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Equestrian/Show jumping

fran_weaver 11 44 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 2:12PM
Hi, my friend has asked me to go along to a show jumping meeting as the photographer as their usual photographer can't make it. However, I have never photographed at this type of event before and to be honest am not quite sure where to start.
Could anyone give me any advice re exposure and lens preference. It looks like the weather will be fairly dull. I have a canon 5D II and was thinking of either my 24mm-105mm or 70mm-200mm. would I be better off setting my camera to speed priority or aperture priority? I will of course shoot in RAW

Lots of questions and probably haven't even thought of the question I should really be asking so if anyone can think of anything else I need to know I would be very appreciative.

User_Removed 11 718 9 England
18 Feb 2010 2:44PM
I did something similar in 1993, didnt enjoy it as im scared of horses, but for what its worth, my opinion is thus...

Use the 70-200mm lens, why? Because you dont want to be near those horses when they jump over them fences, whatever they are called. At least with this zoom you can zoom in close enough, as its a lasge area you will be capturing, not like a lil bird on a twig, far bigger space, so the 70mm end should be sufficient in that department, not too wide and not too close.

Id say use time value, or speed priority, seeing as you may be using the 70-200mm lens the background should be a nice blur if you keep the aperture midway or wider, so all you then need to concern yourself is capturing the jumps and falls as sharply as you can, unless you want some motion blur in your shots.

One last thing, dont be disappointed if the riders are pulling a funny face while jumping things, its normal to look like they are sqeazing one out.
fran_weaver 11 44 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 4:01PM
Not only did you answer my questions but you made me laugh too! Thanks for that.
ZenTog 19 7.9k 1 England
18 Feb 2010 4:14PM
i do it for a living, going to be standingall day tommorow in a cold indoor sj ring capturing hundreds of the little dears in a schools sj comp

get two or three fences, try a head on with portrait /vert format, crop in close to capture the abject fear/joy of the rider , then a 3/4 shot ie 45 degrees to the fence, then a side on.
dont try to move lens with the horse you will miss it to often, pre focus on the fence let the horse jump into the frame, leave a space at the top of your framing as often the horse jumps bigger than you expect.

if you can shoot mulitple frames per second all the better , especailly for a faller!!

I use as wide an aperture as you can to keep the shutter speeds higher, if your focus will not lock on the fences use manual, it often works better in lower light conditions

I only shoot jepg due to time comittments, and shoot aperture priority
fran_weaver 11 44 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 4:20PM
I know it will be different depending on the lighting but what sort of ISO would you be on to get a fast shutter speed. I will be shooting outside but the weather is set to be overcast.
User_Removed 11 718 9 England
18 Feb 2010 4:57PM
Personally id use 400 if its overcast, possibly even 800, it all depends on the elements in the equation, like what camera you own, which lens you eventually go for, the surroundings. If your camera can produce low noise at high ISO then go as high as you need to, but keep an eye on the noise. You could always take a laptop and shoot remotely, that way you can zoom in on any images and check closely for noise creeping in and make the adjustments as needed, although i wouldnt shoot remotely for the entire shoot, just until your sure the noise is low should the light deteriorate as it often does in these darker months.

Good advice from Zen, and id say use manual focus too, the last thing you need is the autofocus panicking at the last minute, which often happens with fast moving subjects.
fran_weaver 11 44 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 6:27PM
There we have yet another problem. I've never been very successful with manual focusing. I wear varyfocals and struggle with focusing manually. I have a canon 5D II and realise I can alter the viewfinder to suit my eyes but for some reason I still get slightly blurred pics on manual - I'm beginning to wonder if I should do this shoot at all!

luckily It's not a paid job so there's not too much pressure, it's just that I like to get it right, as do we all.

BlueInfinity 15 42 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 7:52PM
Hi Fran
I spent last summer doing this every weekend - and I loved it.

Use the 70-200 and set your 5D to aperture priority and open the lens right up. The slowest shutter speed you should aim for is 1/500 and adjust the ISO to get at least this. My 50D happily went up to ISO 800 so your 5D should be able to go top ISO1600. (A bit of noise is far better than blurred pictures). Shoot in jpeg as this is far quicker to download during the day.

