Saturday, August 10, 2013

What happens when a B&W landscape photographer, photographs horses... in colour.

A few weeks ago, I was able to fulfill my marital duties and ...

Wait for it.


Photograph our horses.


I got you there didn't I?
It happens every summer. And time after time I have no clue what I am doing.

But this year it was slightly different. Sarah had done some research. And in the days before the actual session, she showed me a pile of photographs she liked. She had done research on Pinterest and Instagram ...

Yay for me! 

She showed me details, overall photographs, portraits, ... of horses. All really good stuff. All stuff I could do too.

Or so I thought.

And then she said:
- "I think I want them in colour."
- "Wait what?! In colour?!" I replied. "No no no. Maybe you haven't noticed but I don't 'do' colour anymore honey."
Oh the horror. I had to photograph the horses in colour?! Something I had not done for ages. Maybe there was a way to convince her that these photos would look amazing and original in classic black and white. I had to convince her. I had to.
- "Oh I know you don't do colour anymore" she said, "none the less I want them in colour."
I tried to say "but ..." in combination with the sad puppy look, but that didn't work. I knew I had no way out anymore. Sarah's mind was made up long before she had even asked me to photograph the horses.
 - "Ok" I said to myself "Screw it. I can do this". "How hard can it be? Right?" 

You see every year, I step up to that same challenge with a lot of confidence. You probably know how it goes. You have this mind full of ideas. 'I want to do this and that and what do you think about this and that?'Only to get literally smacked in the face with failure 5 minutes into the job.

That was in short how it went. 5 minutes in, I just wanted to quit. Even with the 5DmkII (Yes I did this digitally, I'm not completely crazy) on continuous shooting and servo focussing, I still wasn't able to press the shutter fast enough. Yeah I am a slow poke. 

So I just ended up pressing it constantly. And make 20 shots in a row. Heck we'll edit later. I was literally putting all my eggs in the 'spray and pray'-basket. Something I never EVER do. I felt like a hack.

Anyway, the horse wasn't really interested in standing still for anything longer than 2 seconds. He was more interested in what he was seeing around him. Or 'oh wait... fresh grass, I gotta taste that, it looks so different than my regular grass, nom nom nom'. You see our horse Oli (his name is Qhromatic but the previous owners gave him the stable name Oli) has the attention span of a 3 year old (well he IS 3 so maybe that's why).

Anyway. Loooong story short. It was a frustrating experience and one I will have to repeat next year. And the year after that. And the year after that ... etc. Oh and of course it is an experience that always ends up with a little fight between the misses and me. :)

But 614 photographs later (not kidding), I got about 20 keepers. Twenty! That's a 3.25% success ratio. That is sad. But lucky for me, the wife loved the keepers too. That meant I was able to escape the dog house. Oh wait we don't have a dog. But you know what I mean. And that I scored some big time points too.

Every time I photograph our horses, I have a growing respect – at the end of a session – for photographers that do this for a living. May it be equine, wedding, pet, action photography or anything else where a subject moves fast and needs the photographer to react in tenths of seconds.

I came to the conclusion that I can NOT photograph horses. Or people. Or other moving organic things. I like landscapes. I like to compose. Take my time... Enjoy the moment, listen, feel, smell and then press the shutter.

There is an art to action photography. One that I still have to learn.

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