Archive for November, 2014

As many of you know, a focus on equine photography portraits is new for me.  I have been married with horses for over 11 years now, and have taken a number of photos here and there of them in a non-portrait scenario.  You’d think I’d have this new focus of mine in the bag.  I know a number of basic things to watch for and what not, but I realized a few extra tools and tricks I need to put up my sleeve for when doing portraits of people and their horses.

Probably the first thing I realized I needed to keep on hand is a step stool of some kind.  I tend to envision many photos in which people are sitting or standing next to their equine partners, but it’s obviously more natural to be sitting on a horse since that’s what we do with them.  We don’t just walk them like big dogs.  We ride them to accomplish great things with them as a team.

The ears are the easiest thing for me to focus on.  Happy and attentive ears point forward, making for a much more engaging and eye pleasing.  The problem is that you can’t always ask a horse to put their ears forward on command for you.  Sometimes they straight out agitated, sometimes their flopping around like Eeyore, and sometimes their all over the place fully distracted by their environment.  It is still a challenge for me since you never know how a horse will react to the tricks you try.  Generally I find it best to base your attempts first off of the excitement level of the horse combined with whatever the owner can tell you about what scares them.  Then test your waters carefully.  Nothing is worth getting the horse or owner injured just to make the ears go forward.

Probably the most complicated challenge is a high energy horse, or one that’s simply impatient or excited.  Some horses are calm and carefree, but the rest will keep you on your toes as their constantly move everywhere, making you nervous for the owner, your staff, and your equipment.  There are some things that everyone can do to help reduce these things.  One is to have the owner work the horse really good the day before hand so that they’re hopefully tired when it comes time for the session.  Another thing you can do is put the horse in the environment WAY before the session so they can get used to it, making it less exciting.  Owners that know their horses will know how to calm their horse.  Of course I was joking with Amanda recently that we should start keeping calming paste on hand just in case.

Creating portraits of owners with their equine partners is very rewarding, but it is also very challenging.  Just remember not to rush or push the situation too far and to keep everyone safe so that you can end on a good note.

woman riding horse in woods



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Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography

Nov 08, 2014
posted in Portraits with 0 Comments

Even as a kid I remember seeing time-lapse videos.  Whether it was watching nature grow, a construction project in work, shows like Gumby or Wallace and Grommet, and so on.  They have a special look at feel that we’ve all enjoyed, but at that time it was not so easy to do on our own.

Now we have the readily accessible tools built into our new digital cameras since video has merged into the HDSLR market.  So I finally decided to play with mine since my D800 has the capability.  I have learned a few things along the way too of course, which I’ll share.

One of the first things I had to find out was how long the battery will last and what will happen when it dies.  To find out I set up my camera at 15 second intervals and let it go.  It lasted somewhere about 3 to 3.5 hours and gave a funny little video in the end.

Then I wanted to make sure I could go longer, so I got my hands on an AC adapter, allowing me to run on electrical power instead of battery power.  It was at this point my brain finally cue in to the fact that the Nikon D800 is limited to 7 hours and 59 minutes of time.  I’m guessing this is for the buffer.  Knowing this, I went ahead and maxed it out and pointed it at our horses for the weekend.   In order to make sure it didn’t time out, I just picked a time to stop and restart the process.  Since I was planning to put them into Premiere, I could butt them together and never know the difference.

Here was what I did find to be a problem with the AC power set up: you have to ensure that the cord is well secured at all points so that you don’t accidently loose power.  We discovered this problem when Zachariah trip on the cord, which easily separated at the adapter connection, and instantly killed power to the camera after a few hours of fun family interactions with the horses that we were excited to see.  Well, we never got to see them.  When the power died, it killed the process without first allowing it to finalize the file, so everything it had snapped was lost.  This is why I think it’s all sitting in a buffer till it’s told to stop and finalize.  To further demonstrate this, when I looked at the files created, there were no missing file numbers even though stuff was lost.

It was better to lose a file than to lose a camera when the cord was tripped over, but it was also better that it happened to me than to a client.  I think I would rather change out batteries more frequently than risk power lose at this point since I know that even if the battery dies, I still get a video.

The next thing we did was cover the siding project for our house over the course of a day and a half.  I thought it would be a great opportunity and the company doing the work would love it for marketing purposes.  The final product worked out great.  I’m sure I’ll use time-lapse more in the future, but for now it’s just something fun to play with.

Just some extra things to think about:
*       Check the time limit of your camera and plan accordingly
*       Determine whether auto or manual focus is best for your project
*       Don’t forget to set your white balance so your colors are all over the place
*       If the lighting will change over time, use a program mode and a ISO that will work throughout
*       Mark off or secure down your tripod if you’ll be removing the camera at any point
*       Keep the same focal length if you want consistency



If you found this post helpfully in anyway, please let me.  Please Like and Share this post so others can enjoy it too.  Thanks for reading.

Post by  at Brandon Malone Photography