Shutter Speed & Horse Photography

Shutter Speed is Key

Whether you are shooting in shutter priority or manual mode having a fast enough shutter speed to freeze your subject and create a sharp image is key!

If your shutter speed is too slow for you to freeze the motion of the horse then your image can only be blurred.

Personally I would much rather use a higher shutter speed to freeze the motion of a horse than worry about the camera deciding to use a higher ISO because its a cloudy day and so adding grain to the image, which I can remove in post processing.

There is no amount of a blurred image that can be corrected in post production because your shutter speed was too slow.

This is why i recommend to all beginners they use shutter speed priority and start out at speeds of 1250 – 1600.

These speeds are capable of freezing a galloping horse and any camera shake.

If you go out on a bright day then put the sun behind you (even if it is behind the clouds) and use the sun as your outdoor flash to light up your horse.

How fast is fast?

There are two key considerations for deciding on what shutter speed you should use.

First is the focal length of your lens. You should not use a shutter speed slower than the focal length of your lens, as it will not be possible to handhold you camera and lens without causing camera shake.

For a beginner I would strongly recommend never using a shutter speed less than four times (x4) your focal length when hand holding your camera.

For Example:-

70mm lens use a shutter speed of 1/320+ : 100mm lens use a shutter speed of 1/400+

200mm lens use a shutter speed of 1/800+

Remember support your lens by resting it in the cup of your hand and do not just hold the camera body as you will only cause camera shake.

Rest the lens in your cupped hand and tuck your elbows into your body to give extra support.

Learning to support your camera will help your images in the long run.

The second key part of horse photography is to find the shutter speeds that you are able to hand hold your camera with when photographing a horse while it is  sitting, standing, walking, trotting, cantering and galloping.

We are all different and some people are more stable than others. Like me I expect you will establish one or two shutter speeds that work for you that cover all eventualities and then stick with them.

I will always say if you have a sunny day then put the sun behind you and use a fast shutter speed.

Below is a guide for you to consider.

Sitting

(Shutter 600 – 800)

I know it is not often you will photograph a horse sitting down! I would treat this the same as a standing horse and I would want to make sure i freeze all movement so 600 – 800 would be my go to shutter speed range.

Standing

(Shutter 600 – 800)

Whether it is one or many standing horses. Remember they are never still as one horse maybe swishing its tail or moving its ears and many horses may start interacting with each other so I would want a shutter speed of 600 – 800 but likely 800 for a standing group shot.

Walking

(Shutter 800 – 1000)

The horse at walk is where we add a third element of movement to the image, where you will be following the horse as they move while capturing images. So we need to increase our shutter speed to make sure we are not also causing extra movement blur by following the horse. I would recommend going straight to a shutter speed of 1000 however it should be possible to use 800 however if you have the sun then use it and go faster.

Trotting

(Shutter 1000 – 1250)

A trotting horse is clearly going to require you to follow them at a faster pace than walking so I would always recommend you go for a shutter speed of 1250 however it should be possible to use 1000 and sometimes i can drop to 800 once you have mastered “panning” following the horse smoothly while capturing images.

Cantering

(Shutter 1000 – 1250)

A cantering horse is clearly going to require you to follow them at a faster pace than trotting, however the speed is minimal and so I would suggest the same guidelines as trotting which is you should go for a shutter speed of 1250 however it should be possible to use 1000 but I would not drop any lower than this.

Galloping

(Shutter 1250 – 1600)

A galloping horse is clearly going to require you to follow them at a faster pace than cantering, I would always suggest a beginner uses a shutter speed of 1600 to make sure you eliminate all camera and horse movement. If you have the sunshine then put it behind you and go up to a shutter speed of 2000. When you are comfortable following the horse at gallop and you have mastered how best to hand hold your camera you should be able to drop to a shutter speed of 1250 but I would be reluctant to drop any further than this for a galloping horse.

Always remember that a horse is never sitting or standing still!
Its ears are moving its tail is swishing………. so use a faster shutter speed!
In fact guess what a shutter speed of 1250 should have you capturing great images on most occasions!

I hope this helps you.

Please do ask any questions in the Facebook group or email me directly for help or further clarification.

malcolm@malcolmsnelgrove.com

2019-09-18T12:58:33+00:00