Take Care of the Focus in Advance

June 16, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

While visiting the Arlington Racetrack, one of my goals was to capture the horses as they approached the finish line. Clearly, the horses would be moving very quickly and I would have little time to acquire focus. There's a lot of time between races (30 minutes or more), but only seconds of shooting the action. So, it's important to be prepared as the action approaches!

To get this shot, I manually set the focus by selecting an area on the track where I thought the horses would eventually pass. As the horses approached, I positioned the lens for my composition and began firing as the horses entered the frame. My only regret is that I couldn't move just a bit more to my left as I didn't want the "N" of the Arlington sign to blend into the finish post. But, there was another spectator pressed up against my left side.

Some other settings also helped to improve my chances for a successful photograph:

  1. I used a super fast shutter speed of 1/5000th of a second to freeze the action.
  2. I selected the Nikon D700 for its fast frame rate. With the AA batteries inserted, I set the camera for its highest speed burst (about 8 frames per second) to have more frames to select from.

Finally, I wanted to make it appear as though my photograph captured the winning horse as it crossed the finish line, so I used Photoshop to clone out the flying dirt that appeared within the right edge of the frame from the horse that actually won the race.


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