Jack Schatzberg...photographs and talks about horses

Questions and Answers



I am enjoying your page. Thanks. The question I have is which is the best film for shooting the action of cutting horses in a covered or enclosed arena, and which lens and f-stop works best. I use a Canon EOS 1, and have an 80mm to 200mm f2.8 lens. I was thinking of using Fiji Provia 400 slide film and Fuji NPH 400 for prints, any ideas would be greatly appreciated. Some friends have asked me to photograph their horse in a local event.

Thanks for your help

Greg Wilson


Dear Greg,

The Fuji NPH 400 film is the slowest that you can use for the situation that you will be in. I do not recommend the use of positive film (or slides) in the circumstances that you describe. Fuji print film has a wide latitude, so that you will probably have good density in your photos. I only recommend slide film when you can bracket your exposure, and in shooting cutting horses, you do not have time to do that.

From your vantage point, the image of the horse, rider and critter while cutting, should fill at least 50% of the image finder of your camera. I can't imagine that you will be less than 50 to 75 feet away from your subject, which means that you will be using your lens at or near the 200MM setting and at the wide open f-stop.

In these circumstances you must pre-focus your camera since you will not have the time to focus during the cutting routine.

Your camera flash sync. speed is 250th of a second. Under normal circumstances that speed is not fast enough to capture the motion of the horse, but under the low light situation that you will have, if you use the Canon 480 EG dedicated flash, you will probably have enough light to stop the action. The flash on the camera by itself is not powerful enough to cover the distance between you and your subject to give you an image on your negative.

If you do not have access to a dedicated flash, use Fuji 1600 ISO film and hope for the best.

Subject heading: Photographing cutting horses
Posted: Dec 1997
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