Isaac in the snow

When I was in the stable on Christmas Eve, the light was beautiful. Owning a pony means going to the stables (almost) every day, so when we went back on Boxing Day, the weather was totally different. First, we tried to get our own pony Rocket to run in the snow, but he didn’t want to. So when one of the other girls was going to ride her pony Isaac on the outside riding ground, I grabbed my camera.

Due to the heavy snow, the camera had real problems finding  focus on the rider, so I got a lot of blurry photos of snowflakes…

Blurry photo of snowflakes
Blurry photo of snowflakes

I think the photos have a quality of their own, though. That slightly abstract, surreal feeling where the rider is not in focus, enables the viewer to focus on the feel of the photo….

I tried different camera settings, and found that I had to use mostly manual focus…

Using manual focus
Using manual focus, I managed to capture the rider
It was really snowing...
It was really snowing…
A happy horse in the snow...
A happy horse in the snow…

Tomorrow is another day, with new photo opportunities. Camera is packed, batteries are charged…

That sweet, soft, beautiful winter light

One of the benefits of living where I live (in Trondheim, Norway) is that in the midst of winter, the sunset/sunrise is a 2 hour continuous orgy of sweet, soft, beautiful winter light.

On Christmas Eve I was in the stable where our pony lives, and met another horse owner on her way to release her Dutch Gelding Amorka to run free for a while. I grabbed my camera and tagged along…

Amorka runs free
Amorka runs free

It was so much fun watching him run, he really enjoyed it 🙂

Full spead ahead
Full speed ahead

He also spent some time looking out over the valley for his friends.

Where are my friends at??
Where are my friends at??

Today looks like another beautiful day. I’m headed over to the stables again, and bringing my camera…

Scouting
Scouting

Fun in the dark

As an (amateur) photographer I have to say that summer is one of my favorite times of the year for photography where I live. The long, white nights with soft light makes for beautiful photos, and since we are so far north the golden hour lasts forever as the sun just dips below the horizon…

In the winter however, there is no outdoor lights… The sun just sneaks over the horizon in the middle of the day, and it is mostly dark all the time. But even if there is no light, it is still possible to have a lot of fun…

Over the past year or so, I have built some skills in taking horse portraits with a black background. They are almost straight out of camera with some slight adjustments in LR to make them sparkle. I felt the time was ripe for taking it to another level, and enlisted the help of my kids horse instructor. The setup was fairly simple:

Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes

I used two radio triggered flashes (Canon 580 EX) for lighting, along with a couple of video lights for helping the autofocus.

The horse (Cordo) was of course quite sceptical in the beginning, so we started off with him walking through the lights a couple of times. Although unplanned, this gave us some really cool shots.

From the inital setting up of lights and such
From the initial setting up of lights and such

Then we could start working with the fence. It took quite a few jumps to get the timing right.

A bit too early
A bit too early

But in the end, we managed to make some pretty good predictions

Timing is everything
Timing is everything

All in all, it was a great session where I learned a lot. So now I am ready to take it to the next level…

Horse portraits

Recently, I started to learn more about flash photography. Especially the use of off-camera flash. I decided I wanted to try this with the horses at the local stable, where the girls readily volunteered their horses as models.

Technically, this is not the most challenging shots. I created a 4×4 meter grid and positioned a flash in each corner. After a few experiments, the settings were OK and we were ready to start shooting.

Wembley
Wembley

But if the technical stuff was easy, it was another thing completely to get the horses to cooperate. They did not want to stand still in their little square, and tried to run off all the time. We got some real exercise chasing them in the riding hall…

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But after some adjustments we became quite efficient (or is it effective…), where we would have multiple horses waiting and one horse “in the box”

Zorro
Zorro

All in all, it was a great few hours where we had a lot of fun…

Odina
Odina

The rest of the portraits can be found on my Flickr page

 

The outdoor season is starting up again

I love to photograph of show jumping, and must have taken thousands of photos over the past few years. Apparently, the riders appreciate my efforts as well, as I am approaching 300.000 photo views on my Flickr pageThere is a lot of preparation and especially post processing involved, so for each hour on the course I spend one hour in post processing.

The main reason for taking all these photos is to practice my photography hobby. I also have two daughters that ride, and as they are starting to compete, I want to take great photos of them and their horses.

This winter has been a strange one in Trondheim where I live. We have had almost no snow (and we usually get a lot) and spring came early. So last weekend the outdoor competition season kicked off with the show jumping competition at Øysand. I packed my trusty old 7D and my almost brand new Sigma 300 f/2.8, hitched the horse trailer to my car and headed off.

The weather was perfect for action photography, sunny but with a slight veil resulting in sharp without excessive contrast.

In a later post (to be written soon) I will try to describe how I work when I photograph show jumping (outdoors). In the meantime, you can enjoy a few photos below. The rest of the photos are found on my Flickr set from the event.

 

Planning the next obstacle
Planning the next obstacle
Going over
Going over
Perfect weather
Perfect weather

 

Let's go

Let’s go