Got hired for my first paid event job, nervous and in need of any advice!

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A semi-local photographer found my resume on craigslist, he liked it enough to contact me, and I am now officially hired to help him shoot an event on the 24-26th of June.

The event is a HUGE horse showing event (not horse show, horse showing). There will be ~400 riders at the event, and will have a different individual event every day.
My equipment is in my signature below, plus a cheap tripod, one battery, one SD card and remote. He will be renting me a 70-200 f/2.8 VRII, and possibly an 80-400 f/4.5-5.6 VR for the weekend. I've already got 2 more batteries, along with 2 more 8GB SD cards on order.
He is hiring me for a "trial run" this weekend, meaning he's testing my abilities, professionalism, and ability to focus. He's starting me at $10 per hour for the weekend + compensation for gas and other expenses. If I do well and prove myself, he will hire me on for a more permanent position, along with raising my pay!
This is a chance for me to finally get my foot in the door of paid photography, I am nothing short of ecstatic!

The requirements he laid out were very simple.
-Provide a minimum of 10 quality shots of each rider
-Act professional as I will be representing him
-Stay focused and on task, I will be taking pictures for 4-6 hours straight each day, of the same subjects doing the same thing over and over

I'm very confident I can meet all of there requirements, but I'm very nervous.
This seems to be my one chance and I certainly don't want to blow it!!
This is his website portfolio from the last event he shot, the exact same type of event I will be shooting with him. This is what he will be looking for:
http://www.photoreflect.com/store/thumbpage.aspx?e=8072187

So I'm asking for any and all advice to get the best results possible.
Looking through his last event portfolio, it looks like he likes fairly tight cropped shots, which I like as well. Also for this type of event, having the entire subject in focus seems pretty important, more so than separating it from the background with more bokeh.

I will most likely be shooting in mid-day sun, although there is always the probability for an overcast day. I'm planning to shoot:
-Aperture priority
-Auto white balance
-3d tracking focus mode
-Auto Active D-Lighting
-Matrix Metering
-Either RAW or JPEG, according to his requirements
-Undecided to shoot in single frame continuous 3fps or 4fps...
-I'm not sure about ISO sensitivity, in bright mid-day sun I won't have to worry about it much, but should I shoot in AUTO-ISO mode, with say an 800 ISO cap for those cloudy/shady moments?
The subjects in this event will obviously be moving quickly, but not nearly as fast as say a rodeo, or a motorsports event.
Obviously, a fast shutter speed is critical to capture the motion without blur, second to that is keeping the entire subject in focus, the goal will be finding an aperture that provides a good balance between the two.

I could keep rambling, but essentially, I need any advice you are willing to give. I'm a very professional person, and will have no problem with either the professionalism, or staying on task portion of the requirements, I just want to make sure my shots are on par! So setting and shooting advice is definitely appreciated. As you saw in my signature, I will be shooting with a D90, so keep that in mind when recommending me settings, etc.

Thanks ahead of time!!!
 
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Congrats on your assignment! I love shooting horse shows, but purely from a hobby perspective. I think you'll be just fine if you only use the 70-200 2.8.

And are you sure he doesn't like background separation? Maybe he just doesn't like changing his camera settings? Not that I could blame him. But with the 70-200, you'll be taking a gun to a knife fight.:biggrin:

Watch your backgrounds as much as you can. But more importantly, see if you can find a background you like, where the sun is at your back and not backlighting your subjects. The sun will be harsh so use it to your advantage.

These events were shot a couple of years ago, but you may just look over my shots and find shots you either like, or don't like. It's a smugmug site, so you can click on the info button and see what settings I used for these shots. And I probably used either a 70-200 or a 300 2.8 for most of them.
http://www.greatbigshots.com/HORSE-SHOWS-AND-RODEOS

They don't move fast, so tracking them won't be a problem. Positioning yourself to get 10 shots per rider may be the challenge, but I doubt you'll have a problem...just watch your backgrounds.
 
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10 quality shots per rider. About 400 rider = 4000 quality photos, my memory using d90 w/ 70-200 on something like this I figure an optimistic 40% keeper with focus and in frame, yer looking at possibly putting about 10,000 clicks on your d90. Approximately 10% of the expected shutter life... Better bring extra memory cards.

I personally wouldn't do it, that's a bunch of wear and tear for 10 an hour's but I'm sure the experience would be good.

Good luck!
 
