Tips for Santa Anita

After registration, all participants will be able to photograph morning workouts, which conclude at 10 a.m.  At this time a breakfast buffet will be served and a question and answer session with track photographers, trainers and management will follow. After breakfast you will have time to photograph Santa Anita itself.  Wander around, the grounds and architecture are great.

First race post time is 1 p.m., and all participants will be granted access to the track’s paddock and winner’s circle throughout the afternoon.  Be prepared for it to be hot and bright. You will have to shoot around the rail, posts and many other obstacles.

  1. Freeze Action: Use a fast shutter speed for this, probably 800.  As the horses are coming toward you focus on the horse you think is the most important. As they come closer take a few shots in a row and follow as they pass continuing to shoot. This will give you different angles. Front, side then back.
  2. Panning: Use a slow shutter for this, maybe 25. Follow the horses as they pass at the same speed as they are passing you. Turn your body into a solid tripod, support the lens with your arms close to your body, rotate from waist.  Start panning before you take the shot and continue panning afterwards. This takes a little practice. Hopefully in the end you will have one horse in perfect focus and the rest blurred.
  3. Use predictive or continuous focus mode. This is called AI Servo on Canon and AFC on Nikon.
  4. If you bet on a horse, bet on the winning one! Have fun.

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