Photo Essay: Loudoun Hunt West (December 5, 2010)

This photo essay is posted at KLM Images.

Cropping for action

All charm and tilted motion

I typically come down on the engineering side of the analysis vs artistic spectrum, and this manifests in my photography as wanting to see the whole scene: the entire horse and rider, the full pack of hounds, and so forth.  This is an artistic fault, I firmly believe.  I know this because, whenever happenstance intervenes and forces a moving target to be cropped in ways I would never have planned, I am often much pleased with the results.

When I stand too close to the action with a particular lens and try to get something useful anyway, the image is reduced to its essentials.  I don’t need to see the top of the rider’s head or the details of the horse’s legs to enjoy this shot. 

Classic closeup pose

The static shot of this same pair is pleasant, but the moving one is better.  With less clutter, the eye can focus on the parallel curves of the horse’s neck and the back of the rider’s coat, and the right-angle parallel curves of the horse’s body and lifted foreleg.  The tilt of that structural parallelogram keeps the action moving forward.


It’s easy to get too fixated on big pictures of horses and riders and to miss the closeups that reveal personality.  We see nothing of this rider’s horse, but what does it matter?  Instead we see warm clothing defying the cold wind (earmuffs under the helmet), determination, and some well-packed liquid fortification.

Animal personalities

There are little scenes everywhere at a hunt.

Over here we have a horse seemingly wondering why the famous photographer doesn’t take his picture.

Over there we have a group of “American Gothic” hounds (actually Crossbreds & English), standing straight and upright.

Stiff & straight

Red, white, and blue

Below we can see a whole series of reactions to the threatened disciplinary action, as each small cluster of hounds moves to rejoin the pack waiting in line behind.  You can see that each of the guilty parties, if asked, would have an excuse to offer.

Regrouping in the rear

Variations on the classic shots

There’s nothing wrong with a fresh look at the conventional scenes of hunting.

Much-photographed pair

The huntsman posing for the famous photographer (Jim Meads’ 500th unique hunt) has planted himself firmly on sloping ground, and his horse stands straight and balanced.  All their concentration is on the photographer, but I prefer the profile shot.


This foxhound sniffing along the terrace wall could hardly be better posed in front of our host’s farm sign.

It’s always nice to be able to include a “going home” shot.  Here the chilled riders are making their way down the endless lane anticipating a fine hunt breakfast.  The verticals of the bare winter trees are countered by the horizontal shadows on the ground, and the drift of the tails reminds us of the cold wind.

Going home


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