Archive for the ‘animal photography’ Tag

Khallie is Growing Up   2 comments

Khallie tosses her head around.

Khallie tosses her head around.

When a daughter gets up to that age where she is going out with boys, and showing all the other signs of becoming a woman, a father will often have trouble accepting the inevitable.  Now I’m not trying to say this is the same thing, but darn it if I don’t feel a twinge of sadness as my “girl” Khallie grows up.  I returned from a long trip away to find my arabian filly taller and definitely filled out.  She had been receiving some training under saddle, and was ready for her first ride with daddy.

Khallie is all grown up, with a big-girl saddle.

Khallie is all grown up, with a big-girl saddle.

I rigged up a bridle with the lead rope and a rope halter and used the saddle belonging to her mom, Gold Dancer (GD).  Khallie’s head is still smaller than her mom’s so she couldn’t use her bridle.  And the cinch had just enough eyelets in it to make it snug around her considerably more svelte barrel.   I hopped on and tooled around the arena for awhile.  I had not planned to take her outside on this first ride.

Gold Dancer comes over to check us out, and has obviously been rolling around in the muddy pasture.

Gold Dancer comes over to check us out, and has obviously been rolling around in the muddy pasture.

But the sun was sinking, the light was softening into a winter glow, and I wanted to get some pictures.  So we took a walk, me leading not riding Khallie.  Her mom came over to the fence to check us out.  It was strange, for me and possibly also for GD to see Khallie, all tacked up, leaving with me while mom stayed behind.  So many times Khallie has watched sadly from the pasture as GD and I took off on a ride.

Khallie turns at a sound only she can hear.

Khallie turns at a sound only she can hear.

We walked into the woods, at the beginning of the riding trails.  I thought what the heck, and hopped on her.  We walked a mile or so, down to the creek, then back.  A very short ride, but very big for Khallie.  Her first ride with me, and we go into the woods!  She knows how I am, how quickly I become bored with the arena.  And I think all those woodsy walks without a saddle helped make her feel comfortable.  She kept turning her head around and bumping her nose against my leg, I think to make sure I was still with her.  She’s so used to me walking beside her, not riding on her back.


I was pleasantly surprised at her demeanor.  I think she will make a fine saddle horse.  She sometimes behaves more like a little show horse, like a little prima dona.  But if she’s going to hang around me, she’ll need to keep that “tom boy” attitude handy too.  Sadly, I might soon need to sell Khallie.  Like a father giving his young daughter away at a wedding, that day, if it comes, will definitely be a sad one for me.

A purple dusk descends as Khallie keeps watch for danger.

A purple dusk descends as Khallie keeps watch for danger.



Photographing the Equine.   Leave a comment

I don’t know what it is about horses, but unless they are working, active and under the control of a human, they can be a royal pain to photograph.  Of course I want to treat them like a regular model; that is, pull them aside, without their humans, tell some jokes, get them relaxed, and then start shooting.  But they ain’t playin’ that game!  It’s like little kids who come to your studio for their portraits – but without their parents.

Khallie, myself and GD hang out at the barn after a ride.

I have two horses of my own – arabians (mom & daughter).  They’re my girls, but they can be just as bad as any horse.  I will say, however, that they are smart enough to know about photography by now.  When they see me pull out the camera, they pretty much know what’s going on.  So as long as there isn’t particularly sweet grazing within a few yards of their position, they actually know to stay put.  I should be thankful I don’t have quarter horses; no way they ever get the general concept.

A palomino at TBM Farm checks out the photographer.

Horse photographers who only shoot at horse shows don’t know what I’m talking about.  Now, if your clients ask you to go out in the pasture and get some “candids”, then you might get what I’m saying.  I was out to the barn yesterday and noticed a new horse, a palomino gelding who is young, dumb and pretty.  So I decided I’d like to get some pictures of him in the late-day light.

A young horse is easily distracted.

First obstacle (of course) was that he wanted to stay by the fence closest to where I had let my horses out to graze.  I led him away with a simple rope (didn’t want a halter on him), and he then turned his attention to me and my camera.  So then, every time I got him positioned in good light, he would walk right up to my camera with his big honkin’ nose.   So I started swinging the rope around and clucking to keep him away and get him moving.  That worked, and he ran a bit – but right into the shade of a tree.

I saw this same horse running around like a crazy animal the day before, but now when I was forcing the issue, he would only run 10 yards or so at most, then stop.  His attention was divided between my mares, other horses in the pasture next to his (who were now interested in what we were doing), and me.  I was trying my utmost to keep his attention on me, by making all sorts of noises and using dramatic body language.  But since I had stroked and loved him up previous to this, he didn’t take me too seriously.

I noticed the background was much better if I got a low angle, so I lay down and shot from the ground.  This definitely got his attention, and he strode over to me with comical steps.  He saw it was really just me, so lost some interest, until I began kicking and doing my best imitation of Curly (of 3 Stooges fame), in order to simply get an alert expression.  I got a few shots this way, but I wondered if I was sacrificing too much of my dignity to get them.  It was all good though, since nobody else was around.

A gold palomino strides in the gold late-day light.

My goal had actually been to get him to look majestic in a shaft of the golden slanting light, with an uncluttered, beautiful sky-rich background, in static pose and in motion.  But no way would he stay in the nice light.  All I could get was nice light in the background, he in the shade.

And moving?  I managed a few shots but they were not very sharp.  I estimated minimum shutter speeds of 1/500 sec., but at 200mm this was a tad too slow.  Live and learn.  Actually it is quite easy to underestimate the speed that horses move.  Their motions suggest much slower movement than they actually accomplish.

All in all a frustrating but silly and fun experience.  I figure I might eventually be able to do one-on-one candid portraits of horses.  And if not, the effort will probably make “money” horse shoots (with their humans aboard or in control) seem like a cake-walk.

I’m told horse photography is a ripe business opportunity in this area (the Willamette Valley in Oregon).  Do I really want to spend this much time with them?  Answer:  maybe!

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