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Also her gonna kill your batteries before u get even 2000 shots which is half the number of shots expected. Is he gonna have a place for u to put all those images? Even with the extra cards youth probably won't have room for fine jog let alone raw

Not trying to be a Debbie downer. Just make sure you are willing to do about 10k clicks and have the means to do so
 
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I shot one a few weeks back for fun. I am by no means a pro, but I was happy given the conditions and that it was my first attempt at this.

D7000/70-200. Almost all at f2.8 1/1250, EV+.03, ADL on high, WB daylight, ISO 100-400(max), single point focus. I shot manual because they were wearing different color shirts and I didn't want to over/under expose their faces. The gallery is here.

Trenchmonkey shoots a lot of horse rodeo stuff and gets some great results, you may PM him or do a search.
 
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Horse shows are fun. Just be glad you're not going to be under the arena. Pray for overcase skies! Usually they're in either really dark clothing or really light clothing (a white top and black pants).

I would shoot in manual for this, cloudy or not. While aperture will work, it's going to be pretty confused with metering for these conditions.

I'd also suggest not doing auto ISO. While in some cases it will work, for REALLY harsh lighting, broad sunlight shouldn't be too bad, even when you get a cloud. Adjust shutter speed accordingly. Get used to it. If you're at 1/2000 @ f/4 in the sun, and a cloud comes, 1/1000 should be ok. That's only 1-3 rotations of the back dial depending on your settings.

Also, try something new and shoot more than you need if he will be able to go through them. People like different. If these people have been doing horse shows for a while, they get the same old, boring, cliche, stereotypical "pose" each and every single time. Different Sells!

Good luck with the shoot and have fun!

~Michael~
 
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I'll echo the above comments.

-Make sure you have reliable storage or a method of backup. 3 letters: CHA.
-Make sure you have adequate power. 70-200/2.8 sucks a LOT of juice for focus and VR. I find it drains the battery twice as fast, especially when churning out pictures by the hundreds.
-Subject isolation is better than no isolation.
 
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Congrats on your assignment! I love shooting horse shows, but purely from a hobby perspective. I think you'll be just fine if you only use the 70-200 2.8.
Thats what I thought, it was the hiring photographers idea to shoot with the 80-400 as well. Honestly, I don't think the 70-200 will leave my body unless I really just can't get close enough...
And are you sure he doesn't like background separation? Maybe he just doesn't like changing his camera settings? Not that I could blame him. But with the 70-200, you'll be taking a gun to a knife fight.:biggrin:
No not sure, just judging by the pics on the link I provided, looks like having the entire subject in focus is just slightly more important than subject separation in this instance.
Watch your backgrounds as much as you can. But more importantly, see if you can find a background you like, where the sun is at your back and not backlighting your subjects. The sun will be harsh so use it to your advantage.
Great point! The backgrounds will definitely make the shots here!
These events were shot a couple of years ago, but you may just look over my shots and find shots you either like, or don't like. It's a smugmug site, so you can click on the info button and see what settings I used for these shots. And I probably used either a 70-200 or a 300 2.8 for most of them.
http://www.greatbigshots.com/HORSE-SHOWS-AND-RODEOS

They don't move fast, so tracking them won't be a problem. Positioning yourself to get 10 shots per rider may be the challenge, but I doubt you'll have a problem...just watch your backgrounds.
Thanks for all of this, some great info!!

10 quality shots per rider. About 400 rider = 4000 quality photos, my memory using d90 w/ 70-200 on something like this I figure an optimistic 40% keeper with focus and in frame, yer looking at possibly putting about 10,000 clicks on your d90. Approximately 10% of the expected shutter life... Better bring extra memory cards.
Well, 10 quality shots per rider will be split between the 3 of us shooting throughout the weekend, spread over the course of 3 days. Hoping there won't be 10k clicks made on my body, but I'm not against it.
I personally wouldn't do it, that's a bunch of wear and tear for 10 an hour's but I'm sure the experience would be good.
Thats really what I'm going for, experience, and getting my foot in the door. Maybe a more permanent position. I'd just really like to get into some paid work, by no means do I want to make it a profession (My major is diagnostic imaging, to be a radiology tech).
Good luck!
Thanks!

Also her gonna kill your batteries before u get even 2000 shots which is half the number of shots expected. Is he gonna have a place for u to put all those images? Even with the extra cards youth probably won't have room for fine jog let alone raw
Well, all those shots won't have to be taken in one day, they will be spread over the course of 3 days. Hoping my 40GB of cards, and 3 EN-EL3e batteries will be sufficient for each day. I think I'm being hired on as more of a "back-up" photographer for the time being, my main goal is to provide some really quality shots of whatever section I'm put in charge of.
Not trying to be a Debbie downer. Just make sure you are willing to do about 10k clicks and have the means to do so

I shot one a few weeks back for fun. I am by no means a pro, but I was happy given the conditions and that it was my first attempt at this.

