Photo Essay: Blue Ridge Hunt (September 6, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Dark outside

Junior whip in the rising sun

Cubbing is typically done very early in the day so that the temperature remains as cool as possible.  This presents a real challenge to photography of course, since the sun is often barely over the horizon.

The human eye adjusts so well to low light conditions that it’s easy to forget the camera needs much more help.  When choosing between moving subjects (shutter speed) and dim light (open aperture, shallow depth of field), I typically go for speed, since going for light gives me two problems instead of one, but the result will sometimes be rather grainy (high ISO).  My husband was out with me taking pictures, and I was able to compare the well-lit but blurred-by-movement shots from his point-and-shoot camera, confirming me in my choice.

Lit by the rising sun, the motion is stopped at the cost of a certain graininess

A fox emerges discretely from the woods

Far away

The action was mostly within the Fox Spring Woods where car followers could not go, but we were rewarded with a lovely view of a big healthy fox exiting one corner of the wood, moving down the edge, and diving back in.

As so often happens, I was too excited to get the camera in gear quickly enough, so all I had to show for it was two distant low-light shots.  On the one hand, I think all shots of prey while hunting are of some interest, but on the other hand I don’t like to publish poor shots.  Here is one solution: instead of providing a camera closeup where clarity simply isn’t possible, approximate the actual distance and go for the overall impact of the sudden view.

Light from the side

Hunting constantly presents scenes of riders moving across the field of view.  Ideally, you want them lit on the side nearest you and from the front of the horse, but reality doesn’t always cooperate.  If they are lit from the rear of the horse, you will get unpleasant shadows cast by the rider along the neck of the horse, and the faces of both horse and rider may be poorly lit.

This is one area where taking a lot of shots can help.  The natural variation in lighting as the horse moves along will cast up occasional slants where the front is reasonably illuminated, and the bonus is that the lovely well-muscled rumps are also brightly lit.

The field was moving through a herd of Angus cattle.  Black animals are always a challenge anyway to light well, but at least this one was facing the right way.

Natural movement illuminates the front

Lighting a black cow

Capturing personality

If you watch any group of hounds closely, you will inevitably see little mini-dramas.

Here we have a bitch at the end of the line of hounds being loaded onto the hound trailer, and she wants to cut in around the hound in front.

In the confusion of hounds I couldn’t really spot this scene while it was happening, but since I captured many photos, there it was.  Without the sequence, any one of these would have been much less interesting.

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