Vallejo Snowfly-Holiday Horse
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 over 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 and "Chloe", a purebred Arabian mare with the registered name Vallejo Snowfly. Taken December 10th 2014, when I post these photos on Facebook or Instagram they are some of the most remarked upon. It includes a little bit about Chloe and 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 "Yes! Holiday Horse photo shoot". 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, being the great sport that she was, 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 person 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, while the snow was really coming down quite hard, Mike was NOT 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
My equine partner for this shoot was very fondly known as Chloe, an Arabian mare with a distinguished pedigree, 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 before she was purchased by the Grier family in Colorado Springs for their daughter Becky. At the time Becky. At the time Becky would have been about eleven or twelve years old, I can’t really recall. When it was time for Becky to head to college, 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 pedigree 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 managed for the DW Bonfire partnership, which included Stan and Susan Morey and Dr. Myron and Jackie Bailey and Bonfire was managed by the Morey’s Hallmark Farms in Edmond OK . Chloe was out of the Firedanse (who was by Gdansk) daughter R H Firefly, a National Top Ten driving horse in the 1980’s.