D7000/70-200. Almost all at f2.8 1/1250, EV+.03, ADL on high, WB daylight, ISO 100-400(max), single point focus. I shot manual because they were wearing different color shirts and I didn't want to over/under expose their faces. The gallery is here.
Thanks, I'll take a look!
Trenchmonkey shoots a lot of horse rodeo stuff and gets some great results, you may PM him or do a search.

Horse shows are fun. Just be glad you're not going to be under the arena. Pray for overcase skies! Usually they're in either really dark clothing or really light clothing (a white top and black pants).
No kidding, shooting under an arean would not be nearly as fun, and much more challenging.
I would shoot in manual for this, cloudy or not. While aperture will work, it's going to be pretty confused with metering for these conditions.
You know, I just don't feel comfortable in manual for something like this, too many shots too fast, hoping aperture will work.
I'd also suggest not doing auto ISO. While in some cases it will work, for REALLY harsh lighting, broad sunlight shouldn't be too bad, even when you get a cloud. Adjust shutter speed accordingly. Get used to it. If you're at 1/2000 @ f/4 in the sun, and a cloud comes, 1/1000 should be ok. That's only 1-3 rotations of the back dial depending on your settings.
Not even auto ISO with say a 400 ISO cap? I'd assume 200 would be plenty adequate for anything in this setting. But with the ISO cap, I can also choose a shutter speed minimum, say 1/1000.
Also, try something new and shoot more than you need if he will be able to go through them. People like different. If these people have been doing horse shows for a while, they get the same old, boring, cliche, stereotypical "pose" each and every single time. Different Sells!
Good point, then again I'm new at this, hoping my shots will be new/fresh because of that reason alone.
Good luck with the shoot and have fun!

~Michael~

I'll echo the above comments.
-Make sure you have reliable storage or a method of backup. 3 letters: CHA.
CHA? Not sure about storage, but I'll have 40GB worth of cards on me
-Make sure you have adequate power. 70-200/2.8 sucks a LOT of juice for focus and VR. I find it drains the battery twice as fast, especially when churning out pictures by the hundreds.
I will have 3 genuine Nikon EN-EL3e's on me, all registering a "0" on the newness meter, hoping this will be adequate?
-Subject isolation is better than no isolation.
Yes very true, I wasn't saying that it isn't but it seems having the entire subject in focus is much more important in this instance :)

Keep your VR off.
~Michael~
Could you expand on that?


Thanks for all the tips and info everyone!
 
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These events were shot a couple of years ago, but you may just look over my shots and find shots you either like, or don't like. It's a smugmug site, so you can click on the info button and see what settings I used for these shots. And I probably used either a 70-200 or a 300 2.8 for most of them.
http://www.greatbigshots.com/HORSE-SHOWS-AND-RODEOS

Looking at this album in particular, as it looks very similar to the type of event I will be shooting, although some of my subjects may be a little farther away Also you were using the 70-200
Anyways, it looks like most of your shooting was done at f/4-f/5.6 or so, with seemingly little background separation. Surprisingly, your ISO varies from 200to 800, all the way to an extreme of 2200, still in the mid-day sun :eek:

Any comments on those settings? Also, were they shot hand held or on a tripod or monopod? I'm really enjoying going through these shots.
 
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At high enough shutter speeds, the motion will be frozen anyway, so all VR would do is to shift something that's already sharp.
Ok, that's what I figured. Is it true VR will actually slow the lens down? Planning on keeping shutter speed above 1/1000.
 
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The link points to a category, not a particular gallery so I can't tell which gallery you have questions about....

BUT... since I was shooting for fun, you're likely to see varied apertures in the different galleries. The gallery of actual rodeo shots was at dusk on into the evening, so ISO's are higher and IQ won't be as good. And that gallery was shot with a D3, not the D3s I'm shooting with now, so the ISO limits were a little lower.

Any shots you see with the 70-200 are hand held. 99% of those with the 300 2.8 are on a monopod. Unless you have some physical limitations, hand holding the 70-200 is not a problem and just gives you greater flexibility to move around. Don't get me wrong, it's heavy BUT I always use the best lens for the occassion and don't worry about size and weight. It's a tool, not a toy.

