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Some Equestrian Photography Questions

19 Mar 2012 11:47AM
Hi All,
I have recently been offered an opportunity to be an 'official' photography for a local horse club at their summer events. I have never done this before but have already found some very helpful advice on the thread start by fran_weaver, so I'll not attempt to rehash.
The question I have concerns the selling of prints at the event, which my predecessor did.
Most of the work I undertake at the moment is portrait work, where I have the luxury of time for the shoot, post-processing, and editing. This, of course, is a luxury I will not have at the events. I am going to offer prints at A4 and have a good Canon Ip4700 to do the printing. What I want to ask is if there is an editing program anyone can suggest that isn't as 'bulky' as Photoshop? I have decided to shoot in mostly in RAW, as the thought of JPEG fills me with dread (although I intend to practice it), so I need a program that allows me quick editing and cropping of RAW images, whilst allowing me to also display the same images nicely to potential customers. I was thinking that my Canon Digital Photo Professional would be ideal, but also wondered if there is anything better out there for the task.

One last question concerning kit... I have a Canon 5D with a Canon 28-125 lens, a Sigma 50mm 1:1.4 lens, and a Sigma 70-300mm lens... I am thinking the 70-300 will be the best for shooting the action shots... Would you agree?

Many thanks in advance,

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Overread 9 4.1k 19 England
19 Mar 2012 11:53AM
Steamlined RAW processing = Lightroom. Lightroom 4 is not too expensive currently, and in a pinch there is a 30 day fully featured trial you can use. Get it before hand and give it a try, it should be more than enough to take most shots shot at the even through to print ready including noise and sharpening.

As for lenses if its out door then the 70-300mm is going to be the tool most likely since you'll need the reach to isolate the horse and rider in the field. It also helps avoid distortion by shooting at long range at a large subject like a horse (shot closer up with shorter lenses perspective distortion kicks in much faster in a big animal).

In an ideal world a 70-200mm (f4 or f2.8) might be the superior over the 70-300mm - offering improved AF speed and optical performance as well as generally better aperture performance on both. However if you can't purchase or rent before the event the Sigma should do you find provided you can track and pan well when following the horses.

If you're worried try just attending the stables for some practice shooting.
19 Mar 2012 12:03PM
Thanks for the reply, Overread. I will have a look into both the lens and Lightroom. I did have a copy once, but never really saw any advantage in it over P/Shop or the Canon editing software. I shall have another look with new eyes.
I am way ahead of you with the practice. I am fortunate enough that my son-in-law's mother is a dressage rider with her own horse that shares stables with others. I have already made arrangements to go there on suitable daybreaks to try my hand... Although, as a portrait photographer, what I will make of getting up before noon I don't know Wink
hobbo Plus
6 1.1k 2 England
19 Mar 2012 12:30PM
I go along with using a 70-300 lens and setting the camera at the highest shutter speed to sop the action (unless you want speed blur) and the ISO up enough to suit conditions at the time.

One thing that I learned at the equestrian centre that my granddaughter uses, is NEVER to use a flash in the indoor area, unless someone in authority gives you express permission.

I have tried many times to achieve reasonably sharp, action stopping results inside but without a flash it can be really challenging.

I would like to know what other photographers do to stop the action inside a riding school where flash is banned?

KathyW 14 1.8k 12 Norfolk Island
19 Mar 2012 1:14PM
Jeff - you're going to be pushed for time, so it would be a great help if you had an assistant who could be printing off the images while you are busy taking them. Shooting jpeg would speed up the process dramatically, but if you don't have the confidence to do that then you will have to try and keep processing to the absolute minimum... As official photographer you'll get prime position, and the 70-300 is a good range, so cropping shouldn't be necessary. Get the exposure right and all they should need is a little sharpening Smile Another idea is to hand out your cards then put the pics on your website where people can order prints from. This might be better than printing off a lot of pics that don't get sold? Put a nice big watermark across the middle of the pics though, not that it will stop the kids pinching them to put on facebook - I've even seen them where they have obviously just taken a shot of the screen when they found they couldn't lift the pic!!! Tongue

