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Fun Ride Photography

I’ve been photographing fun rides for a few years now, so I do consider myself to be very good at it! It’s one of the equestrian events in Shropshire and Staffordshire that I really do enjoy and it’s quite different to the commercial photography and videography that occupies me during the week. it’s still a very busy day though with a lot of preparation and post production and it definitely isn’t just about turning up and taking photos, so I thought I’d explain everything that happens to get fantastic photography to our many customers.

My setup for fun rides is quite complicated. There’s just one chance to get a good photo, and I do like to make sure that everyone who passes has the option to enjoy viewing their images. So there’s a total of four cameras in play to give some choice. Not everyone on a fun ride wants to jump a fence, many riders just want to have a relaxing day out and enjoy the scenery – most of the fun rides I photograph are on private estates which the owners kindly open.

So the first thing is to find a suitable fence but also make sure that the location is right to get the shots of the riders who don’t jump. I go over to the location a few days before the ride and meet the team who are setting out the course, they’re always incredibly helpful and we decide on a fence that’s just the right height, with plenty of clear space around it and a nice background on all sides. Then the fence is dressed and I make a note of where it is on the course (so I can find it again!).

On the day I’ll arrive at least an hour before the first riders set off and get the cameras in place. I’ll have a main camera equipped with a medium telephoto lens to shoot head on, and two more on either side of the fence to capture side angle shots from left and right which are operated on remote triggers. A fourth camera has a long telephoto and that one is used to get those nice relaxed natural shots, particularly for the riders who don’t jump. These are incredibly popular photos which look great as large prints.

I don’t always know who’s going to jump or whether they’re going to walk past the fence, so the long lens gets those shots captured first. Then it’s a quick switch to the camera with the medium telephoto which captures anyone who jumps, taken from a slight angle from head on. It’s this camera that triggers the two remote ones.

Shot with a remote camera. The main camera was used for a head on shot which gave a delighted customer a good choice of photos! Note the position which captures the private estate house in the background.

The weather always presents an interesting challenge. If it’s wet then everything has to be protected with rain covers. If it’s sunny then there are on the fly changes to settings to make sure there’s a good balance with any shadows introduced by riding hats. Cloudy days are the most straightforward when the light is quite flat but the weather does change throughout the day and I’ve often had sunny starts that have turned to drizzle an hour or so after the ride has started. I can honestly say that constantly walking between four cameras and checking settings does mean that I comfortably cover more than 10,000 steps in the space of a few hours!

One of my favourite shots, taken with a 400mm f2.8 lens. Finding a background which suits the scenery is absolutely key to getting great natural photos.

After the ride has finished I’ve got a lot more work to do! I’m often messaged just after the ride by customers who are excited to see their photos asking when the gallery will be on our web site but it does take a good few hours to get everything edited. The photos are all downloaded and immediately backed up, then each one is checked, cropped and edited – there are typically over 3000 images to work through. I do like to make sure that what’s shown in our gallery is the best possible quality because we offer digital downloads with instant delivery, so each photo has to be perfect.

After editing, the final set of photos are checked again and then uploaded to our website, which carries tens of thousands of images from a range of events. This part takes the longest, up to two hours (thank goodness for fast broadband). We aim to have the gallery open for viewing by 8pm. That’s the point where I can pour myself a glass of wine, sit down and relax!

If you’re an organiser and would like to book us for a fun ride, please get in touch using the contact page on our website.

Having a roaming camera alongside remotely triggered ones helps with creativity while still getting the established shots. Canon 200mm f2 panned with a slow shutter speed.