Horse Photography

I have had my Canon Rebel T3i for about 3 years. Previously I just set it on Auto Sport or Auto. In March when I started my own blog site Horse Addict I decided I needed to do better than that. I had one advantage as a photographer of horses; I am a rider and I understand the movement of the horse. This enabled me to get the right moment for the picture. But if I was taking photos at night or in a dark arena……then what?

I think that photos are an essential element to add to my blog posts because they are not just an addition they are a bridge for the reader to cross over and see what I am describing with words. Then  I saw a professional photographer friend on Facebook recommending the online course offered by the Equine Photography Network (http://www.equinephotographers.org/),  I knew I had to take it.

The course is offered over six weeks. Each week has a new assignment and you can upload your photos for the instructor to view and receive her suggestions on how you can improve them. Some weeks were harder than others.  Week one was all about getting to know your camera. Shutter speed, aperture priority, ISO and all those little buttons and dials on my camera. Oh my Lord! I was intimidated.  But week two we got a photo assignment: get out there and take photos of a horse. There had to be a 3/4 profile, a full profile headshot, and a shot of a horse coming out of a doorway into strong light.  With my husband David to be my assistant and my horse Biasini as my model we began.

You can’t say to the horse:” Can you just move your left foot back a bit.” or ” Can you hold your head up a bit higher”. You have to be ready to snap the photo at the precise moment it presents itself. Horses get bored easily so having a stick with a plastic bag on it or a jar with pebbles to make a noise are all good to get the horse looking up and ears forward but you still need to be quick. They will only be in the position you want for a second or two.

Here is the head shot profile with the background blurred ( aka “bokeh” in the photog world).

 

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135mm  1/250s  f5.6  ISO200              

Here is the 3/4 profile . For this we were advised to be well back from the horse and shooting with a long lens to avoid distortion. With distortion the horse looks like either a giraffe or an elephant.

 

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135mm 1/320s f5.6 ISO 200

 

The next assignment was to do the “confirmation” photo. This is the photo that is used to show off horses for sale or for breeding. There is a very specific stance that must be captured. The two legs nearest to the camera must be out and the two farther away must be in together. Here is the correct stance. But the chain goes across his mouth. No good!

 

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163mm  1/500s  f5.6  ISO200

This next photo is not the correct stance but is a better composition and expression.

 

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163mm  1/500s  f5.6  ISO200

Photographing the horse in motion is a different sort of challenge. As I mentioned before I understand the tempo of the horse’s gaits and the sequence of movement as I  am a rider. For photos of the trot our assignment was to capture the moment that the offside front leg was at its’ most extended.Here is Belinda Trussell riding Giacometti, Irina Moliero de Muro’s horse.

 

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220mm 1/500 f5.6 ISO3200

For the canter I must try to capture the moment when the horse is ‘up’ in front. If the down moment of the canter is captured it looks like the horse is about to do a nosedive. Here is Belinda Trussell again on Giacometti with the upward moment captured.

 

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220mm  1/500s  f5.6  ISO3200

One of our final assignments was to take a horse in fast motion and achieve a “blur” of the background. There is not a lot of speedy movement in dressage so for this I borrowed the pony Penelope from barn manager Carl Callahan. She may be small but she can go!

 

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96mm  1/40s  f29  ISO100  focus: AI Servo

We were also assigned a silhouette photo. I was not successful with this while I was taking the course but more recently I did get one I liked. This is Belinda Trussell on her own horse Tattoo.

 

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252mm  1/500  f5.6  ISO3200

Finally I want to finish with my favourite photo of all. This is Biasini coming out from the indoor arena. I took it sitting on my bum on the gravel driveway. Ouch! but it was worth it.  I do not have Photoshop or Lightroom ( I will be graduating to those soon I hope) and for this photo I added contrast in the basic editing function of Picasa to make the background darker.  But the photo looks very much like it was shot originally.

 

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187mm 1/1250s  f5.6  ISO200 Spot Metering

I really enjoyed the course and got a lot out of it. I am still practising and in Florida during the winter season of horse shows I am hoping to get some great shots. Horses are such beautiful animals and they deserve to be photographed well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15 Comments Add yours

  1. Elizabeth (HorseLover4Ever) says:

    Oh my goodness!! These pictures are just amazing!!!!! Nice job! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. anne leueen says:

      The course was fun and I learned a lot.

      Like

  2. Wow, I really enjoyed all of your photos. Biasini looks great as well as the others. Enjoy!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hoping maybe I can get my husband to read this, as he’ll sometimes take pictures for me…

    Like

    1. anne leueen says:

      Well, as you know, the canter is tricky. The advice in the course was to snap as you see the hind end come under.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. He read it! All grumpy of course haha 🙂
        He insists he’ll just Burst the shots during the canter, and then I’ll have to pick out the best on my own. Oh well. He will come out again for some body shots though – perhaps in January. Fingers crossed!

        Like

  4. Bodynsoil says:

    I rode as a child and loved every moment of it. I wish I could still feel the freedom of getting out on the trail. Great photos, I love horses and your photos too.

    Like

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you. I love riding out on the trails as well. Horses give us a great freedom: we see the world from a higher viewpoint and when they gallop we can fly with them!

      Like

  5. Being a horse addict as yourself, I can attest you have done a stunning job capturing these amazing animals – your pictures speak volumes before a single word is read – looking forward to reading and seeing more of your journey!

    Like

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. Horses are beautiful creatures; sometimes amusing and sometimes very quirky but always worthy of our respect.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. nathaswami says:

    Good shots indeed !

    Like

  7. Lovely photos. My mom is a horse lover, I’ll have to send her over.

    Like

    1. anne leueen says:

      Thank you. I’m glad you enjoyed the photos and I hope your Mom will too.

      Liked by 1 person

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