Horse Racing at Tinahely Point to Point
Yesterday, Offshoot camera club went to a Point-to-Point in Tinahely in beautiful south Co. Wicklow. It was run by the Bray Harriers hunt. Point-to-point racing is the entry level of National Hunt racing - and, naturally, like many of the best things, it began in Co. Cork with a race from Buttevant to Doneraile in 1752 - according to this history of the sport. Unlike the big racecourse meetings with crowds, access restrictions and higher entry prices, Point-to-Points are a great way to photograph racehorses in action in an easy going setting. If you do try this though, please be sensible and stay well back from the racing line, don't use flash, and co-operate with the stewards to ensure that photographers continue to be welcome. There are several events each weekend around the country from September to June - here's the fixture list.
Riders approaching our chosen fence.
Some of the Offshoot crew.
When we arrived, I was a bit worried about the the misty conditions but the neutral flat lighting was ideal to keep the focus on the action and to highlight the details of the horses and jockeys. I used my Canon 70-200mm f4 lens mostly, from a prone position to get mostly sky in the background. ISO values were typically in the range 800 to 2500 to get shutter speeds in excess of 1/1000th of a second at f4. As the bunch of horses pass in a few seconds, the high speed burst rate of 10 frames per second on my Canon 7D mark II shooting rate is a gift. I set the white balance to cloudy with a few minor tweaks afterwards in Lightroom. I then added contrast using the basic panel in Lightroom to adjust shadows, highlights and clipping, followed by some clarity and vibrance.
There were six races between 1 and 3.30pm with three circuits in each race - meaning I had eighteen chances to learn from my mistakes . . . ahem . . . not that I'm admitting to any such thing, of course! OK, OK, I had about one keeper in ten from the day :-). You can also check out Healy Racing's coverage of the day here.
A series of shots at a fence on the downhill run.
In the gaps between the races we chatted with and got a few shots of the stewards.
A second series of shots at an uphill fence approaching the finish
Trying a few panning shots
A finally, a shot of the outing leader, Mike Smith with one of the steward's horses. Check out his take on the day on his Flickr stream. Thanks Mike.
Keywords: Bray Harriers, Ireland, John Coveney, John Coveney Photography, National Hunt, Offshoot, Offshoot Camera, Offshoot Photography Society, Tinahely, horse racing, jumping, point-to-point, steeplechasing, www.johncoveney.ie
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