Photographing horses with their riders

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Animal photography is both fun and challenging. Fun because I love those gorgeous animals, big and small, and challenging because each species requires different techniques. From stalking cats to throwing sticks for dogs, I’ve come up with plenty of tricks to walk away with few good photographs. However, photographic horses requires a whole new skillset. This is partially due to the fact that our small furry friends are carnivores, while the horses are prey animals. They act much differently than our small friends.

Safety

First and foremost -safety. If you have no experience with horses, you will need a horse handler. Horses are both gorgeous and big, often weighting half a ton! And they frighten rather easily. Just make sure there is an experienced horseperson around to calm the horse.

Picture pretty

First off, start with a clean and brushed horse. Choose a well-maintained bridle or halter. If you are taking close shots, being clean is of utmost priority. If you are to take shots from a distance, you can get away with less than pristine horse.

Surrounding area

You don’t really want rusty pipes, old equipment and other junk. However, all working barns and ranches have their ugly spots, so make sure to avoid those. Walk around and pick few nice spots. Blooming trees are perfect opportunity. Use the golden hour to your advantage, as it will make the horse coat shine.

Ears! Those can make or break your shots

Always try to capture the horses with their ears forward. Usually a clapping sound or a whistle is just enough. The only exception of this are the action shots – because in that very moment forward ears do not represent well the intensity of the moment.

Catching the moving horse in tricky too. They move darn too fast, so you will need to adjust the shutter sped to 1/500 or higher. Use a small pasture or a good looking arena for the moving shots

Be creative and take advantage of every moment

Don’t do just the old tried and tested shots of the entire horse or of the horse looking straight into the camera. If you choose to include a human in the photos, capture the interaction between the human and the horse. Capture the little details, like the pull-on boots of the rider for example.

Speaking of boots, let me tell you that you need to pay attention to your footwear too. You will be walking in mud and dirt, so it has to be tough like a work boot, comfortable and easy to put on and take off according to mybootprint.com. Bad footwear choice can ruin your day and divert your focus from your subjects.  

If you are comfortable, you can get creative. Try getting a shot of the horse’s eye, or the mane. Shot the rider and the horse from a creative angle. Catch them interacting.

I’d like to take inspiration from other shots, so take some time to browse horse images on flickr or pinterest to help get your creative juices flowing

How to make a perfect photograph of your horse – photography tips

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You love your beautiful horses, but never seem to be able to capture that perfect moment when taking a picture of them? Here are some tips for photographing your horses by expert photographers:

  1. Lighting is essential

Photography is all about the lighting so choose the perfect time of day to take a picture of your horse. The sunlight in the early morning, just after sunrise or sunset will provide you with beautiful lighting needed to make great photographs. If you want to have a photo session at noon the task can be trickier as the high sun can cast a lot of shadows.

For the cleanest and sharpest shots choose an overcast day.

Take your photos outdoors, because indoor photography of horses could prove difficult even for professionals.

  1. Getting the focus just right

To end up with a sharp shot you need to focus your camera impeccably. U sing things which can create lines of contrast can help a lot for the focusing.

If you are taking a photo of a horse from the side, focus your camera on a point between the nose of the horse and the rider.

When you are taking a portrait picture, focus on the eye for better results.

  1. Take advantage of the colors of your horse

Horses of certain colors are easy to photograph than others. Coloreds are easier due to the lines of contrast created by the markings. You will find photographing grey horses much harder if you don’t tack them up for the photo session.

  1. Photos of the horse with a rider

To take pictures of the horse and rider side by side, ask the rider to stand at the level of the eyes of the horse so you get a proper focus on both.

  1. The Background matters

Make sure there is a distance between the horse and any trees or hedges or other distracting objects in the background. A great background for an equine picture is a bright blue sky or full leaf trees which create a great contrast with the horse.

  1. Get the ears facing forward

This can be done by asking someone to stand behind you and make a noise. The horse will use its ears to find out where the sound is coming from and hopefully you will be able to capture the beautiful moment.

  1. Taking a picture of a jump

Time your shot to get the exact moment of the jump. The quicker the rate of the camera the more frames it can shoot. Practice your timing and you will soon find it easy to time the jump photos properly to get that perfect snap of your horse in action!

 

Tips for capturing those perfect sports photos

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Love sports and want to learn how to make great sport event photographs to keep or share the memories?

Here are a few tips on photographing sports which will help you make those perfect snaps next time you are watching a match, race or game.

  1. Switch to manual mode

This will allow you to fine-tune and change the settings of your camera and enable you to capture great photos of the sports event.

  1. Fast shutter speed

Switch to a fast shutter speed, so that you can take sharp action shots without all that annoying blurring from the fast motion of the athletes. Start with a 1/500 second setting, and if you continue getting blurred images increase the shutter speed until you get the desired effect.

  1. Choose a wider aperture

Start with an aperture of f/5.6 and widen it to get the best effect.

  1. Increase the ISO

This can cause the images to be noisier but it is a better option for editing than blurry ones. The ISO needs to be increased to 400 minimum, and if necessary increase it to as high as it can go to get properly exposed images of the sports event.

  1. Fiddle with the focus

Use manual focusing as autofocus takes more time for capturing an image, which in sports photography means everything. Keep changing the focus as you wait for the perfect moment and shoot.

  1. Use continuous mode

Continuous mode will allow you to capture a number of images at once, and this will increase the likelihood of getting the perfect shot during a fast-paced game or race.

  1. Toggle the white balance

If you switch to tungsten or fluorescent you can avoid any ugly tints in your shots if you are shooting indoors. For outdoor events, you can use your automatic mode for white balance.

  1. No flash

Turn the flash off altogether when shooting a sports event. It can cause your photos to appear two dimensional and most of all it can distract the athletes or players as well.

  1. Experiment

Stay out of the box and keep taking shots of the event even when the players are warming up, taking breaks or timeouts or after the event is over. You can still get capture some incredible shots of the player, coaches, the wonderful team spirit, the exalted audience and the event altogether.