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6 tips for photographing horses in action

4 May 2014

How do you take the best action photos of horses? Which shutter speed, aperture and ISO do you choose and what do you need to take into account as well? In this blog we give you 6 essential tips!

Tip 1: Choose a fast shutter speed.
The faster your shutter speed, the more “freezes” on the photo. Horses move quickly and unexpectedly and that is why it is important to adjust your settings accordingly. Therefore, when shooting horses in action always choose a minimum shutter speed of 1/1000s. Then you will be sure that every hoof is frozen on the photo and you will not get any motion blur in your photos.

Tip 2: Choose the lowest possible ISO.
When choosing a fast shutter speed, the disadvantage is that you often have to raise your ISO to allow your camera to catch enough light. Nevertheless, it is important to keep your ISO as low as possible, especially if your camera shows noise quickly.

Tip 3: Choose a telephoto zoom of at least 200mm.
Photographing horses with a wide angle can get you a distorted image. It may that the horse in the photo suddenly seems to have a very big head, when in reality this is not the case at all. By using a telezoom lens you can prevent this. In addition, safety is also very important when photographing horses. If you photograph with a wide angle, this means that you have to sit much closer to the horse to get a full picture of it. A horse in action can make unexpected movements, so it would be possible that if you are too close, the horse will run over you. By taking a telephoto zoom you can keep a safe distance. For both this reasons we always recommend to photograph horses at a minimum of 200mm.

Tip 4: How do you create a blurry background?
A tele zoom lens is already very useful for this. If there is enough distance between the camera – the horse and the horse and the background, you’ll already get a blurry background with the use of a tele zoom lens. But the most important factor here is to use an as large aperture as possible (the lowest possible number) f/2.8 to f/4 for example. 

Tip 5: Choose a nice background.
The background is a really important part of the photo. If you have a disturbing background, the attention will be led away of the horse and it will influence your photo negatively. It is therefore very important to take a good look at the background before taking a picture and choose your backdrop thoroughly.

Tip 6: Be creative!
What’s also fun to try is to capture the movement of the horse in your photo. You can do this with Panning. Here you choose a slower shutter speed (for example 1/60s) and move your camera along with the horse while you take the photo. Make sure to focus on the head of the horse (or rider) while taking the photo. You’ll see that, that part of the horse will still be sharp and the rest of the photo will be “blurry”.

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