Archive for category Photo Essays

Photo Essay: Thornton Hill Hounds (September 19, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Clarity vs liveliness

From the outside

Be aware of your own blinders — hard advice to follow.

I am prejudiced in favor of clarity, so I use fast shutter speeds to see the action.  Unfortunately, this results in some dim shots in early morning light.  I also have a somewhat deadly tendency to look for those classic static foxhunting shots that I’ve seen so often in the sporting literature.  However, just because the scene had to be stopped in order to paint it doesn’t mean I need to do the same thing with a camera.

The more control I get over my camera and ability to make it do what I want it to do, the less I benefit from accident and luck.


Well-lit vigorous action

My husband, nothing inhibited by my standards, shoved his point-and-shoot camera with slow shutter settings into the hound truck and rattled off some shots more or less blind.  Those wagging tails may be blurred and that first hound a bit, um, in your face, but I know which shot I like better.

Look for different approaches to your work — it’s too easy to get into a rut without noticing. Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo Essay: Blue Ridge Fall Races (September 18, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Event excitement vs photo excitement

The clock

Races of all kinds are exciting events.  There are crowds of people, outrageous hats, and colorful entertainments as well as all the action on the track.  When you consider that each race only takes a few minutes to run, and that typically a half-hour slot is allotted for that, you can see how essential the tailgate refreshments become.

Thrust

Running and jumping horses are inherently photogenic.  It’s easy to just snap away and come back with a great many pleasant shots, but once the excitement of the event is past and I look them over with a more dispassionate eye, I find myself torn between showing as much of the race competition as possible (like a documentary) and concentrating on good shots that speak on their own, without the “I was there” excitement to boost their appeal.

There are many great body and leg poses that are lovely to look at, but this one of a rider casually heading out to the starting post struck me.  If you put a pin through the top of the saddle, the horse’s legs, tail, and head and the jockey’s body all radiate outward like the hands of a clock.  The balance of mass and alignment of spokes all conveyed a smoothness and control of motion. Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo Essay: Rappahannock Hunt (September 12, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Before the meet begins

Arm & arm

While the iconic photos of foxhunting at the start of the meet involve hunt staff posed with their hounds ready to hunt, you can find many things of interest to look at well before that point, beginning with the hound trailer.

Whenever I meet a hunt for the first time, I try to be especially diligent about getting shots of the hounds.  I can’t capture their foxhunting abilities with a camera, but I can start to get a feel for their personalities and to identify some of the individuals.  Paying attention to the hound trailer is a good start.

Each hunt’s setup is a bit different, depending on the sort of trailer they use.  Often you are restricted to a view of noses through slits which, while amusing, is a bit limited.  In this case, the interaction between one hound and the huntsman captured some accidental symmetry. Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo Essay: Old Dominion Hounds (September 11, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Shadow as second subject

Creative use of shadows

Always be alert for unexpected bonuses.  I did not deliberately frame this shot to capture the shadow, too; I just tried to place myself in such a way that the subject was well lit.  But when I looked at the results afterward, I was pleased to see two subjects striding along the horse trailer, not just one.

Picking hounds out of the pack

A study of hound heads

There’s a lot of action in a pack of hounds, but many complications as well.

No matter how small the group, at least one (usually right in the center of the frame) is doing something you don’t want to record for posterity.  Even when they are all well-behaved, they may be arranged unhelpfully, with heads buried, shadows cast on each other, and so forth. Read the rest of this entry »

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Photo Essay: Ashland Bassets (April 16, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Complicated events

Waiting for another hunt to finish

This is a just-published essay from an event of a few months ago.  There is a 4-day pack trial of basset hounds where several hunts come and compete in various pack formations (3-couple, 5-couple, 7-couple) actively hunting rabbits and being judged for hunting effectiveness.  This particular essay is the second day, with the 3-couple (6 hounds) competition.  Day 1 is published here; days 3 & 4 will be available here & here.

At any time during the course of the day, there may be one pack just finishing hunting and exiting the hunting area, one pack beginning to hunt, another pack waiting its turn, and yet another pack out taking some exercise.  The participants largely know each other and have done this for many seasons, so they are not confused by the activities, but a photo essay sampling all the activities in order can’t help but be bewildering to less knowledgeable viewers compared to, say, a foxhunt.

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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.

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Photo Essay: Old Dominion Hounds (September 4, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Can you spot the camouflaged hound leaning on the horse?

Lovely hounds

This was the first day of cubbing for the Old Dominion Hounds.

As sometimes happens, all the hunting activity took place off-stage, from the perspective of the car-followers.  We got to watch them leave and return, and in-between there was much appreciation of the lovely scenery and occasional faint echoes of hounds and horn.

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Photo Essay: Blue Ridge Hunt (August 28, 2010)

The photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

An exercise in monochrome

The good and bad of misty mornings

Cubbing starts early in the morning to avoid as much of the late summer heat as possible.  The big challenge was to take effective pictures near dawn in low light and exceptionally heavy mist.  The Blue Ridge Hunt kennels are near the Shenandoah River at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and the mist from the river was persistent. There were patches of dense fog just a few yards from bright sunlight.

One of the whippers-in was mounted on a grey horse that was exceptionally photogenic in the lighting conditions.  I took many shots (and published a few) exploring how much you could get out of essentially colorless scenes.  The lighting controlled which were silver and which were sage.

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