Written by: Angie Beaudet
How to take great horse photographs.
You know your horse is beautiful, but can you convey this in a photograph? With a few tips and a little practice, taking those shots can be easy and a whole lot of fun! Here are four different photographs and how to achieve them:
This photograph was taken just before the sun breaks the horizon, making the horses look like silhouettes against the sky. The key is timing; the lighting has to be just perfect…a little too late and you will start to see the colours of the horses and pasture. Start snapping pictures (about one minute apart) as soon as the sky starts to turn colourful, up until the blackness of the silhouettes starts fading. This all happens within a few minutes, so be ready and take several shots, which will allow you to pick the best one. Notice in the one I chose, the outline of the horse’s nose is just barely visible (horse on the right). In the photograph before, this couldn’t be seen, and in the next one, more details and colours started to appear, loosing the black silhouette effect.
The height from which you take the photograph also varies depending on the horizon and the height of the horse. In this photograph, I had to crouch down and be at about chest level with the horse to get the horse’s head at just the right spot over the horizon.
• Check your camera for a sunset mode, which enhances and brightens pinks, oranges and reds.
• For safety reasons, when taking pictures of horses in a pasture, always stand on the outside of the fence.
To achieve a clear action shot, it is crucial to be perfectly still. We tend to try and follow the horse, but this creates blurred images. Instead, stand perfectly still (using a tripod is ideal) and aim your camera at an area ahead of the horse. On most digital cameras, pressing the shutter button down halfway will cause the camera to start focusing in advance. As the horse comes into the frame, finish pressing down on the button to snap the picture. It may seem difficult to get the timing just right at first, but be patient and have fun practicing on horses in the pasture or a friend in the riding ring.
• Check your camera for an action mode, which helps reduce blurriness.
• Choose the best lighting possible; a bright sunny day with the sun behind you will produce the best shots.
• Choose an appealing, uncluttered background.
Head shots can also be a little tricky, and sometimes come out looking like the horse’s head is too big for its body. Although this can sometimes be kind of cute, here’s how to pull off a professional-looking head shot.
Often, being too close to the subject is what creates the distortion. Try backing away a few steps. Horses also tend to turn their heads and stretch their noses towards us, which can create funny images. Have someone hold your horse on a lead or stand on the outside of a pasture fence so your horse can’t crowd you. It also helps if the horse’s head is parallel to its body or only slightly turned. It takes a little patience to get the horse to stand perfectly with its head in just the right position, but it is well worth the effort. Holding the camera at the same height as the horse’s head will also prevent distortion.
This photograph portrays a horse in a natural setting, but horses with a bridle or at a show can also make really nice subjects for head shots.
• Pay attention to lighting and background.
• A horse with its ears forward makes a much more attractive picture (crinkle some paper or have someone behind you get the horse’s attention).
• Take the time to shine your tack and groom your horse thoroughly.
This photograph is also about timing. The golden glow that the morning sun casts can give a soft and peaceful atmosphere to a shot. This lighting can be captured just after the full sun has broken over the horizon.
• To accentuate the orange glow, set your camera to sunset mode.
Now that you know how to accomplish these amazing pictures, have fun and get snapping those special moments that capture your horse’s spirit, power and beauty!