Do you ever find yourself looking through past photos you have taken of your horse and wishing they were better? I know I do, especially because I enter a lot of photo horse shows.
The photo horse shows, like Global Showing allow me to combine two of my most favorite hobbies, horses and photography.
And sometimes I get really lucky, and capture an incredible photo of one of my horses.
But a lot of times, I end up with photos that end up looking like snapshots. For me the difference between a snapshot and a photo that makes me go, “whoa, that’s good”, is just a little practice and composition.
So I thought I would share 6 different photography exercises with you to help you capture even better photos of your horse.
To get started, you don’t need to run out and buy a fancy camera. If you have a newer cell phone, you have a pretty impressive camera in your hand right now. But if you are looking to buy an ‘official’ camera, I really like Nikon. Some of the photos throughout this post are from my cell phone, because I always have it with me. But most of them I took with my Nikon D7100. It’s a beast of a pro-sumer camera, and works great for me. It’s not the super cheap intro DSLR, but it’s not a $3000 camera either. But for me, it’s just right.
1. Shoot Your Horse From 8 Different Angles
This will force you to stretch the boundaries of your creativity. It will force you to start looking at your subjects in many different ways.
Finding the first 5 angles might be pretty easy. But the last 3 will be more challenging, as they should be! But don’t give up. Try to get at least 8 different angles of your horse, even if that means focusing on different parts of your horse.
A few different ideas for you to try:
- Shoot on the same level as your subject
- Try getting a higher angle, taller than your subject
- Get below your subject and shoot upward (Safety first – don’t get under your horse!)
Then, once you’ve finished this exercise put your photos into your computer to review them. Take note of the different angles and how they gave your subject slightly different looks.
2. Shoot Your Scene With Different Types Of Light
Photography is all about light. How much light comes into the camera, how the shadows deepen and darken certain areas of your photo. And the more you work on mastering the light, the better your photos will become.
Start by picking your scene. Then photograph that scene with different types of light. For example:
- Sunrise/Sunset light
- Midday light
- Cloudy light
This will mean revisiting the same scene over several days, but it will be worth it in the end! Then you will have many different photos to look at, and you can see how the different levels of light work with your subject.
3. Take Both Still And Action Shots Of Your Horse
When we are capturing photos of our horses, a lot of times we get into the habit of getting the same photo over and over. Usually it is from the view of looking at our horse, or a body shot, with our horses ears perked forward and standing perfectly still.
But instead of just getting that perfect head shot of your horse, step out of your comfort zone, and get some action into your photo. If your horse is running around his paddock, take a couple of photos. Think about how his muscles are moving, or capturing his tail when it’s up if he is trotting around.
Or even just the movement of his feet, even if they are muddy.
Or scratching an itch.
Working at capturing movement can be challenging, but you will be rewarded with some epic photos of your horse worthy of being printed and hanging up on a wall as art.
4. Shoot A Subject You Normally Avoid
This exercise is all about changing things up, and getting out of your comfort zone. Because if you shoot the same thing every time, you can’t really improve as a photographer. And even if you aren’t a photographer professionally, by changing things up and getting out of your comfort zone, you will have a different perspective which can really improve all of the photos you capture.
So look for something different to photograph.
Instead of getting the perfect head shot of your horse, maybe focus on his surroundings. Take a picture of him at rest in his field. Or even the field itself. Are there any flowers growing? Or what about the little tufts of grass he can’t reach by a fence post. What about a close up of your favorite saddle, or your prized bridle?
There are so many opportunities to capture memories, or the things you love that deal with your horse. All you have to do is get out of your comfort zone and seek out new opportunities.
5. Edit Your Photo in 6 Different Ways
But you don’t have to have the ultra fancy software in order to edit your photos. You can even edit photos with Instagram filters, or a free photo editing program like Gimp (which is really similar to Photoshop) or Paint.Net.
The goal here is to play with your photos. Turn it into black and white
Turn up the contrast while decreasing the saturation of the photo
Or soften it a bit to really make it glow.
Maybe try a different filter you have never tried before. You might be surprised at how you like the edited version more than the original. Or how tweaking something as simple as the color hue can change the photo into a beautiful masterpiece.
6. Challenge Yourself – Photograph Your Horse Every Day For A Month
And it doesn’t necessarily need to be your horse. But challenge yourself to take a photo of your horse, or at the barn every single day for a month.
This is one of the best ways to improve your photography skills simply be using them. Because practice really does make you better. And the more you practice, the better you will become.
And if you take photos of your horse every single day you’ll find that your mind starts to open up and you’ll see photo opportunities that you would have never seen before.
Your skills will keep improving and you will be able to capture stunning photos of your horse. And you will be consistently ‘getting the shot’ that you had once only dreamed of.
Equestrian Photography -Next Steps
Now you have 6 different exercises to help you improve the photos you capture of your horse. Why not take the next step, and enter an online photo horse show?
Like I said in the beginning, Global Showing is my favorite online horse show to enter. Why not enter a class (or two) with your favorite photo?
If you use these 6 exercises, you’ll soon be taking equestrian photos like a pro! Why not share those incredible shots with other horse lovers? Enter an online show, and see how you do!