What's a photographer to do on a cold winter night in Central New York? Get creative and do photo studies of grey and chestnut Arabians! First up in this blog series, the Arabian mares, Peaches, Vixen and Rella from Mike's Holiday Horse series from 2013!
Sometimes a photography shoot doesn't go as planned and you have to adapt! This is true of any 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! Lot's and lot's of patience. Oh—and well schooled horses as well! The beginning of this photo shoot was very time consuming AND boring! Especially from the horse handling point of view. There was test after test to check the play of the flashes and to get those settings just right.
The mare chosen to be the "stand in model" as Mike set the lights was the lovely Peaches! Why Peaches? 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 shown 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 distance away from the horse), he has "natural" looking eyes...no "demon eyes"!
Our 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! The shot above is number 8117. When I went through all of the shots that Mike kept, the next number that shows is 8145, and it's not a shot of Rella and Peaches! The reason is that Rella never did warm up to the idea of getting too close to Peaches. Mike didn't even keep any of the pictures taken of Rella and Peaches except for the one above. It was time to try a different tactic, so we let Rella take a break and brought out grey mare number three-Vixen!
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!
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!