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Thread: Photos of horse racing...

  1. #1
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Photos of horse racing...

    I have never shot at a race track and have only been to the races once in my life. However, this looks too interesting to miss. It is a little over an hour north of my home and I hope to carpool with some other club members...

    http://www.meetup.com/pacificphoto/e...2_grp&rv=co1.2

    Anyone have any good horse race photography tips? I am bringing my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS, 70-200mm f/L IS and 300mm f/4L IS lenses on my 7D and 40D along with a monopod and a 1.4x TC....

  2. #2
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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Heck, Richard. After seeing your polo shots, I think you could give the seminar on shooting a horse race

  3. #3
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Thanks Kevin... I am also going on this shoot which should be fun too...

    http://www.meetup.com/pacificphoto/events/98659292/

    There will also be Vietnamese Tet Celebrations in San Diego's Balboa Park and Chinese New Year Celebrations in the City of Riverside, just north of me (I went to the Los Angeles Chines New Year Parade last year but, didn't really like my results...

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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    I have shot at racetracks a few times. First time all geared up similar to your plan. Bad plan.

    There will be a lot of walking around to/from paddock, winning enclosure, stands, betting hall, rails, etc. If you intend to spend the afternoon, all that gear is going to hold you down and will be pretty tiring after a awhile.

    Personally I would just go with only the 7D + 70-200.

    Warning - no flash, that might spook the horses with obvious consequences.
    Last edited by Bobobird; 9th January 2013 at 12:06 PM.

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    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Just thinking out loud...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bobobird View Post
    I have shot at racetracks a few times. First time all geared up similar to your plan. Bad plan.

    There will be a lot of walking around to/from paddock, winning enclosure, stands, betting hall, rails, etc. If you intend to spend the afternoon, all that gear is going to hold you down and will be pretty tiring after a awhile.

    Personally I would just go with only the 7D + 70-200.

    Warning - no flash, that might spook the horses with obvious consequences.
    Good idea Bobo! I have been kicking around that problem in my mind... I certainly don't want to overburden myself. OTOH; it seems like whenever I decide to travel really light to a venue with which I am not familiar, I end up wishing I had brought the extra gear.

    I loved using the 300mm f/4L IS lens for shooting a polo match and I am thinking about a shot as the horses break out of the gate. I love the compression that the 300mm gives me and the selective focus with 300mm at f/4 does a nice job.

    OTOH, there will apparently be crowds of people in attendance and having too much gear would be a PITA. Perhaps in view of traveling with minimal gear, I might just bring the 70-200mm f/4L IS along with my 1.4x TC and throw my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens in my photo vest...

    I originally purchased my 300mm f/4L IS and 400mm f.5.6L lenses from a friend at a wonderful price. However I am seriously considering selling the wonderful 400mm f/5.6L and purchasing a 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS lens. That would be a nice telephoto which would be quite versatile. OTOH, I may keep the 400mm and sell the 300mm f/4L IS and purchase a 70-300mm f/4L-5.6L IS. Either of these lenses would be a good combination with my 17-55mm f/2.8 IS lens for this type of venue...

    However, in this case, I might bring the 300mm f/4L IS lens + second camera and leave it in my car. The Honda CRV has what Honda touts as an "ice chest" built in under the rear deck. It is totally out of view and the car looks like it is absolutely empty. Having the 300mm lens and extra camera will be a safety factor so I don't end up kicking myself for lack of equipment...
    Last edited by rpcrowe; 9th January 2013 at 04:22 PM.

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    Re: Just thinking out loud...

    A telezoom + converter combo on a crop camera will result in softer shots but not on a FF camera.

    A prime + converter combo on a crop or FF does not and there is no perceptible difference in IQ.

    If you have a 70-200/2.8 then your current collection is already very good. If it is the f4, then I would sell the zoom and get the 70-300L but keep the 2 primes. Though you will have a overlap at 300, the 7D will be more agreeable to the prime + tc combo then any of the telezooms.

    But once you get the 70-300L, it will stay on your camera 99% of the time.

  7. #7
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Just thinking out loud...

    I found an excellent pdf article on horse racing photography at:
    http://www.neilmurrayphotos.com/asse...ev1-photos.pdf

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    Re: Just thinking out loud...

