Forgot Password
Pentax Camera Forums Home
 

Reply
Show Printable Version Search this Thread
04-02-2010, 08:41 AM   #1
Senior Member
Perrumpo's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Maryland
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
K-x Shooting Steeplechases, histograms, AF and high ISO's

Hello... I was wondering if I could get some advice on shooting Steeplechases. I might go to one on Saturday, and I haven't gotten a chance to shoot much action, and I don't want to leave with a bunch of crap photos on Saturday!

Looks like it will be a sunny day with a little clouds. I'd be shooting morning to afternoon. I have a K-x and the DA 50-200mm f/4-5.6 lens. Obviously, these horses will be running fast, so will I be able to get a fast enough shutter speed? A friend shot at this event in '08 and most of the pictures suffered blur... and he is more experienced than I. He tends to use too long of a zoom for horses though and they end up blurry. At this event, you aren't as far away as he was at the Olympics, and I'm hoping my lens will do okay.

Here is an example of what he shot along with the EXIF info.

Attached Images
View Picture EXIF
NIKON D300  Photo   

Last edited by Peter Zack; 04-02-2010 at 01:52 PM.
04-02-2010, 10:37 AM   #2
Pentaxian
Moderator Emeritus




Join Date: May 2007
Location: Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,648
I'm going to the racetrack today myself to test out the K-x and it's ability on horses. But it's a little slower - harness racing.

Anyway here's my thinking:
1) shoot in manual, set the exposure for the conditions. That should minimize exposure issues. This won't speed up the camera but might help in keeping things from under/over exposing. Your friends example looks a bit dark and I suspect the metering grapped the white horse, making the rest of the scene darker. set the camera to just slightly over exposed, maybe +1/3 EV. Take some test shots and check the histogram that it's not clipping on the right side. Do not shoot wide open on the lens. Tempting but it will result in softer images. 1 stop should help a lot.

2) Shoot at a higher ISO. 1600-2500 even in the middle of the day. This gets you the extra shutter speeds you need to really freeze the action. A horse, when fresh, can gallop around 40-50 KPH and 1/250th isn't enough to freeze that. High ISO shots in daylight conditions are not a problem and especially for this camera. Choose the ISO that can get you at least 1/500th and better yest 1/1000.

3) K-x AF is much improved. With practice you should be able to follow the head of one horse and nail the focus. But if it's not working, go manual. Preset the focus and an aperture that gives enough DOF. Pan with the horses and hit the shutter when they come into your focus zone. You could look for a landmark (a post, building etc) in the background and the second it is in the VF, hit the shutter.
But I've used this camera following cars at 60KPH and was having no issues getting sharp shots in AF.c I think the K-x is up to the task.

4) Bring lots of cards. This camera is fast, so use it. Fire off 5-10 shots when the horses are in your "zone of focus" to ensure that one or 2 will be sharp. Sports shooter fill card up in minutes during a high speed game and hope to get 3-10 great shots out of hundreds or thousands of captures.
04-02-2010, 10:59 AM   #3
Ira
Inactive Account




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Coral Springs, FL
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,218
QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
I'm going to the racetrack today myself to test out the K-x and it's ability on horses. But it's a little slower - harness racing.

Anyway here's my thinking:
1) shoot in manual, set the exposure for the conditions. That should minimize exposure issues. This won't speed up the camera but might help in keeping things from under/over exposing. Your friends example looks a bit dark and I suspect the metering grapped the white horse, making the rest of the scene darker. set the camera to just slightly over exposed, maybe +1/3 EV. Take some test shots and check the histogram that it's not clipping on the right side. Do not shoot wide open on the lens. Tempting but it will result in softer images. 1 stop should help a lot.

2) Shoot at a higher ISO. 1600-2500 even in the middle of the day. This gets you the extra shutter speeds you need to really freeze the action. A horse, when fresh, can gallop around 40-50 KPH and 1/250th isn't enough to freeze that. High ISO shots in daylight conditions are not a problem and especially for this camera. Choose the ISO that can get you at least 1/500th and better yest 1/1000.

