Optical Harmonics: Blog https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog en-us (C) Optical Harmonics jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:07:00 GMT Mon, 16 Mar 2020 07:07:00 GMT https://www.opticalharmonics.com/img/s/v-12/u562568627-o841654625-50.jpg Optical Harmonics: Blog https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog 120 68 QSL Card and Derivative Work https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/8/qsl-card-and-derivative-work My first hobbies of amateur radio and chemistry were probably due to my propensity to take apart my sisters' transistor radios and then wanting to completely destroy any evidence.  Eventually photography replaced chemistry and those around me are now much safer.  My hobbies of RF electronics and photography often take me in vastly different directions but occasionally the two intersect.  So it was when it came to making a QSL card for my wife.


QSL?  Q codes were developed circa 1909 for commercial radiotelegraph and later adopted by amateur radio operators.  QSL means 'acknowledge receipt of transmission.'  QSL cards such as this one dated 1925 from Bill Corsham, G2UV, became popular as a written confirmation of contact between two amateur radio stations.

Most of the paper cards have now been replaced with electronic confirmations.  While this is far more efficient it supplants the personal nature of the hobby.  Perhaps it's just me but an acknowledgment entry in a logbook database is not the same as receiving a card in the mail.  Since there are far fewer QSL cards being mailed, my thought is that Cheryl's card needs to reflect something personal about her.  Here is where my two interests finally cross.

Cheryl on Ojala with Mattie in saddleCheryl on Ojala with Mattie in saddle(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


Cheryl has always been more comfortable on a horse than I am, or ever will be.  Her trail buddies are equally relaxed and accustom to "brush popping" across the LBJ Grasslands on deer or cow paths.  Her QSL card needed to reflect a love of horseback riding across the prairie that we are blessed to live near. I have a photo of her returning to ride camp before an event, very relaxed on her horse with dog in hand but I needed a way to make it look more personal. Lone OakLone OakLBJ Grasslands Unit 4, Summer 2010

As you might imagine QSL cards are not a growth area of graphic design. Finding a graphic designer is difficult, finding an artist so qualified is dang near impossible.  Or so I thought.  While looking for QSL card printers I happened across the site of Jeff Murray K1NSS, dashtoons.com.  I sent the image file to him and after a few revisions, including changing the background, the result was a card that reflected Cheryl and her trail buddies at home on the trail.




While her card while new and unique it is based on two copyrighted photographs.  Since I took the photos there was no problem.  But what if I had used an image taken by someone else, would I need permission?  Absolutely!  It does not matter if the photo was purchased as a print or an image file, derivative work require the release from the photographer.

At Optical Harmonics we will normally release image files for derivative work under a few simple of conditions.
    The subject (or parent) of the photo is requesting the release.
    The resulting work is for personal use and not for sale.
    The image print or file has, or will be, been purchased from the photo gallery.
    A photo of the resultant is sent to us so we can enjoy it too.
If requested by the artist we may also release a high resolution version of the file for their use.  It's a simple process so be sure you ask before using an Optical Harmonics image.

If you ever find yourself in need of amateur radio related graphics I highly recommend that you contact Jeff, K1NSS and discuss the project.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Amateur Radio Derivative Work QSL card https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/8/qsl-card-and-derivative-work Fri, 26 Aug 2016 20:10:19 GMT
Competing in the Rain https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/competing-in-the-rain CCTR09-J0770Competing in the RainNATRC Competitor crossing a creek on a rainy day at Parrie Haynes Ranch during the Christmas CTR 2009.


NATRC CTRs continue in the rain or shine.  This competitor is crossing a normally small creek on a cold rainy day during the Christmas CTR held at Parrie Haynes Ranch 2009.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite NATRC Parrie Haynes Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/competing-in-the-rain Fri, 19 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Taking the Corner https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/taking-the-corner DTC09-J058Taking the CornerDriving Trail Challenge

Driving Trail Challenge at the Final Follies TTC 2009

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/taking-the-corner Thu, 18 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Morning Meeting https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/morning-meeting FF09-J022Morning MeetingTexas Trail Challenge, Final Follies Texas Trail Challenge Final Follies 2009

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite TTC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/morning-meeting Wed, 17 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Sunrise Rideout https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/sunrise-rideout HM09-D2448Sunrise RideoutHorsemasters 2009


I am at a loss to explain why some events produce a multitude of excellent images, seemingly without any effort, while at others it is a struggle to make just a few very good images. This ride had so many good images that isolating my favorite was quite difficult. Eventually I settled on this image by Debby Keen-Star. See all the images taken at the Horsemasters Benefit CTR 2009.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/sunrise-rideout Tue, 16 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Sunset at Cottonwood Lake https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/sunset-at-cottonwood-lake RFS09-M177RFS09-M177Cottonwood Lake at Sunset, Ride for Strides 2009

Cottonwood Lake at sunset during the Spirit Horse Ride for Strides 2009.  Photo by Mike Collins

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/sunset-at-cottonwood-lake Mon, 15 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Water Break https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/water-break RFTC09-101RFTC09-101

Safety rider preparing to depart at the Ride for the Cure 2009 held at LBJ Grasslands.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/water-break Sun, 14 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Late Checkin https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/late-checkin R4B09-J0316R4B09-J0316Late Check-in

Checkin by headlights at the NATRC Region 4 Benefit CTR 2009.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite LBJ Grasslands NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/late-checkin Sat, 13 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Swinging' Event Staff https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/swinging-event-staff RR09-J0051RR09-J0051(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


A happy ride managers make a happy staff.  A happy staff tend to make happy riders and that will make good photos. Robbers Route CTR 2009.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite NATRC Staff https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/swinging-event-staff Fri, 12 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Labor of Love STC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/labor-of-love-stc LoL09-065LoL09-065Labor of Love STC


On the trail at the Labor of Love STC in 2009.  Images no longer online at external site.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands STC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/labor-of-love-stc Thu, 11 Feb 2016 12:30:00 GMT
Heading to Water https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/heading-to-water TOH09-228TOH09-228Heading to water at the Other Half Clinic and CTR.


