Photographing Horses: How To Capture The Perfect Equine Image is not necessarily written for the photographer who wants to learn how to photograph horses, rather it is more geared toward horse people who want to learn how to take better photos of their horses.
According to the author, Leslie Groves, "Horse photography does not lend itself to a traditional how-to approach, except at the most elementary level." "We don't all have the same expectations, nor are we working with predictable ingredients." "Our Photos are unique images of unique individuals." Photographing Horses is just over 200 pages in length and is divided into 16 chapters.
Chapter 1, "The Simple Recipe for Taking a Horse Picture," begins with the basics that will allow someone with little or no want to become a fine art photographer to gain the skills to take a picture that does not sabotage a horse's appearance. It is from this instant success that the author feels may bring a greater interest in photography. Chapter 2, "The Big Picture," provides an overview of horse photography and a detailed look at the many factors that result in a quality image.
Chapter 3, "Learning to See the Light," describes how the quality and direction of light has the most impact on the outcome of your image. Light can enhance or detract from your picture, so it is important for you to be aware of the light around you. Chapter 4, "Camera Considerations," works off of the idea that cameras don't take pictures, people take pictures and the worst cameras can take good pictures, as well as the best cameras can take bad pictures; there is a lot more to a good image than a great camera.
Chapter 5, "Technical Trade-offs," explains some of the more technical aspects of photography. Here you will learn about shutter speeds, aperture settings, ISO settings, and how they intertwine and work off each other. Chapter 6, "The Model Horse Exercise," describes an exercise for photographing horses by using small plastic models. This way you can concentrate on the getting experience with lighting and other aspects of your camera settings without having to contend with an animal that will have a shorter tolerance level.
Chapter 7, "Scouting Locations," shows how there is more than just background to getting the shot right. You have to take into consideration light source, slope, space, background, where will the horse want to be, how short or long is the grass, and does it matter which side you shoot the horse from. Chapter 8, "Grooming Considerations for a Photo Shoot," looks at how photographers can get involved in the grooming process at least to the extent that it has a positive impact on the look of the horse for the final image.
Chapter 9, "Setting up Photo Opportunities," realizes that sometimes opportunities come along and other times you have to create those opportunities. Many times that includes a helper or two. One is usually for the set up and one is to try and get the ears right. Chapter 10, "The Classic Poses," are the ones that have the horse standing balanced with all four feet showing and the two feet closest to the camera the farthest apart. Although this is the easiest shot to get there are still a lot of considerations to take into account.
Chapter 11, "Taking Pictures of Loose Horses," is sometimes the most eloquent; there are a lot of ways to go about getting the right image. Chapter 12, "Finding Flattering Angles," examines how moving around the horse you may better angles to get the best shot. Sometimes from below, sometimes from above may prove to be better angle.
Chapter 13, "Putting People in the Picture," explains the problems that arise with mixing people and horses into a shot. Many times the bright sunlight that is flattering to a horse is not to their human counterpart. Chapter 14, "Capturing Action," describes another challenge to the photographer, the action shot. Now you have to anticipate where the good shot will come from. This chapter will explain about knowing when to capture the right moment.
Chapter 15, "Taking Your Camera Along for the Ride," shows that there are considerations for taking your camera along. It is an expensive piece of equipment and you want to know the ins and outs. Chapter 16, "Moving Pictures," finishes up with talking about the use of video. This can be great when you are trying to market a horse.
Photographing Horses provides a good overview of the techniques of photographing horses. It is especially valuable to those whose primary focus is on horses and not photography. It gives you enough technical details with out overwhelming you. It provides you with techniques that will help you improve your skills.
In Photographing Horses, the author is clear and concise with her appraisal what to do and what not to do when photographing horses. No, not all of the pictures in the book are perfect, but I think that is part of the goal of the book is providing what would be good images. Many books contain nothing but perfect images, and that can be frustrating to someone who cannot recreate that perfect image because of equipment or experience limitations. It is very evident that the author had a frustrating experience in her early days that she wants the readers to avoid.
If you are a horse person who wants to take better pictures of horses, then Photographing Horses is a must have. It will give you the confidence to go out and take good pictures. If you are a photographer and want to learn the ins and outs of horse photography, you will find some good information here as well; not so much on the photography level, rather on the intricacies of working with horses and how it relates to photography.