“Film is cheap! Time is not!”
That’s best photographic advice I ever received, as a budding corporate journalist years ago. Gathering bigwigs in the boardroom for a photo-shoot can be challenging, so it’s critical to keep that shutter clicking as much as possible. The photo-opportunity may not appear again.
Yearlings in the pasture can be even more impatient than overscheduled executives! Just when you think you have the ideal lighting and the magic moment, a truck may rumble by and startle the entire herd. If you have your face in the viewfinder, you may find yourself surrounded by thundering hooves in a heartbeat!
Catching a mare and her foal, right after delivery or frolicking on their first turnout together, can be photographic paradise. If you’re not ready to click at the right time, however, you can miss the opportunity.
A show-ready pair simply begs to be photographed. With the dues paid, the show clothes cleaned and pressed, the tack polished, and the main braided, this is a presentation worthy of record. How can you set yourself up to snap this picture well?
The simple rule is this: click off as many shots as you can, for as long as you can.
Today, we have digital cameras, so we don’t even pay for each exposure. If you’re heading out to a photo shoot, be sure to grab a good memory card, and take lots of pictures. (You can always delete the lesser-quality shots later.)
Ten Tips for Success
Set your camera for SPORT/ACTION (fast shutter speed), and start shooting.
Slightly overcast days tend to be better than over-bright ones.
Early morning and later afternoon provide softer lighting, which generally produces better pictures.
Whenever possible, shoot OUTSIDE. Most barns have terrible lighting for photos.
It’s better to get closer than to zoom, although this can be daunting at times. If you are shooting at a show or event, so that you must remain removed from the action, a telephoto lens will be a must. Purchase the longest zoom you can afford.
As you shoot, try to fit the whole horse inside your viewfinder (your camera’s visual frame). You can always crop your photos later.
Consider your backgrounds. A truly classy shot will showcase your intended subject against an uncluttered backdrop.
Shoot as many frames as you can, particularly if the horse if moving.
If a rider is aboard, shoot even more. You’re looking for that magic moment, when the horse and rider look their best together. You want the horse’s ears forward, the rider’s chin up, and the stars perfectly aligned.
The secret to wonderful digital photographs is in the post-editing process. Good photo editing software is money well-spent. You can crop right to the focal point, adjust color and contrast, convert to black and white (or antique sepia), and even correct focus and background problems. Just don’t forget to compress those photos before storing or uploading!