3) K-x AF is much improved. With practice you should be able to follow the head of one horse and nail the focus. But if it's not working, go manual. Preset the focus and an aperture that gives enough DOF. Pan with the horses and hit the shutter when they come into your focus zone. You could look for a landmark (a post, building etc) in the background and the second it is in the VF, hit the shutter.
But I've used this camera following cars at 60KPH and was having no issues getting sharp shots in AF.c I think the K-x is up to the task.

4) Bring lots of cards. This camera is fast, so use it. Fire off 5-10 shots when the horses are in your "zone of focus" to ensure that one or 2 will be sharp. Sports shooter fill card up in minutes during a high speed game and hope to get 3-10 great shots out of hundreds or thousands of captures.
Can I add something you didn't mention?

Where are you going to sit, and with what focal length?

I suggest you get HIGH in the stands, way back and far away, and use a longer lens. This will not only flatten out the racing field, but effectively brings down the shutter speed required to freeze the action.

It's very tough doing this kind of shooting.
04-02-2010, 11:19 AM   #4
Pentaxian
Moderator Emeritus




Join Date: May 2007
Location: Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,648
Good point Ira. The closer you are, the faster the "apparent" speed is and the less reaction time you have.

So get back to a point where you subject fills the frame (if you want shots similar to those above) and you are not zoomed all the way out to do it. In other words, find a spot where you can take a shot like the one above at 150mm. That allows you to zoom in tighter if you want or pull wider as well.

Plus most zooms are not at their best (even very expensive ones) at each exteme in the focal range. You really don't want to be at 200mm but a little shorter if possible.

04-02-2010, 11:40 AM   #5
Ira
Inactive Account




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Coral Springs, FL
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,218
You should actually also be able to use manual metering with this. First just meter for the track-- that or those segments of the track--and take a look at what you've got.

The drivers are going be wearing wild colors, and the horses are all different colors/shades anyway.

I seem to recall that at the beginning of harness races, they all basically line up for position along the inside rail, behind one other, and only break out at the end to try and take the lead. (It's been years since I went to the trots; I'm a flats guy.)

I bring this up because I have no clue what the deal is going to be with depth of field for something like this. Like, will you be far enough away and flatten everything enough that you're cool for good focus? Or is it gonna get a lot more complicated than that?
04-02-2010, 11:48 AM   #6
Pentaxian
MRRiley's Avatar

Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Sterling, VA, USA
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 6,276
I've shot a couple of these and I'm definately not an expert... but after trying the "stand-off" style you may want to try the "close-in" style. At the track that I've shot, you can get right next to all of the jumps and with a nice wide lens you can get some neat shots. Sure you have to be "quicker" but it's good training.

Also, don't be afraid of a little motion blur. As long as the horse's and rider's heads are relatively sharp, motion blur in the rest of the image provides a sense of speed.

Mike

p.s. the only real problem I see with the photo you posted is the spectator on the other side of the track. Try to position yourself to exclude stuff like that...
04-02-2010, 11:52 AM   #7
Ira
Inactive Account




Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Coral Springs, FL
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 5,218
QuoteOriginally posted by MRRiley Quote

p.s. the only real problem I see with the photo you posted is the spectator on the other side of the track. Try to position yourself to exclude stuff like that...
There's a story behind that guy:

He's actually a jockey who fell off coming around the first turn, so now he's just watching the race.

HAH!!!

And hey, I just noticed the TRUCK!
04-02-2010, 12:11 PM   #8
Senior Member
Perrumpo's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Maryland
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
Original Poster
Yes, my friend's pictures were all dark and blurry like that one. He is more of a studio photographer and not very good with action.

