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Old Jun 3, 2009, 9:32 AM   #1
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Default Need help-Shooting in indoor arena

Took some shots over the weekend at a dressage clinic. The conditions are a dark arena with large windows that get washed out by the sun. Needless to say it wasn't easy to get good pictures for a novice like me. I started off with my Sony A200 in sport mode:



I then used the "spot metering" option and things got a bit better:





What advice can you offer on shooting in these conditions? Any help is much appreciated.

Thanks
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Old Jun 3, 2009, 2:53 PM   #2
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Are you allowed to use a flash, or would that spook the horse and rider? If you can use a flash for fill, that would be your best bet.

If not, you may want to use -EV setting with exposure compensation to get a darker exposure if you use spot metering on a subject that dark. You'll usually get an overexposed (too bright) photo if you meter on a darker subject using spot metering, and get an underexposed (too dark) photo if you meter on lighter subject using spot metering.

Or, use a +EV Setting to get a brighter exposure if you use the default metering instead. IOW, you'll probably want the exposure somewhere in between those two photos so that the skin tones are not blown or too dark, and you can adjust the camera's behavior using Exposure Compensation so that it exposes brighter than it normally would using a +EV setting, or darker than it normally would using a -EV setting.

Your images don't contain any EXIF settings (information in an image's header that tells you shutter speed, aperture, iso speed, etc.). So, the editor you used to downsize them probably stripped it out (or, the site you're using to host the images stripped it out). So, it's hard to say if your other settings may need some adjustment, too (for example, if you're getting a lot of motion blur in some of your photos due to slower shutter speeds, you may need to increase ISO speed).
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 5:42 AM   #3
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Thanks Jim. Going to experiment a bit more this weekend.
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 11:14 AM   #4
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Welcome to another Dressage shooter!

Shooting indoors requires a fast shutter speed, a large aperture and a high ISO setting. In addition to that tough combination, you've got significant backlighting.

Exposure compensation will help, but the first thing I would have done is to get the backlighting behind me. I'd have shot from the locations in your photos, not from where you were to shoot them.

For Dressage, spot metering might not be a good idea. The combination of the black jacket, white blouse, white breeches, black boots, black saddle and white saddle pad will give you a significantly different exposure setting from just a miniscule change in the composition. I use center weighted.

I would avoid flash. Sometimes the horse will react badly, but it's more likely that the rider will be distracted, especially in a dark indoor arena. And you might get chewed out by the instructor. Also, the subject distance would require a more powerful flash than the one on your camera. In addition, flashes need to be recharged, which will cut down on your shot-to-shot times.

I'd use the Autofocus Mode (A200 Manual, pg. 69) of AF-C (Continuous Auto-Focus) with the Auto-Focus Area (pg. 70) of Spot, shoot continuously (pg. 89), and use Aperture Priority Mode (pg. 59) to keep the aperture as large as possible so the shutter speed can be as fast as possible (within what's possible given the ISO setting and the lighting conditions.)

Good luck with whatever you do, and come back and post the results!
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 11:52 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post
Welcome to another Dressage shooter!
Thanks!



Quote:
Exposure compensation will help, but the first thing I would have done is to get the backlighting behind me. I'd have shot from the locations in your photos, not from where you were to shoot them.
Would have been great, but it was a Walter Zettl clinic and I don't think he wanted me in the ring.



Quote:
I'd use the Autofocus Mode (A200 Manual, pg. 69) of AF-C (Continuous Auto-Focus) with the Auto-Focus Area (pg. 70) of Spot, shoot continuously (pg. 89), and use Aperture Priority Mode (pg. 59) to keep the aperture as large as possible so the shutter speed can be as fast as possible (within what's possible given the ISO setting and the lighting conditions.)

Good luck with whatever you do, and come back and post the results!
Thanks for the thorough reply! Will follow your advice!
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Old Jun 4, 2009, 1:54 PM   #6
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Would have been great, but it was a Walter Zettl clinic and I don't think he wanted me in the ring.
A safe, unobtrusive place during a dressage clinic is a corner, like behind the plants in the photos you attached. But don't hide behind the plants or you'll spook the horses. The problem is that the translucent windows diffuse light in all directions, so the light overpowered your subjects. Get the brightest light source behind you.

And Dressage instructors and clinicians do not shy away from publicity. Ask where you can stand (suggesting some ideas) and they will tell you where to set up, and even feed you some good shots.
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