Introduction to Equine Photography
By Linda Sherrill ~ Justus Photography

Most horse lovers plaster their walls with professional photographs taken of their horses in competition, or at home on the farm.
With just a few steps you can insure that you too, can take quality horse photographs. Most horse photographs require the ability to take a "fast" picture, for example running, jumping, sliding stop, barrel racing, endurance riding or any of the numerous disciplines we participate in. For this, we require a print film that has the ability to "stop" this type of action. There are many choices now for the speed of the film you have available. Readily available film speeds now range anywhere from 100 ISO to 1600 ISO. I typically use 400 or 800 ISO for action shots of the horses I photograph. In times past 800 ISO film was too "grainy" for enlargements. Thankfully, that is no longer the case.
Most of the "point and shoot" 35mm cameras on the market today automatically read the speed of the film you are inserting. If yours is a manual SLR 35mm, for example, you may need to "dial in" the ISO speed of the film you are using.
We all want our photographs of our horses to look real. How many times have we seen horse photographs taken by local newspapers, etc. and one look tells you that they knew nothing about horses. The horses heads take up most of the photograph and their bodies end up looking like little alien beings. This is the result of the lens used to photograph the horses. I recommend that you stay away from wide angle lenses (24mm and lower) when photographing horses and stick to the standard 70 -200mm range. You can position yourself so the horse "stands" in the fashion accepted by breed standards, therefore eliminating the large head-alien look from your photos.

Experiment with standing and kneeling when taking your photographs. You will be surprized with the differance in your photos. Stick with the angles that you see that you like. A photograph of a horse showing in the arabian park class, for example, is going to be taken from a differant angle than a team of Belgins pulling a wagon. You want to emphasize what is taking place. (High front leg action vs Including the wagon and team in the photo.)

Another common mistake is knowing when to take the photograph. We tend to take the photos long before the horses are within acceptable viewing range. Our prints then require a magnifying glass to see who the horse and rider were! One way to eliminate this problem is to "stage" a photo prior to the action beginning. Position a horse and rider at the exact spot you will be photographing once tha action starts. Then, you can position yourself at just the right time to capture them up close and centered. This is also a great tool to use for manual focus camera users. Then, you're not trying to focus and follow the action at the same time.
Next, get those ears up! Try using an assistant to stand behind you, holding something the horse may not be completely familiar with. A good tool I've found ia a common household "duster" for window blinds.

Good luck with your photography, and remember............
Practice makes perfect. Even  professional photographers take rolls and rolls of film in order to get that perfect shot we all look for in our horses!

Justus Photography
Linda Sherrill
Sturgis MI. 49091


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