Ever wonder what makes a great picture great? There are three key elements to keep in mind that will help you to take a great photo. They are lighting, perspective, and composition.
Lighting is, of course, how your photograph is illuminated. Perspective is the angle or view that you choose to shoot your photograph. Composition is how you want your photograph to look.
Shaggy pony enjoying the snow.
I find composition to be the first thing I want to think about when I set up models for a photograph. This is what tells the story and gives your picture context. Maybe you just want a great picture of your model horse – composition is still important. So how do you do it?
Adding props like fences helps to give your photograph context. Feisty!
First, look around you. Try to find a spot that works for the story you want to tell. Maybe it is the railing of a deck, or a small table covered with sand. Getting ground level on a freshly-mowed lawn or dirt works, as well as inside with a model horse barn or backdrop. The key is creativity.
Try to avoid places that have objects in it that are out of scale. These will ruin the illusion you you’re trying to create, as well as distract from your favorite subject!
What is your horse doing? Is he standing, playing? And where is he doing that? A horse playfully striking in the turnout field? Under saddle going for a walk? Maybe standing quietly contemplating the quality of the sun. All of these things bring the story to your picture. It really depends on what you are trying to do and the places around you have to work with.
I don’t have a lot of room to work with here, but it is still a
perfectly acceptable place to photograph a model. A few
things are wrong with this picture. Can you spot them?
|A little more level at least! Still some distraction
in the background, and the angle of the shot is
off. If it was a real horse, I would be looking
down on him, which is distracting.
|Much Better! I changed the angle of the shot,
shooting from ground level. I took out the leaves
and moved the horse so the grass was
not distracting. It complements him now!
Once you have found your setting, you can figure out the lighting. I often wait until the late afternoon to shoot pictures, when the lighting is not overhead and more golden. Bright light of the high day gives overexposed pictures that do not show color well. They are often too bright and stark, not allowing your beautiful horse to be the center of attention.
If you are shooting your pictures inside, the same applies. Your barn or backdrop can be moved to a bright room with indirect light, although sunbeams have their own place too. Artificial light is wonderful to use as well. Play with the placement of it to see what it looks like.
|A beautiful picture but overexposed. This one
was taken in a sunbeam during high noon.
Too much light!
|A little washed out and distracting.||Just right. Even the darker background works
for this picture, as it could be interpreted
as a barn.
Whether you’re using a cell phone, point and shoot camera, or have a professional setup, it's all about the angle you choose to take the picture. I am almost always on the same level with the horses, be it on the ground or crouched to be at “ground level” when they are on the table. This gives you a more realistic perspective of how you would see a real horse.
Each horse has a good angle, so try to find the positioning that makes your horse look the most beautiful. With digital photography, you can take as many pictures as you want and choose the very best ones. Sometimes I will take more than one round of pictures. Seeing the pictures help me narrow down the changes that I feel are needed to improve them. Sometimes the first one I take is the best one! You never know until you see them.
|This picture was taken on a deck railing looking
slightly up to showcases the sculpture.
| Even with a cell phone, you can take a beautiful
picture if your angles are right. It looks like I
just called this horse in from the field...
The most important thing with taking model horse pictures is to try different techniques and figure out what works best for you, the camera you are using, and the environment where you are taking photos. As you practice, your one-in-a-million shot will become one-in-a-thousand, then one-in-a-hundred, then one-in-ten! It takes practice to develop a feel for it, but it does get easier as you go and is so much fun to do!
I can’t wait to see your pictures you take of you horses! Let’s recap. A couple things to remember….
Make sure your backdrop
is in scale!
Find a place where your horse
does not get lost in the picture.
Make sure the angle is realistic
so you don’t distract the viewer.
|Lighting is important. Too much and it will
wash out your picture. Too little and it will
be too dark. It literally makes the image!
|Be creative and find ways that work with
what you have on hand. This was taken
with a cell phone.
With a little practice, you will be taking beautiful pictures of your model horses in no time. Don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun!
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