Category Archives: Horses

Teenatoo Portrait

Just finished doing a portrait of “Teenatoo”, my chestnut thoroughbred mare. The digital painting is produced in oils and has soft pencil remarks around the mount. You can see a small version by clicking the image below:


She’s quite a character and this was a fun piece of artwork to do. Now I just have to decide where to hang it.

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Equine Portraits – Head Shots, natural light

There are many ways to photograph a horse, one classic composition is the facial portrait. Whilst it is possible to use flash lighting & artificial back drops, this is not necessary; rewarding portraits can be achieved with just natural light. This does of course require some patience, waiting for the desired lighting. Today was just such an occasion, the low freezing  murk cleared at lunchtime, leaving a brief sunny spell that was ideal for purpose. Here are some example images, all taken today.

eqport1-02Jan09  Click image for a larger view …

The key in each of these shots was to encourage the horse to make a characterful expression. Sometimes it is easier to do this with an assistant but here I was on my own. Of course there are other points to consider as well, such as:

  • Direction of light
  • Background positioning
  • Fast enough shutter speed to freeze any motion
  • Large aperture to reduce depth of field & blur background
  • Suitable focal length for horse’s confidence / nervousness (all above were taken at 150mm)

The opportunity can also be taken to do some close detail shots of the horse, like below:


Finishing can include the production of Black & White images, colour variations, the addition of vignettes and many other things; its great to experiment & explore.


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Of lenses, horses & portraits

I’ve been in need of a longer focal length macro lens for a while. Today I took delivery of a Sigma 150mm f2.8 APO Macro DG EX; that’s quite a name! Now I usually stick to Canon L series lenses but this Sigma EX has a very good reputation and is quite a bargain at the moment. Anyway took the lens for an afternoon stroll in today’s dull, cloudy and sub zero weather. The lens seems promisingly versatile being suitable for portraiture as well as macro work. Tamsin & her pony, Snowy, seemed like good subjects to take trial portrait shots of. The gloomy afternoon would ensure the use of higher ISO & open aperture, I used only natural light for these shots. Here’s an image of Snowy, taken with the Sigma lens on a Canon 5D:

Black & White Pony Portrait 

I am very pleased with the nice bokeh that this lens produces; it is also acceptably sharp from wide open and gives a pleasant feel to the picture. The build quality appears good but perhaps not up to the rock solid build that Canon L series lenses give you. Focusing is quiet and of an acceptable speed for a macro lens but the AF doesn’t feel as accurate as a discerning photographer might wish for. Here’s a sample shot of Tamsin:

Tamsin - all wrapped up 

Overall, I am very pleased with the lens and look forward to taking more images with it. I expect to use it for macro, portrait (animal & human) and wedding photography. A brief test with both extension tubes & a x1.4 extender promises well for achieving good macro shots with magnification in excess of life size (1:1).


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Gatcombe Park – Festival of Eventing

Last weekend saw the culmination of the Gatcombe Park Festival of British Eventing presented by BETA. We were fortunate enough to be press photographers at the event. The first thing that I must say is that it was a pleasure to be working there, the organisation was excellent and it would be an enjoyable outing for anybody.

We concentrated on the intermediate section, this is where tomorrow’s equine Eventing stars are to be seen. That said, the highlight of the day was undoubtedly the British Open.

Show Jumping

There were plenty of eye catching performances here, with 7 clear rounds. Crucially Oliver Townend, Ruth Edge and Brook Staples all went clear, whilst Lucy Wiegersma had 4 faults. This kept the competition close going into the cross country phase where time was going to be tight on the undulating Gatcombe course. Here are 3 photos from the show jumping (open & intermediate) – click on a picture to see it larger …


Cross Country – Intermediate

The Gatcombe course was looking wonderful and the ground in good order. As you might expect there were plenty of thrills & spills, at one point I even had to abandon the camera, to catch a loose horse. Some had problems with the Gatcombe water monsters but it rode well for others …

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Lucy Wiegersma had a sturdy clear round on French Leave with 6 time faults, she rode confidently through the water, as below …