Hobbo - not much you can do except turn the ISO up, use as wide an aperture as possible, and whatever speed you can get away with... for jumping horses it's possible to get reasonably sharp images at 1/250, but faster is better... Try and keep the camera very steady, alternatively pan the camera and go for the blurred background look. You'll get some movement in the horse but this is often very effective. You can get away with a much slower speed then.
19 Mar 2012 1:33PM
Hi Kathy, and thank you for your helpful reply...
Yep, I have a couple of assistants ready. When I mentioned cropping I mean the small amount required for A4 format. Cards will be at the ready and I only intend to print to order (I am also hoping to sell some 'horsey' prints and promote my other photography). I did have a website where I did online sales (watermarked of course) but I have learned web-design so I am in the process of transfering the domain name and rebuilding it myself from scratch. I did use Clikpic templates, which were good, but, daft as it sounds, it's a lot easier to build one's own if you are conversant with HTML and CSS and have a copy of Dreamweaver. As you say, lifting pictures is something that we have to live with in this day and age, but I try to make the online samples fairly small and lo-res, so an attempt at a decent size print is not feasible. I suppose one advantage of a lifted image with a specific copyright on it would be free advertising.

Hobbo, for indoor, non-flash photography I use my Sigma fixed 50mm 1.4 lens. The 77mm diameter makes good use of the light available and I get some stunning results. The disadvantage in your case would be the distance from camera to subject, but I find my 5D very forgiving when cropping in close.
Big Bri 16 16.2k United Kingdom
19 Mar 2012 4:34PM
Just curious how you got this gig, with no experience of equestrian photography, or of selling at events.... ?

mohikan22 13 2.3k 2 United Kingdom
19 Mar 2012 4:39PM
The same as i was offered by a fellow tog perhaps?
19 Mar 2012 5:10PM
Just someone I know who runs these events and likes my photography, Big Bri.
mikeweeks 12 969 3 England
19 Mar 2012 5:45PM
Sounds to me like you have a lot to learn here. Event photographers very rarely work in RAW, speed is the essence. A good DSLR like the Nikon D700 will be OK up to 4000+ ISO and add the indoor lights and you should be OK. Obviously a pro lens such as a 70-200 f2.8 will also give you an edge. Printer is totally unsuited to the job and you really need a dye-sub.

One of the advertisers on here, AEON are running a course next month run by Trudy Trafford and she really does know how to do jobs like this.

Where abouts are you based?

19 Mar 2012 6:04PM
Thanks for the tip about the printer, mikeweeks. I've just done a bit of research on them and am pleasantly surprised to see that they aren't that dear. I might well invest in one.
I'd love to get 70-200 f2.8 but the price doesn't justify the half dozen events I'll be doing, and it's unlikely that it's an area I want to get into. But you never know, and I'll keep it on my wishlist.
My camera is a Canon D5 so it will be up to the task in hand, and it's all outdoor events so indoor lighting won't be required.
I am based slap between Manchester and Liverpool.
mikeweeks 12 969 3 England
19 Mar 2012 6:13PM
I hate to admit it but for the small amount of work that should be needed i.e. get it right in camera you should be able to do it all with picasa

Is the work showing or jumping as I posted this about 3 years ago https://www.ephotozine.com/user/mikeweeks-27603/gallery/photo/example-jumping-horse-8913155

As to dye sub printers I have been using and demoing the DNP DS40 which has some great features for working in the equestrian environment i.e. unlike some printers the paper stays in the machine until fully printed.

19 Mar 2012 6:52PM
As far as I am aware it is mainly jumping. I'll be talking to the organisers properly soon. If there is showing that's not a worry as I have quite a bit of experience photographing horses, but not jumping. Thanks for the link to the photograph.
Would you be so kind as to tell me the advantages of the sub-printers over the one I have at the moment when you get time?
Many thanks,
mikeweeks 12 969 3 England
19 Mar 2012 7:03PM
Dye sub (digital dye thermal transfer) printers are a dry to dry process and the last transfer is a clear protective coating. If you go to many major supermarkets or anywhere that has an instant printing booth then this is the type of printer you will use. There is no ink, just a ribbon with colour patches that are heated and transferred - ribbon and paper come as a set. Print price is also good compared to inkjet.

19 Mar 2012 7:13PM
Nice one. Thanks Mike. Wonder why I never came across them when I was researching a good printer to buy. Looks like that's going to have to be my next purchase. Thanks again for taking the time to pass on your advice.

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