Photography Friday: Izze’s Senior Portraits

Last weekend I ran around the American Tobacco Campus, a Durham landmark, with Izze for her senior portraits. Izze is an accomplished rider who just recently earned her bronze medal in dressage, and captain of her school’s field hockey team. It was a joy getting to spend time together away from the barn and have her do all sorts of ridiculous things for my camera!

Next week I’m off to Fair Hill to do some photography- anyone else going to the 3***?

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Photography Friday: OSSbourne

Ossbourne is a special pony with more accolades than horses twice his size. He’s competed in both Europe and the States, trained up thru PSG, and has given no less than 7 riders the opportunity to earn their Bronze medals! Such a unique guy deserved a send off with all the bells and whistles, and I was so happy to be able to capture these sweet moments between Kim and OSS before he headed north to be another little girl’s unicorn!

We will miss you around the barn OSS, and wishing you many happy trails in your new home! Happy Friday everyone!

Photography Friday: Frog Pond Farm

When I received a phone call from Helen, she mentioned that she wanted some photos with her heart horse, Othello. Her sweet partner had been dealing with multiple health issues, and it was important to capture their relationship in images while he was still with her. I was touched beyond belief to hear her speak, and absolutely agreed to come to her farm. The photos we took of Othello and the other occupants of the farm are some of my favorites of late, and I feel so blessed to have been a part of this special day. Othello has now crossed the rainbow bridge, but he will forever live on in these images and in the hearts of the ones who loved him.

Give your ponies a hug, everyone, and happy Friday.

Photography Friday: Nicole and Logan

When fellow home-town equestrian, Nicole, reached out to me about doing her engagement portraits with her fiance Logan, I was all in. Two gorgeous horses, a simply stunning summer evening (75* in June- inconceivable!) , and just the most glorious light you have ever seen- this is the romantic session any photographer could wish for!

Logan proposed at the Carolina Horse Park, and its obvious that he is a wonderful horse husband in the making. The two are working on building their dream farm all while planning their wedding, which will be Rolex weekend! I’m so thrilled to have been a part of this special moment for these two, and can’t wait to see all the amazing things they will accomplish together!

Happy Friday all!

Photography Friday: Black background Mania

In the last couple weeks my photoshop fingers have been running at full speed trying to keep up with the number of photography requests I have had. Not that I am complaining one bit- I LOVE getting to show these owners how stunning their horses are through these portraits.

Having so many at once has also allowed me to refine my editing style, which (at the risk of sounding snobby) I’ve come to think of as slightly more ‘fine art’ than my previous edits. With more horses to shoot next week, I’m definitely excited to build some momentum around my photography and hopefully keep that ball rolling!

Happy Friday all, and enjoy your weekend!

Photography Friday: Black Background Photos Behind the scenes

Black background images are all the rage right now, and it’s easy to see why. So simple in their essence, they are a study of the horse as a form with an extra dash of drama.Any photographer worth their salt will tell you that the best way to do these images is in camera, and I completely agree. They mostly require a center aisle that allows light to be blocked in such a way that you achieve a distinctive difference between light and dark (shadow and well, not shadowed). Even better if either the aisle then is a very long one, or has doors at the opposite end that prevents light from seeping into the background. This is less commonly available, so is a nice-to-have rather than a necessary component.

So at the risk of ruining the magic, here are a couple examples of what I see in-camera versus the final product.

In this photo, and the image below, you can see a frequent participant in my photoshoots: a giant blue squeaky toy. Sometimes the horses could care less when something so bright and blue and loud is seemingly dying beneath their nose. Other times, you get what I call the dragon pose, where the horse elongates and arches his neck and there becomes a definite spark to their overall expression. That, as Cinderella demonstrates below, is my favorite way to show off these horses as the athletes they are.

As you can see, there is a variance in how much editing a particular shot will require. My job when I show up to do one of these images is to utilize the given environment to the best of my ability, then consider the horse/model’s best features and how to pose them and show them off. Then, it’s about reading the light, making the right decisions for settings on my camera, and spending time in post-processing (I use both lightroom and photoshop) to create the final image.

And there you have it folks! A peek behind the curtain on the ever-popular black background photo! Happy Friday all!

