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  • Writer's pictureKathy Troxler

Holiday Horse Pictures -Michael Troxler

What's an equine photographer to do on a cold winter night in Central New York? Once upon a time (and not that long ago) Mike was just such a creature. There was no shortage of horses to choose from, but it was muddy and icy outside (yes, central NY can achieve both mud and ice at the same time!) and the horses were hairy.

Mike did a series of Holiday Horse photos back in 2013, using the indoor arena as a studio and first up in this series were Peaches, Vixen and Rella, all Arabian mares, posing for a trio of grey mares shot.

Sometimes a photography shoot doesn't go exactly as planned and you have to adapt! This is true of any type of photography, but especially true when the subject is animals. And if you've decided to experiment with holiday horse pictures—and want to photography not one but three gray mares— inside with studio lights? Well, the challenges multiply! The most important component? Patience! Lots and lots of patience. Another key element—and well-schooled horses.

The beginning of this photo shoot was very time consuming AND boring! Especially from the horse handling point of view. Mike did test after test to check the play of the flashes and to get those settings just right.

Arabian mare GJR Mishnomida photo by Mike Troxler

The mare chosen to be the 'stand-in model' while Mike set the lights was the lovely Peaches! Why was Peaches chosen for this task? Because I knew we could count on her manners. She's very kind and patient and she knows that the word "whoa" means to stay put until told to move! Of course, all of the mares chosen for this project knew "whoa", but Peaches as the most experienced. The photo above shows Mike getting the effect he wants with the lighting. Because the flash Mike is using is NOT on his camera (and is quite a distance away from the horse), she has "natural" looking "demon eyes"!

Arabian mares Julianna BF and GJR Mishnomida photo by Mike Troxler

The next mare to add to the shot was Rella. That's Rella and Peaches up above. You can see by Rella's eye (and the distance that she's standing from Peaches) that she's not sure that this is a very good idea at all! Rella doesn't know Peaches and within her herd group, Rella isn't an alpha, therefore she's being very respectful of Peach's personal space. Even so, both Rella and Peaches got high marks from me because they both minded their manners! Rella never did warm up to the idea of getting too close to Peaches. Mike shot about 20 photos of these two but only the one above made the final cut.

It was time to try a different tactic, so we let Rella take a break and brought out grey mare number three-Vixen!

Arabian mares Vixen and Peaches-Mike Troxler photographer
Arabian mares Vixen-Peaches and Rella by Mike Troxler-New York

The photo above is too dark, but I've it here to show Rella's demeanor as I ask her to come join the group again, this time off of Peaches left side. Rella's still not too sure she wants to be a part of this group, however she's been watching the proceedings from the sidelines and seems to have decided it might be safe to come on in. Even so, she's definitely multi-tasking! Rella has her right ear swiveled toward Peaches hind end (just in case) and her eye and left ear on Mike's flash stands! All three mares behaving really well! Vixen is definitely ready to get on with the taking of pictures!

Arabian mares Vixen, Peaches and Rella-by Mike Troxler-New York

I thought the picture above was interesting because (at least to me) it seems like Peaches is sort of setting the tone. She's got one ear on Rella (who hasn't twitched a whisker since the last frame), but she's interacting with Vixen as well. Peaches is filling her role as "the voice of reason" perfectly!

Arabian mares-Vixen, Peaches and Rella-by Mike Troxler New York

And now that everyone is finally comfortable, I make an attempt to get them to all focus on me...Vixen is a yes! Peaches...not committed, and Rella is still more concerned with watching Mike's equipment than me! But the shot still works.

Equine photography by Mike Troxler Arabian mares Vixen, Peaches and Rella by Mike Troxler New York

And this is the image that was used in the final crop! The picture above is how the image looked before any adjustments in photoshop! So, not cropped no changes to the brightness levels, etc. All I've done is downsized the images so they'll load faster in the blog!

Equine photography by Mike Troxler Arabian mares

Ta-da!!! This is the final crop!

Starring purebred Arabian mares Julianna BF, GJR Mishnomida and GJR Cinderalla

Better known as Vixen, Peaches and Rella

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