Need help in low light indoor arena photography

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by mlawson63, Aug 12, 2008.

  1. mlawson63

    mlawson63 TPF Noob!

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    I have a Canon Rebel EOS with two lenses, the EF 75-300mm 1:4-5.6 III and the EFS 18-55mm. I have been taking pictures with it for several years of my kids equine riding events, horses very much IN MOTION! My outside pictures usually turn out pretty great, but the indoor shots not so much. We are getting ready for a big show and I want to be prepared! Do I need to update my camera? A lense? I've been reading about a "faster" lense?? And would a lense hood help? What's pathetic is I don't know a lot about photography, but I know what pictures I like. Does that make sense? I've experimented with all the settings but haven't been able to get good shots inside. I also can't use a flash.....
     
  2. Big Mike

    Big Mike I am Big, I am Mike Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    The first thing I'd suggest, is taking a bit of time to learn about basic exposure. There are three things that make up an exposure...the shutter speed (length of time), the aperture (the size of the hole in the lens) and the ISO (the sensitivity of the sensor).
    The amount of light that you have will affect what settings you need to make an exposure. Each of the three settings also has an effect on the photo.

    The camera has a built-in meter that reads the reflected light and gives you the settings...when you are in any of the auto modes (anything but M).

    The way that motion is recorded, has to do with the shutter speed. The faster (shorter) the shutter speed, the more you can freeze movement. The longer it gets, the more chance of blurry photos. So it would be reasonable that to freeze the motion of horse & rider, you will want to use a fast shutter speed. Just how fast will depends on a few things...but I'd suggest that something like 1/125 or 1/250 would be a good place to start.

    That's well and good when you are outside and there is plenty of light. But when you go inside, there is much less light...and 1/125 may not be a long enough time to let in the proper amount of light to get a well exposed photo. The settings are all connected...so if you can open the aperture to a larger size, then more light can get in and you can use a faster shutter speed. The aperture is represented in F numbers. The lower the number, the bigger the aperture. If you notice what your camera is giving you when inside, it's probably already at the maximum aperture, which is somewhere between F4 and F5.6, depending on where the lens is zoomed to.

    So since the lens is already at the maximum, the shutter speed that you get, will be the fastest you can get. But let's not forget the third setting...ISO. As you raise the ISO, the shutter speed can get faster. The trade off is digital noise. Shooting at ISO 1600 may mean that your images are quite noisy...but that may be better than blurry.

    So there you go, when in darker situations, make sure that your lens is at the largest aperture (lowest F number) and turn up the ISO if your shutter speed still isn't fast enough. In some situations, it may still not be enough...and in that case...you will just have to get shots when the subject isn't moving as much.

    Another option would be to add your own light (flash etc) but that's probably not a good idea when shooting horses.

    Now, if you have noticed, one problem is the limitation of the lens and it's max aperture. A 'Fast' lens is one that has a large maximum aperture. Some zoom lenses go as large as F2.8 and some non-zoom lenses go to F1.8, F1.4 or even F1.2.

    A faster lens will certainly allow you to get a faster shutter speed when used at large apertures. The most common recommendation is the EF 50mm F1.8 lens. It's quite cheap but optically very good. If you are on a budget, this would be my recommendation. If you have more money to spend, then there are plenty of other options.
     
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  3. mlawson63

    mlawson63 TPF Noob!

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    I'm going to print this and go sit in the arena and play around with all the settings. I really appreciate you taking the time to type all that out. I see a lot of prof photographers with gigantimous lenses, etc etc... but I guess I don't want to spend a fortune.
     
  4. icassell

    icassell TPF Noob!

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    Excellent explanation!
     
  5. pixall

    pixall TPF Noob!

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    Hi, my question is along the same lines. I have Xsi, 28-55mm kit lens, 55-250mm 4-5.6 and 50mm 1.4. Big Mike you had mentioned that the 50mm 1.8 is a good one for indoor horse shows, but is that going to get good enough closeups? Your zoom is your feet with that one? I am not challenging your recommendations, simply asking for my self. I am shooting my first show and it will be indoors. I have 430 ex, but as mentioned flash is taboo. I am renting 70-200mm 2.8L for weekend, but would still like any recommendations. as to how my bigger zoom and my 50mm will work. I will be in center of arena shooting and want to be able to get full figure closeups while freezing action. I will be checking facility out personally next week to see what lighting situation is. Any advice appreciated.
    Also any tips on, photographer in show rings location, limitations etc, and what is acceptable attire for photographer at a dressage show?
     
  6. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Horse shows fall into the sports/action photography venue. Low light venues generally require fast glass. The 50 1.8 may be short on focal length, but it is fast, allowing for the shutter speeds needed to freeze the action.

    As a sports shooter, I don't own a prime lens that is slower than f1.8 or zoom lens that is any slower the f2.8. But this has been a costly venture. Fast glass, especially in zoom lenses is going to be expensive. But they usually are constant aperture (f2.8) lenses through the whole zoom range.

    Big Mike's explaination, of shutter speed, aperture, ISO and it's relationship to exposure is an excellent one. If you need more reach you might want to consider the Canon 70-200 f2.8. It is an expensive piece of glass, but one that one that is on one of my bodies at almost every sport shoot. It is one fantastic piece of glass. If you have need for IS in other forms of photography the IS version is more expensive but an excellent lens as well. It is also a lens that most people will have for years as there really is nothing better in the Canon line for that focal range.
     
  7. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    You have two very good options available to you, for not that much money: the Canon 85mm f/1.8 EF lens, and the Canon 100mm f/2 EF lens. Given how much a 1.6x Canon crops off of the field of view of a lens, the 85mm will require you to be about 40 to 45 feet away to show a horse full-length. Given the difference in aperture between the f/5.6 limitation you have now, and the f/1.8 max aperture of the 85mm EF lens, I would suggest you look into an 85mm Canon as an excellent entry point or horse shows indoors. he lens is light,small,unobtrusive (it will pass lens length limits at most stadiums that have them) and does not look like "professional" gear to gatekeeping morons.

    You need to get well-exposed, sharp images. If you shoot in RAW mode, get a decent white balance, and get a decent frame with an 85 or 100mm, you can crop-in later at the computer. It's better to get a smaller image, sharp, well-focused, and well-exposed and to crop in than it is to have a long,slow lens that will not cut the mustard, so don't overlook a 50 if it's all you have that is fast.
     
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  8. aswiftakita

    aswiftakita TPF Noob!

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    All I can tell you is that I use a Canon 70-200 f/2.8 in the indoor arenas for sorting shows (horse and cattle going any where and every where FAST) and my lense is STILL not enough to let enough light in for a good photo. Even with all my settings set appropriately like other guy wrote (btw AWESOME), I still have to be at ISO of 3200 in order to get ANY kind of a picture (dark but viewable online) and no way tobrighten it up by editing either or every single but of grain and noise just SHINES through. So even though it is fast enough to stop the action the aperture is still not big enough to let enough light in for those crappy indoor arena lighting. Grrr. :(




     
  9. gryphonslair99

    gryphonslair99 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Gee I wonder if the OP figured it out since they have had FOUR YEARS to work on the issue.:lmao:
     

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