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This was good enough for 5th overall, with Andrew Nicholson & Brook Staples also having only time faults to go 4th & 3rd respectively. The spills kept on coming at the water, with some spectacular falls {I won’t post the identifiable one’s for now 🙂 }  …

_MG_2835   Click image for a larger view …

Yes there’s a horse & rider in amongst the water, happily all were fine, just a little wet & muddy. Ruth Edge had no problems on the cross country but did incur 8.4 time penalties, which would prove decisive; leaving her in a final 2nd place. This left Oliver Townend with an opportunity or two. ODT Tivoli gave him  damp feet at the water

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whilst ODT Master Rose looked to risk a bath but recovered well to finish with only time faults. It was ODT Land Vision who put in an outstanding round, one of the quickest, with only 1.6 time faults and thus taking the win.

_MG_2935   Click image for a larger view …

In the open competition Ruth Edge went one better with Mayhem III to take the win on an excellent final score of 27.1. Nicola Wilson & Opposition Buzz were 2nd and Oliver Townend & Flint Curtis were 3rd.


Supporting Entertainment

The main ring provided a place for many more carry ons, some are detailed below:

_MG_2954 The dressage to music was informative and a sublime relief from the excitement of the cross country.

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_MG_3001 Next up was Ye Olde Red Tail Falconry display, which was simply wondrous, as well as funny! I love birds of prey and it was fantastic to see Peregrine Falcons, Harris Hawk, Black Kite, a Vulture & an Eagle Owl.

  Click an image for a larger view …

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Then we were treated to an amazing performance by The Devil’s Horseman as they carried out a Cossack style display.   Click on any image for a larger view …

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Their performance had the press box full of cheers & yells, many coming from the supposedly quiet & invisible Tamsin. A really exciting display that I recommend you to go & see.

The closing finale was provided by the Shetland Grand National, which pretty much speaks for itself …

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An excellent day at a great venue, but boy was I tired by the time we arrived home.


Shameless Plug

If any editors require images of Gatcombe or need a commission fulfilling, please get in touch with either Jane or I.

Equally so event organisers & individuals should feel free to call on us for our photographic services, see more by visiting to our web hub and following the appropriate links.


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More Infra-Red Photography & Equestrianism

My apologies for having failed to post in over a month, I’ve been a little busy with work. I do however have several posts in the pipe line, so watch this space.

Now down to business, Early in May I had my first proper chance to try out the modified Fuji camera in bright sunshine with fresh foliage. The session was brief & all from home but here are 3 of the resulting pictures:

DSCF0424-07May08  click picture for larger view …

This first picture is a classic use for IR photography, bright foliage with dark skies & shadows. This type of photography can produce high contrast output, although noise control can be something of an issue.

DSCF0418-07May08  click picture for larger view …

Next is a portrait of “Hob Nogglin” one of our youngsters, he’s a 50/50 cross between TB & Welsh Section D. Oh and he loves cameras, he just can’t wait to give the lens a big smeary lick! This picture has a light sepia toning applied to it.

DSCF0431-07May08  click picture for larger view …

This final picture was taken as I was walking back up to our house, the sun had disappeared behind some evening cloud and the high contrast of IR imaging picked up the ‘ray’ effect beautifully. This final picture has been give a duotone effect.


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Eyarth Tarragon

Tamsin has a new pony, Eyarth Tarragon. It was almost dusk when we got home, but I just had to rattle a few pics off in the evening gloom 🙂  (ie. excuse the slow shutter speed of the first picture!)

_MG_0767-12Mar08-Edit  Click image for a larger view …

He’s a 4 year old gelding, just ready to learn together with Tamsin. Lovely people that we bought him from and a beautiful collection of Welsh Section B’s on their stud. Tarragon, well he’s a very friendly & intelligent character. he appears to be taking everything happily in his stride,

_MG_0778-12Mar08-Edit  Click image for a larger view …

I expect that Jane will post a more detailed entry on her blog, with breeding & wotnot but I’m going to leave it all for my final picture of the day …

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I hope they have lots of fun together.

You can read Tamsin’s initial post about Tarragon, here.

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