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  • Writer's pictureKathy Troxler

Getting good horse photos..."Roll With It"

First let me make one thing really clear.

It's not false modesty that has me repeating "Mike is a great photographer, and I'm lucky"! With the great quality of cameras these days ANYONE can take a great photo...every so often.

But, a "real" photographer gets them MOST of the time! A great photographer knows how to adjust the setting on a camera to make up for the conditions he's having to shoot in or to get a very specific look.

Yesterday, Mike got great pictures of Robby and Chloe for me and I got some great ones of Sultanni for him.

But the reason that I got those great pictures of Sultanni is because Mikey set the camera settings for me...AND then coached me WHILE posing for the pictures! What a multi tasker! The point he had to make for me yesterday was that I wasn't allowing enough time (between shots) for the battery to refresh to that the flash could fire again!

Yep! Even though these were outside shots, he was using a flash! And because he's a great guy, he's humored me and is allowing me to do something that great photographers hate! I'm going to show you (OMG) missed shots! A shot that wasn't usable because he (or more frequently I) didn't allow enough time for the flash to fire. I thought you might be interested in seeing the difference that it can make.

So here goes!

These pictures (we call them the "barn door" shots) are actually a reverse of a picture we did of Chloe (and many others!) last year! In the pictures above, however, I was outside the barn and Mike was inside the arena door.

In this photo above (from 2013), Mike was outside (on the driveway) and Chloe was standing with her front hooves just inside the arena, peeking out!

Why the switch to Mike shooting from inside? Yesterday, there was enough wind for Mike to be concerned about snow getting on the camera and flash. The 2013 shot was just quiet, straight snow.

After Mike shot Chloe and Robby, it was my turn! When Mike and Sultanni got set up, I saw so many cool pictures (in my head!!) I started firing away! That was when Mike had to tell me to slow down, and give the flash a chance to "recycle"! The "flash failed" pic (above) is an example of the "missed one". When you look at the other picture, you can see how much the flash does! It doesn't make the picture "super" bright...just brighter than it was. Sultanni's face has more dimension and there's a beautiful "catch light" in her eye...that's the flash!

We have so much fun doing these pictures, it's worth the "hassle" of setting them up. And yes, if you're going to do it right, there is a bit of prep involved. We're lucky in that Chloe is a fairly "prissy" grey mare and doesn't revel in sleeping with her head in manure (unlike her BFF Honky Tonk), but I did trim up her bridle path and brush her out a bit. I had made the neck garlands last year so it was just a matter of unpacking them and then making sure I dressed nice enough so that I would like the picture, BUT also warm enough to be comfortable for the duration. And it was cold!

Here's an important piece of advice...even if your horse isn't looking exactly where you had planned, keep your "picture face" on.You can't see what the photographer does. In the 2 best pictures of Chloe (from this session) she was really quite distracted and wondering why in the world I was making her get snow on her ears when the barn door was right there! In the photo above I was scratching her withers.

And in this picture, she spotted Mike's herd of geese waddling through the snow drifts. Chloe hardly ever takes a "bad" picture, but I never imagined this one would look this cool!

And a final word about glittery Christmas stuff! It can make for a great training exercise! Don't take it for granted that all horses like wearing garlands and bells. We actually do have practice sessions with smaller versions of the big neck garlands to make sure we have as little drama as possible on the day of a shoot!

The "big shot photo divas" around here pretty much know how to duck their heads for them like they're getting their blankets put least, by Christmas Eve they do!

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