Crossing the hay field and heading to water at Lake Carl Blackwell during the Other Half CTR and Clinic 2009.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/heading-to-water Wed, 10 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Are They Real? https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/are-they-real SF609034SF609034Natural Horsemanship Accociation of Texas, Starfire Arean.


Natural Horsemanship Accociation of Texas, Starfire Arena, June 2009


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite NHAT https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/are-they-real Tue, 09 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Go Through What? https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/go-through-what Go Through What?Go Through What?Texas Trail Challenge at C-Bar Ranch, June 2009


Obstacle at the Texas Trail Challenge held at C-Bar Ranch, June 2009.  Photo by Mike Collins


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite TTC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/go-through-what Mon, 08 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Released To Liberty https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/released-to-liberty LL09-A126LL09-A126Natural Horsemanship Association of Texas, Loy Lake Arena


Natural Horsemanship Association of Texas, Loy Lake Arena April 2009.  Photo by AJ Edmondson


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite NHAT https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/released-to-liberty Sun, 07 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Ready To Go https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/ready-to-go TBC09-J0339TBC09-J0339Texas Bluebonnet Classic 2009


Early morning ride out for the 50 mile riders at the Texas Bluebonnet Classic 2009.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) AERC Favorite https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/ready-to-go Sat, 06 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
A Break In The Ride https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/a-break-in-the-ride DHT09-0473DHT09-0473Deep in the Heart of Texas 2009


Pausing to take care of her partner at Deep in the Heart of Texas 2009


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/a-break-in-the-ride Fri, 05 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Redbuds https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/redbuds RedbudsRedbuds


Often times in trail photography the things that change a good photo into a very good one are completely out of the photographers control.  So it is with this rider wearing red passing under a blooming redbud tree. Thank you Dolly.  NATRC Oklahoma Land Run 2009


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/redbuds Thu, 04 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Morning Warmup https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/morning-warmup JE7_6576 - Version 4JE7_6576 - Version 4Saturday morning sunrise at Girl Scout Scamper 2009

At the 7-IL ranch primitive camping is down the hill from the spots with electricity.  While it's a bit of a hike to the activities that is more than offset by the morning shots from a downhill position.  This was taken Saturday morning at the Girl Scout Scamper 2009. Images are no longer online at external site. Contact me for more information.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) 7-IL Ranch CTR Favorite NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/morning-warmup Wed, 03 Feb 2016 11:27:53 GMT
Drag Rider on Foot https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/drag-rider TTC09-1_232TTC09-1_232Drag Rider

The terrain drops off behind the riders so this ride-out spot can produce good images.  On this day however the riders came up the hill in "blobs" of horses. The results were terrible and I was giving up when the safety riders walked up the hill behind the participants.  Drag Rider at the Rocky Road Texas Trail Challenge at Parrie Haynes Ranch 2009.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite Parrie Haynes Ranch TTC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/drag-rider Tue, 02 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
On the Trail https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/on-the-trail LR09J_0079LR09J_0079Ride Out


Hank is one of the horses that seemed to pose on the trail for photos. Ride out at the Oklahoma Land Run CTR held at Lake Carl Blackwell 2009


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite Lake Carl Blackwell NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/2/on-the-trail Mon, 01 Feb 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Cold Day to Ride https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/cold-day-on-the-trail  

LI09-0059LI09-0059Luck of the Irish STC

A cold Texas day during the Luck of the Irish STC.  Excess room at the bottom of the image is to allow text information so it can later be printed as a ride photo.  The way an image will be used effects composition, sometimes to the detriment of the image itself.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands STC Seahorse Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/cold-day-on-the-trail Sun, 31 Jan 2016 12:00:00 GMT
NHAT Dessert https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/nhat-dessert NHAT_Awards_09__004NHAT_Awards_09__004Dessert at the NHAT Awards Banquet January 2009

One of the sweetest things about taking photos at an awards banquet.

NHAT Awards Banquet January 2009

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite NHAT https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/nhat-dessert Sat, 30 Jan 2016 12:00:00 GMT
Tips for Equine Ride Photographers, part 3 https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/tips-for-ride-photographers-part-3 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


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Tips Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/tips-for-ride-photographers-part-3 Fri, 29 Jan 2016 15:48:04 GMT
Tips for Equine Ride Photographers, part 2 https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/rules-for-ride-photographers-part-2 Heading DownhillHeading Downhill This is a continuation of ride photographer tips.  If you missed the beginning look for the 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.


2) Never argue with the ride manager immediately before or during the event.  Afterwards they are fair game but during the event they have way too many things on their mind to deal with a prima donna photographer.  Violate this rule only when there is a low deductible on my paid-up health insurance. (Inspired by Liz Scott)

It's natural for photographers to pursue what we hope is the best shot and, to that end, as a group we photographers tend to push the boundaries a might-bit.  Remember a ride manager has far too many things going on to worry about helping us camp, finding good spots and getting the photographer to them.  Our problems are just that, our problems.  Solve them ourself unless it's absolutely necessary to bother the ride team.  Remember things change and ride management does not need to ask our permission or keep us informed. Most managers will keep the photographer in the loop and go out of their way to help. It should always be an unexpected blessing when they do so.


3) Pictures are important but the ride is more so.  In the rare cases I may need to put down the camera and help out.  Find a way to do both without complaining, refer to rule two for clarification. (Inspired by Becky Rodgers)

Good photographers will go to a ride with a plan in mind.  However most events depend on volunteers and sometimes they don't show up or things simply go wrong.  In such cases be prepared to fill in as best you can.  That may mean helping set up, run to town for supplies or filling in for a missing person.  Find a way to do what is needed and still get some photos.


