They shoot horses, don't they?...

Discussion in 'UK Photography' started by Sorby, Jan 20, 2004.

  1. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    ...cameras, that is!

    In an earlier post I mentioned an upcoming event I've been asked to shoot.

    It's a horse-jumping event - something I've never shot before.
    So I thought I'd ask here if anyone has any experience in this field and/or
    has any tips/advice please!

    I'll be shooting with a Canon EOS10D & EF300mm f2.8 IS (rented!) and have a
    512Mb CF card, 2 batteries & a monopod!

    My initial thoughts are that I'll need more memory & a means to re-charge
    the batteries in the car (or another pair of batteries).
    See?.. I'm already spending what little profits I'll make from the shoot!! -
    Still, it's all experience, eh?
    I'm also concerned that the weather may be nasty so am contemplating rigging
    up an umbrella to my back back. (Any other ideas?!)
    It occurs to me that I mustn't risk startling the horses so getting too
    close, using flash and wearing bright clothing might all be no-nos.

    There are only 80 competitors (thankfully!) but I still think I'll have my
    work cut out!

    Sorby, Jan 20, 2004
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  2. Yes, don't use flash at all. Horses are big - take a zoom lens - the
    effective 450mm ish you get from the 300mm will be too close a lot of the
    time. If I were using my *ist D, I wouldn't worry about recharging the
    battery during the day (but still take a spare battery!), but I would say
    that the 512MByte is much too little - I'd be taking along >1.5GBytes
    (its what I normally travel with!). Weather protection important, be
    prepared to shoot at high ISO to cope with the dark conditions in such
    situations. Check your metering - they'll be against the sky some of the
    time. Personally, I would use a tripod with the Manfrotto Grip Action
    Ball Head rather than a monopod, but use what you've got. I guess you
    can't take a spare camera...

    Sophie Wilson, Jan 20, 2004
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  3. Sorby

    Tim Hobbs Guest

    If you can take an assistant and are nearish to a car or dry area then
    you would only need 2 or 3 flash cards and get the assistant to drop
    the pictures onto the laptop. Keep cycling the cards, although the
    pro's would probably just swap bodies as it's quicker.

    Last year I was at a 4x4 event and drove the off-road course. A photo
    company had guys at two main obstacles, each with an assistant. Data
    cards were collected by runners on quad bikes and by the time I had
    left the course the photo tent had pictures of me ready to sell. I
    actually bought the CD of the originals, which was burnt while I
    waited. You might want to set up a mini-version of that from the boot
    of your car? Assuming that you are looking to sell images to the
    general public that is.
    Tim Hobbs, Jan 20, 2004
  4. It's a horse-jumping event - something I've never shot before.
    Will you be in the ring? If you have been asked to shoot this event then
    you should be. In which case, forget the 300mm. A 70-210 is more than
    enough. Even outside the ring, the 300mm is likely to be too long. The
    monopod will be useful to hang your coat on if it's a warm day. Don't
    EVER walk around near horses with an umbrella sticking out of your
    back, they'll run a mile. Generally, don't put umbrellas up near horses,
    though many spectators do.

    Don't use flash. Clothing shouldn't be a problem. If you are in the
    ring, make sure you know the route the competitor is taking and KEEP OUT
    OF THE WAY. The best thing is to pick one or two jumps that you can
    cover from a single position and then stay there. It helps if you walk
    the course with the competitors before the competition starts, then you
    know the route and can plan your shots better.

    Aim to take the pictures at a 45 degree angle from the jump so you get a
    side/front view as they come over the jump. This'll most likely give you
    the best results. Side views are good if the jump hasn't got large wings
    which block the view.

    Use a shutter speed of 1/250 or faster to be sure of getting things
    sharp. Slower speeds can work but you need practice.

    Dark horses are a b***** to expose correctly. Better to give a bit more
    than not enough. Owners/riders are interested in seeing their horse and
    if you just have a dark mass they won't be interested.

    Aim to take the shot either as the horse takes off or as he lands. In
    both cases he'll be at full stretch and it shows the horse off better.
    If you take the shot with them half over the jump, they'll have the
    undercarriage fully up and it looks as if they've been shot out of a
    gun, not jumped up there under their own steam :)

    Hope that helps.

    Peter Robinson, Jan 21, 2004
  5. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    I've no idea weather I'll be in the ring - will check. I had assumed I'd be
    safely the other side of a sturdy fence!!
    Oh dear. That could be a problem. I'd better take my shorter consumer
    lenses with me too.
    I take it you don't think the monopod will be useful then?
    Looks like I'll need to dig out my waterproofs and fashion a weatherproof
    cover for the camera & lens.
    The lens will cope with rain but I don't know how weatherproof the 10D is
    Noted - ta
    Good point. Thanks.
    Noted - I've shot quite a few motorbike racing events & trackdays so have
    had plenty of panning practice.
    Although I'm not sure I'll be using this technique on my first horse event.
    Happily horses move more slowly than bikes!
    Ok - so better to over-expose darker horses? I tend to use centre-weighted
    metering so perhaps I'll be ok?
    LOL! I nearly choked on my cuppa just then!
    It does - thanks very much for taking the time to respond Peter.
    Sorby, Jan 21, 2004
  6. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    Thanks Tim.
    I hadn't even thought of taking a laptop. Unfortunately I don't have one
    with a USB port (so that rules out dumping the CF cards onto the laptop's
    harddrive) and the laptop doesn't have a CD-R/RW so I can't write CDs on the
    day. Great ideas for the next event though - thanks.