Choose a place in the showjumping arena where you can see 2 or 3 jumps at a 45 degree angle - preferably spreads not uprights as this seems to give the best picture.

Competitors always loved the 'falling off' shots as well as the jumping shots, so try to follow the action if you can.

Hope this helps.
LensYews 12 1.3k 1 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 7:53PM
Go on Fran you'll love it. I'd go with Zentog's advice, its not let me down yet.

To freeze the action you're looking for a shutter speed of roughly 1/500 straight on, 1/1000 at a 45 degree angle and 1/2000 side on if you're hold the camera still. You can drop those speeds if your following the horse, but its usually easier to allow the horse jumping into the frame using back button focus to lock onto the fence and timing the release the shutter.

I tend to use either manual or aperture priority mode and balance the aperture and ISO to minimise noise, allow sufficient depth of field and keep the shutter speed fast enough. Other Settings are single centre AF point, cloudy white balance, and I vary the metering and one shot/highest fps for the type of shot I'm after.

I'm using a 40d and a 70-200mm in the main and looking in lightroom the typical settings on over two thirds of my images are f4 @ 1/1000 and ISO 400.

Zen, at least you're indoor. I've got an point to point at Liskeard on Sunday and it promises to be wet and maybe evening snowing!!
fran_weaver 11 44 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 8:00PM
You are all brilliant! Thanks so much for all your advice. I'll let you know how I get on, who knows you may be seeing some of the results in my portfolio!!

ZenTog 19 7.9k 1 England
18 Feb 2010 8:00PM
use a minium of 400 asa , at this time of the year go up to 1000 asa outdoors if its very very dull

you dont need to manual focus outdoors there will be plenty of contrast , set it to av , open up as wide as possible 2.8 / f4 oneshot focus not ai

get the shutter speeds up to 1000 sec, to freeze the action even faster if possible, riders like shots just leaving the ground over the fence , but dotn often like coming down shots

look for the fence building team or course builder , often they will often let you stand in the middle with them, in a safe spot

remember to put the camera into multiple shot mode, if a rider bails out keep the finger on the shutter till all the action has finished, often very hard to do, but very satisfying if captured.

after a couple of rounds you get to know where to stand.
ZenTog 19 7.9k 1 England
18 Feb 2010 8:02PM

Quote:Zen, at least you're indoor. I've got an point to point at Liskeard on Sunday and it promises to be wet and maybe evening snowing!!

I am at Colrein indoors near Truro and its like a cave for light very very dark.
fran_weaver 11 44 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 8:12PM
Quote:I am at Colrein indoors near Truro and its like a cave for light very very dark.

So how do you manage without using flash
ZenTog 19 7.9k 1 England
18 Feb 2010 8:28PM
have used flash and it didnt freak any horses at all only the owners who were all using flash outside the ring

I crank up the iso to unhealthy rates 3200 at times, and use a noise suppression software afterwards, i hate indoors but sometime have to do it!!
The riders want to buy and i want to earn I suppose thats the balance being a pro and hasving to put bread on the table , some shots are that grizzley but they still want them
danh 11 61 36 United Kingdom
18 Feb 2010 9:43PM
Don't make your mind up about what ISO to use - judge it on the day. As long as you understand the relationship between aperture, ISO and shutter speed, and you shoot in aperture priority (with your aperture wide-open) you can manipulate your ISO to keep your shutter speed at at least 1/640th, but try to get closer to 1/1000th.

Be aware of your backgrounds too - if there's a place you can take shots with a clean background your photos will look so much better than if they contain a car park and an ice-cream van.

Use a single AF point, AI servo mode and be sure to follow the horse through the entire phase of the jump - approach, take-off, flight, landing, getaway. That will help the AF establish the speed the horse is travelling at, and predict the AF better. Timing your shot for a key point is better than a 'spray and pray' approach and with the 5D you won't have that many frames per second anyway, so timing will be key.

Go for noise over blur - as stated above - and have fun.

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