Tips for Equine Ride Photographers, part 3

January 29, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

RedbudsRedbuds This is a continuation of ride photographer tips. If you missed the beginning look for Introduction.  As a reminder, the numbering is not significant and while these tips work for me, they may not work for you. Develop your own set.

 

6) The best ride managers will notice great spots for photos. Good ride managers outline the event, give me a map then leave me alone and trust I know what I'm doing. The others either don't care or think they should be taking photos, don't work with them again. (Inspired by Donovan Rubley)

I almost did not include this tip as it reflects my personal and somewhat independent attitude so please take this with the appropriate amount of salt. Let me explain my thinking. More than anyone else the ride manager will determine the mood of the event staff. A happy staff tend to make for happy riders and good photos. Good managers like Don, who inspired this tip, will make it look easy and are a real pleasure to work with. Those are the ones you want to work for again.

 

7) Event photography should be fun. When it is not, quit shooting horses and go back to birds.

Reality check ... You are not going to get rich in ride photography and you probably won't even pay for your equipment. You will get to go camping with a group of wonderful people and see athletic horses in places you might never get access to otherwise. Good groups are like an extended family and you're that crazy aunt or uncle that always has a camera. It should be fun.

 

8) The moment won't wait for me.  Be the first one up in the morning.  Explore more, plan more and walk more.  In other words, be ready.

These events take planing and exploration. You don't just wander off into the field and find the good spots. You need to research, scout the possible locations and figure out the ride timing. Make a plan before the event then modify it (and you will!) as necessary when you see the trail conditions and ride timing.

 

9) Know the ride rules, numbering scheme, timetable and routes.  A topo map, GPS, compass, DOF calculator and ephemeris are required if I want to get unique trail shots.

It seems obvious but you need to know the rules so you don't break them. Groups have rules online so be sure to read them before you agree to handle an event. Rides have different divisions or classes and you can normally tell what group they are in by the number on the horse or rider's vest. Riders in different division will travel at different speeds and may be more or less experienced. Knowing this helps you to be onetime and safe. Not to mention it's very hard to communicate if you don't know the lingo.

Thankfully with smart phones it's easy to have all the tools in one small package. Let me go over my reasoning for this list of necessary tools.  A topographical map will show you creeks, ponds, high and low spots and often have the roads and fencelines on them. (Google Earth may also help you find prospective photo locations.) I use a GPS mapping program to track me incase I get lost and one on the camera to location tag my images so I can go back to that location in future events. A regular compass is a good thing to have in your bag incase the cell phone battery goes dead. Depth of field is important to know at the early morning ride-out shots when the light level is low or in those cases where you want to get creative. Lastly, chances are you will be exploring photo locations at a different time than when you expect to take the shot. The ephemeris will tell you the angle of the sun at a specific location, time and day.

 

10)  Some people ride in a herd.  Look for a spot where the trail bends and be off the trail at the bend so the first rider clears the view for the next one.  (By Jonni Jewell)

This is another of the obvious tip once you know it. Jonni told me this one cool Sunday morning at a ride in Oklahoma while she was sitting on her horse waiting for ride-out. The image on this page is the result. Head-on shots are great, especially with the right background element. But you can't stand in the trail and groups of riders will bunch up making it difficult to get a clear shot. Jonni's solution is to find a sharp bend on a narrow trail and stand back away from the trail so the riders are coming directly towards you. As each rider passes they will clear the shot for the next rider. Elegantly simple if you can get make far enough back while avoiding the greenbriar and poison ivy.

More tips to follow as time permits.  Feel free to discuss these with me by email or on Facebook and Twitter. You will find links on the contact page.

Jim Edmondson

 


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