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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Bullfighting in Madrid

Last Sunday I received a wonderful invitation to see a “Rejoneo”, one special kind of bullfighting where the bullfighter rides a Spanish horse, especially trained for this kind of show. The place was nonetheless the “dome” of Spanish bullfighting, the famous arena of Las Ventas, in Madrid. Hermoso de Mendoza, Andy Cartagena and Sergio Domínguez completed the billboard against 6 bulls from Los Espartales. That’s enough for technical infos, I’m not a bullfighting major fan or expert and the main reason I went is because I love to see what they can do with the horses in front of the bull, something absolutely magic.

Fact is that I had THE seats. “Tendido 9”, front row. Nobody in front of me but the bullfighters and helpers ring, the fence and the arena. Obviously I took with me the entire pack of camera equipment: my old D80. 5 lenses, SD cards etc. First lens to be used a Nikkor 10.5 f2.8 Fisheye, just to get an idea of how the “Plaza de Toros” looks like

The zoom that worked the most has been the Nikkor 18-200, pretty efficient in terms of focal length and fast focus yet not fast enough neither too sharp, especially when worked constantly at f5.6. As the afternoon light got dimmer also the D80 showed its limitations with the high ISO I needed to use. Noise was showing pretty heavily in most of the images and together with my scarce experience in these kinds of photographic events, delivered many poor images, and many already swallowed by the recycle bin.

Among the major difficulties I had in the beginning was trying to compensate the exposure difference between the shaded areas and those where the sun was still heavily shining. Once it settled lower on the horizon I switched to manual and worked more or less with the same setting for the rest of the evening.
Eventually I found myself with a bunch of underexposed images, more noise then, while those I have tried to shoot at a lower shutter speed came out quite blurred… It’s the story of the dog biting its tail, and sure enough I couldn’t go any further than ISO 800.

Have played with different kind of focusing, shutter speed, metering and focus point, and when the 18-200 became too slow to capture the dimmer light of the evening I switched to the 60mm f2.8 trying to gain a couple stops. Unfortunately, because of the Murphy’s Law, the rest of the action happened almost entirely on the other side of the arena and couldn’t get many decent frames.

Anyway, let’s not find excuses, what was missing was a good photographer dealing with the situation: my complete lack of experiences in sports and fast action in general heavily shows in the results and the only thing I can think of now is to go back in the near future and try again. Thus, I doubt very much I will be able to do it again from such privileged position.

If I will have such chance I will try to put my hands on a good 70-200 f2.8 and a body that allows me to pump up the ISO with no fear. Is a very exciting show and there are many good opportunities for amazing photos.

1 comment:

Fish Whisperer said...

Great post and cool pictures. You already said it but get yourself a faster lens, 2.8, 2, or even a 1.8 for low light situations. They usually cost a bit more but are worth it.