4) Be keenly aware of the horse's reaction to what I do and help keep everyone safe. If they lose points or suffer an unscheduled dismount because of the photographer they will be angry.  Don't forget these riders can pull a four horse trailer 300 miles, park it on a dime, set up camp and then ride a 1000 pound horse all the weekend.  After doing all that getting even with a photographer does not present much of a challenge. (Inspired by Jonni Jewell)

We all need to take this tip to heart, especially us guys. Realize that horses are fundamentally prey animals and a human with camera tend to look and act like a horse killer.  Don't even think about jumping out to take a photo.  Likewise concealment will in all likelihood fail miserably.  You will get a reaction to your presence on the trail and you must be aware of the possible results.  When I'm in a spot where the riders will come upon me suddenly I put a 'Photographer Ahead' sign up the trail to give them time to prepare.  Talk to the riders so the horses know that strange looking animal up ahead with one big eye is a human.  If necessary put the camera down, miss the shot and talk to the horse and rider.

This really can not be stressed enough, safety first.  Ride photographers need to be comfortable around horses and observant of their effect on the animal.  Sometimes simply changing the way I stand will cause a horse to alert.  Learn this and use it to make better images without causing problems for the rider.


5) I can't make everybody happy with the photos, listen to their advice but trust what I see and feel.  Make photos that match my own image and voice. If I make photos that matter to me there is a better chance they will matter to others as well. (Inspired by Chris Orwig)

I have heard "downhill photos look terrible" a hundred times and for the most part it's true.  But if the situation is right, that moment when the rider reaches the top and looks down the trail below (and right into the camera) can make a great image.  Most riders don't recognize they pause at the start of a downhill so they think I'm taking shots of them in a bad position and with their head down.  I often like the results, see image in the page, so I take them anyway.

On the trail keep in mind that most riders have no idea what it looks like behind them.  They are competitors focused on the trail ahead. They may think you have picked a crazy spot for an image and from their prospective this may be true. Let the photo surprise them. As a side note, you will recognize the photographers who are riding in the event as they often turn around to look at the background.

The list of examples is practically endless. By experience you will learn the times where background, emotion, impulsion or release make a good image.  When you do, follow that instinct and then critically evaluate the results.  If at every event you make a few images that truly matter, you will feel successful.

You will find Tips Part 3 here.  Feel free to discuss these with me by email or on Facebook and Twitter. You will find links on the contact page.

Jim Edmondson


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Tips Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/rules-for-ride-photographers-part-2 Thu, 28 Jan 2016 13:05:53 GMT
Tips for Equine Ride Photographers, Introduction https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/rules-for-ride-photographers-introduction Equine photographer in the grass.Mike Collins at work on the trailMike Collins at work on the trail What is this about?

You're about try your hand at walking the trail with camera in hand like Mike Collins in the photo to the left. Before you cinch up your boots and head down the trail you should know there is a lot more to equine ride photography than getting the image. There are real dangers to both you and the competitors at a trail event. While there a many good books on photography, how to use a camera, posing and even livestock photography, I have not seen a set of simple tips for equine trail photography. Admittedly competitive and endurance event photography is a very narrow speciality but since we're out there with thousand pound animals and the occasional stressed out rider we should have some guidelines to consider. To that end I will be posting the tips I have developed in the hopes that it will help others avoid embarrassing or dangerous mistakes. Except for tip one there is no order of importance to the rules and the numbering is strictly for reference.

What this is not.

I'm not going to tell you how to use your camera or where the best light will be or what makes a good equine photograph. There are lots of resources on sites like the Equine Photographers Network. You will perfect your skills by taking thousands and thousands of images. My only suggestion is to take the time to look at hundreds of images from well known photographers and develop a feeling for what you think is a good image. Follow your internal guidelines most of the time but feel free to shatter your preconceived ideas periodically. It's only through trial and error that we develop a style of our own. Additionally this is not a complete list as I tend to modify them after a great success or failure.

Onto the tips.

1) My job is to document not to effect the event. When I step out of the documentarian role I run the real risk of failing to either help or document the event. Do so only in a real emergency or as required to comply with rule two. (Inspired by Scott Godwin)

This was not the first rule I developed because it is so obvious that it can be overlooked. But the position as first on the list is due to the necessity to follow or the rest of the rules lose their significance. Of course we don't want to cause an unscheduled dismount or cause a rider to loose points or position in the event. But what about the more subtle things?  Here are the real world examples that precipitated this rule.

We are often out on the trail with the riders. Lets face it camp photos only go so far in documenting an event. We could hike to the photo spots, this is fun but not conducive to getting to multiple locations. Consequently we are often driving a four wheel drive pickup or utility vehicle as far as possible then hiking into our secret location where we know the light will make the angles cry. (This is what I always envision.) â€‹But consider what happens if that two-track road we are driving on is an active trail. Are the participants going to be accustom to having a vehicle come up behind them? Should we pass them and risk a localized rodeo or miss the shot? Every ride and group of competitors is different so there are times where the only safe action is to pull off to the side of the road and miss the shot. Likewise there are times when the riders will wave us by. Better yet avoid the active trails.

To continue, imagine a perfect pond to take photos, the light is right, everybody will stop and it will produce amazing water reflection photos. However it is the only pond on eight miles of trail. Horses being prey animals are going to react to our presence and camera noises. If just one horse does not drink because they think our 70-200mm f/2.8 lens is a horse killing cannon we are now effecting the outcome of the event or worse causing a horse to dehydrate and perhaps colic. (You did pay attention to the new horses at check-in, right.) Photo locations must be chosen so the event is not compromised, even if it means missing missing the shot. If you have a question about a location always discuss it with the Trailmaster.