    Wait, you've don't do Del Mar?!

    I go loaded with gear, but I have a very short attention span, and I like to bet too much , so I like to distract myself with photography during the waits between races. Hell, I've even hauled a tilt-shift to amuse myself.

    Photos of horse racing...
    Canon XT/350D. Hartblei Super-Rotator 80/2.8.

    I think what you should bring depends on what shots you want to get. For me, the racetrack has races to shoot, and that is exciting and fun and can be your sole focus, but the ambience of the track itself makes for some great shooting: the betting windows, the parties out, women in hats, the floor littered with tickets, the passthrough, the infield, the tunnel, etc. So I'd also pack at least one small fast prime or walkaround zoom along with a fast-action telephoto.

    I do agree, though, you're liable to be on the move most of the time from paddock to track (and possibly the betting window), so only pack what you're willing to haul.

    The usual biggest issue for the races are the crowds and placement. If you're up in the stands, you're too far away, down on the ground, and hemmed in. And everybody wants to be at the finish line. At Del Mar, forget about shooting the course from the infield. Other than that--boxing is a factorial function; I try to limit myself to $2 quinellas.

    Secondly, the Hawkwatch at the WRI (hopefully that's what you meant to link to) is a blast. Had a great time the one time I woke up early enough to make it. You don't get any nearer to the birdies, but there are a whooooole lot more of them than you're probably used to. And, of course, they'll demo banding with a few birds in hand, which is always great for the photos. When I went, we spotted ten different raptor species, including a Zone-Tailed Hawk. You're gonna have a ball.

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    Re: Just thinking out loud...

    Kathy,

    Thanks for the update on the Hawk Watch. It was quite interesting and photogenic...

    I seem to have been shorted when it comes to gambling genes. I don't get any kick from gambling of any kind. Luckily my wife has the same temperament. She was raised in Reno, NV. Years ago we were visiting her mother in that city and we all decided to eat at one of the casinos.

    While waiting on the line for the dining room, we naturally passed numerous slot machines. My wife spied a quarter on the floor, picked it up, put it in her purse and said, "I won!"

    I am going to travel light for the Santa Anita Day...

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    Re: Just thinking out loud...

    Hi, Richard -

    For starters, it's possible to take pictures of the horses when they're out running in the morning, usually starting around daylight. You may already know that, for this Saturday, daylight is supposed to happen at about 6:42 am so I usually aim for being there about 1/2 hour earlier). I live approximately at the same latitude as the track and about 7-8 miles east. The San Gabriel Valley, according to Dallas, is supposed to have a low tonight in the high 30s/low 40s Fahrenheit. It's already damn cold here. I took my trash out and one of the guys has a thermometer on the rear window of his car that I checked on -- it's already only 41, so Dallas may be wrong. At any rate, they generally come down the stretch but without the starting gate in place so I'd suggest the first turn as a good location to start from.

    I normally take my Minolta 70-200 telephoto zoom and my Sony 300 prime lens. Once in a long while I've taken a macro lens when I've had a chance to talk to the track dudes and at least one trainer and/or owner for permission to take up close and personal images of that owner's horses. I didn't start doing that until some of the trainers got used to my being around with my camera taking pictures all morning.

    From what it sounds like, you want to be on the 210 and take the Santa Anita offramp, turn south (away from the mountains) to Huntington Drive, turn west (right) to the Y intersection that's on the east side of the track property; follow Huntington Drive south (it will first bear left and then bend around the track until you come to what I call the palm tree parking lot (lots of very tall palm trees lining the entry driveway).

    FYI - I generally find I get better pictures in the morning unless I want crowd pictures rather than horse pictures.

    virginia

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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    If you have the focal length get some close shots of either the jockey or horse's eyes, lot of fanatical looking intensity.

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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    I wonder if they'll let you get some shots of the riders and horses entering the stables after the race?

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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Last summer I took my camera to the races at Saratoga. The way things are set up there, we generally find a spot by the paddock to watch the horses being saddled. Then watch the live races on the big screen TV. The crowds there make it difficult to get good photos of the live races, mostly because the apron is so narrow. It was great fun! I did the same thing on Travers day, but actually liked the photos from a different day better.

