Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Hip Ideas for Horse Sales

Start to finish, the Fasig Tipton Sale in Lexington proved to be a marathon session for horse and human. Wendy and I spent a couple of long days on behalf of a client, documenting the color and commerce of the sales.
Our photos had to tell a story from show ring to sales ring. Here's what we ended up with.
Always focusing on key horses for the client, we started in the barn area. The horses, or "hip numbers" are led in front of prospective buyers, which also provides us the opportunity for a shot of the scene.

Hip #124 Orientate - Storm Strip '10, Photo: Wendy Wooley, Aperture Priority, f/3.5 @ ISO 400, 1/2500, 0EV, 100mm
 During slower periods, we shot conformations and head shots. These guys are yearlings, and we are in a VERY distracting environment. So don't have the ability to set the feet, they need to be "walked into" conformation. An experienced groom is essential for getting good results. Wendy is just off camera left, getting the horse's attention.

Hip #221, Giacomo-Classy Assets '10, Photo: Matt Wooley, Aperture Priority, f/4 @ISO 250, 1/800, EV -1/3, 135mm
My main thought here is to blur out the background, so I'm shooting in Aperture Priority at f/4. I adjust the ISO to get a shutter speed that is "fast enough". Notice also that I chose a fairly long focal length with my trusty 70-200 f/2.8 for compression, and keep my perspective from a low angle to give the horse added prominence.

While we are at it, we grab a head shot, also at f/4.

Hip #221, Giacomo-Classy Assets '10, Photo: Matt Wooley, Aperture Priority, f/4 @ISO 250, 1/1000, EV -1/3, 185mm

Tuesday is Sales day, and we know it's going to be a long one.
Wendy sets up in the back of the sales ring on a tripod and an 85mm. She avoids "Camera Shake" by using a Cable Shutter Release so she never has to touch the camera while taking a picture.

Hip #166 Notional - Your's Truly '10, Photo: Wendy Wooley, Manual Mode, 1/200 @ f/2, ISO 1600, 85mm
I tend to roam around getting different perspectives. I'm still using the 70-200mm, but I crank the ISO way up, knowing the Canon Mark IV will reduce the noise.
I set the camera to AI Servo focusing and Burst mode. I also switch on the Image Stabilization (IS) on the lens. The IS helps stop Camera Shake for me since I'm handholding the camera, but it will not stop a moving subject. So I take a burst of shots as the horse pauses.

Hip #231 Malibu Moon - Dance darling '10, Photo: Matt Wooley, Manual Mode, 1/200 @ f/3.2, ISO 2000, 200mm
We always shoot in low light (or flash) conditions in Manual Mode. We want to control both the Aperture and Shutter Speed. Adjusting the ISO gives the correct Exposure. The exposure meter might be reading -2/3 through the viewfinder... but that is the correct exposure, that's what it looks like in the room.

Those are a couple of ideas for capturing the feel of the Horse Sales. Send in a comment or question if you have one, and I will get an answer to you.

Capture the Light Equine is pleased to announce our Fall Bluegrass Equine Photography Workshop!
We had such positive response from our Spring Workshop, we are doing it again November 1-3. Conveniently planned for the week before the Breeder's Cup, this class will be limited to 9 participants with 3 EquiSport instructors. We will visit some pretty cool spots in the Bluegrass for equine photography, like Old Friends, Keeneland, Kenny McPeek's training center, and Spendthrift Farm. Check out the details and drop us a line!


  1. Wonderful blog! I found it while searching on Yahoo News.
    Do you have any suggestions on how to get listed in Yahoo News?
    I've been trying for a while but I never seem to get there! Appreciate it

    Feel free to visit my weblog :: Find Out More

  2. Most of the news coverage was focused on the tragedy involving the horses. Fortunately, according to reports, the jockey and exercise rider involved was not seriously injured. For getting best Todays Horse Racing Results must visit the link.