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  • Writer's pictureKathy Troxler

Holiday Horse Pics with TeamTrox

Back in 2014 we were very excited to get a message from Deanna DeMark asking if she could book Mike to take holiday pictures of her and her gelding Gaston! I had been working with Gaston and Deanna so I knew this horse had what it took to get great pictures. The basics am I talking about...Gaston has GREAT MANNERS, knows what the word "whoa" means and is a doll to deal with!

Bright and early (well, early by "Kathy" standard time...actual time 10:00 am) we loaded up our trusty (Canon 1DMKIIn, 70-200mmf2.8 lens, 2 Strobe heads, 1 550 flash head, 3 pocket wizard remote triggers, stands, extra batteries, umbrella (in case of rain), 1 60 inch 5-in-1 reflector, lots of coats and scarves, Horse Wardrobe selection along with extra ribbons and "stuff"! As it turned out it was a moderately bright and overcast day. Actually fairly easy conditions to deal with as long as it didn't start raining. Yes, on December 14th we had the possibility of either rain or snow and if we had to have one or the other, we wanted snow...NOT RAIN!

Deanna and Mike checking out the "snow field". Besides working out the best "shoot zones"working out the lighting and backgrounds—we want to make it a safe and comfortable experience for the horse and handler. Gaston was barefoot so we didn't have to worry about snow balling up in his feet. There's just enough snow to be pretty but it was pretty challenging to walk through.

Since we wanted "pretty snow" vs "dirty snow", Mike is telling Deanna how far to go "down field" before coming back up to where he wants to take the shot.

The shot above is a really good picture of Mike's set up. Just in front of Mike in this shot you can see the back side of a reflector umbrella. The front side—facing DeAnna and Gaston is shiny silver with a Canon ex 550 flash with a remote trigger. This means that when Mike actuates the shutter on his camera, it triggers the flash to fire wirelessly in sync with the camera. The advantage to this set up is you get nice fill light to the faces. If Mike had just used a flash mounted on his camera he would have the "red eye" and "green eye" that needs to be retouched in post editing. It's all about the relationship of the angle of the flash to the subject. This angle produces NO red eye and illuminates DeAnna's face under the brim of her hat! The photos below, contrasted with the ones above (taken with my cell phone) illustrate the differences between a cell phone shot and a camera shot pretty darn well.

Professional equine photography by Michael Troxler

Lastly, a very important disclaimer! All the "behind the scenes" (aka #bts photos) included in this blog are "Kathy Cell phone" pictures and except for cropping some of them. I guarantee that the very first thing Mike will be inclined to do (when he reviews this for me) is to say (in a nice yet pained way) "geeze, Kath, you could have at least adjusted the brightness (or saturation...or contrasthe knows better than to say "the histogram"— because my eyes glaze over). And in this case, I'm not actually resisting being a better educated photographer! However, one of the points I'm making with these posts is what it takes to take great horse pictures. The comparison of Mike's professionally "set" photos to my cell phone pics will show why investing in a professional photo shoot is worth it—your pictures will be great!

Professional equine photography, Finger Lakes Region New York, by Mike Troxler

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