BARRIE KELLY (No 21) Winning the AAAs championships at White City London.

The commitment and determination that made Barrie Kelly a world class athlete is an important part of his photography today.

Patience has taken the place of pursuit but the preparation, experience and keenness, sometimes ruthless aspiration is the same.

Fifty years ago Barrie overcame childhood asthma to become a champion sprinter. He went on to represent Britain at two Commonwealth Games, two European Championships and, in 1968, the Mexico Olympics. His European indoor sprint record over 60 metres stood for 19 years. He also captained the British Mens Team on several occasions.

“When I was running, I always had a strong desire to compete at top level and win” Barrie says. “Now I’m literally focused on getting the best results possible. With animals you must have patience to watch, to wait and to predict. Research your subject, understand the animal. It’s just like knowing the opposition on the track. Dedication may put a block on a full social life but it’s worth it.”

There are many more photographers than sprinters around and although few can emulate his success on the track, many can benefit from his picture taking philosophy.He started out with a point and shoot camera on a safari trip to Kenya in 1990 then upgraded regularly to get the detail and sharpness he needed even in poor light. A hobby grew into a passion, but never an obsession.

TIPS: Understand your camera so that operating it becomes second nature
Remember SEC- sharpness,exposure,composition
Be ruthless-junk anything that is not sharp.
Use good quality lenses. Save up rather than compromise
Study your own work and ask yourself how you could improve
Learn from other photographers but don’t follow slavishly
Use a tripod for wildlife wherever possible
Check your histogram but not so frequently that you miss a good shot
Wear warm and waterproof clothing.
Be patient. You can be there for 5-6 hours and get nothing but then bingo!

EQUIPMENT: Main cameras: Canon EOS 1DX
Most used lenses: Canon 500mm F4ISL Mk2; Canon 300mm F2.8ISL

FAVOURITES: “I’ve lots of favourites from the many pictures I’ve taken but right now I’m taming a robin to eat from my hand. She even does a little dance around me when I turn up with mealworms. She’s my favourite. Since I can’t feed her and take the picture my good friend and fellow wildlife photographer, Peter Smith from Preston kindly agreed to capture the moment.