Photo by Opolja / Shutterstock
At small horse shows without professional photographers on site, it is usually up to friends and family members to take all the photos and record the courses on video. These photos and videos keep wonderful memories for the future, but are also useful in the present for drivers who want to analyze their classes and strive for improvement. For anyone whose camera skills are a little rusty, here are some tips on how to get better photos and videos of horse shows.
1. USE THE RIGHT CAMERA FOR THE RIGHT JOB
Your phone can perform well in certain situations, such as: B. Portraits after class or overviews of the show scene. However, for the best results, a DSLR camera is faster and generally does a much better job on action and horse portraits.
Get our free weekly horse e-newsletter
2. USE THE CORRECT LENS
Bringing a DSLR with detachable lenses to the show can help you choose the right lens for the job. In general, horses look best when photographed with longer lenses like 150mm. A long lens will also help you get closer to what is happening during class. The zoom capabilities on mobile devices are nowhere near as sharp as on a long DSLR lens, and results from mobile devices are often more pixelated.
Polish your skills with these photo and video footage of horse shows. Photo by Elizabeth Moyer
3. SHOOT OUTSIDE IF YOU CAN
Outdoor arenas are ideal for taking photos. It becomes a little more difficult when the lessons take place in a hall. Your camera may have trouble focusing and freezing movement indoors. But you can always compromise and snap a few photos of your driver warming up outside in better light.
4. USE HIGH CLOSING SPEED
Do your research ahead of time to learn how to adjust the shutter speed of your particular camera. Try to use at least 1 / 500th of a second to keep the action sharp!
5. DO NOT FLASH
Lightning is best turned off at a horse show, just in case the light scares horses. Lightning can be useful outdoors to fill in shadows, but it’s usually not worth the risk. When indoors, increase the camera’s sensitivity to light (“ISO”) to a higher value to compensate for the weak light.
Record video horizontally when using a phone: the action is better for this orientation. Photo by Elizabeth Moyer
6. RECORD HORIZONTAL VIDEO
Your phone may be easier to hold in the vertical orientation, but that doesn’t mean you should be recording horse show videos this way! Videos generally look better and easier to watch when shot horizontally, and the setting and action of a horse show is much better suited for this orientation.
Sometimes people try to make show videos without really paying attention to the camera. They have the camera on and they are recording, but they are watching the class, not the camera. The shaky results are often worse than nothing. Stay focused and don’t multitask. If you want to record a video, give it your full attention. Ideally, use a video tripod to keep things very calm. You can even find tripods for mobile devices or get a cell phone attachment for a standard tripod.
8. KEEP THE CLIPS SHORT
Try not to film video clips that are too long. It will be almost impossible to find the part you want later. Filming short clips makes things a lot more manageable.
Pay close attention to the lighting and background for the best shot. Photo by SKumer / Shutterstock
9. BEAT THE LIGHT
Sunny midsummer days are a real challenge for photography and filming, especially at a horse show. The high midday sun creates a strong contrast between light and shadow, and the shadows tend to be very dark and unsightly in the photo. But the next few tips provide solutions to this problem.
10. SHOOT THE SUN BEHIND YOU
This is known as “front lighting”. It’s usually not best for human portraits (too much squinting, along with shadows under the eyes and nose), but it works pretty well for horses. The front lighting also works well for photos of the class itself.
11. OR SHOOT INTO THE SUN
This is known as the “backlight”. Depending on the conditions, this can be a very nice way to beat the shadows, but you need to watch out for lens flares from the sun. In addition, there can be problems with very low contrast in dark horses.
12. DO NOT SHOOT SIDE LIGHTS
Between the front light and the back light is the side light, in which half of the subject is illuminated and the other half is in the shadow. This is a challenge at lunchtime so try to avoid it.
13. HUG THE CLOUDS
If you’re lucky enough to get some clouds, use them! Clouds reduce or eliminate the harsh shadows, making your photos automatically more appealing. Clouds also increase the saturation of your colors. Of course, you can’t control the weather, but you can be ready to take even more photos on cloudy days.
Think of details and sincere moments for the inclusion. This can lead to your most precious memories. Photo by Daniel Johnson
14. UNDERSTANDING THE CLASS
Know what you are recording. Take a minute to study the course / pattern so you can better anticipate the action.
15. FIND A GOOD BACKGROUND
Observe what is going on behind your subject. There is probably a lot of visual chaos: tents, barns, trucks, tractors … and the dreaded Porta potty. Try to find a place where you can record at least part of the class with a clean background. For after-the-class portraits, you can choose a nice location to photograph the horse and the participant.
16. TRY DIFFERENT VIEWS
Do not always take pictures or film while standing. Try going deeper down and shooting from a sitting position, or if possible, look for a higher (but safe) vantage point. Variety makes your work interesting.
17. SHOOT MOMENTS
Everyone looks at the arena. Take a moment to look away – at the grandparents pitching the shade tent, grooming the pony for the next class, and the man keeping the dog on a leash and his wife’s other horse. You will find millions of little moments just waiting to become precious photos.
These tips for taking better photos and videos at a horse show have appeared in the June 2020 edition of Illustrated horse Magazine. Click here to subscribe!