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a DS at the races

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heading for the startI’ve just seen myself on TV tonight, twice, because I spent the afternoon at the Hennessy Gold Cup horse racing meeting at Leopardstown. First up was a quick shot of my taking a picture of big race favourite Beef Or Salmon at the parade ring, then I was in a group of photographers at the last fence, watching Beef Or Salmon make a Hash of it. More photos from this day are behind this first picture.

On previous trips to Leopardstown I had wondered how I might get on to the course, seeing as all the gates were guarded by security personnel. Today I took a closer look and found that the personnel in question – kids earning pocket money – are apparently stationed there to keep the gate closed, not to actually stop anyone getting on the track. I found my way to the last fence and hung around with the “pro” photographers, the ones engaged in the Big Fast Lens Arms Race. They wouldn’t talk to me, of course, too busy telling loud stories about flying around the world at a moment’s notice and abusing their gear. If you had paid five figures for your digital SLR camera body, would it be patched up with gaffa tape and hanging off your back in the rain?

I had a chat with the St John’s Ambulance member on standby there, learning something about the kinds of falls experienced by jockeys. Some fall better than others, and it has a lot to do with experience, he said: a new jockey might find himself on the ground wondering what the hell happened, while an experienced jockey can tell if the jump is wrong before the horse is over the fence, bail out in time, and fall correctly.

How did the Pentax hold up? Very well, under difficult conditions. Unlike the “pros” I kept my gear mostly dry, and the pictures are not perfect, though very useable, It may be a totally new camera, but they still look mine. Still, I’m beginning to see why some people will pay a lot of money for a big lens that grants them another stop or two of light. The ironic thing is: I have a fairly fast “prime” lens which I could have used yesterday, but didn’t, thinking I would need the zoom lenses only. The extra light would have come in handy. Oh well.

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Written by brian t

February 7, 2005 at 9:50 am

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