View Full Version : Equestrian / Dressage Photo help

25-08-2010, 12:03pm
I have a Equestrian dressage shoot coming up. I would like some help with camera settings (ISO, metering etc.) and where to take the shots from (corner, side, judges side). I thought I would use the Canon 100-400mm outdoors as I will be working two arenas . Inside, I can get very close to the wall of the arena and will use Canon 17-55mm 2.8. I am not sure of the lighting as it is at the WA State Equestrian Centre in Brigadoon. My equipment: Canon 40D. All lenses are Canon EF 28mm F1.8, 17-55mm F2.8, Canon 100-300 and a Canon 100-400L.
Thank you in anticipation of your advice.

25-08-2010, 1:10pm
Settings will depend on the conditions and each horses colour. dark coats soak up light so be aware of this. If the two arenas are side by side in between on the long side will be ideal. Horses are best photographed in action with the leading leg (the front leg closest to you) pointing forward in the stride, when it is back it makes the shoulder dip and they don not look as good.

Other good vantage points are directly at the bottom of the arena (opposite the judges) with the idea of getting some shots of the horses approaching straight on. Again, leading leg forward. But you don't want to photograph every horse from that angle.

It will help if you know what test they will be completing so you will know what they are going to do next, it can all be over very quickly. Some tests involve an extended trot down the long side or across a diagonal, this is a very good manouvre to catch at the right moment - when the leading leg is fully stretched but not quite touching the ground and the hind leg on the opposite side will also be well involved and under the horse's body. These shots look terrific.

I went to Google imagesand queried dressage extended trot and got some good images



The halt http://www.google.com.au/imgres?imgurl=,r:20,s:0

Cantering movements are usually on a circle at the centre of the arena - the movement must cover the whole width of the arena. The prime time for a shot ids the first or secind canter step and make sure you get the photo from the inside position on the circle, not the outside, as it is always inside leading leg on a circle.

Good luck.

25-08-2010, 4:15pm
You'll probably find the 100-400 a bit too long - even in a full size arena. If the action is close to you then you wont fit the horse in the frame. (the 70 -200, is ideal for this) I guess it will be a matter of positioning yourself accordingly.
Also - usually the pattern that they are rding is known before the event so try and get your hands on a copy if possible - if you're not into equestrian, it will give you an idea of where you can expect them to walk, trot canter etc.
ISO etc will depend on the weather/light conditions of course but I'd try for around ISO 400 and the ss somewhere between 1/800 - 1/1250

edit: forgot to add - be mindful of your backgrounds. Equestrian events tend have have a lot of distraction in the background like floats, trucks, other horses and the ocassional judge picking his nose.

Flash Hit
25-08-2010, 7:00pm
Jenny Barnes has been clicking horses from all angles for years.
This site shows her shots at the Dressage Championships 2010 in S.A.

25-08-2010, 10:25pm
HI Guys My site also shows pics from the dressage championships 2010-as official photographer and a member of this forum. Most of the settings previously suggested will not apply to indoor arenas , as this seems to be the case.Forget the 17-55 as 70-200mm is really too small for dressage, if the light is poor indoors as it probably will be you will need a min of 70-200 f2.8 set to f2.8 and as high as the iso will let you shoot togain a MIN of 1/400 shutter. If this is indoor there is a high probability that your current equiptment just wont be good enough,just do the best you can.The best spot to shoot from is 3/4 of the way down the long side to capture the most extended trot strides. horses are the most difficult thing to shoot and the best dont get it right all the time. If you wish to look at my site it is
For out doors I use D3s and 200-400 VR f4--f8 iso to suit shutter speed
Indoors D3s--200-400 VR 12500ISO to suit shutter speed
If many arenas to be covered I will also use the Sigma 50-500
but never a small wide angle lens as you can not get close enough
good luck and cheers--jim