SB900 - Will it work?

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by Saddlebreds4me, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. Saddlebreds4me

    Saddlebreds4me TPF Noob!

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    Hi....I'm sorry it's been a while since I've been here or contributed too much, but I am in dire need of some opinions.

    I think my last post spoke to me shooting a horse show on Sept 12 in an arena in incredibly bad lighting. I spoke to my camera store briefly today and the SB900 was recommended to me. After that I was looking at Quantum packages as well as Norman 200 Watt system - which to me look like they can be pricey & complicated.

    But neither here nor there...I have two Speedlights already one SB600 and an SB800 but was told by one professional in the horse photography business not to shoot them (she didn't tell me why, this was over email) but when I talked to my photo shop I told the guy there exactly what I was going to be shooting and he recommended the SB900. I don't mind spending the money for the 900 but I'm really reluctant to step up to one of the professional set ups because I simply don't like shooting with a flash...not to mention I don't know how to effectively use it.

    Any suggestions regarding the SB900 - keeping in mind I will be in the center of the ring which measures approximately 200' x 80' and I will be shooting the horses as they come by me which will be anywhere from 20 - 45 feet away from me. The lighting is florescent with some natural light coming in from the top windows. It's just bad all the way around. Will the SB900 be enough?

    Anyone?

    Thank you...I'm getting to be a trainwreck that I am going to take lousy photos from light perspective - the horse part seems easy to me...the light is going to make or break me. :(

    Thank you for taking the time to read my plea...lol.
     
  2. Jaszek

    Jaszek No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Did you go to the arena and try a couple of shots out? Im thinking the horses wont like the flash and might freak out. Try taking practice shots with your 24-70.
     
  3. Mitch1640

    Mitch1640 TPF Noob!

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    i dont think the 900 is that much of a step about the 800, so personally i dont see the need to upgrade.
     
  4. fiveoboy01

    fiveoboy01 TPF Noob!

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    That was my first thought as the reason not to use it, spooking the horses.

    The lighting is THAT bad that you can't crank the ISO? After all, that's what the D700 is made for:mrgreen:

    But I don't think there is enough difference, power-wise to buy a 900, you should use your 800 if anything. Of course the photoshop guy will recommend a 900, as he wants to sell you one;)
     
  5. Jaszek

    Jaszek No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yea I say ISO up, f/2.8 aperture and (if there is noise) run it through noise removal.
     
  6. Saddlebreds4me

    Saddlebreds4me TPF Noob!

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    Ok, thanks guys...I need some clarification - if you say crank the ISO and if I have noise - run it through a noise program to remove it...I'm ok with that...but when you guys say crank are you talking like 400 to 6400? Or what would you do? This is all while using my SB800 correct? If I do that, I was planning on keeping the flash on the hot shoe - shoot, I am so flash challenged, I couldn't set up a slave system if my life depended on it.

    And since I'm asking...does anyone have any good flash resources would be? Like that book "Understanding Exposure" sounds like it should be in everyone's library...I didn't know if there was one for the use of the flash.

    On and just as an aside regarding spooking the horses - in my discipline and breed it is commonplace to expose our show horses to bright lights and other external stimuli so that they are pretty much used to it by the time they hit the show ring. I'm not worried about that at all.

    Thank you all for your replies! They are very much appreciated!
     
  7. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    I was lucky to grab a second SB800 (used) before they were swallowed up and no longer available new. I keep my eye open for another, but also would like the SB900.

    20-45 feet is well within the distances for the SB800, so don't worry about that. Even the SB600 should be able to hit that distance.

    My question is there anyway you could mount the two flashes in the rafters prior to the event? That way you could cross-fire them from above, hit both (narrow) sides of the ring and should be less stressful on the horses by not being in eye-line. You can trigger them with Commander mode. Of course, you have to make sure you don't exceed the ~30' reach of the IR transmitter. You can use ball bungees or superclamps to secure the flashes.

    Just my 2ยข.
     
  8. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    ISO1600 should work. No noise, no fuss.


    Piece of cake. Read the manuals for camera and flash about Commander mode, multiple flash.

    I've just picked up Joe McNally's "The Hot Shoe Diaries". The first few chapters have been a good read. It has been recommended on several forums I frequent.


    EDIT: One more thing. Get some gels to balance the fluroscent lighting.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2009
  9. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

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    I was at a state fair horse arena show, and the official arena photographer was using a Canon 5D with 70-200 f/2.8 and 580EX-II. At the end of each judging round, she photographed the top three finishers.

    After watching the horse judging and wagon/carriage divisions, the same thing with the horse pulling carriages....a single flash shot, or two, of the winners as the exited the arena. SHe shot only after the judging had been completed.

    Walking through the equestrian area afterwards, I saw many experienced people two had several "winner" shots each, all done in-arena, and all done with flash.
     
  10. Saddlebreds4me

    Saddlebreds4me TPF Noob!

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    Thank you all again for your responses - they help immensely!

    In my horse show world when the 'in ring' photographer is hired - their obligation is to get at least one or two shots of each horse in the class. So if there are 15 horses in class you shoot all 15 - or you try to very best to. Typically the photographer chooses one side of the ring to shoot on and stays there - which is why I would estimate that the distance of the horses from the photographer would be anywhere from 20-45 or so feet. After the winner of the class is announced, they go receive their blue ribbon in the winner's circle (another 'must take' photo) and then after everyone else leaves the ring, they get to take a victory pass - or one lap around the ring with the blue ribbon on the horse's bridle...(most photographers take four or five shots of this pass).

    This was during the class (and ultimate winner of the 5 gaited world's grand championship) - note at this gait, called the rack only one foot should be touching the ground at a time - Howie did a phenomenal job catching this plus it shows a horse who can truly perform this gait (many end up pacing).

    http://www.howardschatzberg.com/Pro...s Grand Championship/Images/240-053-09KSF.JPG

    and here's a victory pass photo:

    http://www.howardschatzberg.com/Pro...s Grand Championship/Images/240-106-09KSF.JPG

    Merrill Murray, the rider/trainer of "Courageous Lord", lost his fedora on the victory pass - these horses are traveling so fast it's not uncommon. If I could get my photos even half as good as Howie's I'd be happy. Oh, and my apologies for the links - I don't think we are allowed to embed the images but posting links are ok. Also these are only proofs all unretouched...just an FYI.
     
  11. benlonghair

    benlonghair TPF Noob!

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    The white balance is off in both of those, imo. I have nothing further to add.
     
  12. kundalini

    kundalini Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    After looking at your links, forget my thoughts of hanging the flashes from the rafters. Obviously, the arena has a much taller roof than I envisioned. So flash on hot shoe.

    However, I'm wondering where the main light source is coming from in Howie's photos. He is positioned in front of the horse (well done, to show horse & rider's face) but the shadows on the railing are well in front also. This means a main light source is coming from behind. Does he have an assistant standing elsewhere? The light is very harsh as well.

    I also think the background of Howie's photos are very distracting. Too much of the crowd is in focus and is very busy. It's going to be difficult to avoid this as the horse rides close to the railing. The only solutions I can think of (not having finished my first cuppa of the morning) is to find a location where there are less background distraction or to use a slightly slower shutter speed and let the flash freeze your subject. Make sure your camera is set on rear curtain flash. As you're panning, this should help blur the background.

    One further note, I would definitely use a monopod. Carrying around the D700 + 80-200mm + SB = tired arms after a while = camera shake = blurred results.

    Good luck.
     

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