BetterPhoto Q&A
Category: New Questions

Photography Question 
Michael N. Knapp
 

Moving Subjects Indoors and in Low Light


 
 
I have been hired to shoot a horse show - a Dressage Show. The promoter does not want bright flashes going off distracting horse or rider, and furthermore, the arena is enclosed - 26,000 sq feet. Yikes!!! My problem is the shutter speed is too slow and the pictures have ghosting of horse’s hooves and rider motion. Any thoughts will be much appreciated. I'm shooting with Canon D20 with a quick 70mm-200mm f2.8. Thanks!


To love this question, log in above
10/23/2006 10:49:50 AM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  (a) higher ISO
(b) faster lens, such as EF 100 f/2 USM or EF 135 f/2L USM


To love this comment, log in above
10/23/2006 12:04:55 PM

 
Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  P.S. If the horse and rider are lit by a bright spotlight, use Partial metering on them. Evaluative and Centerweighted may tend to overexpose (too slow a shutter speed) due to a darker background.


To love this comment, log in above
10/23/2006 12:07:30 PM

 
Raymond H. Kemp
BetterPhoto Member Since: 4/2/2004
  What ISO did you shoot at?

Ray


To love this comment, log in above
10/23/2006 1:21:51 PM

 
Michele Wassell   I would use the highest iso as possible and shoot in manual mode. You will do just fine at 1/200th of a shutter speed and use a large aperature (2.8) with your 70-200mm lens. You can go with a little slower shutter speed if you'd like to allow more light in. This is what I do when shooting dressage in an enclosed arena. Flash is very seldom allowed at these shows.

GOod luck! :)


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 7:15:47 AM

 
Ralph L. Nuerenberg   While not a pro, I have a decent level of experience on this very subject - from english riding, western, and performance gaming. I have gone thru much trial & error to learn there are 2 methods that work for an indoor arena of this size (i shoot arenas that are about 35,000 sf and 3 stories high = light sink): 1) multiple large flash stations (which create shadows); and 2) low light equip. I have gone to solution-2 where I have so far found only one success: Canon's 85mm f1.2 L series lens. I have the 135mm f2.0 series, and it improves, but is not good enough - requires too high an ISO. With the f1.2 (on a Canon 5D) I can use an ISO below 800 for reasonable quality and a high enough shutter speed to stay away from blur. If you need more info on this I can respond further. (f1.2 is pricey but a great lens).


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 7:59:06 AM

 
Fritz Geil   I use the same lens (70-200mm f2.8L)and body (EOS 20D), and when I am in this type of situation, I shoot at ISO 800 manually f2.8 and 125th when the horses are on the other side of the arena, 500th when they are on the near side. I then use Adobe Lightroom to "develop" the images, utilizing the "reduce noise" as needed.

This is a tough scenario, best of luck to you!


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 2:40:51 PM

 
Michele Wassell   I usually don't need to go any higher than iso 800, but a few times I had to and the photos still turned out nice. FYI.....


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 2:44:19 PM

 
Saundra E. Urbacke   This is a TOUGH one. I just did a shoot in an arena and never got really good ones w/o the flash, lots of ghosting.

Are you able to set up any additional lighting to get it brighter in the arena?

I will tell you that I had not one horse or rider have an issue with the flash, may want to revist the issue with the client. I will tell you if you do don't use the Omnibounce.


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 5:44:44 PM

 
Michele Wassell   Some horses in a dressage show can be spoked by the flash and I have seen it happen... The shows that I have covered, they ask us photographers not to use a flash; especially indoors. So I just use available light and on manual mode at f2.8 - f4.0 depending on situation.... I get good enough results that I still sell a lot of images to the riders, even large size prints.


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 5:48:02 PM

 
Ariel Lepor
BetterPhoto Member Since: 9/8/2005
  Widest aperture and highest ISO, maybe don't zoom in so much. If you have to, underexpose the shot and just brighten it on the computer.