    I'm planning to upload all the images to the internet the same evening and
    will have handed out leaflets to all the competitors (etc) with the website
    address on it. I've got BreezeBrowser which will allow me to create the
    whole website (including the ability to take payments with my PayPal
    account) at the click of a button.
    On motorbike trackdays I've done some official photographer expect people to
    let them know in advance if they want pictures taking - then they only shoot
    these people.
    I could try that method I suppose.

    Thanks again.
    Sorby, Jan 21, 2004
  7. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    Hi Sophie

    I'm going to have to get a couple more 512Mb CF cards pronto!
    I'm also going to have to shoot in JPeg mode rather than RAW as I only get
    about 50 RAW shots per 512Mb card!! That's such a pain. I really need to
    organise a laptop next time so I can re-use the CF cards throught the day.

    I've got a spare film camera which I'm *very* familiar with and will be
    taking several rolls of film just in case.

    Thanks for the helpful advice!
    Sorby, Jan 21, 2004
  8. Never done Show jumping, but I did try shooting a few rodeos whilst living
    out in Arizona a few years.

    My thoughts . . . . .

    Try to use a shutter speed of at least 1/500th to freeze the action or
    around 1/60th to blur the movement of the legs

    Ensure your aperture is small enough to get the horse and rider fully in
    focus but an aperture large enough to get the background nicely out of focus
    when panning

    Most of my rodeo shots were taken with an 100-300m lens, mainly from the
    other side of the arena to the bucking chute.

    Try to familiarise yourself with the route the riders will take through the
    arena (not possible in many rodeo events due to the unpredictable nature of
    the bronco/bull, but should be easy enough in a show jumping arena)
    Tony Parkinson, Jan 21, 2004
  9. Sorby

    richard Guest

    Just a thought, you don't know anyone with a horse who'd let you
    photograph them while they train? That way you can get some ideas about
    what works and what doesn't...

    richard, Jan 21, 2004
  10. Sorby

    Tim Hobbs Guest

    You can get little sleeves that fit over the CF to turn it into a Type
    1 PC Card slot. Haven't seen one for a while but they work well and
    won't be expensive. That would solve your laptop USB problem.

    Good luck
    Tim Hobbs, Jan 21, 2004
  11. One can never have too much storage. If you are buying cards, try to get
    ones which look different to minimise the "that card I just put in the
    camera is full - oh, its the one I took out" moments. I have about 3GB+
    which is probably now too little for a serious holiday, but can handle
    most days out (John did fill 1GByte last night shooting amdram...).
    Well, I think cards are cheap enough that you shouldn't re-use. When I
    take a laptop along, I copy all the images from full cards onto its disc
    (PCCard adaptor - its not slow) but keep the cards as a backup.
    Fast film (ISO400 at least).
    You do seem to be going in at the deep end - I think we've established in
    this thread that horses are big: they're also FAST when moving and
    getting a good picture of one doing so is erm... a matter of luck,
    especially over jumps (prefocus, of course). And the riders/owners tend
    to be very snooty if, say, the ears aren't pricked up attentively...

    Sophie Wilson, Jan 21, 2004
  12. I take it you don't think the monopod will be useful then?

    If you're outside the ring with a longer lens then, I admit, I have used
    them, but they can slow you down a bit, especially if you're trying to
    cover more than one fence and you have to shift your position in
    between. If you're in the ring, you really don't need it and it'll just
    be something else to trip over.
    The problem with horses is they're not rigid and they move their legs
    and head independent of the body (if you see what I mean) so, even if
    you have a smooth pan, you will probably still get a blurred head and
    legs. Blurred legs ain't so bad but a blurred head means the picture
    probably won't be bought. I like to use slow shutter speeds and 1/60
    usually gives a good sense of movement without totally blurring the
    picture but, I've found owners and riders often don't like it.
    I often use partial metering but still get problems. If the light is
    fairly constant on the day, it can be better to take a manual reading
    and use manual mode, that way, if you do get a bit of bright sky in the
    background, you won't suddenly underexpose.

    There's a couple of jumping pictures on my Web site if you're interested

    Peter Robinson, Jan 21, 2004
  13. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    I've just taken delivery of two more 512Mb cards from -
    £82.25 each (+ £7 postage !)
    To make the cards look different (as you suggest) I've written the letters
    A, B & C in large letters using a permanent marker pen.
    I'm borrowing a suitable laptop and have ordered a CompactFlash to PCMCIA
    adaptor - £4.64 - again from Scan.
    I know I can use the USB ports to transfer the images directly from camera
    but it'll save on camera battery power & means I can keep shooting whilst
    the images transfer.
    Unless I get really desperate I'll take your advice and not re-use any of
    the 3 cards - so I've got them as backups etc
    I've got some Fuji NPH800 in the fridge so I'll probably use that.
    I agree - but with the help this newsgroup has given me I am jumping into
    the deep-end with my water-wings at least *partially* inflated!!

    I'll post here with the results early next week in case anyone's interested
    in how I get on.

    Thanks all for your help.
    Sorby, Jan 22, 2004
  14. Sorby

    Sorby Guest

    Thanks Tim - on your advice I have ordered a CF to PCMCIA adaptor.

    Sorby, Jan 22, 2004
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