These are somewhat obvious examples of negatively impacting an event. But consider that by ride time we have scouted the trails and been a participant in ride management discussions.  Often this information can give a competitor an advantage and as such must not be shared. Most riders will not ask but it's easy to let things slip out in the normal pre-ride banter. Be prudent in what you discuss and if you can't, just shut up.

Nothing in this rule prohibits helping in an emergency or simply reminding a rider to drink when they look dehydrated. (Riders often take better care of their horse than themselves.) If we are taking photos at a confusing point in the trail obviously we should help keep the riders on trail but we must do so to all the competitors equally.  If you have questions about any way you might effect the event discuss it with the ride manager beforehand.

Thats it for my number one tip.  Feel free to discuss this with me by email on Facebook or Twitter. You will find links on the contact page.

Jim Edmondson

Tips part two.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Tips Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/rules-for-ride-photographers-introduction Wed, 27 Jan 2016 15:28:18 GMT
Top of the Hill https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-christmas-ctr-2008 Christmas_CTR-08_J1268Christmas_CTR-08_J1268Top of the Hill


Arriving at the top of Cedar Hill at the Six-O Ranch near Cleburne Texas. During the Christmas CTR.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite NATRC Six-O Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-christmas-ctr-2008 Mon, 25 Jan 2016 20:31:33 GMT
Atta' Boy https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/atta-boy-at-the-nhat-show-november-2008 NHAT_2008-3_0349NHAT_2008-3_0349"Atta Boy"


Natural Horsemanship Association of Texas show at the 500 Arena November 2008.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite NHAT https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/atta-boy-at-the-nhat-show-november-2008 Sun, 24 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Team Photo https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/another-chance-supreme-trail-challenge-2008 STC-4 0013STC-4 0013Photo from Another Chance Supreme Trail Challenge 2008


Team photo taken before the ride started at the fourth Supreme Trail Challenge 2008


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands STC Seahorse Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/another-chance-supreme-trail-challenge-2008 Sat, 23 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Confidence to Complete https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-last-chance-to-the-ok-corral-ctr-2008 Last_Chance_2008_1076Last_Chance_2008_1076


NATRC Last Chance to the OK Corral CTR October 2008 at Lake Carl Blackwell Oklahoma


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite Lake Carl Blackwell NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-last-chance-to-the-ok-corral-ctr-2008 Fri, 22 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Easy Jump https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natural-horsemanship-association-of-texas-october-2008 NHAT_October_2008 _297NHAT_October_2008 _297(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


Natural Horsemanship Association of Texas October 2008 at Magic Vista Ranch.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite Magic Vista Ranch NHAT https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natural-horsemanship-association-of-texas-october-2008 Thu, 21 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Riding Double https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/spirit-horse-ride-for-strides-benefit-2008 Spirit Horse 2008 J0004Spirit Horse 2008 J0004(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


Spirit Horse 'Ride for Strides' Benefit 2008 at LBJ Grasslands


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands Ride for Strides https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/spirit-horse-ride-for-strides-benefit-2008 Wed, 20 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Ride Meeting at Sunset https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-region-4-benefit-2008 NATRC Region 4 Benefit 0971 12.55.06 PMNATRC Region 4 Benefit 0971 12.55.06 PM


Friday Ride Meeting at the NATRC Region 4 Benefit CTR held at Seahorse Ranch and LBJ Grasslands October 2008.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite LBJ Grasslands NATRC Seahorse Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-region-4-benefit-2008 Tue, 19 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Rough Rider https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/texas-equesterian-trail-riders-association-poker-run-2008 TETRA Poker Run 2008 332TETRA Poker Run 2008 332Red Trail by Texas Gate


At the top of the hill on the LBJ Grasslands Red Trail by Texas Gate during the Texas Equesterian Trail Riders Association Poker Run 2008.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands TETRA https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/texas-equesterian-trail-riders-association-poker-run-2008 Mon, 18 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Happy to be on the trail https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/supreme-trail-challenge-august-2008 STC-3 August 2008 666STC-3 August 2008 666Lazy Days of Summer 08, White trail mile 7


Lazy Days of Summer Supreme Trail Challenge and chigger fest 2008, Lake Carl Blackwell Oklahoma on the White trail mile 7.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Equine Trail Photography Favorite Lake Carl Blackwell STC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/supreme-trail-challenge-august-2008 Sun, 17 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Ready For the Ride https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/supreme-trail-challenge-june-2008 STC-2_090STC-2_090(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


Rider leaving camp at the June 2008 Supreme Trail Challenge held at Seahorse Ranch and the LBJ Grasslands


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands STC Seahorse Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/supreme-trail-challenge-june-2008 Sat, 16 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
For Every Downhill There Must Be an Up. https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/mini-ride-june-2008 Mini-Ride June 2008 153Mini-Ride June 2008 153Brigitte's Mini Ride


Participant at a CTR Mini-Ride Training event June 2008.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Equine Trail Photography Favorite https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/mini-ride-june-2008 Fri, 15 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Communication https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natural-horsemanship-association-of-texas-may-2008 NHAT May 2008  0744NHAT May 2008 0744NHAT Show at Magic Vista Ranch.


