Learning while doing what I love

October 31, 2018

A few weeks ago I set myself a challenge to try something new, which was outside of my comfort zone, but a technique I wanted to learn much more about while doing something I love. I asked for a few horse owners to give me an hour of their time for me to photograph their equine friends with a view to editing them with a black background.

Amazing how a free offer gets more responses that one can cope with, but black backgrounds are a bit like Marmite - some people love the effect, others just don't. Once I'd got a geographic plan in place, I went about contacting those who wanted to be involved to get horses booked in, and overall my challenge worked really well. I was lucky enough to have the offer of models of almost every colour, many breeds and a whole selection of sizes. That was just the beginning of the process.

What I learned was huge. It wasn't so much the taking of the photographs, but more how and where to place each horse, depending on the environment I was working in and to some degree, the time of day and weather.  Given the majority of horses were inside, I didn't think the weather would play as big a part as it did; all part of the learning curve.

I met some fabulous people, some I knew others I didn't, and their equally fabulous ponies and horses. Many had a great sense of humour, some positively so, but not all - again another learning curve as not all horses like or tolerate a camera at such close proximity.  Many of them compete, but in this environment, horses rarely see or notice a camera, but when it's at such close proximity, it's a very different matter - patience and calmness really come into their own in these circumstances.

The biggest benefit came in the the variety of colour - one palamino, one piebald, two black, four skewbald, six grey and seven bay (and not one of these the same colour bay) - which gave me the opportunity to test multiple camera settings.  Equally fun was the size of my models. The smallest, The Longhouse Vanilla was a cheeky 11.2hh Welsh Section A who has been ridden by his little jockey for just over two years. He oused charm from the offset and boy didn't he know he was gorgeous. At the opposite end of scale was dark bay Irish Draught/TB Mr Bourbon, or Aiden to his friends, who was bought by his owner Ellen as a yearling eight years ago.  He was meant to make 15.2hh. He was all of 16.2hh, but luckily a very gentle giant.

I could write a book on the remaining 19 models, they were all unique in their own way, some just beginning on their journey of a lifetime and others who had been there, seen it and done it and enjoying semi retirement at the grand ages of 24 and 26 years old. One thing that was a constant with all of them, was the relationship between human and horse.  It was lovely to watch and one of the reasons why I have included some behind the scenes images on each gallery.  So much of a photo shoot, however short or long, is built around the relationship between a horse and owner.  For this particular project, owners weren't included, so it can be difficult to know how they maintained their horse's attention and in several cases how they kept them from disappearing in a puff of smoke as there were open doors a plenty!

A huge thank you to everyone who took part in my model call this time. I have learnt masses in the process, reduced 2,000+ images to a manageable 700 and hope that each of them has some fun images to enjoy.

To see more of my learning, go to  https://www.annarainbowphotography.co.uk/f364427840