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Action Sports Photography
A day at the races

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Mason Resnick is the editor of the Adorama Learning Center and a lifetime photography enthusiast.

How to photograph the horses

Photographing horse racing--The Sport of Kings--can be challenging, because you are photographing a fast subject, and not always from as close as you might like.


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Depending on the kind of venue, the horses pass you only a few times, giving you precious few chances to get the shot.

What you need:
Camp out near the rail. You’ll need it for two reasons. First, you get an unobstructed view. Second, you can lean against the rail for support, which you’ll need because you'll be using a long lens. Ideally, make sure the racetrack is in direct sunlight so you can choose a faster shutter speed. Select autofocus tracking and burst mode so the horses coming at you remain in focus as they move.


Comin’ round the bend: If you stand by the railing not too far from where the track curves, you can get dynamic shots like this when using a longer lens. To get this close, you may need a tele-extender. Choose the fastest shutter speed you can to freeze the action. Photo © by Christine Balderas/iStockphoto.com


Show a sense of speed: While most horseracing photos attempt to freeze the action, you can go the opposite direction and emphasize the feeling of movement by choosing a slower shutter speed (start with 1/15 sec and experiment) and panning with the action. Anti-shake can help give you smooth results. Photo © by Cheryl Quigley/iStockphoto.com

Also, be sure to explore beyond the action on the track. Horseracing attracts a colorful clientele, and you might find yourself wandering into stands, or visit the stable area, where you are sure to find plenty of interesting photo opportunities. So along with your big glass, bring a general-purpose, mid-range zoom.

See you at Belmont Park!

 

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