Aiken Trials - 75th Running

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This year was the 75th annual running of Aiken Trials, which took place on Saturday March 18. This event is always well produced and attended. The Aiken Training Track makes for a neat venue. Tickets can be obtained for infield and outfield parking. Front row reserved parking gets you a parking spot next to the rail where you can watch the races. Spectators bring folding chairs, ice chests, and barbeques. The tailgate parties will rival any football tailgate party. Events like this are always attended by other photographers and it is a good time to meet new friends. There were a number of special events this, such as a bi-plane flyover, Miss South Carolina, and one of the Wells Fargo stagecoaches. 

The forecast was for rain but the weather turned out to be quite nice. There were seven races this year and horses and their riders didn't disappoint. There was plenty of excitement to go around. A typical race lasts less than 30 seconds. The horses are in prime camera view about 10 seconds. With seven races run on Saturday 70 seconds was about how much time there was to photograph the horses in action.

What You will Need

If photographing a horse race interests you bring a sturdy monopod and a zoom lens that will provide up to 200mm zoom. Speed is important here so a lens capable of at least f/4 will be sufficient. I used a Nikon 70-200mm lens and shot many of the images in my gallery at 200mm, f/4. Look for opportunity to get close to the track. Aiken Trials is one of the few tracks that let spectators get this close. At a venue like this a shorter lens, such as 24-70mm could suffice, but a lens with more reach will extend your shooting time.


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