    This is a picture of a horse already saddled getting ready to leave the paddock. The fellow walking with the jockey is probably an assistant to the trainer.

    Photos of horse racing...

    This is a picture of a horse who is being "schooled" in the paddock - he is not running, just getting used to the surroundings. He is getting a bath before going back to the stable area. Either he got hot and sweaty, or they are just trying to make him feel at home!

    Photos of horse racing...

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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Nice images, different perspective on horse racing.

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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    There will be about ten of us allowed to go back into the stable area. The photographers will be chosen by an informal lottery.

    Virginia, Thank you very much for the specific directions. I have made a note of these and I am sure that they will make it easier o navigate...

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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Shadowman View Post
    Nice images, different perspective on horse racing.
    I used to train thoroughbreds at the race track, so have seen all aspects. To me, pictures of the race itself all look the same unless you are getting a really spectacular image of a well-known racer, eg. a champion. Then it has some meaning besides being a pretty sight. Some of the things I would love to have taken pictures of: dark horse getting a soapy bath on a cool morning - steam rising; horse training early morning when there are clouds low on the ground and all you see are the rider and the horse's head and neck (saw this in New Orleans). There are many others, but won't try to list all!

    Anyone who wants photos of horses in motion ought to go to the track in the early morning. Saratoga has a breakfast program, and you can watch the horses train. They also give a bus tour of the barn area. Setting up a tripod or monopod during the races can be tricky because of the crowds, but in the AM it works well.

    Horses in motion are tricky for me, since I am relatively new at this. I went to the horse show here in Dorset, Vermont last summer and tried to get some decent photos. Tried using bursts and different settings. Got some nice ones but many more that don't really impress. Lots of heads and/or legs cut off, many almost cut.

    The bright sand also made the exposure tricky. This is my first DSLR, just got it last February, so in July I was having trouble with all of that. Still do, now with snow, but have improved!!!

    Photos of horse racing...
    Photos of horse racing...

  17. #17
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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Yowekkum on the directions to Santa Anita. Do you know that they have an annual Photography Day? Usually, it's around the middle of February, so I'd suspect next week or the weekend following. The latter has George's Birthday weekend so I'd think that's more likely and Friday because that's already got lighter attendance than ANY Saturday or Sunday. And, since they give you breakfast, there's a ticket required for $$. I believe it was $20 last year.

    v

  18. #18
    rpcrowe's Avatar
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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Thanks, Virginia. I am attending the Photography Day at Santa Anita. It's on February 22nd and I have already purchased my ticket for the event...

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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Quote Originally Posted by Green Mountain Girl View Post
    Horses in motion are tricky for me, since I am relatively new at this. I went to the horse show here in Dorset, Vermont last summer and tried to get some decent photos. Tried using bursts and different settings. Got some nice ones but many more that don't really impress. Lots of heads and/or legs cut off, many almost cut.

    The bright sand also made the exposure tricky. This is my first DSLR, just got it last February, so in July I was having trouble with all of that. Still do, now with snow, but have improved!!!

    Photos of horse racing...
    Hi Susan,

    I'm not sure if it is deliberate, but I think you have far more keepers by;
    1) panning with the horse
    2) use a single (central) focus point and keep that on the horse or rider (I often aim for the contrasty area of skin, numnah and front edge of saddle)
    3) use a wider aperture than f/10
    4) use a lower iso than 400 in these bright conditions

    I suggest the above because looking at the last shot (which I included in the quote)
    the background is pin sharp - the cause? - too much Depth of Field and not panning with horse
    if you open up the aperture alone, that'll likely push up the shutter speed so much you'll lose any sense of motion at all, this was shot at 400 iso, going to 100 iso and f/5.6 would give 1/640s (you had 1/500s before)


    Also (in the third shot) the camera may have focused on the background

    ... or maybe it was your choice not to pan, so you see the horse as the thing being in motion.

    Anyway, I hope that's useful info.,

  20. #20
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    Re: Photos of horse racing...

    Quote Originally Posted by rpcrowe View Post
    There will be about ten of us allowed to go back into the stable area. The photographers will be chosen by an informal lottery.

    Virginia, Thank you very much for the specific directions. I have made a note of these and I am sure that they will make it easier o navigate...
    Best of luck on getting back to the stables.

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