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SamG Apr 27, 2010 7:48 AM

Horse Racing
The following are pictures from the 2010 running of the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland Race Course. Comments or suggestions are welcome and wanted since I'll be at the Kentucky Derby on Saturday. Camera is a D5000 with kit lenses (18-55mm, 55mm-200mm).




I'm pretty sure I used auto focus on all three.

Mark1616 Apr 27, 2010 10:24 AM

Good to see someone posting a sport we don't see often.

As you ask for advice I will give some info that will hopefully help when you are at the derby. I'm not sure if the situation will be the same so you might or might not need to make these adjustments. The main problem you have is under exposure in all three, this is due to a back lit situation which is always fun. You need to expose for the subject, generally the face of the rider and the horse in general. I notice you are in spot metering, this is one thing I really wouldn't go for. Manual exposure is the best option if possible so you don't get the exposure affected by different backgrounds, horse/rider colours etc. If you are going to shoot in Av (for example if the light is changing lots) and you have a back lit situation like this, dial in some positive exposure compensation. Probably a stop of compensation is needed. If you are not back lit then chances are you will be OK (unless the subject is in shadow from the stadium but the background is light). Anyway, run some test shots prior to the races. Use the tractors, officials, anything on the track to ensure you are getting a good exposure.

You say you are pretty sure you used AF, I would hope so LOL. Do ensure though that it is in AF-C so the focus is continually adjusting, also I would only use the centre point for focus so the camera doesn't switch to something in the background or a horse that you are not interested in.

Looking forward to seeing your next trip out.... good to see more horses on here.

Wingman Apr 27, 2010 12:42 PM

Nice to see a familiar sight as in Keenland. I used to live in Lexington and now live in Northern KY. I agree with Mark's need to compensate for backlighting. You could probably do some post processing to lighten up the shadows.

TCav Apr 27, 2010 1:43 PM

The photos you took were late in the day, and you were facing the setting Sun, which backlit your subjects. That won't happen at Churchill Downs. While the race is also late in the day, the grandstands face south-east, so the horses will be running to the southwest, so they will be well lit if you'll be in the grandstands. If you'll be in the infield, they'll be backlit at the finish line, so you may want to find a good spot near the rail earlier in the the race.

The unfortunate part is that, in the grandstand, you probably won't get close enough to the track for your 55-200 to be much use.

SamG Apr 27, 2010 9:24 PM


Originally Posted by TCav (Post 1086065)
The unfortunate part is that, in the grandstand, you probably won't get close enough to the track for your 55-200 to be much use.

Actually, I should be on the outside rail of turn 1 with no fence in front of me. While I won't get the finish line, I should get the nice grouping as the horses come around the first turn and the spires in the background. Hope to do some test shots Thurs. & Fri.

ETA: Thanks for the tips.

TCav Apr 27, 2010 9:27 PM

Good luck with that, and please come back and show us what you got.

Greg Chappell Apr 30, 2010 11:19 PM

I would use single AF and shoot short 2-3 image bursts at a time so the camera can refocus and adjust exposure as needed, feathering the release so you can capture 4-5 sets of those as the pack goes by. That's what I do along the rails here..

JohnG May 5, 2010 12:33 PM

Greg has some very good advice and some great images to learn from. But - you want to be careful to not cut off your subject's body parts. Greg's images are a great learning tool. They're nice and sharp but hooves are cropped on a number of them with extra dead space above the riders. Try to frame so you leave out the dead space above but include the whole subject. Similarly in the first shot Greg showed, there are IMO 2 subjects - both horses. But we've lost the back end of one of the horses.

Once you get the main subject(s) completely in frame then it's a matter of deciding whether partial bodies of other subjects add to the image or distract from it. That's the tougher part. But a big key is - you MUST shoot tight. Don't shoot loosely and try to crop down later. Detail is king - the muscle tone of the horses, the hair of the main, the facial feature of the jockey. These are all things which are lost when you crop too much. Good luck and thanks for sharing!

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