Life Behind the Lens

Mikaylah asked last week how I got into photography, and I can’t believe I’ve never mentioned it!

Rolex XC shot

D40 + kit lens at work with horse photos [Rolex 2012]

My introduction to photography started around horses (you’re shocked, I know), helping my mother take conformation photos for sales ads- back in the day when everything was film and posting an ad meant paperclipping a printed photo to a piece of paper with the hand-written text on it, and mailing it off to Stablemates. My parents got me my first camera when I was around 10 years old, one of those cheap wind-up film cameras that only operated in Auto mode- perfect for my bounding around the farm and clicking shots off of every creature in sight.

One of my first shoots with the Nikon D40 [Nikon D40, fall 2007]

When I got to college, and transferred from an Animal Science degree to the College of Design, of course I signed up for a photography studio (a studio being a 4.5 credit hour course – and basically the thing that ruled your life as a design student). I had this wonderfully snarky older gentleman as our professor, who’s favorite thing to ask us was “And what were you thinking when you took that?” in regards to each one of our [admittedly mostly] terrible photos. My parents kindly bought me a Nikon D40 so I could take the course- an entry/beginner level DSR camera that came with a couple cheap kit lenses. Between this and my dad’s borrowed film camera, I started learning how to shoot in manual mode, learned how to process and dodge/burn photos in the dank, musty, hot dark room on campus, and in general become obsessed with the instant joy of photography.

And truthfully, I really couldn’t tell you why I took this photo. It was that bad, but at least I learned how to develop in a dark room I guess? [Film photo, fall 2007]

In the beginning, my work was basically awful. I lacked inspiration, what I thought was classy and on-trend was cheesy or tacky. But the more comfortable I felt with the camera as a tool, the more I felt I could compose my shot and create an attractive image. So I took another photography studio, cementing myself as an Art + Design major with a concentration in Photography. Charles started expecting me to lead critiques of other students, and from his snarky feedback I started to improve. My eye developed, I could own my own weaknesses and seek to improve them. I was good enough (emphasis on the ‘enough’) to be recommended as a student photographer for a wedding, which is decidedly my first and last wedding- while the couple was happy, the stress of capturing that moment is more than I wanted to get into.

In my second semester of photography coursework, things started coming together a bit better. [Nikon D40, spring 2008]

In 2010 I made my first real investment into my gear with the purchase of a 50mm f1.8 prime lens. My old learner-D40 was still the only camera I owned, but I was excited to see how this $150 addition would change my abilities. It is this lens that now leads me to believe that the lens is where your investment should be if you are going to spend money on kit.

Swan at Stourhead, England. [Nikon D40, 50mm f1.8, 2011]

From there it’s been learning by doing. Each shoot I feel like I learn a little bit more, get a little bit better. I upgraded my camera 2 years ago from that workhorse D40 to a D7000, and this year made the jump to full frame so I could eek more out of my golden-hour portrait sessions. I also invested in a few more lenses, including an 85mm prime that is now my main lens, though my trusty nifty-fifty still comes with me to every single shoot.

Nikon D7000, 2015, wide angle lens

One of my last shoots with the D7000 as my primary body [D7000, 50mm 1.8, winter 2016]

And so here we are, almost 10 years after I first started applying myself to Photography. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost comparing yourself to others, but the journey has been oh so fun and I am as much in love with the hobby now as I was as a kid.

First time using the D750

First “pro” shoot with the D750

latest shoot [D750, 85mm f1/8]

Not-quite-photography Friday: Presto Warrior Design

I think it’s safe to say that when little Presto hit the ground, he immediately charmed all of blogland with one tiny whinny. So when he landed himself in an emergency clinic as a sick little foal, he gained himself a whole community of well-wishers hoping for his health and healing.

When Amanda addressed questions regarding donations to his care fund, I was more than happy to volunteer my design skills to a very worthy cause. I immediately stalked all her media of Presto and landed on a still of him frolicking in his pen. A little illustrator magic, some feedback from Amanda, and an oldies tune on repeat in my head generated the below image!

To buy a t-shirt and help offset the costs of Presto’s stay at the clinic, check out this link where you can buy Presto-related goodies through next Friday! Presto, we are so glad you are feeling better and one day I hope to hear that adorable little whinny in person!