The longest zoom I have is 200mm, so I took Peter's advice and went outside to shoot some traffic. The cars were going no more than 30mph, but I'm happy with how well the motion of the wheel spokes was stopped. I would say I need some higher exposure still. I closed the aperture down until I got +0.3 on the meter, which ended up being f/14. One image is f/13 which metered either +0.7 or +1.0. The cars' paint seem a little noisy. I'm all ears! Thank you for the help!

ISO 1600; 73mm; f/13; 1/1000


ISO 1600; 73mm; f/14; 1/1000


ISO 1600; 109mm; f/14; 1/1000


04-02-2010, 12:29 PM   #9
Pentaxian
Moderator Emeritus




Join Date: May 2007
Location: Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,648
Although it gives you very good depth of feild (maybe even too much at a distance) f14 is probably more than you need. have it around f8 to a max of f10 and adjust the ISO to get the lowest setting that works. This is why shooting in manual is easier. Each setting stays were you want it and you just adjust the one that you want.

Are you shooting Jpeg or RAW? Jpeg will give you a longer burst and you have to be careful of the settings in the Custom image menu (pg 195). I have some settings all at 0 except sharpness at +1 and contrast at +2 High low key at +1. Seems to work well and very good noise control.

I'd shoot Raw+ even though it will fill the buffer a bit faster. That way you have the digital negative and the processed (in camera) Jpeg. You might find the Jpeg better and if not, then you can always use the RAW.

IMHO the key is expose to the riight (histogram) and don't let the darker horses be underexposed.
Lets hope the day is bright thin cloud. Lots of light but not too harsh.
04-02-2010, 12:49 PM   #10
Senior Member
Perrumpo's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Maryland
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
Original Poster
QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Although it gives you very good depth of feild (maybe even too much at a distance) f14 is probably more than you need. have it around f8 to a max of f10 and adjust the ISO to get the lowest setting that works. This is why shooting in manual is easier. Each setting stays were you want it and you just adjust the one that you want.
Ok, I will try this. Because it is very difficult to tell what is working best looking at the LCD in bright daylight, I will try different aperture and ISO settings and consult the metadata when I come back in. But I assume that consulting the histogram is much better than just looking at the LCD afterward, heh. I agree that manual mode is much easier... as well as the best way to learn, imo!

QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
Are you shooting Jpeg or RAW? Jpeg will give you a longer burst and you have to be careful of the settings in the Custom image menu (pg 195). I have some settings all at 0 except sharpness at +1 and contrast at +2 High low key at +1. Seems to work well and very good noise control.

I'd shoot Raw+ even though it will fill the buffer a bit faster. That way you have the digital negative and the processed (in camera) Jpeg. You might find the Jpeg better and if not, then you can always use the RAW.
I was shooting JPEG there since I was looking for instant results, but when it counts, I would do either RAW or RAW+. I have a 16GB and 8GB SD card, so space won't be an issue. I'm very comfortable with PP, as I've done graphic design for several years, so I don't mind the added PP with RAW.

QuoteOriginally posted by Peter Zack Quote
IMHO the key is expose to the riight (histogram) and don't let the darker horses be underexposed.
Lets hope the day is bright thin cloud. Lots of light but not too harsh.
I'm not sure what "expose to the right" means. Does it mean you want the levels on the right to have dropped right before the edge on the histogram when viewing a picture you already took? Not too far left having underexposure and not getting cut off on the right and being overexposed?

Thank you again for the help
04-02-2010, 01:15 PM   #11
Pentaxian
Moderator Emeritus




Join Date: May 2007
Location: Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,648
There's a very good instructional part in the manual about Histograms (pg 28-29). I'm working on a review of this camera right now for ETL and have the manual beside the computer. It has graphs there of the proper histogram settings. I was talking about at higher ISO's the ideal histogram will have a bit of a center 'bump' and not clip the left or right. At higher ISO's it's better to move that bump to the left a little, still not clipping but a slightly brighter shot will show less noise.

