This photo essay is posted at KLM Images.
Carving up the space
The curved edge of the pond in the first photo eats a nice semicircle out of the left of the scene. That alone would make for a pleasing composition, but see also how the grasses curve with the pond, and so do the bodies and especially the tails of the hounds. Everything reinforces that fundamental curve.
In the next photo, we have linear architectural elements made up unexpectedly of living creatures.
The accidental formal postures of the hound and the rider, aided by an almost straight horizon, create an inner rectangle and draw the eye into the open space in the back left. Nothing is moving; all is potential.
Painting with light
Every now and then the gods cooperate and provide just the right lighting for a scene.
These hounds are running along the water into the morning sun. The light paints both the foreground trees and the background field so the well-lit hounds are part of the scene, not separate. Their movement is just a part of nature.
At a slightly different angle we see the huntsman in the center of the light while the backdrop behind him has darkened, setting him on stage.
The shadows on his horse help tie him a bit to the background, but he is somewhat apart from nature, set up as an actor upon it, appropriately for his role.
In the third photo, we see how a (partially) white horse can suck up all the light. Not even shadows connect the horse to the background setting. This rider is not a primary actor upon nature, but a follower of the action. It seems fitting that her horse is the most theatrical.
So, the hounds are part of nature, the huntsman acts upon nature, and the hunt member cheers them on. The lighting becomes progressively more artificial, to match.
The eternal foxhunt
Everyone likes a good action shot, and photos of foxes are always welcome, but there’s nothing quite like those timeless scenes that foxhunting throws up.
When you look at the slope of autumnal woods with the oaks just beginning to turn and the worn down stone wall you can’t help making a wish that future generations will be in the same spot with the same view.
When you see the immaculately turned out whipper-in moving into position you want to capture the moment as part of a long continuum of similar actions by hunt staff for a couple of hundred years.
This particular shot caught the canter stride at its most calm point, and it’s that stability that makes it resonate backwards and forwards in time as a symbol.