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 7:28:48 PM

 
Cookie Serletic   I have a 20D and have been able to shoot iso 1600 and have saleable images after a bit of noise removal.
(jumping indoors) manual mode, f4 usally about 200 ss, but in a dark pit, you will proablably out of luck. A mono pod may help with camera shake, but the AF of the 20D can also be problematic in Low light. But then again, the dressage people are more concerned with the Proper frame and movement. So good post processing, shoot in raw, and hope they have some good over head lights.


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 7:31:56 PM

 
Michele Wassell   I have never had problems with focusing on my 20D in low light for action or any subject for that matter.... FYI...


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 7:37:57 PM

 
Michele Wassell   I have never had problems with focusing on my 20D in low light for action or any subject for that matter.... FYI...


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 7:37:59 PM

 
Stephen Waitkevich   Sounds like you've been given a lot of good advice already, but I'll ad my 2 cents worth anyway.

The client has basically tied your hands behind your back.

I have shot reining horse shows under similar conditions with the same f2.8 200mm zoom lense. (and they allow flash) and all the files were underexposed and had a lot more grain than I like.

I shot at 400 ISO with a Nikon. Much higher than that and the grain and noise got to be unacceptable.

I think the best suggestion so far was to revisit the issue of flash usage and tell them that you will stop using it, if they get too many complaints from the riders.

The 2nd best suggestion is to use the super fast f1.2 lense - on a monopod or tripod. Of course the pod won't help with the ghosting.

If you can't borrow the f1.2 lens, you have to look at economics. Are you going to shoot enough of these gigs and sell enough pics to make it worth purchasing the lense?

Even with the f1.2, you may end up with photos that don't look very good and may not leave the best impression with the client regarding the quality of your work.

Of course, it won't be your fault, but the client won't get that. It's a tough assignment. You may want to consider passing on this one - (if that's still an option) and let somebody who does this type of shoot all the time do it.

I apologize if this is not as encouraging as the other answers you got. In any case, good luck. If you can make these photos look good, you are my new hero. :-)


To love this comment, log in above
10/24/2006 11:32:50 PM

 
Ralph L. Nuerenberg   Adding to the previous 2 cents: If you are under obligation to provide photos, I feel confident after shooting many photos at a number of indoor equestrain events you have 2 options: remote controlled flash units which is what I see most pros using - the more you have the more coverage of the arena; or the f1.2 lens. Expect 50 to 60% usable photos from the f1.2 by getting as close to the subject as possible and avoid shooting toward an overhead door. The advantage of the f1.2 is you are not restricted to a particular flash area so the whole arena is yours. Note that the new 85mm f1.2 USM II is the lens of choice - the older model is not as fast on focusing. I have gotten some great clear action photos that hold quality when enlarging. I have found horse people don't much care for photos under 8X10 if they are going to buy them.


To love this comment, log in above
10/25/2006 5:18:22 AM

 
Saundra E. Urbacke   Definatly manual focus versus autop focus I had some problems with mine. Also get as close as possible.

Michele you said, "Some horses in a dressage show can be spoked by the flash and I have seen it happen... The shows that I have covered, they ask us photographers not to use a flash; especially indoors." which is true but as a horse owner and a rider its a training issue on the part of the rider, a horse should be focused on you and only you, not the things around you. I know sometimes easier said then done.


To love this comment, log in above
10/25/2006 5:36:13 AM

 
Michele Wassell   Very true Sandra and I completely agree with you. All the shows I do every year, I am not allowed to use the flash, but I have been to a few shows that I have seen a photographer using flash (Dressage Shows) and horses spooking at it. Yes, it is part of a training program, but with some horses, they just aren't. I have had a couple of horses spook just at my camera. People that run Dressage Shows are sometimes very protective of the riders and horses and don't want to take any chances with having something interferring with their test/ride.

Over my years of riding, I always exposed my horses to as much as possible. It always helps for when they go to unfamilar places, etc. I never had problems with my horses being spooked at things. THere was always a trust built up between my horses and I....


To love this comment, log in above
10/25/2006 7:20:11 AM

 
Log in to respond or ask your own question.