completely different, the P90X Extreme home fitness program.
If you watch early morning cable television you likely saw an informercial from Tony Horton on P90X a few times in the past five years (I may post another blog with more details on this training program). I decided to try this method which has me working out in my living room using nothing but dumbbells and a chin-up bar placed on the doorway, doing everything from isometrics to plyometrics, working slow twitch and fast twitch muscle fibers, doing hatha yoga, kempo karate... This program is extreme, not designed for someone to get into good shape but designed for someone in good shape to get in their best shape. The workouts are intense, seven days/week, full hour each with Yoga the longest at 90 minutes. Even the stretch day is a 60 minute routine. I just completed my second 90 day cycle and look forward to getting even better on my next cycle - still have about 10 more pounds of fat I want to lose.
As for the picture, again, that’s me, 52 years old, 186 pounds, drug free training and good ole fashion hard work and trying to watch my diet - I was not at all faithful to the program diet but did eat make an effort to eat better. To prep my body for this shoot I did only one very intense set of chin-ups and pushups. I say intense since each set was a personal record for me, 25 chin-ups and 55 pushups with good form. I also broke two other person records for and abs and leg routine a few days before. I am also at my lowest weight in over 13 years.
Regarding the lighting for the shot, I used my 6’ Botero #037, collapsible background and a single light source, a Nikon SB800 Speedlight pointing inside a semi-collapsed umbrella to narrow the main light. I wanted a hard light and side-lighting for contrast to get a harder look. A 36” silver reflector was positioned on my left, photo-side right, as a fill light. The lighting was all manual, not TTL. A Nikon D300 with a 16-85mm lens at f/8 was used and almost no post work aside from a little highlight shadow tools was used. I just wish I had a nicer expression on my face.
One of my goals the past year is to get in peak shape, mostly for hiking longer and further with my camera gear. Also, I like to set personal records or meet physical goals on my birthday. Setting ‘personal best’ physical goals for my birthday has been something I have been doing for about 15 years. I got the idea from fitness guru Jack Lalanne, known for his ‘feats of strength’ on his birthday. At 42 he did 1,033 pushups in 23 minutes, and at 45 he did 1,000 chin-ups in 1 hour 22 minutes (he likely had mini-breaks). I’m no Jack, but at 52 I can do 55 pushups and 25 chinups with good form and hope to break that record by the time I turn 53.