Photos of our daughter at a horse show are always a challenge for us – both of us. Often at a horse show, the lighting is awful for photography because of the size of the barn interior. This picture from the winter show at High Caliber Stables in Greensboro, North Carolina is a good example. If you use a flash, it will “get lost” in the high ceiling. Or it will blind the horse and kill your child (this is Susan – I trend toward hyperbole). Another issue with horse show photography is that if the arena is inside, there are often windows. So as your subject rides around the arena you may or may not need to meter to that window. If your shutter speed is metered to a window and you are not at a window you will have a super dark shot.
I compensate for this in a couple ways. During a horse show, your rider will usually compete in several classes so I review Anna’s schedule and “practice” during the upcoming classes. I can usually find a spot in the ring where I am about 75% confident I will get an acceptable shot. Compensation #2 comes in at this point – sometimes that shot is not what you have in your mind as ideal. For example, in the photo above, I certainly would have loved to get the focus and concentration on Anna’s face; however, the windows were killing me so I opted for the “running away” shot (side note – Paul has specific instructions NEVER to photograph me this way in a running race or triathlon, all men should follow this rule). I like this shot because the action is in the horse, but I can tell by Anna’s posture that she is in “horse show mode.”
Compensation #3 is a life lesson that applies more broadly than just photography: Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good (Voltaire). Anna does not show very often, just once a year, maybe twice. So I would rather have this average shot technically speaking than to have missed the moment forever. When I am old and gray and only see her once a year – maybe twice, I want to have any quality photo to remember these moments by.
Horse Show Information
- Taken By: Susan
- Date Taken: 10-JAN-2015
- Camera: Canon EOS 7D
- Lens: Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
- Exposure: 1/50 sec at F/5.6
- Focal Length: 250 mm
- ISO: 1600
- Flash: Did not fire