Horse Photography Tip #1 – Choosing the right lens length DOES make a difference
Have you been having trouble with your images of horses? Does the horse’s head look elongated and silly, and does his body look disproportional? It’s possible you are using a lens that is too short.
If you photograph a horse while standing very close and with a short lens, say 28mm or 35 mm or even 50mm, you will get unpleasant results.
The short lens distorts the image. Horses’ heads are already long and so are their bodies. If you want a humorous image, then by all means use your short lens close up. But if you want a quality conformation shot, I recommend going to a longer lens. The longer lenses compress the horse’s body and head and make a more pleasing representation. I recommend using at least a 100 mm lens and preferably longer, like 200 mm. If you like the flexibility of zoom lenses, one of my favorite lenses for shooting domestic horses is the 70 – 200 zoom.
In summary, to improve your photos of horses, use a longer lens and step back.
Horse Photography Tip #2: Capture Details for a New Point of View!
When you think of equine photography, you may think of a standing horse, or maybe running, and that image could be of the entire horse. But if you want to try something new and different, concentrate on details. Details can be the close up of a horse’s eye. Step back and zoom in, and observe what reflects in the eye – is it you or something else in the background? Are the eyelashes in focus? Did you capture the gleam of light in the horse’s eye? That will really make your image pop. Tail braided for an exhibition in Spain
Zoom in on a braided mane or a tail, like the photo of this carriage horse from Spain, or zoom in on the feet as they travel. Think about tack and clothing, and get close for a shot of a cowgirl’s boot and/or spurs.
Imagine the contour of a horse’s body and try to show the details of the curves. Does the horse have spots or splashes of color on his body? How about focusing on an interesting shaped mark? There are no wrong choices, and part of improving your skills as a photographer is trying new things, and looking at your world and what you are photographing in a new way. Focusing on details can help keep your images fresh and exciting.
Horse Photography Tip #3: What time of Day is Best to Take Photos of Horses?
When you are photographing horses and other subjects, take into account the quality and quantity of light on your subject. We see because of light, and we can photograph because there is light. Taking advantage of the best light so that you can improve your photos is important.
Have you noticed that in the middle of the day, shadows are harsh and unflattering? On the other hand, in the early morning and the late afternoon, the light is softer, and just after sunrise and just before sunset is that time we call “magic light” when your subject will glow with the warm tones of the light.
I try to schedule all my shoots either in the early morning or late afternoon. Two hours before and after dawn are the ideal times. If you have trouble getting your subjects out of bed early in the morning, as I occasionally do, try for late afternoon.
If you have to shoot in the middle of the day, find some shade – a tree, the side of the barn, or if it is a cloudy day, the light is diffuse and you can shoot later.
I recommend experimenting with this, and taking photographs at different times of the day. See how the time of day and quality of the light changes your photos. If you pay attention to the light, I promise your photos will improve.