Equipment for Equestrian Photographers

Equipment for Equestrian Photographers

equipment with low f-stop

Common Equipment of Equestrian Photographers

Lately I have been taking on a personal project that has absolutely nothing to do with weddings.  You guessed it, I have been dabbling in a little equestrian photography.  For those of you who don’t know, having personal projects is a very important part of being a photographer.  It is one of the things that can keep us sane with the every busy photography industry.  I figured I would share some common equipment that is required for this type of photography.  Hope you enjoy and make sure you start a personal project soon, now that the photography season is coming to a close. 🙂

Special types of photography require special types of photographic equipment. Makes complete sense, right? Well, this is especially the case with high action photography. When you have a constantly moving subject, you need equipment that can keep up, while maintaining its capturing abilities for photographs that are crisp and clear, no matter what action it’s catching.

There’s a little more that goes into finding the right equipment for making the most of your equestrian photography adventure, and a lot of that depends on where and when you will be filming your beautiful equine subjects. Let’s start with the camera. Horses move fast! They are mystical and agile creatures who jump and romp and swoosh their tales. You want a camera that can capture their mane mingling with the wind, and you want to be able to see every strand if it’s part of your photographic style.

At this time, we are really impressed with just about any camera by Canon and Nikon. They both make killer DSLRs, and they may not be cheap but they will help you capture some of the most enchanting equine imagery you’ve ever imagined yourself capable of. The reason why Nikon and Canon are especially great for equestrian photographers is because they have a strikingly fast shooting speed. I shoot Canon so this post will definitely be biased…wink, wink. The Canon 5D Mark IV is capable of delivering an astonishing 10 fps of continuous shooting, The Nikon D4s is capable of shooting at 11 fps which gives this camera a slight edge, but not enough to justify spending the $6000 on it. Not to mention I already have a ton of money invested in equipment.  No matter which brand you go with, both Canon and Nikon are excellent companies and make top of the line equipment.  It comes down to personal preference.

I will not be covering lens choice in this article because it would end up taking me 10 hours to write the thing.  Just know that while the camera is important, the lenses you use are even more important. Choose lenses with a 2.8 or below because you need fast lenses for fast horses!

Sometimes more equipment for equestrian photographers is needed, especially if your equine venture takes you to bold new and unpredictable landscapes as is often the case. It’s always a great idea to have a GoPro ready to whip out in the case you wish to keep your expensive DSLR tucked away and safe. GoPro’s rule. They are the ultimate of ultimate in adventure photography, and that means when you find a horse frolicking freely in the rain, you will still be able to capture their majesty to your hearts desire no matter the inclement weather conditions.

Since you will have all of this fabulous gear on you, you are going to have to make sure you get yourself one of the most important pieces of gear for any traveler photographer, especially equestrian photographers who are always on the go with their subjects. This calls for a one of a kind rucksack with a multiplicity of pockets and compartments for storing little things like USBs and chords, to bigger things like tarps and lighting. One of the most highly recommended rucksacks in undoubtedly the National Geographic NG 5158 Zaino Serie Earth Explorer. You can mark our words on this one; it is made especially for photographers, with separate pockets fitted precisely for tripods, lenses, the works.

One of my favorite things about equestrian photography is there are always new and exciting opportunities awaiting you. You get to travel along with your subjects and make many equine friends along the way. So that you never miss out on a single moment, equip yourself with the best of the best, then go out there and make it happen.

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Many People Ask-What is equestrian photography?

Equestian Jumping

Many People Ask-What is equestrian photography?

After the last post I was asked by some readers to dive a little more into my personal project so the next few posts will be doing just that.

Since horses first showed up on Earth, they have been painted and admired for their beauty and spirit, and once photography was invented, photographed both alone and with their riders. The first known painting of a horse, painted during the Paleolithic era, was discovered in the caves of Lascaux in France. Images of horse and rider moving together is one of the most graceful images that can be portrayed through photography. Eadweard Muybridge was the first to photograph the gait of a horse, to prove that all four feet come off the ground during a gallop.

Photographers such as Bob Langrish and Matthew Seed both understand the moving moments that can be captured through the art of equestrian photography. Equestrian photography is, in fact, photographing horses in relation to their riders, and vice versa. Their photographs are in and of themselves beautiful and moving pieces of art that speak loudly of the relationship between horse and rider. Photographing horse and rider together can demonstrate the unique communication and relationship between them.

Photographing at horse shows

One of the most important things to remember when photographing at a horse show is that, while it is great to get up-close and personal shots of the horses and their riders, getting permission to photograph and taking great care not to spook unprepared horses is vital. Wear neutral-colored clothing and always get clear and concise permission from the riders and/or owners.

One of the best styles of photographs that can be achieved is a photo of the horse and rider moving together through a show course. It is the same for Western as it is for English dressage. When it is possible to get a good angle, get it. Do whatever you must to set up in a location that favors the horses and their riders.

Photographing horse and rider 

At times, getting a photo of horse and rider at their own stable or their own setting can be just what is needed to bring out aspects of their relationship that a photographer may not otherwise achieve. Be sure that for shoots like this you have plenty of assistance, but not so many people around that it may make the horse uneasy.

Horse and rider photos may include the rider sitting atop the horse, the rider standing near their horse’s head and holding the reins, or even just their hands on their animal’s face in an affectionate embrace. Use of lighting is important here as well, as using too bright a light source may spook the horse or cause the subjects to squint, producing undesirable photos.

The summary to be found in all of this is that equestrian photography has its own set of rules when, if followed, can provide the photographer and the equestrian with dazzling photos.

Be sure to select a high quality camera that captures movement flawlessly when exploring the world of equestrian photography. A camera of lesser quality may take what could be a high quality photo opportunity and turn it into a flop. That would be a shame.

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