One of my friends hired me to photograph her and her draft horses.  This was a pretty challenging assignment for me for a number of reasons.  I don’t have a lot of experience photographing this type of event, the lighting was terrible, and my camera body maxes out at about 1,600 ISO for usable images.  Oh, and did I mention no tripods and no flash and my subjects would all be moving constantly?!?

Luckily one of my friends in our camera club shoots horse events all the time and was familiar with the facility I was shooting with.  I got some great information about the layout and lighting conditions in the facility and some pointers on the best shooting locations.

Now that I had a better idea of what I was up against, I decided to use two bodies and one “normal” fast prime lens (my Sigma 30MM f1.4) and a telephoto lens (Zuiko 50-200 f2.8-3.5 zoom) on two bodies, my Olympus e-3 and e-30.  The e-30 has slightly better high ISO performance, so I put the fastest lens (the Sigma 30MM) on the e-3.  I also invested in a monopod and read up and practiced techniques to hold it steady.

I decided to push the ISO beyond what I was comfortable with, 1600 on the e-3 and 2000 on the e-30.  I love my Olympus gear, but high ISO performance is one area where Olympus lags behind other brands.  I knew the images would have a bit of noise in them, but felt confident that I could remove a lot of the noise with Lightroom and I also discussed the challenges with my client and learned that most of the images would be for display on the web, not printed at high resolution.  She has tried to take photos of these events in the past with her camera and understood the issues.

I tried to use slow enough shutter speeds to show a bit of motion, but also have the rider be in sharp focus.  It was a challenge, but I feel the research I did before the shoot and my prior experience shooting weddings in low light paid off with some good images.  My client was very happy and I felt like I delivered a quality product.