In-Hand obstacle at the NHAT Show at Magic Vista Ranch May 2008.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite In-Hand Magic Vista Ranch NHAT https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natural-horsemanship-association-of-texas-may-2008 Thu, 14 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Pausing by the Pond https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/supreme-trail-challenge-may-2008 Supreme TC  1813Supreme TC 1813Supreme Trail Challenge May 2008 at SeaHorse Ranch and LBJ Grasslands, Texas


Supreme Trail Challenge May 2008 at SeaHorse Ranch and LBJ Grasslands, Texas


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands STC Seahorse Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/supreme-trail-challenge-may-2008 Wed, 13 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Working Together https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-deep-in-the-heart-of-texas-ctr-2008 DitHoT 2008  0315DitHoT 2008 0315Deep in the Heart of Texas CTR, Parrie Haynes Ranch, April 5-6 2008


Deep in the Heart of Texas CTR held at Parrie Haynes Ranch near Killeen Texas on April 5-6 2008.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite NATRC Parrie Haynes Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-deep-in-the-heart-of-texas-ctr-2008 Tue, 12 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Friends Riding Together https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/spirit-horse-ride-for-strides-benefit-2007 Spirit Horse Trail  072Spirit Horse Trail 072(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


Two riding buddies in the Piney Woods at the Spirit Horse Ride for Strides Benefit December 2007 at the LBJ Grasslands.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite LBJ Grasslands Spirit Horse https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/spirit-horse-ride-for-strides-benefit-2007 Mon, 11 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Almost Back to Camp https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-christmas-at-the-ranch-ctr Christmas CTR  0694Christmas CTR 0694(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


Christmas at the Ranch CTR held at the Six-O Ranch near Cleburne Texas November 2007.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite NATRC Six-O Ranch https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/natrc-christmas-at-the-ranch-ctr Sun, 10 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Pausing for a drink https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/2007-natrc-region-iv-benefit-ctr Region IV Benefit  064 - Version 2Region IV Benefit 064 - Version 2(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


Stopping for a drink on the Orange trail at the LBJ Grasslands during the NATRC Region 4 Benefit CTR, October 2007.  


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR Favorite Grasslands LBJ NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/2007-natrc-region-iv-benefit-ctr Sat, 09 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Walking Down the Trail https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/texas-equestrian-trail-riders-benefit-2007 TETRA LBJ 2007  041TETRA LBJ 2007 041(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


Texas Equestrian Trail Riders Association Benefit ride, the first event for Optical Harmonics.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Equine Favorite TETRA https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/texas-equestrian-trail-riders-benefit-2007 Fri, 08 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Finding the Best https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/migrating-old-image-libraries Grasslands Run 2008 636Grasslands Run 2008 636(c) Jim Edmondson 940-648-3343


The time has come to migrate my image libraries from Apple Aperture into PhaseOne Capture One 9. During the process I am selecting the one image out of hundreds, or even thousands, that I believe best captures the event.  The event image will be posted here with a link to the online gallery if it is still available.

Why take the time to look for the "best" image?  Simply put, being critical of your work is a way to get better and more consistent results.  In an age awash in images, finding the ones that matter the most is becoming a lost skill.

There are a lot of great memories in these images many of which are still online here.  I hope you join with me on the trip down memory lane.  Feel free to to reach me or comment on Facebook or Twitter.

Should you want to find all of these best of the best images you can search for the keyword Favorite.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Favorite Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2016/1/migrating-old-image-libraries Thu, 07 Jan 2016 19:51:00 GMT
Busted https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2012/4/busted Horse and rider in NATRC competition.TR12-JE0499



I try to spend time with the horses before and during an event so they become accustom to me and the gear.  Horses like people may react negatively to clicking sounds from a strange creature with one big camera lens eye.  However even with loads of time there is no guarantee that a horse will ignore me.


This is my wife's horse Miss O and she has spent more time infront of my camera than any other. She sees me at home, in the barn and on the trail.   She has even carried my big rear around a time or two so it's safe to say she knows me.  However she is also an alpha mare and very aware of her surroundings.  So why this reaction when they they arrive at an observation?  I'm across a creek on the oposite bank sitting under a tree.  At this point we are about the same height so I'm not in a superior position.  In fact when all the riders went down into the creek I stopped shooting to avoid evoking a flight reaction.  She was clearly not afraid as the next images in the set are normal.


Perhaps this is just a 'tag you're it' or "I see you" look but I don't think so.  I'm left with the lingering thought that a horse told me something to the effect "I know who you are, behave yourself because I know where you sleep!"  It worked, I did.  Pavlov would be amazed.


See y'all on the trail.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) NATRC Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2012/4/busted Sat, 07 Apr 2012 18:37:34 GMT
2011 in Review https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2011/12/2011-in-Review rts11-je728

The life ride called 2011 is over and it seems appropriate to recount the year at Optical Harmonics. If I had to pick a word it would be “challenging.” Not so much the photography part, although it most certainly had moments of success and failure. The challenge this year was to balance the photography I enjoy with a family, farm, horse and another business during a record drought, high fuel costs and poor economy. To the extent that I succeeded please credit divine intervention and a very understanding wife.

Focusing on the photography part these are the 2011 statistics for Optical Harmonics:

  • 25 events covered.
  • 17,705 images taken.
  • 5,159 images added to the gallery.
  • 46 above average images.
  • 6 images that are very good.
  • 2 images will make it into my portfolio.
  • 5 different magazines and one calendar published our photos.

Starting 2012 with:

  • 1 set of farm images that still need to be processed.
  • 1 set of dog images that need editing.
  • 1 video project underway.
  • 19 emails that should have already been answered.
  • 17 scheduled events.

Why would anyone in their right mind spend every other weekend at trail riding events? Perhaps it’s a love of photography, horses, the great outdoors and my wife who loves to ride. All of those are true but there is something more. I think perhaps it’s the horsemen and women with their can-do attitude. Every day they ride the horse that came out of the trailer, not the one they loaded. Sometimes the horse of the day is well trained and gentle. Other days it’s a wild-eyed bronc that apparently was exchanged overnight by space aliens. With thrown shoes, broken bits, snorty horses; riding through both drought and deluge they persevered. Sometimes they showed the wisdom to know when to quit. Other times the tenacity to get back on the horse that just threw them. I continue to be amazed by these special people.

Thanks to all of you who made this year so enjoyable. And, to the ones I owe an email, image or phone call, hang in there. I’m riding the horse I was given’ and doing my best to catch up.