Of course if you can get the aperture and shutter speeds you want at ISO800 or below, then just shoot at 0EV and keep the histogram bump in the middle as much as possible.

Never trust the picture on the LCD. They lie like an old rug. You think you did a great job and get home to realize everything is under exposed or something. Use them only to check composition, zoom in for sharpness and check motion blur. Just don't use them to check colour quality or exposure. This is more true in sunlight. Indoors in controlled light, it's usually more accurate.
04-02-2010, 01:36 PM   #12
Senior Member
Perrumpo's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Maryland
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
Original Poster





The last one is a little underexposed, but it looks the clearest, to me. I used the histogram to see that this was the case as I went on to try different settings. Do you think the ISO 400 f/5.6 or the ISO 800 f/8 was better to use? I never have the lump in the center of the histogram, as you can see. They are more on the bright side. Would this be because of the brightly-colored pavement? The contrast doesn't seem bad. Anything else you would change with these photos? I'm not very happy with the clarity of the first three, but I was mainly focused on exposure.

Last edited by Perrumpo; 04-02-2010 at 01:48 PM.
04-02-2010, 01:51 PM   #13
Pentaxian
Moderator Emeritus




Join Date: May 2007
Location: Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,648
In these examples it's tough to tell. But go with what looks best on your screen.

TYes a histogram will be influenced by bright spots in the scene and you have to try to take that into account when you look at it and shoot. Say if there is a lot of sky in the image. If you look at the first and last shot, it's exposed to the right but not clipping much.
If you look at image 2, the hightlights are clipped and the pavement has lost any detail becoming nearly white. So the first image and the last in particular, is exposed better for this type of scene.

So take this into account at the track. try to find a shooting angle that doesn't get a ton of bright sky in the photo. Because you are trying to expose for grass, dirt and horses.
04-02-2010, 01:55 PM   #14
Pentaxian
Moderator Emeritus




Join Date: May 2007
Location: Edmonton Alberta, Canada
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 10,648
Even with your first test shots, if you can keep the camera around f8 or f10 and get those results at the track, it's going to look good.

Make sure you post back. It turns out I'm going to the track tomorrow as well. It's closed today.
04-02-2010, 03:28 PM   #15
Senior Member
Perrumpo's Avatar

Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Maryland
Photos: Gallery | Albums
Posts: 207
Original Poster
I'll definitely post back with pictures. I learned a lot today, thank you!
Reply

Bookmarks
  • Submit Thread to Facebook Facebook
  • Submit Thread to Twitter Twitter
  • Submit Thread to Digg Digg
Tags - Make this thread easier to find by adding keywords to it!
camera, event, horses, k-x, lens, pentax help, photography, saturday, shot, steeplechases
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
K-7 and the opinions of high ISO shooting. PinarelloOnly Pentax DSLR Discussion 23 10-13-2010 09:14 AM
K-7 high ISO vs K20D high ISO supa007 Pentax DSLR Discussion 72 05-10-2010 04:24 PM
Need advice for high ISO shooting w/K20D klh Troubleshooting and Beginner Help 16 12-13-2009 04:14 PM
How to reduce high ISO noise while shooting PentaxPoke Pentax DSLR Discussion 21 05-17-2008 07:17 AM
Night photography with K10D - High ISO short exposure VS Low ISO long exposure pw-pix Pentax DSLR Discussion 10 02-03-2008 01:37 AM



All times are GMT -7. The time now is 03:30 AM. | See also: NikonForums.com, CanonForums.com part of our network of photo forums!
  • Red (Default)
  • Green
  • Gray
  • Dark
  • Dark Yellow
  • Dark Blue
  • Old Red
  • Old Green
  • Old Gray
  • Dial-Up Style
Hello! It's great to see you back on the forum! Have you considered joining the community?
register
Creating a FREE ACCOUNT takes under a minute, removes ads, and lets you post! [Dismiss]
Top