Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Saturday Photo Adventures in the Phoenix Area: 23 March 2013



I hit two venues Saturday: Turf Paradise for the camel and ostrich races and later that evening I travelled to Cave Creek for the pro rodeo.  Each presented photographic challenges.

I’ve been to Turf Paradise before, so I knew what to expect.  The challenge here is getting a good angle on the action on the track.  If you stand at track level, you find that you are going to be slightly below the track, so I had to walk way off to the side, down from the finish line, to get some track level photographs.  I used my 24-105mm Canon lens on the Canon 5D Mark III body for those shots.

I then retreated to the highest grandstand for the best angle, primarily using my 70-300mm Canon lens on my Canon 5D Mark III body. 

In post-production, I primarily used Lightroom 4 on all of the shots, as I usually do.  For daylight photographs I mainly used the “shadows” control, which for the most part worked quite well.  Maybe a bit of “clarity” control, too.  And many of the photos I cropped.  I pretty well stayed with ISO 100 or 200 through the whole afternoon since there was plenty of natural light. 

Then it was north to Cave Creek and the pro rodeo there.  The rodeo started at 7pm.  Yes, I’ve been here before but only during the day.  I immediately had an “oh oh” moment:  the lights for the arena were tiny.  Sure enough, lighting was horrible for a photographer.  And very uneven.  Using the same equipment as I had for the Turf Paradise shoot, I had to increase ISO to 3200 and sometimes higher than that.  The Canon 5D is good, but even at higher ISO you will see grain in the photos.  The other problem I had was it was a huge crowd with people constantly going up, down, and across my field of view while I sat in the first row.  I also had a fence in front of me, uggggh! 

I had to throw away the bulk of the photos I took.  They were simply too out of focus and grainy.  I did manage to salvage a few shots.  On one, I imported into TopazLabs “simplify” and made it into a painting.  It was either that or delete it.  Others I boosted using Nik Software’s Color Efex Pro.  Sharpening and de-noise didn’t help much.

I learned a lesson here.  Daylight for action shooting like rodeo.  Sit at the top row, not bottom row.  Even better, ask for a photographers area!

Friday 29 March is my next challenge: photographing the University of Arizona football team’s spring game at Phoenix College.  It is also a night shoot, but at least I will be on the field closer to the action.  Yes, another high ISO challenge. 

That’s it for now. 

Happy Shooting!

Jim Patterson

Here are photos from Turf Paradise:


And photos from the Cave Creek rodeo: