Over the past few days I’ve been running all over, shadowing in photography and working hence the delayed post, but here is another insight into my work with Storm!
Another aspect of equine photography that isn’t necessarily something you’d give a second thought to is showing in hand. Not as thrilling to watch as jumping or dressage but equally as skilled and beautiful.
The idea is essentially simple, get a horses best movement as well as the handler in a tight central shot. The problem for this is that there is no longer one aspect of horse and rider, it doubles as horse with handler.
To start of like any type of photography think of where the best pictures will be. Make sure you shoot away from the sun and that the background isn’t overcrowded with vibrant colours and shapes. Also make note of the weather, if there is going to be quick changes of light with an overcast sky, make sure you have settings prepared for this sudden changes, so again set an auto ISO and stick with an overcast or AWB.
Lets start with a standing shot. Ideally you want to be 45 degrees on to horse to see its full length and get a good face angle. You also want the horse to be standing square – front legs evenly apart and back legs parallel to this. Second part is to make sure the ears are forward. There are several tricks for this, such as asking the handler to feed the horse some grass, wave at the horse or get someone to make noises so the horse looks over. Finally you want to have handler looking relaxed and not awkward. In this example on the left the cropping is a bit tight on the horse and ideally there would not be a traffic cone in the middle ground.
Walking shots are a bit more tricky as its a natural 4 beat movement. Also due to the pace of this gait its hard to get the stretch as you would get in trot, canter and gallop. Ideally you would want to capture the stretch of the leg closest to you or the step into it, as pictured to the right. Again you want the horse looking relaxed and settled, and ideally with his/her ears forward. Ideally you want to have the handler fully in shot and not blocked by the horse, ideally between 0 and 90 degrees from the front of the horse.
Trot is a 2 beat gait so easier to grasp a rhythm to. To find the best shot you need to get the triangles and parallels ideally on the right leg, so the inside leg is the one extended forward and fully straight. The horse wants to be moving forward with a good neckline, and ideally with his/her ears forward. Again you want to find the best angle to show off horse and handler as well as getting the obvious of eyes open and happier looking facial expressions. In the example to the left here the handler is blocked therefore making the photo look messy. The horse is also not fully stretched and the photo is taken on the wrong leg making the horses hind legs look unbalanced. The tail is also blurred slightly so a higher shutter speed as well as a narrower aperture would fix this.
Again it is important to remember that practise does make perfect and this kind of photography takes time to get right! Be critical with your own photos after the event and make note on what you need to improve on next time you go out on shoot. Also try and get feedback from horse riders and handlers as they are the customers, and they usually know best.
Have fun, laugh, smile and enjoy yourself!
Thanks for reading and have a great day!
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ALL PHOTOGRAPHS FROM BRIONY-MOLLY PHOTOGRAPHY, CARDIGAN SHOW 2016.