Any post that I write that includes the topic of "equine photography" is a joint effort. That's because while I know what I want in a shot, I have very little clue about how to achieve it...except to tell Mike, "I have an idea". And he unfailingly gets me something better than I envisioned. This particular post is about the photos that he shot of me Robbie and Chloe, two wonderful purebred Arabian mares that made the trip from Colorado to New York to the WGA Equine Program. These photos were taken December 10th 2014, and whenever I post theseon Facebook or Instagram they are favorites. This post includes a little bit about Chloe and Robbie but quite a bit more about how Mike got the shots that day.
Professional photographers have an arsenal of filters and layers that can be added to any photo to achieve a "snowfield" using Photoshop in post production. I'm more of a fan of "realism" in a set. That's why on a snowy day in December I said "Yay! Holiday Horse photo shoot...woo hoo!". In the above photo Chloe is displaying the expression that Mike may (or may not) have had when this project started out. Actually, that's not true because any chance to shoot photos puts Mike into his "happy place"! Chloe and Robby, having impecable manners, simply put up with whatever we had in mind on any given day.
For this set up (which we used on a number of occasions) the horses front feet are ideally just a couple feet outside the arena door and the handler stands back by the horses shoulder. Usually a nice composition is for the handler to turn their shoulders slightly towards the horse.
Back in 2014 Mike was shooting with his Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN. For this shoot, the snow was really coming down quite hard, but Mike was NOT actually standing out in it with his equipment. He and his camera AND the strobe head with the Octabox with a diffuser (for you non- photographers reading this post that means a big darn flash on a tripod linked wirelessly to his camera) were standing INSIDE the barn, shooting out. The diagram for this set up is shown below the gallery.
The photos in the gallery above were all shot at with a Canon 70-200mm lens, ISO of 400. Due to the changing weather conditions, even using the Octobox flash, Mike experimented with different f stops, from f/5.6 to f/18. The darkest image is one where the flash failed to fire
As I mentioned at the beginning, my equine partners for these shots were two fantastic Arabian mares. The super cute grey was very fondly known as Chloe and the fabulous chestnut mare is Robby. Both have distinguished pedigrees.
Chloe has no show record and is one of the “unsung” hero’s of the horse world—an amazing lesson horse and ambassador for the Arabian breed. Mike and I owned her briefly and later Mike had the great fortune to have Chloe donated to his program at WGA Equine. (WGA for Children). From the moment she arrived Chloe became a favorite of all the students and was one of the most requested for photos.
The distinguished pedigrees I mentioned? Chloe’s registered name was Vallejo Snowfly and her breeder is none other than Katharyn Hart. She was sired by DW Bonfire and out of the Firedanse daughter R H Firefly, a National Top Ten driving horse in the 1980’s.
Robby's registered name is Harthrob. Sired by Mussiah (Rickie and Paula Taylor, Taylor Ranch Arabians) Robby does have a very extensive show record with multiple Regional Championships in Trail before joining the ranks of valuable lesson horses at WGA for Children's Services where she continues to make new fans for Arabian horses to this day.