Best wish for a great 2012


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2011/12/2011-in-Review Sat, 31 Dec 2011 15:37:00 GMT
Photography is not about the equipment? https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/12/Photography-is-not-about-the-equipment- 70-200mm

‘Photography is not about the equipment.’  ‘The best camera is the one you use.’  I have read and heard these a hundred times and for the most part I think they are true.  Right up to the point they are not.   Sometimes, like it or not, the equipment can make the shot.  So as I sit here waiting for the last gallery to upload via an ISP that in many places would not be considered broadband, I have time to consider the last ride and, what worked and didn’t work.

I’m normally nervous before an event and having to drive through snow was not much help.  By the time Cheryl and I arrived the precipitation had stopped and so had most of my butterflies.  After making camp and checking in with Liz and Alanna, a ride management team that truly know how to put on an event, I assessed my shoot plan.  As the trails were muddy, creeks were full, judging locations had to change and the roads I wanted to use would eat my two-wheel drive pickup, my plan went into the mythical land of ‘if only it had worked.’  Those butterflies were back.

Check-in photos are rarely compelling but it is a great time to get a feel for the riders, horses and judges.  This ride screamed for photos ‘in the bank’ and I needed time to think.  So I drag out the gear and settle into photography mode as the sky cleared.

cctr09-j0094   cctr09-j0102

It cleared off Friday night and got down into the 20s.  Instant fogging if the gear goes from the warm trailer into the outside air so it had to spend the night in the pickup.  Saturday morning was clear and, by that time, so was my mind.  Liz Scott had done what good managers do, made up a work-around and found me a seat in the pickup with the horsemanship judge.  Remember the gear in the pickup?  Dummy left the batteries in the pickup also and it’s amazing how cold temperature will reduce the life of a battery.  Time to dig out the extra battery and the battery grip.

The first stop was in the sun and any camera body with good dynamic range should handle the location.  (I would have done better if I actually checked the histogram more often.)  The riders went down a small hill, up a hard packed rise (click, click) stop at the top (click) and then proceed down the  rise (click, just incase.)  Easy, except for the bright sky in the background and the dang tree casting shadows on the participants right at the sweet spot for photos. No time to add a ND grad filter, the riders were already arriving.  The Grays were going to be okay, the Bays were going to need some quality time with Vivesa in post.  The old 70-200mm lens would have light falloff in the corners, the new one looked great.

cctr09-j0320   cctr09-j0231

Location two was down a frame twisting, bumper bending power line road to the intersection of three trails and a creek.  Nice shooting in the open and at the break-out of the trails. But there was this ice cold creek down a muddy trail… easy choice, the creek. Luckily there was a pile of dead wood that had fallen and washed up on one side.  I could climb out over the water and lean on a cedar branch for stability.  As I was breaking some (mostly) dead branches out of the shot line I was reminded I left my work gloves in the pickup at camp.  Oh well, the bleeding stopped after a while and it cleaned off the lens and camera body.  The mud from the trail ended up on everything except the glass, good thing, the microfiber cloth was over on the bank.  VR on the new lens worked well and my wobbly position was of no concern.  The new lens design also fixed my tendency to bump it into manual focus.  The day finished up with some fill shots at the trail crossings, around camp and in the meeting room.


Sunday was a different weather day.  Not so cold but gray skies and a drizzle that seemed to percolate into everything.  (Why did I leave my Gore-tex boots at home?)  A really nasty photo day but as luck would have it I had help.  Kim Winterrowd managed to trade or evade her event secretary duties and wanted to help shoot for a while.  It’s always good to have help and Kim has a good eye, so I put the camera gear in Op/Tech bags and we climbed into the pickup and headed for an open field that intersected two trails and yes, a couple of creeks.  Kim took the P&Rs and I headed for the first judging, naturally at a creek crossing.  Unlike the sunny day before this day was grey and wet.  Shadows would not be much of a problem but there was another issue.  Depth of field was down to about 3 feet so a head-on shot was going to be difficult.  After crossing the creek (and Becky going back across the creek in her waterproof boots to get some more of my gear) I found a couple of rocks I could stand on and be out in the water.  I was shooting at ISO 1600, f/2.8, 320/second at about 150mm on wobbly rocks in a creek, in a light rain.  Perhaps sanity eluded me momentarily but with a little luck the participants would be so focused on the log in the creek and the muddy bank ahead that I would be hiding in plain sight.


Next stop was in some trees at the end of the field.  I was betting that after a P&R and a judged obstacle the riders would want to regain some momentum and hurry down the trail.  I needed a bit more than 200mm so a TC14 1.4 teleconverter was added to the lens.  300mm at f/4 was not bad and in the open I could bump up to around f/8.  I only had one autofocus issue in the entire set and that was near the end so it was probably my fault not the lens.


Kim worked the P&Rs with a D200 body and a 18-200mm zoom.  Once the clouds thinned a bit she was shooting at ISO 800, f/7.1 at 200/second.  Well within the working range of that equipment.


So, how did the gear hold up?  There are lots of sites that can show you the details on equipment, I can only tell you if it worked for me.  I’m not ready to crown the new 70-200 king of the zoom but Nikon fixed the issues that most annoyed me.  Still it seems to lack a bit of mojo the old lens had. However it is a great lens that worked well in poor conditions.  The D700 body did what it always does, work from ISO 200 to 6400 and never bother me with AF or noise problems.  The trusty D200 is an Energizer Bunny and worked well for Kim.

On the other hand I forgot my Gore-Tex, left the batteries outside in the cold and sure could have used another layer of clothing Sunday.  My shoot plan failed in oh, 30 minutes.  And by the end of a day shooting I was mentally tired and a bit cold resulting in dang near zero desire to search for a better event shot.  None of those problems can be blamed on the equipment.