And I most likely used aperture priority and auto ISO for most of these, which is contrary to some advice already given. You can probably stop all of this type action at 1/500 ss, and you're not likely to go lower than that in the mid-day sun unless you go into a shady area.

Of course, the more advanced you become you can start taking those decisions away from the camera and make them yourself. Me? I need all the help I can get, so I let the camera make decisions based on my given parameters and I can concentrate on composition/backgrounds etc.
 
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Could you expand on that?


Thanks for all the tips and info everyone!

Sure. Most of the time, VR doesn't help when you're over 1/500. It also give a split second of a lag to engage. It could mean the difference of getting the shot and not.

Remember, VR solves your movement and camera shake, not stopping action more. You're going to hear lots of conflicting stories on whether or not to use VR or not. Only you can decide if you want it on or not. If you're not going to have a charging outlet readily available or even another battery, you DEFINITELY need to keep it off.

~Michael~
 
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Have you talked this over with the guy that hired you? If you are representing him, you should study his photos and get an idea of the look he is going for. Everything tack sharp or just the main subject? Freezing peak action a little motion blur? Etc...
 
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The link points to a category, not a particular gallery so I can't tell which gallery you have questions about....

BUT... since I was shooting for fun, you're likely to see varied apertures in the different galleries. The gallery of actual rodeo shots was at dusk on into the evening, so ISO's are higher and IQ won't be as good. And that gallery was shot with a D3, not the D3s I'm shooting with now, so the ISO limits were a little lower.

Any shots you see with the 70-200 are hand held. 99% of those with the 300 2.8 are on a monopod. Unless you have some physical limitations, hand holding the 70-200 is not a problem and just gives you greater flexibility to move around. Don't get me wrong, it's heavy BUT I always use the best lens for the occassion and don't worry about size and weight. It's a tool, not a toy.

And I most likely used aperture priority and auto ISO for most of these, which is contrary to some advice already given. You can probably stop all of this type action at 1/500 ss, and you're not likely to go lower than that in the mid-day sun unless you go into a shady area.

Of course, the more advanced you become you can start taking those decisions away from the camera and make them yourself. Me? I need all the help I can get, so I let the camera make decisions based on my given parameters and I can concentrate on composition/backgrounds etc.
Oh, I was speaking of the Latta Plantation Spring Horse Show. Thanks for the help!

Sure. Most of the time, VR doesn't help when you're over 1/500. It also give a split second of a lag to engage. It could mean the difference of getting the shot and not.

Remember, VR solves your movement and camera shake, not stopping action more. You're going to hear lots of conflicting stories on whether or not to use VR or not. Only you can decide if you want it on or not. If you're not going to have a charging outlet readily available or even another battery, you DEFINITELY need to keep it off.

~Michael~
Great info! I will leave VR off unless I find a situation where my shutter speeds reeally dip down.

Have you talked this over with the guy that hired you? If you are representing him, you should study his photos and get an idea of the look he is going for. Everything tack sharp or just the main subject? Freezing peak action a little motion blur? Etc...

Somewhat yes, but not as much as I would have liked to. He gave me a link to the portfolio from the last show he covered, the same type of event I will be covering. I provided that link in my first post, I also went through much of the link myself.
According the majority of his photos, he wants the entire subject tack sharp/in focus. Background separation seems to be second in priority behind subject focus, it's very possible he uses a little higher aperture for these shots in general. There is no motion blur present, so 100% freezing peak action.
 
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Just got off the phone with the guy again, more good things.
I will be shooting in JPEG Fine quality, as there is very little post processing involved with such a large quantity of shots.
He prefers quality over quantity, wants the entire subject in focus, background separation whenever possible, a pleasing background to support that, and finally frozen action (no motion blur).
Whats better is he will have a booth set up, I will have a place to charge batteries, and empty cards throughout the day. I don't have to be concerned with storage or power anymore, although it sounds like I will have plenty of both.
 
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Nice. Sounds like a great gig with ideal conditions for shooting.

That's what I'm thinking, seems like this will be the perfect first time gig for me. The only thing I'm really lacking for this event in particular is a nice monopod. With such high shutter speeds I'm not really concerned with hand holding when it comes to image quality, but I may be holding a D90/70-200 VR2 for up to 10 hours in a day, may get a little tiring... haha.
 
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I recently hand-held a D70s with 70-200VRII for two days, 10 hours each, while running around outdoors. It's not that bad. What really hurt was my right hand. With a light body, it takes more to keep the lens pointing straight. If you're going to have a box, a tripod wouldn't be such a bad idea. It wasn't an option for me since I needed to run around.
 

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