My wife Cheryl and her horse Ojala finished the ride in time and in sound condition.  I guess I can say I did the same.  In my case, nothing spectacular but a workman like shoot.  After some events I pump my fist in the air and scream YES!  This one I shuffle off knowing I could have done better.  That may be what learning is all about but still it stinks.

I’m done with event shooting for a few weeks and there is a young filly that needs some TLC to make up for all the weekends I have been behind a camera and computer.  See y’all on the trail next year.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) NATRC Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/12/Photography-is-not-about-the-equipment- Sat, 12 Dec 2009 15:39:00 GMT
A moment for reflection https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/11/A-moment-for-reflection ff09-j022 The first competitive trail ride I photographed yielded far more snap shots than photos, a rather discouraging reality.  At that time it seemed reasonable to conclude that the best way to improve was by experience so, by taking a great deal of images I would, by brute force if nothing else, become proficient.  I naively decided that I would be proficient after 25,000 images.  As I approach the second anniversary of my first “official” ride it is appropriate to review and reflect.  Fortunately the digital asset management program I use, Aperture, is a pack rat when it comes to images.  As it does not easily throw any of the originals away it is possible to come to some numerical values describing two years of photography.

Images are assigned a zero star rating on import.  They may be assigned a rating from one to five or given the ‘big X’ and hidden for future discard.  For my purposes a one star rating goes into the online photo gallery for the participants and a five star rating would be something “as good as it gets.”  So here are the numbers after two years:

  • 5 star    0
  • 4 star    1
  • 3 star    12
  • 2 star    139
  • 1 star    6,246
  • 0 star    20,833
  • Discarded    1,263

The first surprise for me is the low number of discarded photos.  These are typically out of focus shots that can not be fixed in the digital darkroom.  The quantity of these has gone down dramatically after upgrading my primary camera body to a Nikon D700.  The new camera has much better low light and auto focus technology and is a better fit with the photographically difficult places I like to work.

Out of 28,494 images, 6,398 were something better than a ho-hum snap shot.  Portrait sessions and cantering images tend to result in the most number of wasted shots.  Early morning motion blur images have a very poor success rate but are also lots of fun.  On average it took 4.5 shots to make one image for the gallery.

However over time my standards of what makes a good shot has also improved.  As the result must be better than before I still seem to take a lot of zero star shots.  Perhaps it is an endless chain of increasing expectations requiring more images that result in an increased expectation.

What does it all mean?  Heck I don’t know I’m new at this.  I know horses are difficult yet strangely satisfying to photograph.  I know competitive trail rides and horse events are what I want to do for now.  And, I know I need a lot more practice.  I’m thankful to have that opportunity afforded to me by the riders and ride managers who have so patiently helped me improve over the last two years.  With the support of my wife and the grace of God I will continue this journey.  Perhaps after another 25,000 images I will, at last, become proficient at this … but really, I’m beginning to think it’s a circle.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) TTC Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/11/A-moment-for-reflection Sun, 29 Nov 2009 12:57:39 GMT
Another Early Morning https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/10/Another-Early-Morning I am repeatedly amazed at the tenacity and good ‘ol gumption of CTR riders.  Sunday is typically an early start. In this case most everybody was up and going by 5 AM to be ready for this pre-dawn vet check.  Then on the trail just after sunrise.  20 to 25 miles and back to camp so they can cleanup and get ready for awards and pull-out. For photographers, if we have worked well on Saturday, Sunday is play day.  Horsemasters camp 2009hm09-j0892

Time to let the creative juices flow.  Explore and create.  Intercept the riders in new spots and look for the special moment or background.  We started the day with a beautiful sunrise in camp.  Later Deborah Keene-Starr was taking photos from a tree to get a lake background and I was playing with a low angle shot after the horse come up a small hill.  All in all, great fun.

The final ride also brought news that one of our Region IV riders will win the NATRC Presidents Cup.  Congratulations to Jonni Jewell and Hank.  You can read about the run for the cup on her blog here.  Jonni is a darn good photographer who has help me out on many occasions.  Thankfully she prefers to photograph concerts and participates in rides.  If it was the other way around I would have far less shoots.  Her photo gallery is here.

It has been a great NATRC season.  Thanks to all the riders and staff who put up with me trying new things and accepting my failures with a good heart.  Truly this is the great group of instructors of trail photography.   Great riders and, a lot of fun to be with on the trail.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) NATRC Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/10/Another-Early-Morning Thu, 29 Oct 2009 12:51:43 GMT
Ride Season is back! https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/9/Ride-Season-is-back- Robbers Cave State Parkrr09-j0846

For the most part it is to darn hot in the summer to conduct competitive trail rides in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  However once the weather cools off a bit CTR season starts up again.  For Mike Collins and me this season started at a new venue, Robbers Cave State Park in Oklahoma.  And what a start it was.

It had rained the week before but it cleared up by ride time leaving us with beautiful weather and just enough fog Sunday morning to make the photos interesting.  The park is beautiful and I am definitely going back to hike and explore further.  The riders and event staff were in great spirits.  All combined it made for a great weekend of photography but it felt much like a big family reunion.

The ride benefited the HUGS project whose mission is to send packages of ‘goodies’ to our service men and women overseas.  A way to say Thank You with some things they can’t get in the boondocks where they are stationed.  The riders and staff filled 45 boxes that will soon be in the hands of those who are on the front lines.

Great location, good weather, friendly people and a good cause.  Boy I love this job!


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR NATRC Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/9/Ride-Season-is-back- Tue, 29 Sep 2009 12:39:27 GMT
Natural Horsemanship Association of Texas https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/Natural-Horsemanship-Association-of-Texas NHAT show at Starfire Arenasf609034

Stop and smell the flowers

I am often reminded about how much I don’t know about horses.  I’m around them daily and even a quick glance at the photo gallery would confirm they are my favorite photo subject.  I have an amazing filly named Fortuna to train and raise.  But beyond the technical skills I’m learning, the depth and dynamics of the human-horse relationship is wonderful to explore.

I am honored to be able to photograph the Natural Horsemanship of Texas (NHAT) shows, the last one being east of Celina Texas at the Starfire Equestrian Center.  About 25 teams participated, from novice to expert, youth to senior.  Events included round pen (on-line and at liberty) and trail (on-line and mounted.)  Trail courses make for good photography and there are many in the gallery.  However just watching the relationship is illuminating.  Sometimes it is a 900 pound horse intently watching a youngster for the next cue. Perhaps an adult in the down-time between events just hanging out with their teammate.  Or the photo above of a very relaxed horse smelling the flowers during the trail course.  It is all fascinating to watch.

Someday I’ll capture the photograph that properly expresses the relationship.  Until then I will continue to be amazed.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) NHAT https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/Natural-Horsemanship-Association-of-Texas Wed, 27 May 2009 12:27:14 GMT
Moving the photo gallery https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/Moving-the-photo-gallery zenfolio-image In 2007 Optical Harmonics photo gallery using Coppermine was established as a way to distribute ride image files to the participants.  My intent was to take photos and learn photography.  It did not take long before I was receiving requests for printed photos so added a shopping cart to the site.  What started as a way to concentrate on learning photography evolved into a hands on study in color matching, order fulfillment, PHP exploits, SQL injection plus more about PayPal and SSL than I ever intended.  Soon more time was being taken up with server management and order fulfillment than photography.  My young filly Fortuna is yard art while I peck away at a keyboard.

Last Wednesday an iCal alarm went off reminding me it had been two years since I started equine photography.  A quick check of Aperture, my digital asset management software, shows that while I have been averaging over 800 images a month my work is getting stale.  In the future I want to make more photographs and take fewer pictures.  That means more time per image.  I had a choice, continue to manage a server running Coppermine Photo Gallery or let someone else manage the server and order fulfillment and get back to photography and training that young filly.

Thursday I started the move to Zenfolio.  Why them?  Simple, the printer they partner with is MPix and they do great work.  Regular ‘E’ paper images look good while the metallic paper is awesome.  Not to mention the black and white paper they use is exceptional.  All this means is that someone else will now print and ship the photos to you.

The old gallery will be around for a while but by next week all the images worth transferring will be on the new server.  Please use the ‘Gallery’ link at the top of these pages to enter the new site.  Once there it should feel very familiar.  In events that have visible rider numbers, most of the images are tagged with that number and are searchable.  Very handy.

There will probably be some rough edges during the transition and I apologize for those upfront.  I’m still going to be personally checking each order so if I can find a better shot or adjust the color and cropping it will be done.  If you have problems be sure to let me know and we’ll work on them together.  Use the contact me link on our home page to email me.  If it takes a day or so to get back to you please understand I’m probably out shooting or playing with my horse. Oh, did I mention her name is Fortuna and she is the best horse in the world! <g>



jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) Photo gallery https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/Moving-the-photo-gallery Tue, 12 May 2009 12:19:01 GMT
What was I thinking? https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/What-was-I-thinking- dithot-2008-0670 Sunday morning just outside of camp the riders were judged on the teams ability to cross branches in the trail.  Observing were seven judges and ride staff plus one slightly daft photographer.


First, it was too dark for my D200 to operate at a shutter speed fast enough to freeze the action.  Second it was way too crowded.  But as I was stuck in the rut of getting ‘full body shots‘ (because someone had complained about not seeing the horses hoofs.)  Not only did I waste an opportunity, I also did not have the good sense to press the delete button in post.  Some of these made it to the web site where all the riders could see my crappy work.

The NATRC region 4 bunch are the nicest teachers I could hope for and not one said they looked bad, they just ignored them and found others that looked okay.  (Thanks folks but next time feel free to kick me in the behind!) Lesson learned.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) NATRC Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/What-was-I-thinking- Sun, 10 May 2009 12:04:35 GMT
Keep my eyes open https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/Keep-my-eyes-open dithot-2008-0285


The ride manager stopped the pickup in front of a creek and said “you better hurry, the riders are almost here.” After 30 minutes of panic shooting the riders were through. As I walked out of the creek bottom, looking towards the sun, this horse is stopped at a P & R.  Click, a very interesting shot that no one else noticed.  After all, the work was done, people to talk to and who else takes photos into the sun.  Sometimes it’s just about opening your eyes to the possibilities.


jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) NATRC Trail Ride Photography https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/Keep-my-eyes-open Thu, 07 May 2009 11:23:59 GMT
First Magazine Cover https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/First-Magazine-Cover hp-cover

What a plesant surprise to see one of my photos on the cover of a magazine.  It was a great location, good lighting and a pretty darn good image.  The kind of thing that makes an amateur photographer puff up with pride.  An image just like the other 60 rider photos in the same spot that did not make the cover.  … Wait a moment, why did this photo get published?

I was in the right spot, the spot the ride manager, Don Rubley, pointed at the day before. Hummm.  I had the right gear.  Well except the lens really I should have been using was up the trail in the pickup. Two down.  Must be my good eye for the shot.  Let’s not talk about the other thee images in the set that were not so good.

In the end the photo was published because I was fortunate enough to get a decent image of the NATRC President’s Cup winner.  I may have captured the moment but the ride staff worked like crazy to put on the event and Gary rode well all year and won.  I must not forget that in event photography it’s less about the photographer skill and aptitude and more about the subject, event location and staff.

jimed@mac.com (Optical Harmonics) CTR NATRC https://www.opticalharmonics.com/blog/2009/5/First-Magazine-Cover Wed, 06 May 2009 10:22:45 GMT